Coronavirus daily blog, March 13: Grizzlies to pay game-night employees

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 20, 2020 11:26 AM CT | Published: March 13, 2020 6:40 AM CT

Editor’s note: Due to the serious public health implications associated with COVID-19, The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed.

Confirmed cases
Tennessee
32
Shelby County
2

Here’s the latest from Memphis and Shelby County, below, when it comes to dealing with the novel coronavirus. To view full coverage, check out The Daily Memphian’s dispatches from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

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Grizzlies to pay game-night employees during suspended season

7:08 PM CT, March 13

The Memphis Grizzlies will compensate all of their employees who work as part of the game-night staff for any games missed through the end of the season, according to a team source.

Shortly after the NBA season was suspended because of the coronavirus, Grizzlies majority owner Robert Pera decided that team employees would continue to be paid. But Pera — who is notoriously private — didn’t wish to make a public announcement, certainly not until the employees had been informed. The team was working on sending affected employees an Email late Friday afternoon.

The Grizzlies will pay their employees for all March games, then wait and see if more games are missed in April. If more games are missed, the Grizzlies will compensate their employees for those games, too.

This policy does not apply to those game-night workers who are not Grizzlies employees. Concession workers, for example, are employed by Levy, which will have to decide whether and how to compensate them.

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Germantown cancels programming until end of March

8:28 PM CT, March 13

Germantown is canceling city-run programming for the remainder of the month.

Beginning Monday, programming at the library and Germantown Athletic Club will be canceled in addition to Parks and Recreation scheduled activities.

The library, city parks and GAC will remain open, but the city reminds residents to take precautions recommended by the health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The city also wanted citizens to be aware 911 dispatchers will ask a series of questions as part of a COVID-19 assessment in case EMS personnel need to take extra precautions.

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Westminster Academy suspends in-person classes

7:29 PM CT, March 13

Westminster Academy’s headmaster Ralph Janikowsky announced Friday, March 13, that the school was suspending in-person classes until at least Monday, March 30, in an email to parents.

An Instagram post also communicated the change in instruction.

“ Students should be ready to study/learn at home starting this Thursday! Please watch for additional information,” the post said.

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Bartlett changes municipal services

6:45 PM CT, March 13

Citizens of Bartlett are being urged to observe temporary changes to municipal services, Mayor A. Keith McDonald said in a Friday afternoon release.

Until further notice, the mayor says the City of Bartlett will not welcome any visitors without an appointment inside their city hall.

“If you have an issue that you need to speak with me or any of my staff about, I encourage you to call or email,” McDonald wrote.

“If it is absolutely necessary to meet with me or any of my directors, please call to make an appointment.”

In order to handle water bills, tax bills and traffic citations, McDonald asks that citizens pay electronically on the Bartlett city website. In lieu of paying online, citizens can mail in a check or money order directly to 6400 Stage Rd., Bartlett, Tennessee, 38134. For bill payment, McDonald says citizens can drop an envelope in the City Hall drop box, located in front of the building. However, this option is not available for paying traffic citations.

As of now, McDonald has not confirmed a date in which he plans for operations to return to normal.

“Our hope is that we will soon be back to business as usual so we appreciate your cooperation until that time,” he wrote.

- Jared Boyd

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Governor closes State Capitol to tours, visitors

6:43 PM CT, March 13

A day after declaring a state of emergency, Gov. Bill Lee closed the State Capitol to tours and visitors through March and issued new directions Friday, March 13, dealing with large gatherings, schools and state employees as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 26 in the state.

Simultaneously, legislative leaders announced the Cordell Hull Office Building where legislative and state offices are located will be closed March 16 to the public until further notice. Legislators, media and staff will be allowed into the building.

The ban is expected to include lobbyists, according to a Tennessee Journal report, a move that could keep them from being on hand to get involved in controversial issues. But, presumably, the Legislature will focus only on budget issues while the lockout takes place, according to report.

Lee announced Friday, effective immediately, 11,000 state employees trained and certified in the state’s Alternative Workplace Solutions program will work from home. In addition, state employees have been told to stop all non-essential business travel through the end of March.

Members of the media will continue to have access to the State Capitol, but it will close to tours and visitors through for the rest of the month.

