Coronavirus daily blog, March 17: Strickland declares state of emergency; third local case confirmed

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 20, 2020 9:13 AM CT | Published: March 17, 2020 9:07 AM CT

Confirmed cases
Shelby County

Here’s the latest from Memphis and Shelby County, below, when it comes to dealing with the novel coronavirus. To view our full coverage, check out The Daily Memphian’s new coronavirus landing page.

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March 17, 2020

Farm and Fries closing indefinitely

8:56 PM CT, March 17

Farm and Fries in Germantown is closing indefinitely and might not reopen following the coronavirus outbreak, a Facebook post said.

The restaurant said in a Facebook post it thought the CDC’s recommendations for avoiding gatherings would be extended past the current eight weeks.

Even with takeout and delivery only options, they expected 50% volumes at best, which is not financially feasible for current employees.

They could reopen when health officials give clearance. However, the business will be approaching all who have expressed interest in buying the space in the past year.

The restaurant listed “restaurant groups, medical practices, retail, preschools and more” as previously interested parties. 

The post said while it’d prefer it remain an independent restaurant it realized the free-standing commercial space with its own parking was “desirable” in the suburb.

The restaurant owners have been approached by chefs and is encouraging Memphis-area entrepreneurs reach out.


Second Presbyterian Church switches to streamed services

7:49 PM CT, March 17

Second Presbyterian is switching to streaming services and will not hold in-person services.

Ahead of services March 15, Senior Pastor George Robsertson said the congregation would meet for worship in “defiant hope,” which he said is a theme in the Bible.

However, through April 5, Palm Sunday, the congregants will not meet in its services but instead gather online. Worship will be led by pastors in the sanctuary

The 11 a.m and 6 p.m. services will be streamed from the sanctuary, members are asked to watch online at

The 11 a.m. service can be listened to on the radio at 1210 AM and 103.1 FM.

Programs are canceled; the fitness center and Parents’ Day Out are closed through April 5.

The church also listed service opportunities for local ministries on its website.


Bellevue Baptist moves to online services

7:42 PM CT, March 17

Bellevue Baptist Church is moving its services online for two Sundays the church announced.

March 22 and 29, the church will stream its 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. services and those wishing to watch can do so using the church’s website or Facebook page.

Additionally Wednesday night events and Life Groups are cancelled through April 4.

The church has a tradition of placing wooden crosses in yards in the weeks leading up to Easter. Those can be picked up outside east and west entrances of the church beginning Friday.

Many questions had been raised about financial giving, according to Pastor Steve Gaines. Congregants can continue to give:

  • By mail with check: Bellevue Baptist Church, Attention: Accounting, 2000 Appling Road, Cordova, TN 38016 
  • Drop-off: Offerings can be dropped inside the West Lobby
  • Online: Offering can be done online at


Christ Community to open appointment-only COVID-19 test site

7:02 PM CT, March 17

Christ Community Health Services will open an appointment-only COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in the parking lot of its location at 3360 Third St. on Saturday, March 21, from 8:30 am to 11:30 am.

“We know that there is a great demand for COVID-19 testing and we have been testing patients as needed in our clinics; however, we realize that people who are not our patients need access to testing, so we are opening the Third Street parking lot to serve as a drive-thru location,” CEO Shantelle Leatherwood said.

Unsure of the full testing need, Christ Community is going to offer 50 free tests on Saturday to individuals who have symptoms – fever over 100 degrees, shortness of breath or dry cough – and will schedule appointments based on completing an online form.

“Christ Community serves the individuals in our communities who have great need,” Leatherwood said. “We focused on the Third Street location because of the elderly population in that area and we want to ensure the individuals with a need have access to care.”

Individuals with symptoms seeking to be tested should text “test2020” to 91999 and follow the texting prompts.

“Offering an online option for scheduling an appointment allows us to increase efficiency,” Lance Luttrell, chief operating officer said. “We will evaluate each individual that completes the online registration and call them to discuss the appointment.”


Southwest cancels events, changes schedule

6:54 PM CT, March 17

Southwest Tennessee Community College has canceled all scheduled campus events and activities through May 31, 2020. 

In addition, the annual commencement ceremony on May 2, at FedExForum, will be rescheduled. Events scheduled after May 31 are under review.

The college will remain open for business; however, operations will be scaled back effective March 18. Select employees will continue to work on campus, while all others will work remotely.

