Coronavirus daily blog, March 24: SCS to remain closed ‘until further notice’

By Updated: March 30, 2020 10:45 AM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 4:00 AM CT
<strong>Students (from left) Traevone Toney, 12; Zaniya Toney, 8; Janae Fisher, 10, and Kelsey Porter, 12, pick up instructional learning packets during a Shelby County Schools food distribution event Monday, March 23, at Orange Mound Community Center. On Monday,&nbsp;</strong><span><strong>the YMCA began running 62 meal-distribution sites across Shelby County.</strong>&nbsp;</span>(Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

Students (from left) Traevone Toney, 12; Zaniya Toney, 8; Janae Fisher, 10, and Kelsey Porter, 12, pick up instructional learning packets during a Shelby County Schools food distribution event Monday, March 23, at Orange Mound Community Center. On Monday, the YMCA began running 62 meal-distribution sites across Shelby County. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

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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  coronavirus landing page.

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Confirmed cases
Shelby County
135
Metro area
176
Tennessee
667
U.S.
51,542


March 24, 2020

Germantown announces extended closure, online learning

Updated: March 24, 2020 10:14 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 9:33 PM CT

Germantown Municipal School District acted similarly to suburban schools across Shelby County.

The district is following Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation to close until April 24th.

Before the extended closure announcement, the district sent an email to families earlier in the afternoon Tuesday, thanking them for their patience and communicating distance learning plans.

District staff communicated that students have learned more than 75% of information for this year, but is creating resources for students to master the standards while away from the classroom.

The district is not collecting assignments or giving grades at this time. However, the district is hosting conference calls to help parents understand online resources. Parents can join online or by calling +1 302-364-6761 PIN: 994 222 208#

  • March 25: 10 a.m. until 11 a.m.
  • March 25: 1 p.m. until 2 p.m.
  • March 26: 4 p.m. until 5 p.m.
  • March 26: 5 p.m. until 6 p.m.
  • A recording will be posted on the website on Friday, March 27.

The calls will help parents learn how to use the online learning technological tools students will be utilizing in the next month.

Although GMSD is not collecting work, AP and dual enrollment students should continue their course work. They should be in contact with their teachers, and questions about dual enrollment can be directed to Missy.Abel@gmsdk12.org

Nurses should be reaching out to families whose students take daily medication. Individuals who have not heard from their nurse by end of day March 24, should contact their principal.

Students will be able to pick up essential items such as instruments, Advanced Placement, dual enrollment and ACT materials and district-issued devices and charges by signing up online. Library books, work books, textbooks and school supplies are not considered essential items. Questions about other items should be directed to school principal’s via email.

No more than 10 people will be allowed in a school building at a time. Students may bring one guardian with them and district staff will be present throughout the building to enforce safety guidelines and precautions.

Students who need meals at this time may get them at one of more than 60 sites where YMCA is giving meals to Shelby Count Schools students.

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Millington extends school closure

Updated: March 24, 2020 10:35 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 6:58 PM CT

Millington has announced it will close schools until April 24, which is in line with the recommendation Gov. Bill Lee made Tuesday afternoon. 

Previously the municipal school district was scheduled to be closed until March 31.

Millington is currently serving meals to children 18 and under in a drive-thru format from 10:30 a.m. until noon. Children must be present and everyone must remain in the car

Drive-thru sites:

  • E.A. Harrold Elementary: 4943 West Union
  • Millington Middle School: 4964 Cuba Millington
  • Millington Elementary: 6455 William Osteen Drive
  • Aycock Park: 7330 Renda St. Millington

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Bartlett City Schools following governor’s recommendation

Published: March 24, 2020 6:09 PM CT

Bartlett City Schools will remain closed until April 24, the district announced Tuesday.

The extended closure is in line with Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation made Tuesday afternoon. 

The district will communicate information and instructions about remote learning this week.

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SCS to remain closed ‘until further notice’

Updated: March 24, 2020 5:30 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 4:52 PM CT

After Gov. Bill Lee asked that Tennessee schools remain closed through at least Friday, April 24, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray announced that SCS schools will be closed until further notice.

“Our team is meeting daily to assess rapidly changing development and next steps,” Ray said in a statement on Tuesday, March 24. “We will continue to seek and adhere to all local, state and national guidance concerning this unprecedented outbreak, and make the best decision on behalf of children in Shelby County.” 

The district said it plans to continue to provide daily meals to students in partnership with the YMCA and that it is expanding instructional resources that are available to students while schools are closed.

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Collierville recycling on hold for remainder of week due to COVID-19

Published: March 24, 2020 5:05 PM CT

Collierville’s recycling vendor is not accepting items for the remainder of the week.

Inmates make up about 75% of West TN Recycling Hub facility’s sorting line. Tennessee is not allowing inmates to work outside prisons due to COVID-19.