“COVID-19 is an evolving situation but we urge vulnerable populations, including those over age 60 and with chronic medical conditions to limit participation in mass gathering and to take extra precautions for personal well-being like increased hand-washing,” Gov. Lee said in a statement Friday evening. “With 26 confirmed cases in our state, we have issued further guidance to help communities mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

As Tennessee residents start the weekend with plans to go to large gatherings such as church, he urged congregations and other groups to consider alternatives to traditional services such as livestreaming, pre-recorded messages and other electronic means.

Those types of gatherings and other large social events remain at the discretion of organizers, but Lee’s office “strongly” discouraged events of 250 people to limit exposure to COVID-19.

School districts also are advised to exercise “discretion” when cancelling classes for K-12 students. The state is supporting districts that close but it urged them to consider the prevalence of confirmed cases in their area when making the decision.

“In partnership with districts, students who depend on school-provided meals will still receive this support, regardless of school closure,” said the statement from the governor’s office.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton applauded Lee’s “thoughtful approach” to containing the COVID-19 as they announced the Cordell Hull Building will be closed to everyone except elected members, staff and media until further notice.

“However, the citizens of Tennessee will still be able to access the work they have elected us to do through the livestreaming services available on our website,” they said. “We must take any and all reasonable steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is imperative the public’s health be prioritized and economic disruption minimize. We will continue to evaluate this situation, remain in contact with Gov. Lee, the state’s health leaders, and the Centers for Disease Control to determine whether additional action is needed.”

Democratic state Sen. Jeff Yarbro responded by saying Lee made the “right call” by limiting visitors to the Capitol, but he argued the General Assembly should take a break while the governor focuses on the coronavirus.

“Public health should be the priority right now,” said Yarbro, of Nashville, leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “But if we’re not doing absolutely essential and time-sensitive work, the Legislature shouldn’t meet in the people’s house if we’re not letting people be there.”

Yarbro said little “essential” business is on the Legislature’s agenda that would stop it from taking a short recess.

The General Assembly’s only constitutional duty is to pass a budget. Besides the budget, though, the Republican supermajority is planning to restrict abortion and pass permit-less handgun carry legislation. On the other hand, it appears ready to severely limit the governor’s paid family medical leave bill and undercut his refugee resettlement order.

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SCS announces meal plan during closure

4:55 PM CT, March 13

Shelby County Schools plans to provide meals at 20 locations across the county to qualifying students while schools are closed.

The meals will be provided March 23-27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will be served to children under 18, and the child must be present to receive a meal.

Distribution sites will be:

  • SCS Board of Education lot, 160 S. Hollywood
  • SCS Messick Administration Building lot, 703 Greer
  • Berean Baptist Church, 1666 E. Raines
  • Breath of Life SDA Church, 5665 Knight Arnold
  • Benjamin L. Hooks Library, 3030 Poplar
  • Hollywood Library, 1530 N. Hollywood
  • Life Church, 3683 Austin Peay
  • Life Church, 255 N. Highland
  • Memphis Public Library Crenshaw Branch, 531 Vance
  • Memphis Public Library Frayser Branch, 3712 Argonne
  • Levi Branch, 3676 Third 
  • North Branch, 1192 Vollintine
  • Raleigh Branch, 3157 Powers
  • Whitehaven Branch, 4120 Millbranch
  • Next Level Cathedral of Praise, 1581 Ball
  • Pearly Gates Church, 531 S. Parkway
  • Promiseland Church, 3430 Overton Crossing
  • Robinhood Lane Baptist Church, 3804 Kimball
  • Southbrook Mall, 1212 East Shelby Drive
  • St. Paul Church, 2124 Holmes

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Bartlett chamber reschedules annual business expo

4:53 PM CT, March 13

The Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce is postponing its annual Business Expo and has rescheduled it for May 14 to limit the possible spread of coronavirus.

The chamber will continue to maintain normal business hours and operations, but has increased hygienic housekeeping practices in board and meeting rooms to ensure the health and safety of staff, members and visitors, chamber president John Threadgill wrote in a letter to members.

More details about the rescheduled expo will be forthcoming. A planning session for a business trip to Ireland in November also has been postponed, but the trip remains as scheduled for Nov. 10.

In addition to following CDC and Shelby County Health Department recommendations for people to avoid contracting the virus, the chamber urges these additional precautions for businesses:

Consider incorporating virtual connections, working remotely and telecommuting. We are happy to provide advice and resources for these changes if needed.

Continue to support local retailers and restaurants by shopping online and using pick up and to-go options.