Normal operations are scheduled to resume April 6.

Last week, Southwest extended spring break to March 21. Classes will be held entirely online March 23-April 5. On campus instruction resumes April 6 for now.


Marriott begins reducing workers’ hours

6:28 PM CT, March 17

Marriott International said it had begun to put employees on temporary leave or reduced hours at its managed properties in response to significant drops in demand due to coronavirus.

It was unclear Tuesday how the furloughs, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, might affect Memphis hotels, including Marriott and Sheraton brands.

Memphis-area Marriott properties are franchise operations, not corporate-managed, Metro Memphis Hotel Lodging Association president Wayne Tabor said.

Tabor said he had spoken with some Marriott managers Tuesday and they didn’t mention personnel reductions. As franchise operations, “They would make their own decisions,” he said.

However, Tabor believes personnel reductions are inevitable given the pandemic’s progression.

“My guess is, it’s coming,” he said.

Large, full-service hotels are suffering because of canceled business meetings, but smaller, limited service hotels are still seeing fairly strong demand from leisure travelers and individual business travelers.

A Marriott International statement said, “As travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world become more widespread, we are experiencing significant drops in demand at properties globally with an uncertain duration. We are adjusting global operations accordingly which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties.

“Our associates will keep their health benefits during this difficult period and continue to be eligible for company-paid free short-term disability that provides income protection should they get sick,” the statement said. “We are working quickly to mitigate the impact to our business while also focusing on assisting our associates, our guests and our owners. While the ultimate impact is difficult to predict at this time given the fluidity of the situation, we remain confident in our long-term prospects.”


Germantown closing city parks’ common use areas

8:01 PM CT, March 17

The city of Germantown has reversed course one day after it announced city parks will remain open.

The city has canceled park facility rentals and is closing park restrooms and indoor and special use facilities, according to an email sent to citizen-led commissions.

Playgrounds, tennis courts, skate parks, Forgey Dog Park, the Pickering Center and Bobby Lanier Farm Park will be closed until further notice.

The Parks and Recreation office is also closed March 19.

Open space park areas and greenway trails are open from dawn until dusk, but the city urges users to practice social distancing.

Facilities will likely reopen as public health authorities give clearance, according to an email sent to commissioners from Pam Beasley, parks and recreation director.

“While we understand this short term sacrifice affects all our lives, we hope you understand that closure of recreation programs, facilities and services is temporary and intended to keep transmission rates as low as possible,” the email stated.


Lee proposes $200 million in grants for infrastructure, COVID-19 needs

5:09 PM CT, March 17

Gov. Bill Lee is proposing $200 million through grants for counties and cities to use for infrastructure needs and needs associated with COVID-19.

In addition, he is planning to suspend rules for childcare centers and inject $10 million into those facilities, along with making it easier for people to apply for unemployment and receive payments quicker.

People who miss work time for coronavirus will be allowed to receive unemployment payments while they miss work.


And the band plays on

6:47 PM CT, March 17

While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly kept many more people home, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities still carried on at Celtic Crossing, as a sizeable crowd began to show up at the Midtown Memphis pub for lunch and live music on Tuesday, March 17.

Owner DJ Naylor said he and his staff were taking an abundance of caution when it came to cleaning and have taken other measures, such as removing seating to allow more space between guests and limiting the number of people in certain areas, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Naylor has also initiated a curb-side pickup option for customers who may have a corn beef and cabbage craving, but want to avoid the crowds.

Live music and festivities are expected to carry on through the rest of the day, though crowd size is not expected to reach typical holiday levels.


Pink Palace Family of Museums close

5:02 PM CT, March 17

The Pink Palace Family of Museums will temporarily close its locations in the city beginning March 18. 

The sites under the Pink Palace umbrella include the Pink Palace Museum, theater and planetarium; Lichterman Nature Center; Mallory-Neely House and Magevney House.

“The Pink Palace Family of Museums has remained open these past two days in order to wind down scheduled activities,” said Kevin Thompson, executive director of the museums. “In just two short days, our staff has worked incredibly hard at winding down operations affecting over 11,000 people who had scheduled visits through May.”

The Pink Palace website, Facebook and Instagram pages will have content created to entertain children and adults during this period of home quarantine, Thompson said.

“We plan to roll out online services next week in order to continue to engage with the public,” he said. 