The facility will not be able to keep up with demands.

This will affect residents’ Wednesday and Thursday scheduled pickups. Residents may hold on to their recyclables until the facility reopens. They may also place their recycling carts on the curb and items will be taken to the landfill.

West TN Recycling Hub hopes its recycling schedule is back to normal by Monday, March 30.

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Arlington Community Schools closed until April 24

Updated: March 24, 2020 4:34 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 4:34 PM CT

Arlington Community Schools will close until April 24, a letter sent to families from Superintendent Tammy Mason said.

She said students have been taught between 80-90% of the year’s materials, and students would have been on track to take TNReady tests, but the requirement was eliminated by legislators. Therefore, the district will provide online optional resources for students to continue learning.

The resources should be available by Wednesday April 1. Additional information will be sent to families early next week and questions should be directed to info@acsk-12.org.

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Collierville announces extended school closure

Updated: March 24, 2020 4:08 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 4:08 PM CT

Collierville is adhering to the advisement of Gov. Bill Lee and closing schools until April 24.

The district announced earlier that its technology team was working on a online learning plan and it could begin as early as Monday, March 30, but students and families will be notified with further instructions by the district.

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Lakeland announces extended school closure

Published: March 24, 2020 3:53 PM CT

Lakeland School System announced Tuesday it will follow Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation and be closed through April 24. 

Friday, school families will receive information about online learning and students will begin using online resources April 1.

“We are encouraged and grateful for the support and encouragement of out school community and will continue to keep our stakeholders informed as this situation develops.”

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Governor asks schools to close until April 24

Updated: March 24, 2020 3:14 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 3:14 PM CT

Gov. Bill Lee is asking school districts statewide to remain closed through April 24.

The request applies to all schools K-12 while the state reassesses the situation, Lee said Tuesday afternoon.

Most local schools are already closed at least through March 31.

This story will be updated.

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Shelby County COVID-19 cases at 135 Tuesday afternoon

Updated: March 24, 2020 2:21 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 2:03 PM CT

As of Tuesday afternoon, March 24, there were 135 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Shelby County.

There will be a discrepancy between state and local numbers, but the state is working to defray the reporting delay, said Alisa Haushalter, head of the Shelby County Health Department, during a daily briefing at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The latest numbers from the state health department show 615 confirmed cases across Tennessee.

Haushalter said she did not have the number of people hospitalized with the virus, but the number has been relatively small to date.

Orders issued yesterday to further isolate the population are important, she said. Efforts are underway with other counties to do the same.

“Our goal is to be aggressive enough that we don’t end up like Italy or Spain,” she said. “Stay-at-home orders will have an impact.”

Employers need to make sure employees who are ill are not in the workplace.

Haushalter also recommended masks for seniors or those with chronic illness. It’s something individuals should discuss with their doctor.

Early cases of those contracting the virus have recovered, she added, and many have returned to daily living.

She said health officials will have to study whether someone who gets coronavirus could get it again later after recovering.

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Watch the Health Department briefing LIVE

Published: March 24, 2020 2:00 PM CT

The daily Shelby County Health Department briefing is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Watch below:

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Chamber posts available job listings

Updated: March 24, 2020 1:37 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 12:50 PM CT

The Greater Memphis Chamber has launched a new job listing page for companies with immediate hiring needs in the Memphis area. The site can be accessed from the chamber’s COVID-19 Business Resources Page.

“Our team is speaking with local business leaders on a daily basis and despite the challenging climate for many businesses, there are many local companies with immediate hiring needs,” said Beverly Robertson, president and CEO of the chamber. “We want to share that information with the broader community as quickly as possible to help connect people with opportunities and help our businesses get the workforce they need.”

Some companies with immediate hiring needs include Kroger, Amazon, Lehman Roberts, PFS Web and others.

The chamber is contacting Memphis area businesses daily during the COVID-19 crisis. It is also executing a COVID-19 Business Impact Survey to quantify the impact on local businesses. The chamber will rerun that survey every two to three days for the next few weeks to get a better idea of the economic impact in real time. The findings will be shared publicly as they are aggregated.

For more information, visit memphischamber.com.

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BBB warns coronavirus scams ticking up

Updated: March 24, 2020 2:37 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 2:37 PM CT

Better Business Bureau Mid-South is warning about scams playing off the government’s discussion of financial aid to individuals as part of coronavirus relief.

The bureau said Tuesday, March 24, it had been alerted to two scams attempting to use Facebook to get money or confidential information, under the guise of helping people get government funding.

The bureau urged the public to be on guard against emails, texts, phone calls and other contact from scam artists.

The bureau issued this statement:

“The government is putting together a stimulus package that should include checks or deposits to individuals. However, they will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.