Stay informed about upcoming economic stimulus proposals released by the federal government and share information with employees, as staying informed helps combat fear.

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Cohen to close local, Washington offices

4:37 PM CT, March 13

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis is closing his Washington D.C. and district offices through March 20 with his staffers working normal business hours from home.

Cohen announced the move Friday afternoon, to start after he votes on a Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

“The unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic requires me to close my D.C. and District offices,” Cohen said in a written statement. “Limiting exposure will help ensure my staff and I remain healthy and able to serve the people of the Ninth Congressional District. … I regret that this crisis requires such drastic action, but out of an abundance of caution, it seems the prudent course.”

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Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary suspending on-campus classes

4:30 PM CT, March 13

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Mid-America will suspend all on-campus classes for two weeks and move all students to online learning.

All Mid-America sponsored on-campus events will be suspended until further notice.

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Mayor Strickland sends video message

4:30 PM CT, March 13

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s weekly update is usually an email message. Strickland still sent an email this Friday, but with a video embedded this week.

Strickland said he has met with public health officials and medical experts about the virus. And his team of division directors are meeting with him everyday to discuss changes in the pandemic and changes to city policy as a result.

“Based on this information, I can tell you again that this is a serious situation,” he said. “Coronavirus is more infectious and deadly than the flu, but there is no reason for panic.”

Strickland repeated CDC guidelines urging those 60 or older with serious underlying medical conditions to avoid large gatherings. He also urged businesses to continue to clean and disinfect their businesses as well as send sick employees home.

“If you need to conduct business with City Hall, like paying taxes or fines, please do so through the mail or one of our online portals rather than in person,” he said.

He also urged citizens without access to social media or the internet to call 522-1111 to make arrangements to pay bills with the city or taxes and avoid late fee and fines.

“At the end of the day this is a time for compassion, patience and to look out for the well being of one another,” Strickland said. “We are taking the situation very seriously.”

- Bill Dries

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First Shelby County coronavirus patient released from hospital

4:18 PM CT, March 13

The first coronavirus patient in Shelby County has been released from Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis and is now home.

Baptist physicians are coordinating the care with the Shelby County Health Department, said Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, an infectious disease expert who cared for the patient.

“The person is doing very well,” he said.

No one is currently hospitalized here with complications of coronavirus. But hospitals across the region are ramping up for mass upticks in the number of people needing to be tested.

Baptist has converted a mobile mammogram unit into a coronavirus test site in the parking lot near the emergency room entrance at Baptist-Memphis.

“It’s only appropriate for people who are showing symptoms,” said hospital spokeswoman Ayoka Pond. “What we don’t want is for people to see that and assume, ‘Oh, great. I can get a test,’ if they don’t really need to be tested.” Baptist has also converted more rooms to negative-pressure rooms so it has capacity to isolate more patients.

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Municipal school districts to close through March 27

4:08 PM CT, March 13

The Shelby County municipal superintendents in Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington have collectively decided to cancel classes, extracurricular activities and sporting events through Friday, March 27.

This will provide opportunities for social distancing, thorough disinfection of schools and buses and contingency planning in case prolonged closures are required at some point in the future,” read the statement. “We ask that families do not simply view this as an extended spring break or additional vacation time. Families should heed the warnings of health experts and limit your social interactions during this time to prevent the spread of the virus.”

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MLGW suspending cutoffs

3:54 PM CT, March 13

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division is suspending the cutoff of utilities for nonpayment of water, gas or electric bills until further notice in response to COVID-19.

The suspension is common policy for the utility in temperature extremes. It doesn’t mean the bill is forgiven, rather that there will be no cutoff even though the amount is still owed.

MLGW President and CEO J.T. Young said the utility is also encouraging customers to pay bills at kiosks and to use other remote measures to pay bills rather than showing up at MLGW offices to pay in person.

“We are asking our customers to refrain as best they can from making personal visits to our offices to make payments,” Young said in announcing the first phase of a “pandemic plan” by the utility. “We know sometimes they don’t have any other options.”

In the first phase of the plan, there is not yet an order for employees to work remotely or at home or to close utility offices, although Young said MLGW officials continue to review those options.

“This is a very fluid situation,” he said. “We know there are changes happening hourly.”

Young also said working from home isn’t an option for a lot of his employees because of the nature of their work.

“A majority of employees are engaging in work that requires them to be physically at someplace other than their homes,” Young said.

