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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: HD looks to new restrictions, mayors to possible mask mandates

Good morning, Memphians, and welcome to The Early Word. Today is Friday, Nov. 20, and the Memphis Zoo is hosting a tree lighting ceremony tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Girls on the Run is also hosting a virtual 5K today (or tomorrow or Sunday; it’s kind of your choice). Tomorrow there is the Big River Crossing Half Marathon + 5K and Meritan, really leaning into the situation, is hosting its MASKquerade Ball.



Near the beginning of the pandemic, “Sock Lady” Shandra Phillips expanded her traditional wares to also sell face masks and surgical gloves on the corner of Cleveland Street and Poplar Avenue. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian file)

Could be more closures, could be mask mandates: With another 400 new coronavirus cases yesterday, yes, the Shelby County Health Department is planning to issue its next directive no later than Monday (but it could be earlier). Shelby County Health Department health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph, with some hard words for younger people during the Thursday coronavirus task force briefing, said the department was trying to find some middle ground that would allow the area to “remain [as] open as possible, but yet we have to protect all of our citizens.” Some of the area’s mayors were part of a call yesterday morning to discuss the possibilities, which included closing gyms, limiting restaurants’ dine-in seating and banning spectators at indoor sporting events. Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo and Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald have cautioned against “taking drastic measures” because it will be difficult for area businesses to withstand further shutdowns. Instead, there is talk of trying to enact either a statewide mask mandate or a regional one, though a statewide one would have to come from the governor ... and at least one local mayor thinks it “will be a slog” to achieve a regional one.

This decision’s not up in the air: A new nonstop is now just stopped, period. After a five-year hiatus and then roughly 40 days in the air, Delta’s nonstop flight between Memphis and Indianapolis has been canceled. Delta announced in August it would bring back the air service in October, but in an “example of how the airlines are reacting to demand during the pandemic,” the company then eliminated the flight in early November.


Precious Achiuwa (left), James Wiseman and Coach Penny Hardaway looked on during a break in action against UIC Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at FedExForum. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian file)

The ghosts of drafts past and future: Following a triumph at the NBA draft, U of M basketball coach Penny Hardaway revealed yesterday that Tigers forward Isaiah Stokes won’t play this season. When the Golden State Warriors selected former Tiger James Wiseman as the No. 2 pick in the draft Wednesday night, Hardaway was sitting on a stool in Wiseman’s Nashville house, smiling and clapping. Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa, who was picked at No. 20 by the Miami Heat, are proof positive that “Hardaway’s recruiting pitch — come to Memphis and we’ll get you ready for the NBA — isn’t just smoke and mirrors.” But for the current season, scheduled to start in less than a week, the Tigers just lost Stokes due to “personal reasons,” according to Hardaway, and still don’t know about the eligibility of Moussa Cisse and DeAndre Williams. (To continue a theme ... for the ghost of the NBA present, go here.)



We work with innovative companies that develop technologies to take living cell tissue from patients and change those in a way to treat a disease. … It might involve taking white blood cells in a tumor and multiplying those and returning them to the patient to better fight cancer.

— Cognate BioServices CFO Will James 
The Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis & Shelby County recently approved a property tax incentive for the company as Cognate begins a $213 million capital investment into its Memphis headquarters. Cognate plans to hire more than 560 more people, with an average salary of $63,749. 




Derek Fordjour’s “Rhythm & Blues, 2020” was done in acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas. (Source: Daniel Greer)

One to watch: Memphis-born painter and sculptor Derek Fordjour and his younger brother used to explore St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital while they were at nearby St. Joseph Hospital with their father, an oral surgeon. “We would wander the campus,” Fordjour said. “It was brighter and had lots of art.” This fall, the art star — whose work has been commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art and purchased by Jay-Z and Beyoncé — gave back to St. Jude.

A meal for two. Or four: It’s unclear what kind of restaurant access will be available to us soon (see above), but Jennifer Biggs is bringing us real recipes from local chefs that we may want to enjoy for our smaller-than-usual Thanksgivings. We’ve got pimento cheese popovers, bacon carrots, chocolate pie and Elwood’s citrus smoked salmon.


Bhesh Sharma (from left), Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti and Rajendra Karki, scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. (Courtesy St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

Calming the storm and saving lives: With a possible discovery from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists, drugs used for illnesses like Crohn’s disease could be repurposed to combat COVID-19 deaths. I can’t go into the entire explanation (we’re on a clock here; it’s not because I don’t completely understand it) but it involves the cytokine storm, which can lead to death in patients with the coronavirus. “I have never in my entire career been this excited,” said Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, vice chair of the St. Jude Department of Immunology. “Vaccines will still take time. The CDC predicts 35,000 more deaths in December. … If NIH steps in and does clinical trials quickly, the existing drugs could be repurposed.”

Park needs public input: As the Overton Park Conservancy prepares for a rare expansion of the park, it’s asking the public, especially the younger public, what it wants to see. Overton will get 13 acres back after the City of Memphis’ General Services Division vacates the southeast corner of the park, though the city will leave behind greenhouses, several garages and office space.



This is even better than Ja-ggles. The Memphis Zoo has been waiting for about a year for the opportunity to name one of its new calves after Grizzlies star Ja Morant. And they’ve really outdone themselves.

This is Ja Raffe. 


And this is the beauty of Twitter. 



I think that’s it for me. Have a great rest of your day and enjoy the weekend. We’ll be back Monday for a short week.