“The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.

“These reports of checks aren’t yet a reality. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.”

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Novel offering free delivery, curbside pickup

Updated: March 24, 2020 11:58 AM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 11:58 AM CT

Novel has closed its doors to browsing through Tuesday, April 7. The bookstore is offering free delivery every day, as well as curbside pickup from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Customers can shop online at www.novelmemphis.com or via phone at (901) 922-5526.

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Shelby County cases rise to 135

Updated: March 24, 2020 10:51 AM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 10:32 AM CT

As of Tuesday, March 24, there were 135 confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Shelby County, according to the city’s latest update

As of Monday at 2 p.m., there were 615 confirmed cases in the state.

Tipton County has six confirmed cases; DeSoto County has 23. There are fewer than four in Crittenden County in Arkansas.

The Health Department says there are indications that person-to-person spread in the workplace and the community are taking place.

It recommends strict adherence to social-distancing recommendations, including staying at home. Leave only for essential activities, including going to the grocery store or pharmacy or work if you are considered an essential employee. Keep children occupied at home.

 

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Mississippi, DeSoto County COVID-19 cases increase

Published: March 24, 2020 10:23 AM CT

Mississippi reported 320 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 249 Monday.

There are six new cases in DeSoto County, for a total of 29. Marshall County remains at three confirmed coronavirus cases.

DeSoto County has the second highest number of cases behind Hinds County, which is in the Jackson metro area and is reporting 31 cases.

Mississippi has reported one coronavirus-related death, which was in Hancock County, along the Gulf Coast.

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MPD closes nine precincts

Updated: March 24, 2020 10:08 AM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 10:08 AM CT

Memphis Police Department has closed its nine precincts to the public in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Due to the notable spread of the novel Coronavirus, and our concern for the safety of our citizens and officers, access to the Memphis Police Department’s police stations will be restricted for emergencies only,” the department said in a statement on Facebook.

A closure notice with the police station’s phone number has been posted at all precincts to let the people know that officers are on-site to help, but the public is n not allowed inside unless there is an emergency.

A front desk officer will help people by phone or if needed they will come outside to assist, practicing social distancing.

Anyone with a traffic ticket or citation can go online to pay at epayments.memphistn.gov or call 901-636-3400 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. If you have a red light camera ticket go to violationinfo.com or call 1-866-790-4111.

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Criminal court clerk’s office to close early

Published: March 24, 2020 10:40 AM CT

The Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk’s office is closing at 1 p.m. each day in the wake of COVID-19.

“This is to minimize exposure and possible contamination to the COVID-19 virus,” Kevin Phipps, spokesman for Criminal Court, said in an email.

The office opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 1 p.m. until further notice, Phipps said.

For more information call the Criminal Court Clerk’s office at 901-222-3200.

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Central offers deal to those laid off

Updated: March 24, 2020 11:41 AM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 10:47 AM CT

Central BBQ is providing a low-cost family meal for people who have been laid off from work. From March 24 through April 5, the restaurant’s Central, Poplar and Summer Avenue locations will offer:

  • Family pork pack: $14 for 6 pack of pork, slaw, sauce, quart of baked beans, and a quart of greens
  • Family chicken pack: $19 for a 6 pack of chicken, slaw, sauce, quart of baked beans, and a quart of greens.

To participate, call one of the eligible locations to place your order.

Upon pick-up, you will need to present your separation letter from your employer or your unemployment letter and your ID. Limit one order per guest, per day. Curbside only (not available for delivery).

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FedEx issues travel papers to hub workers, others

Updated: March 24, 2020 1:44 PM CT | Published: March 24, 2020 11:25 AM CT

FedEx is issuing travel authorization letters to employees in communities where shelter-in-place orders are in effect, including Memphis.

The letters were distributed to workers at the FedEx Express world hub in Memphis after Mayor Jim Strickland enacted a shelter-in-place order to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Strickland on Monday described enforcement of the two-week order as being on the honor system at present, but the travel credentials could come into play if restrictions are tightened on how people can move around the area.

The letter says, “The bearer of this letter, accompanied by a FedEx ID, is providing essential services. FedEx operations are exempt from closure and travel restrictions because FedEx is an essential business.”

“This includes ... all FedEx operations (and) FedEx employees transiting to and from their workplace.”

The letter also gives a contact number to confirm the person’s status as a FedEx employee.

FedEx, Memphis’s largest private employer, has about 30,000 employees in the area. The number includes more than 11,000 at the hub at Memphis International Airport, many of whom work part-time overnight shifts.

One employee said hub workers were told Monday the company would begin doing forehead temperature checks of  arriving workers Tuesday night.

FedEx said managers across all operating companies had access to travel letters to provide to employees in markets where shelter-in-place orders are in effect.