All business travel by utility employees has been canceled and a series of community meetings, including one on the study of MLGW changing its relationship with the Tennessee Valley Authority, may be changed to a “virtual meeting” with the ability for the public to watch a live stream of the proceedings.

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CBHS closing through March 30

3:33 PM CT, March 13

Christian Brothers High School will be closed from Monday, March 16 through Monday, March, 30. The closure includes athletics and extracurricular activities.

Teachers and students will follow a modified instructional schedule beginning Wednesday, March 18 using the school’s learning management system and Microsoft Teams platform.

The school will release more details to students and parents.

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St. Mary’s closing through March 29

3:22 PM CT, March 13

St. Mary’s Episcopal School will be closed through Sunday, March 29.

All school-sponsored events, including trips and athletics, will be either cancelled or postponed.

The school will contact parents and older students with information and procedures related to distance learning.

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Buyers end brutal week on Wall Street on positive note

3:21 PM CT, March 13

Buyers came back into the market late Friday, lifting the major indices by more than 9% to end a tumultuous, scary week on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished 9.36% higher at the close Friday, a welcome rise to end a week of losses across all investment sectors. The close at 23,185 was 1,985 points higher than Thursday’s close.

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also gained about 9.3% on Friday’s session.

Among Memphis companies, FedEx Corp. rose nearly 10% to close at $106.63 a share. First Horizon National Corp. closed at $9.94, up more than 12% on the day.

President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency Friday, creating access to up to $50 billion in financial assistance for states to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, and asked states to establish emergency centers and for every hospital to create emergency preparedness plans to deal with the expected rise in virus patients.

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Old Dominick Distillery temporarily suspending tours

3:15 PM CT, March 13

Effective immediately, Old Dominick Distillery is temporarily suspending all tours and The Bar at Old Dominick will also be temporarily closed.

Tours scheduled March 13-19 have been cancelled. Anyone who has purchased tickets for a tour will be given a full refund and will be notified of the temporary shutdown by email.

Old Dominick will continue to monitor the COVID-19 health emergency situation on a week by week basis. Should any later tours need to be cancelled, guests can expect a full refund.

“Our first priority is always the health and well-being of our tour and bar guests, as well as that of our community,” said Chris Canale, Old Dominick Distillery President.

The decision to re-open for tours and bar activity or remain suspended will be announced March 19.

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State Supreme Court suspends in-person court proceedings

2:25 PM CT, March 13

The state has suspended most in-person court proceedings because of coronavirus, although courts will remain open for employees and some court proceedings will continue. 

The Tennessee Supreme Court said in a release Friday, March 13, that the suspension of court activities will remain in effect through March 31.

The order applies to all local and state courts, including appellate, trial, general sessions, juvenile and municipal courts.

Exceptions include emergency matters, domestic hearings, civil and criminal trials already underway as of March 13 and proceedings directly related to COVID-19.

Read more

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MSO won’t hold upcoming Masterworks performances

2:19 PM CT, March 13

Citing the community’s health and safety as its top priority, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra will not hold two upcoming performances: “Masterworks 5: Strauss, Tchaikovsky, & Shostakovich” that were scheduled Saturday, March 21, at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, and Sunday, March 22, at Germantown Performing Arts Center.

A decision on whether to reschedule or cancel these concerts will be determined at a later date, MSO said, and will be guided by public health and safety and scheduling considerations.

Additional updates will be made on its website, social media, and emails to subscribers and ticket buyers.

For those who have purchased tickets, options include waiting to see if the concerts will be rescheduled later this season; donating your tickets as a philanthropic gift to support the musicians; exchanging your tickets for a voucher for a future performance; or receiving a refund.

Contact the MSO Box Office with any ticket related questions at (901) 537-2500 or tickets@memphissymphony.org.

The MSO offices will be closed and MSO administration will be working remotely. 

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Statewide case count now 26

2:01 PM CT, March 13

As of Friday, March 13, the Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed 26 novel coronavirus cases statewide. The Shelby County total stands at 2. 

There are 10 confirmed cases in Davidson County, nine confirmed cases in Williamson County, two confirmed cases in Shelby County, and one confirmed case each in Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Rutherford and Sullivan counties.

 

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Malco limiting ticketing capacity

1:46 PM CT, March 13

Malco Theatres, the Memphis-based chain that owns and operates the majority of movie theaters in the Memphis and Mid-South, is changing their ticking policies in response to the coronavirus outbreak, limiting ticketing to 50% of theater capacity.