Zoo releases social media schedule

5:37 PM CT, March 17

The Memphis Zoo will offer a look at the institution, via its animals and team members, on its social media platforms starting this week.

On 8 a.m. Wednesdays, chief zoological officer Matt Thompson will host “Zoo Dude” on the zoo’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. At noon Saturdays and 8 a.m. Sundays, Thompson will host a “Behind the Scenes” version on the zoo’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages.

At 9 a.m. daily, penguins Casey and Kelso will “host” “Zoo News” on the zoo’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. 

And at 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, the zoo’s animal interpreter team will host “Virtual Wild Encounters,” on the zoo’s Facebook page.

Here’s a preview:



Malco to temporarily close theater locations

4:36 PM CT, March 17

Malco Theatres will temporarily close all its locations, until further notice.

“The health and safety of our guests and employees is of the highest importance,” said Malco president and chief operating officer David Tashie. “We will continue closely monitoring the situation and when given clearance, be ready to resume normal operations.”

The Memphis-based company operates cinemas in the Memphis-area – including the Majestic, Paradiso, Studio on the Square, Wolfchase and Ridgeway cinemas – as well as locations in Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Missouri. Each location will pause operations, following the close of business Tuesday, March 17.

For reopening updates and other information, customers are asked to follow Malco on Twitter and Instagram.


Pinnacle Financial goes to drive-thru banking temporarily

3:52 PM CT, March 17

Starting Wednesday, March 18, all Pinnacle Financial Partners’ offices will serve banking clients exclusively through the drive-thru window.

Interiors of the firm’s full-service banking offices will be closed until further notice. Appointments for urgent in-person needs can be accommodated. Many offices without a drive-thru will be closed until further notice.

“Restricting our offices is an extraordinary step, but we are in an extraordinary situation,” said Terry Turner, Pinnacle’s president and CEO. “The health and safety of our clients and associates is our No. 1 priority. We are taking this step in an effort to protect them. This is a challenging time, and we are doing everything in our power to play our part.” 

Several offices do not have drive-thrus but offer a drop box. Pinnacle associates will take deposits through the drop box at these locations.

Clients can find their nearest office by visiting

Additional guidance on what services can be completed via drive-thru, what can be accomplished remotely and what should be considered for an in-person appointment can be found at

“We’re taking steps to protect our associates that include allowing work from home wherever practical and augmenting daily cleaning services with additional disinfectant, among many others,” Turner said. “Likewise, we are working with clients who have been impacted by illness or the economic impact of social distancing. We encourage them to reach out to let us know how we can help ... As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses and eventually declines, we will make additional efforts to help our clients, communities and economy recover.”


Laird Veatch outlines Tiger athletic steps during coronavirus pandemic

3:39 PM CT, March 17

Memphis athletic director Laird Veatch released a letter to Tiger student-athletes and staff stating the university “will not host practice or group activities of any kind through, at a minimum, April 6, 2020” and spring practice has been postponed indefinitely as the athletic department outlines next steps for athletes.

The football team was slated to start practice March 17 at Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex. The extension of spring break to March 22 initially pushed that date back while Memphis’ Pro Day was moved to April 10. The American Athletic Conference canceled spring competition for the remainder of the school year. 

The third case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Shelby County Tuesday afternoon. As stated in the letter released by Veatch, Memphis students will move to remote or virtual learning for the remainder of the spring semester and graduation has been canceled.


Ballet Memphis cancels ‘Cinderella,’ classes, workshops

3:38 PM CT, March 17

Ballet Memphis has announced it will be canceling its performance of “Cinderella,” along with its school, office and any auditions, in order to prevent against any potential spread of COVID-19.

“Cinderella is a piece that brings magic to life for families, but we will not perform at the expense of our community” the company’s artistic director Steven McMahon said.

“We are being proactive, both in prevention and serving our community. We hope that during this time, we’ll be able to reach our audience through virtual tools so that we may continue to bring dance to Memphis.”

Those who purchased tickets to performances of the show will be contacted by Ballet Memphis staff with the option for a refund.

“(However), the organization is asking patrons to consider purchased tickets a donation,” spokesman Jeff Rhodin wrote in a Tuesday afternoon release.

Along with the office’s closing, all classes and workshops are postponed until further notice.