Karen Melton, Malco vice-president and director of marketing, released the following statement on Friday afternoon:

Malco Theatres considers cinema cleanliness to be one of our highest priorities. We share everyone’s concern regarding Coronavirus and are doubling efforts to ensure additional measures are being taken to clean and sanitize the theatres.

  • Increasing the deep cleaning frequency of all areas where patrons have direct contact to include kiosks, counters, restrooms, auditoriums, seats and handrails.
  • Re-educating all team members on protocols for proper hand washing and personal hygiene; asking employees to stay home when not feeling well.

Furthermore, we will be limiting the seating in each auditorium to a maximum of 50% of its capacity. This seating arrangement reduces crowded auditoriums, allowing for guests to practice healthy social distancing.

As always, we are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with state and local officials. We encourage our patrons to help us maintain a healthier environment by washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and respecting personal boundaries.

And finally, in the event you are planning a trip to the movies, but aren’t feeling well, we ask that you please refrain from visiting us until you feel better. 

Malco Theatres thanks you and appreciates your ongoing patronage.

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City Council may have to rethink meeting format

1:19 PM CT, March 13

The Memphis City Council is on a spring break of its own – a three-week break between its March 3 meeting and its March 24 meeting as some council members travel to Ghana, the honored country of this year’s Memphis in May International Festival.

When the council returns, it will almost certainly have to figure out how it wants to handle meetings in this time of “social distancing” – one of the recommended measures for minimizing contact in public gatherings.

Normally, the council chambers at City Hall would offer plenty of room for a normal crowd on council day. The auditorium has a seating capacity of 400.

But since early January, the council chambers have been undergoing renovation work to find, define and fix a persistent ceiling leak in the skylights that define the chambers. And the council isn’t expected to be back there until June.

That means the council committee room on the fifth floor of City Hall, with a seating capacity of a few dozen, is doubling as the setting for committee sessions as well as the voting meetings that follow the committee sessions twice a month. And at times, it is a tight fit.

Shelby County Commissioners are discouraging citizens from attending the twice-a-month commission sessions and committee meetings, directing the public to webcasts of the meetings that are a regular feature of public meetings of the commission, the council and the Tennessee Legislature.

The council may ultimately choose to do the same thing.

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Weekend looms large for restaurateurs

1:17 PM CT, March 13

This weekend is a critical point, restaurateur Kelly English, chef/owner of Restaurant Iris, The Second Line and Fino’s, says.

“Almost every restaurateur right now is paying attention to this weekend to tell us what to do. If we go through this weekend and if we don’t see improvement back to something like normal, I think you’ll see a massive shift to adapt to what business looks like now,” he said, referring to the drop in business as people stay home due to fear of COVID-19.

What is that, exactly? It depends. Some restaurateurs say they’ll launch expanded delivery menus next week. It’s possible some will cut hours, perhaps even close during the week. The truth is, no one knows exactly yet what is coming.

“We’re in uncharted territory here. That’s where we are. This is about like a couple of days after 9-11. I just don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s what scaring everybody,” said Patrick Reilly, chef/owner of The Majestic Grille.

His restaurant is a popular spot for people to eat before large events at the FedExForum and The Orpheum, and event cancellations have cut deeply into his business.

“We were booked going into the weekend and now we’re at about 50%,” he said. “Cher was canceled.”

Ryan Trimm, who has Sweet Grass, Sunrise, 117 Prime and 3rd & Court, said that next week will be more of a barometer for him. His Downtown restaurants, 117 Prime and 3rd & Court, have suffered more than the other two.

“There are no events and no business travel, and that’s hurting Prime,” he said. “A lot of people are being told to work from home, and we’re seeing numbers fall at 3rd & Court at lunch.”

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Recruiting curbed by NCAA

1:15 PM CT, March 13

The NCAA has suspended on- and off-campus recruiting until “at least” April 15.

Coaches are still permitted to contact recruits but only through calls or text. No in-person recruiting is allowed.

Coach Penny Hardaway stands with zero commits in his class of 2020 heading into the spring. Both five-stars Jalen Green and Greg Brown remain uncommitted and heavily recruited by the Tigers.