The company is accepting video auditions and digital headshots, in lieu of in-person appointments at


Chamber offers conference calls, webinars for businesses

3:37 PM CT, March 17

The Greater Memphis Chamber has announced the following free tools and webinars for Memphis area businesses for this week.

More conference calls and webinars will be added in addition to guidance on insurance matters and other topics relevant to local businesses.

Webinar: Helping Businesses Navigate COVID-19

Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 2:00-2:45 pm CST

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, many businesses are wondering what they should be doing to prepare.

During this webinar, ProTech’s team of experts will be discussing the tools that businesses need to have in place to enable remote work capabilities for their workforce for collaboration and continuing essential business activities.

The team will be on standby to discuss and advise on best practice recommendations to be prepared for future events. ProTech’s team will also offer a Q&A time answer any questions.


These events are free to Memphis area business leaders.

In addition, the Chamber will be convening a regular call with the Shelby County Health Department and business leaders in the Memphis region.

In an effort to provide resources for the business community, the Greater Memphis Chamber has created a resource page for Business Guidance on COVID-19.

For more information, visit


Oak Court Mall temporarily reduces hours

3:36 PM CT, March 17

The operating hours for Oak Court Mall have been reduced from the usual 11 hours daily six days a week to eight hours.

The mall at 4465 Poplar is temporarily adjusting operating hours to open daily at 11 a.m. (Sundays at noon) and close daily at 7 p.m. (Sundays at 6 p.m.), according to Kimberly Green, spokeswoman for owner Washington Prime Group.

“The safety of our guests, retailers and employees is our top priority. We continue to carefully follow the official guidance from state and local health officials,” Green said in a prepared statement.

Some retailers have already changed their hours or even closed temporarily.

“We are giving all tenants the opportunity to do what is right for their business at this time,” Green said.

“… Our modified hours are intended to strike a balance between allowing our communities to receive the goods, services and employment needed, while also enabling our teams to implement disinfectant and cleaning practices each evening, in addition to the already rigorous cleanings happening throughout the day,” she said.

Washington Prime Group, based in Columbus, Ohio, is offering its shopping centers for use by local, state and federal agencies involved in dealing with the coronavirus as well as those affected by it, she said.

“For instance, our centers could be used as distribution centers with respect to medical supplies or other items the community might need,” she said.


Strickland declares state of emergency

2:38 PM CT, March 17

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has declared a state of emergency for the city effective immediately.

“This declaration allows the City and its departments and agencies to seek any and all necessary federal and state funding to facilitate the response to the Emergency,” Strickland said in the email declaration issued Tuesday afternoon. “Additionally, all required procedures and formalities as to procurements on behalf of the City are hereby suspended for purchased of equipment, materials, supplies and services needed for Emergency management purposes.“

Here is the rest of the statement in its entirety:

“As you may have seen, the CDC is now recommending that all social events of 10 or more people be postponed or canceled over the next 15 days. I am urging event organizers locally to follow that guidance.

“I know many of you are concerned about getting your groceries, and making sure you have everything you need. I am asking that when you do grocery shop, please only get what you need. There is no need to hoard. This morning I spoke with several of our local grocers, and they all have plenty of food and supplies in store or on the way. It’s just a matter of having time to get shelves restocked. We ask that you be patient, and if you have elderly family, friends or neighbors, please go to the store for them. 

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18th, libraries and community centers will be closed until further notice. Parks and Golf courses will remain open; however, we are cancelling all extracurricular activities (i.e. Play Your Park) at our parks. The closing of our community centers will not affect food delivery to SCS students while their schools are closed or MIFA delivery to seniors.”

Strickland said Monday he was drafting such a declaration that he said gives him to the power to close businesses in necessary. The Tuesday declaration so far makes no reference to any business closings.

This story will be updated. 


Health department: Third Shelby County case confirmed

2:17 PM CT, March 17

A third person in Shelby County has contracted the novel coronavirus, the Shelby County Health Department announced in a Tuesday, March 17, press conference.

The individual is isolated at home and did not contract it in Shelby County, said health department director Alisa Haushalter.

“This case is not connected to the previous two cases in any way,” she said. 

The person, who is from outside the country, she said, was traveling extensively in the U.S. and was in Shelby County the day that person reported being sick.

“So, we know that that individual did not contract coronavirus while they were here,” Haushalter said. “We have just received that information so we’re doing the contact investigation currently and we’ll have more details tomorrow.”