The start of the EYBL summer circuit has been postponed. Events in Indianapolis, Atlanta, Hampton and Portland have been canceled. The Jordan Brand Classic and McDonalds All-American game have been canceled, but there has been no word on events scheduled for later in the summer.

Football coach Ryan Silverfield planned to host recruits during March and April, but those will have to be rescheduled. The Tigers hold one commit in their Class of 2021 ahead of the start of an essential period for visits.

Memphis football plans to hold camps June 1, 8, 10-12 and 17-18. It remains unclear if the precautions will limit those events into the summer. The Tigers canceled the first week of spring practice and public spring events Thursday.

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Memphis Animal Services adopts new measures

12:09 PM CT, March 13

Memphis Animal Services is adopting new temporary social distancing measures.

Effective immediately, the city agency will only impound animals that pose an immediate threat to public safety or are in need of medical care.

And the intake desk at MAS offices will only accept emergency intakes. Appointments owners have made to surrender animals are being delayed for the time being.

The animal shelter is also seeking as many foster homes to care for pets as possible until normal operations resume.

The measures are in line with social distancing guidelines recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also reflect a drop-off in the number of adoptions, rescue transfers and reclamations of animals at Memphis Animal Services.

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Women of Achievement awards postponed

12:07 PM CT, March 13

Organizers of the 2020 Women of Achievement awards have postponed the 36th annual awards presentation, which had been scheduled for March 29.

The organization said it hoped to reschedule as soon as possible for later in the year, perhaps late summer or early fall.

For information call 901-378-3866 or email dclubb@memphiswomen.org.

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Your noon national novel coronavirus update

12:01 PM CT, March 13

It’s noon in Memphis. Below is what some national outlets are reporting about the coronavirus.

MIT Technology Review: Here’s a guide with information gleaned from several experts on how to practice social distancing in various scenarios, including what to do when you want to travel or work out. 

And here’s another guide, this time from The Atlantic, with advice from public health experts.

Wall Street Journal: Employment lawyers and workplace experts answer questions on what employers can and cannot require of their employees, in regards to the outbreak. 

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YMCA facilities and programs operating as scheduled

11:31 AM CT, March 13

All YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South facilities and programs, including Early Childhood Learning Centers, are currently operating as scheduled.

The YMCA is operating its programs as scheduled in schools that are still in session and will provide child care next week for spring break as scheduled.

“During this time, we are working closely with Shelby County Schools and our other school partners to provide child care for families in need of alternate arrangements during any school closures,” the organization said in a statement. “Our team is currently working through the implementation of this plan and will provide communications to all families as soon as it is available.”

The YMCA is also working with its partners to provide meals to children through its Y on the Fly program.

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Boys & Girls Clubs closing through March 27

11:25 AM CT, March 13

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis is suspending all program activities and in-person gatherings Friday, March 13 through Friday, March 27.

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Parkinson asks for help from state, MLGW

11:15 AM CT, March 13

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson is calling on Gov. Bill Lee to make funding for unemployment benefits and food stamps available to those who may be out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also wants Memphis, Light, Gas and Water Division to issue a moratorium on cutting power off for those who are unable to pay their utility bills.

Parkinson made the comments Friday, March 13, during a press conference at Golden Gate Cathedral, which included several North Memphis-based elected officials.

He also mentioned the possibility of asking Lee to expand Medicaid funding, even it’s just on a “temporary basis.”

Read more.

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Memphis Zoo anticipates no closures, interruptions

11:16 AM CT, March 13

Although the Memphis Zoo is monitoring COVID-19 developments, it does not anticipate any closures or programming interruptions. 

The zoo is asking staff and guests to stay home if unwell, is routinely cleaning all surfaces, and is “emphasizing respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.”

The statement goes on to say that as of now, there is no evidence that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted to animals and that zoo animals are healthy and being monitored closely. 

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Dining in off the table at Inspire Community Cafe for now

10:49 AM CT, March 13

Inspire Community Café, located in the Binghampton Gateway Shopping Center, is moving to take-out and delivery only through Saturday, March 28.

“We have been discerning how to best serve the community and take care of our staff during this time when so many of our children are out of school and people are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic,” read the restaurant’s statement. “Most of our team members have children at home and still need to bring in income during this time.”

The restaurant’s statement goes on to say that staff is sanitizing all surface areas and touch points “on a very regular basis” and that any staff members with signs of illness will not be permitted to work until they are full recovered.