Part of the detail will be whether the local health department thinks the person has exposed others here. The person is currently in isolation, but not hospitalized.

In its 2 p.m. daily update, the Tennessee Department of Health said there were 74 cases of the novel coronavirus statewide. It listed only two cases for Shelby County, but Haushalter said that three cases was correct. 

The agency also provided an age breakdown.

Two of the cases were people 65 and older; five were between 51-64; 11 cases were age 41-50; three cases were age 31-40; six cases were age 19-30; one case was age five to 18, and 23 cases were of unknown age. 


Macy’s temporarily closes stores nationwide

1:43 PM CT, March 17

Macy’s announced that it will close all of its stores by end of business Tuesday, March 17 through Tuesday, March 31.

The company said it would provide benefits and compensation to impacted workers. 

In the Memphis-area there are Macy’s locations at Oak Court Mall, Wolfchase Galleria and Carriage Crossing. There are Macy’s Backstage locations at Oak Court Mall and Wolfchase Galleria. 

The closure includes Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bluemercury, Macy’s Backstage, Bloomingdales the Outlet and Market by Macy’s stores.

“We will work with government and health officials to assess when we will reopen our stores and safely bring our colleagues back to work,” Jeff Gennette, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s, Inc., said in a statement.

Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Bluemercury will be available online at, and for customers, as well as the respective mobile apps.


The CLTV cancels programming through March

1:27 PM CT, March 17

The Collective (CLTV) has canceled all programming through March.

Events, including the Audacity Con which was scheduled for March 21, will be rescheduled.

The CMPLX, located at 2234 Lamar Ave., is closed at this time.


Christ Community suspends routine dental care

1:00 PM CT, March 17

Christ Community Health Services has suspended all routine and non-emergency dental care because of coronavirus, based on a recommendation from the American Dental Association.

“In 2019, Christ Community Health Services was a dental home to nearly 13,000 patients who come to us for a variety of dental needs,” Shantelle Leatherwood, chief executive officer said. “This recommendation from the Dental Association is based on an abundance of caution due to the nature of dental work. Although dental services are reducing, our medical services and pharmacy services will continue to serve our patients.”

Christ Community will continue to handle emergency dental procedures in all locations, Leatherwood said.

Patients can call 901-842-3160 to schedule an emergency procedure, said Dr. Rasone Jones, chair of dentistry.

“We will reschedule patients for all elective procedures once the Dental Association recommends it is safe to do so,” Jones said. “This decision is not made lightly, but is taken in the best interest of our patients and providers.”

Based on information from ADA’s website, “in order for dentistry to do its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the ADA recommends dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures for the next three weeks; concentrating on emergency dental care will allow us to care for our emergency patients and alleviate the burden that dental emergencies would place on hospital emergency departments.”


Informacion y Recursos Sobre la Enfermedad por Coronavirus

1:40 PM CT, March 17

There is now a Spanish-language version of the UTHSC coronavirus website, thanks to Daniel Bastardo Blanco, a Ph.D candidate in the College of Graduate Health Sciences, who worked with the university’s web team and the Venezuelan Alliance of Memphis to get it translated and verified.


Greek Festival postponed

12:16 PM CT, March 17

For the first time in 62 years, the Memphis Greek Festival has been postponed. The festival normally takes place the second weekend of May, but not this year. Organizers are looking for dates this fall when other events aren’t aleady scheduled and will announce the new date soon.


Restaurant rules of the road

11:46 AM CT, March 17

At present all restaurants in Memphis are free to operate on their own schedule, but in places across the country, such as Nashville, bars have been shuttered and restaurants cannot exceed 50% capacity.

While there are no such restrictions in Memphis, Mayor Jim Strickland said in a press release on Monday, March 16, that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is expected to rise as testing becomes more widespread. Whether more confirmed cases result in further action to any business, including restaurants, wasn’t stated.

So restaurants are self-governing. Many have taken the step of removing tables to give diners more social distance. Others are leaving tables in place but are seating patrons at a distance — which is not hard to do as crowds are sparse.

There are added hand-sanitation stations for customers and staffs are following or exceeding the Center for Disease Control’s hand washing guidelines for food service workers. 

There is an increased focus on sanitation. Assume that all or most of these steps are being taken for customer safety:

  • Removing condiments from the table (they will be served upon request, often in disposable containers).
  • Using paper menus that are disposed of after each use.
  • Not pre-setting tables.
  • Rolling silverware instead of placing it flat on napkins.
  • Using disposable cups and in some cases, utensils.

Delivery and/or to-go meals are available at virtually every restaurant in town. UberEats and GrubHub are waiving their fees for independent restaurants for right now and some restaurants have started or will soon start delivering their own food.


Second Line, Chef Tam’s among restaurants temporarily closed

11:37 AM CT, March 17

The dining room of Restaurant Iris, one of the city’s premier restaurants, is temporarily closed, as is its sister restaurant, The Second Line, though plans for it could change to include a takeout option. Chef/owner Kelly English also owns Fino’s, which will remain open for takeout only during lunch. All three restaurants will offer delivery services.

English made the decision March 16, after hearing the presidential press conference urging people not to convene in groups larger than 10 and to avoid restaurants, bars and food courts.

Other closings: 

117 Prime, 117 Union, is closed until at least Wednesday, March 18, while the owners re-evaluate whether to stay closed for the foreseeable future.

Bosses, 5030 Poplar, a wings restaurant in East Memphis, temporarily closed last week.

Calvary Waffle Shop closed early for its annual Lent service after lunch on Thursday, March 12; it will not reopen this year.

Chef Tam’s Underground Café, 668 Union, will reopen on Thursday, March 19, after a thorough cleaning.

Earnestine & Hazel’s, 531 S. Main, closed last week and will remain closed for the rest of the month.

The dining room is closed at Fino’s, 1853 Madison, but takeout will be available during lunch.

The Four Way, 998 Mississippi, closed Tuesday for a deep cleaning, but will reopen Wednesday, March 18, operating regular hours.

The dining room is temporarily closed at Inspire Community Café, 510 Tillman, but the restaurant is open regular hours for takeout (including curbside) and delivery.

When Mosa Asian Bistro, 850 S. White Station, reopens this week, it’s for to-go orders only for now. The dining room will be closed except for folks to come in to pick up orders. Mosa will deliver orders that are $50 or greater for a 15% fee delivery. Curbside service is available upon request.

The dining room at Restaurant Iris, 2146 Monroe, is temporarily closed. Delivery options that started Monday, March 16, will continue, but the restaurant will not be open for takeout.

The Second Line’s dining room at 2144 Monroe has temporarily closed. Chef/owner Kelly English has not decided yet if it will be staffed for takeout or will only offer delivery.

Mayor Jim Strickland said on Monday that parking enforcement on Midtown and Downtown streets will relax while diners go to restaurants to pick up meals. Don’t park in restricted areas such as emergency zones; you can still be ticketed or towed for that.


Two Shelby County inmates tested for coronavirus

11:35 AM CT, March 17

Results are expected back in five days for two inmates at the Shelby County Division of Corrections who have been isolated and tested for COVID-19, or the coronavirus, said Anthony Alexander, the director of the facility.

“We just have two inmates that have signs of a viral infection. We have taken precautionary measures to isolate them,” Alexander said. “We have identified an area with 56 beds where we can isolate when we have situations like that to keep them from the general population so we won’t spread the virus if we do have it.”

Alexander said they have also isolated inmates who have work details outside the prison. He said those inmates undergo medical screening daily.

To read a fuller version of this story, click here.


Your noon national novel coronavirus update

11:47 AM CT, March 17

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

Wall Street Journal: Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company, has started to furlough tens of thousands of its employees. 

Time: Amazon is prioritizing household staples, medical supplies and “other high-demand products” until at least April 5. 

CNN: The first volunteer in Seattle received a dose in a novel coronavirus vaccine trial. The six-week trial will be done to show that the vaccine is both safe and effective, but will need to be followed by other studies.

NPR: Lots of concerts are being canceled, but there are a number of virtual music events scheduled. This list includes John Legend, Dropkick Murphys and the Jacksonville Symphony. And CNN has a list of virtual concerts, plays, museum and gallery exhibitions, and other cultural happenings to check out.


EDGE adjusts for COVID-19

11:25 AM CT, March 17

 The Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) Board will still hold its March meeting on Wednesday, March 18, but is changing locations because of the pandemic.

The board will convene at 3 p.m. at the Embassy Suites hotel, 1022 S. Shady Grove Road.

That’s about a half-mile west down the Poplar corridor from the original host site, the Memphis Area Association of Realtors office. But MAAR closed its office earlier this week.