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Briarcrest closed until March 30

10:27 AM CT, March 13

Briarcrest Christian School will be closed until Monday, March 30 and the school will begin online learning on Monday, March 16.

“This two-week period is not an extended spring break and it is certainly not a time for more travel,” reads the school’s announcement. “If your student does travel out of the area during this two-week period, you will need to report that travel to the school before returning. Your student may be subject to an additional two weeks out of school, depending on the facts and circumstances of his or her trip. If your student shows any COVID-19 symptoms (fever, coughing, shortness of breath) between now and March 30, he or she will need to be tested before returning to school.”

Students are not allowed on campus during the two-week period and all extracurricular events, including practices, are cancelled. Also cancelled are a theater trip to New York and a high school choir and band trip to Orlando. The elementary Grandparents Day and ACT testing for high school juniors will be rescheduled.

The school also posted its online learning plan.

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Germantown cancels some board meetings

10:12 AM CT, March 13

Meetings of many of Germantown’s citizen-led commissions and boards are being canceled for the time being.

The city said boards and commissions with budget, planning or legislative responsibilities would will continue to meet.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Design Review Commission, Personnel Advisory Commission, Financial Advisory Commission, Retirement Plan Advisory Commission and any affiliated subcommittees will meet as scheduled.

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Memphis in May moves forward, but monitoring virus

9:47 AM CT, March 13

Plans for the 2020 Memphis in May International Festival are still underway, but officials are monitoring the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the festival.

In a statement Friday, the festival acknowledged the risks.

“The current consensus with most of the postponed events is to reevaluate the latest developments in early April and make a new determination going forward. With that in mind, we are constantly monitoring the situation and will continue to do so in the days and weeks leading up to the festival.

“We are in close communication with our local government, public safety, and public health officials, as well as peer events and the festival industry association to ensure the preventative steps we are taking will provide the safest events possible for our patrons, performers, volunteers, vendors and staff. Safety is always our first priority.”

“Should it be determined that our events in May pose a risk to public safety, and if directed by a government authority and or public health organization to cancel them, we will promptly do so,” the festival said. 

If it must be canceled, all ticket holders will receive a refund and all contest and race participants will receive a refund of their entry fees.

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Methodist Le Bonheur limits access to all facilities

9:20 AM CT, March 13

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is tightening up on policies about who comes and who visits.

Those who are concerned they may have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to avoid coming to the emergency room unless hospital care is needed.

The system is also enacting new screening procedures at all facilities.

You will be asked your travel history, COVID-19 exposure and whether you have a fever or respiratory illness.

The hospital system is also limiting access points to its hospitals and restricting the number of visitors to two per patient. Children under 12 will not be allowed to visit for now.

The system is suspending all non-hospital meetings and events on its properties, including tours. If you have questions, go to https://www.methodisthealth.org/ for more information.

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Food bank looking for volunteers

9:09 AM CT, March 13

The Mid-South Food Bank is putting together boxes with non-perishable food for low-income people who might have to stay home for 14 days due to the coronavirus.

Each box will contain about 30 pounds of canned and packaged food and will be distributed by a network of MSFB partners.

Donations of food and money are needed, and volunteers are needed to pack the boxes. Click here to donate online and to find out more. 

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NBA commish: ‘We intend to resume the season’

8:50 AM CT, March 13

Yesterday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote an open letter to fans, talking about the league’s decision to temporarily suspend the season. 

That letter in full says: 

Dear NBA Fans,

As you know, we have temporarily suspended our season in response to the coronavirus pandemic. We made this decision to safeguard the health and well-being of fans, players, everyone connected to our game and the general public. This hiatus will last at least 30 days and we intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.

In the meantime, we will continue to coordinate with infectious disease and public health experts along with government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming our games. As we develop the appropriate course for future NBA games and events, we will keep you informed of any changes as soon as they happen. Tickets already purchased for a postponed game will be honored when the game is rescheduled. If games are not played or played in an empty arena, teams will work with fans on a credit for a future game or a refund.

We encourage you to visit NBA.com for the latest news, updates and interactive features to stay connected to the game. You will also find guidelines on how to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy.

This remains a complicated and rapidly evolving situation that reminds us that we are all part of a broader society with a responsibility to look out for one another. That is what the NBA will continue to do, and we are grateful for your understanding and for being the best fans in sports.

Sincerely,

Adam Silver

NBA Commissioner

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Topics

coronavirus COVID-19

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