Also in response to the pandemic, EDGE is shortening its meeting. 

To read the full story, including that latest for a new Broad Avenue apartment development, click here


Opera Memphis cancels festival, plans broadcast

11:07 AM CT, March 17

Opera Memphis has canceled the 2020 Midtown Opera Festival scheduled for March 28-April 4. Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” was the featured work.

“Though this decision is heartbreaking, we know it is vital that we play our part in combating the spread of COVID-19 in this truly unprecedented situation,” Opera Memphis said in a statement on social media. 

As a consolation prize, Opera Memphis will broadcast 30 Days of Digital Opera beginning April 1. “We know nothing can replace the feeling of seeing an opera live and in person, but hopefully, this new program will help bridge the gap,” the post said. The digital program is still in development, and a schedule will be announced soon.

“We hope our patrons will consider donating their tickets to help us recoup some revenue, as the company has decided to pay our artists and crew who rely on performances for their livelihood,” the statement continued.


More temporary closing and hour changes for restaurants

10:48 AM CT, March 17

More restaurants are adjusting to the slow down in business and the advice from Monday’s presidential press conference to avoid groups larger than 10 and bars and restaurants in general.

At McEwen’s Downtown, it will be business as usual for lunch, but the restaurant will stop seating at 9 p.m. for dinner. And that’s just for right now; more drastic temporary action could be forthcoming.

<strong>Bert Smythe</strong>

Bert Smythe

“We’re going to give it a few days and if we’re not hitting the numbers we know we have to hit, then we’re probably going to pull the plug,” co-owner Bert Smythe said.

At Interim Restaurant & Bar in East Memphis, lunch service has been suspended and the lunch, dinner and brunch menu is being consolidated to a smaller one available during all open hours, which are Monday to Saturday 5-9 p.m. and Sunday noon-7 p.m. for now; the bar opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and happy hour goes on all night.

Bari remains open but Dodeci, the small bar upstairs at the restaurant, is closed until further notice.

At Crosstown Concourse, most restaurants and food vendors are sticking to normal hours. The exception is Global Café, which is open noon-6 p.m. this week, and French Truck, which is offering to-go only and closing at 2 p.m. The hot bar at Curb Market will be open, but plates will be filled by an employee instead of the usual self-service.

The dining room at Tamboli’s Pasta & Pizza is closed, but to-go and delivery is available.


Hattiloo suspends performances through May 1

10:29 AM CT, March 17

In adherence with recommendations to limit public gatherings, Hattiloo Theatre has suspended performances and public events through May 1.


U of M cancels spring events; graduation undecided

10:04 AM CT, March 17

All music performances, events and festivals at the University of Memphis will be canceled through the end of the spring semester.

The exception will be for students who need to perform a recital to complete their degree. For more information and the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit

The website post says the fate of the graduation ceremony has not been determined. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their COVID-19 (coronavirus) guidelines to include the cancellation of all events of 50 or more individuals over the course of the next eight weeks. This cancellation period covers the University of Memphis graduation, originally scheduled for May 9. At this time, we are exploring the option of postponing graduation, as we recognize how important this event is for our students and family members. We will update you as more information becomes available in the coming weeks, and we can more accurately project possible dates. An update on summer sessions will be provided in the next few days.” 


March 16, 2020

Kroc Center spring break camp open — for now

10:39 PM CT, March 16

Though The Salvation Army Kroc Center is closed, its Spring Break Camp is continuing through today. 

The camp will be closed after Tuesday, March 17th, and following that time, no public entry will be allowed. The business office will remain open Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The Kroc is also offering free, online Les Mills fitness classes via its Facebook page.

The platform offers 95 free workouts across eight categories. It will be available as long as the coronavirus disruption continues, and the Kroc plans to add a media library to help members access their favorite classes.



March 17, 2020

Millington Public Library closed, City Hall to remain open

9:29 AM CT, March 17

All activities and programming through the Millington Parks and Recreation Department have been canceled until April 1, including all activities at Baker Community Center and the Millington Gym.

The Millington Public Library is also closed until March 31, and Millington Fire and Police Departments are restricting public access to fire stations and police headquarters.

Millington City Hall will remain open during regular business hours, and residents are encouraged to use on-line bill payment or drop box behind city hall for water bills.



coronavirus COVID-19


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