The Memphis order was scheduled to take effect at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 24.

A FedEx statement said, “Transportation service providers and shipping/postal operators have been widely recognized as essential businesses and critical infrastructure industries with exemptions from current state and local orders to shelter in place.”

“Our FedEx Office retail locations are also providing vital access points to our global network, hold locations for redirected shipments and urgent printing support for government agencies and customers.”

The statement added, “The safety and well-being of our 475,000 team members is our top priority as they continue to deliver critical goods and services to support communities across the globe. FedEx is adhering to all regulations and guidelines from government authorities related to containment of COVID-19.”

“As an essential service, we continue to operate to and from impacted areas as local conditions and restrictions allow, and are taking recommended precautions in terms of team member and customer health and safety.”

UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara said, “Our employees have, or we can provide to them when needed, a letter of safe passage that reiterates the CISA guidelines regarding Critical Infrastructure-designated businesses and industries. Together with a UPS employee ID, these documents have been sufficient, when and if needed.”

CISA is the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

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Gould’s Salon Spa closing area locations until further notice

Published: March 24, 2020 8:36 AM CT

As a result of county-wide Safer at Home orders, Gould’s Salon Spa announced its locations are closing until further notice.

Poplar Plaza, Overton Square and Big Cypress locations closed Monday following Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s Safer at Home Orders.

The remainder of the locations will close Tuesday at 6 p.m. until further notice.

Both Gould’s Academy locations have stopped in-person instruction and students began online learning last week.

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March 23, 2020

Old Dominick will create up to 10,000 units of hand sanitizer

Published: March 23, 2020 5:33 PM CT

Old Dominick Distillery has partnered with Shelby County to produce up to 10,000 units of hand sanitizer for distribution to the lower income community and homeless population of Shelby County. It’s one of several distilleries in the country to start making sanitizer, which is hard to find.

 “In this unprecedented time of crisis, the Old Dominick team wants to help our community anyway we can,” says Alex Castle, master distiller and senior vice president of Old Dominick Distillery. “We‘ve only recently received permission from the federal government to produce hand sanitizer, which we are actively pursuing at this time.”

Old Dominick expects small-scale testing of hand sanitizer to begin early this week and full production next week.

County Commissioner Tami Sawyer sponsored the resolution that allows emergency funding to cover costs of the production.

Shelby County will distribute all sanitizer produced by Old Dominick. Sawyer plans for a large portion of the hand sanitizer to be distributed to low income communities and the balance given to the homeless population and Shelby County Schools food distribution sites. 

Old Dominick Distillery has suspended all distillery tours and The Bar at the distillery will remain temporarily closed in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Second St. Jude employee tests positive

Updated: March 24, 2020 9:15 AM CT | Published: March 23, 2020 10:21 PM CT

Over the weekend, a second employee at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in patient care tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s important to know that the employee followed our established procedures and stayed home after the first sign of symptoms and is on self-quarantine now,” St. Jude said in a statement.

The employee developed symptoms while away from work and was last at work 12 days ago.

Due to privacy and confidentiality laws, the hospital said it could not share personal information about the employee. It is working with the Shelby County Health Department to make sure appropriate follow-up measures are taken. 

All close contacts of the employee at the hospital are being identified and notified. 

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Shelby County Sheriff’s Office employee tests positive for COVID-19

Updated: March 24, 2020 9:12 AM CT | Published: March 23, 2020 6:37 PM CT

A Shelby County Sheriff’s Office employee at the county jail has tested positive for the coronavirus, Sheriff’s Office officials said Monday, March 23.

“The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has received confirmation from the Shelby County Health Department that a SCSO employee that works with detainees at the Shelby County jail has tested positive for Covid-19,”Capt. Anthony Buckner, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said in a video posted on Twitter Monday night. “We cannot disclose personal information about this employee due to privacy and confidentiality laws.”

 

Read more.

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Commission to delay hearing land use cases for 30 days

Updated: March 23, 2020 7:22 PM CT | Published: March 23, 2020 7:22 PM CT

The Shelby County Commission approved a moratorium to delay considering land use cases that need its approval for 30 days.

The resolution voted on Monday, March 23, passed 11-0. Future county commission meetings will be held in an electronic format – at least through May.

The add-on resolution gives county officials time to find an online public hearing format that gives the public a fair opportunity to participate in land use cases.

When the commission typically hears a land use case, both the applicant (and its supporters) and opposition are offered equal time to present their cases before the body makes a decision on the matter.

These public hearings normally happen in-person but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gatherings of 10 or more people have been discouraged, according to guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

John Zeanah, director of the Office of Planning and Development, said they are also searching for a way to livestream its next meeting, soit ca n allow the public to participate in upcoming Land Use Control Board public hearings.

If the OPD is unable to find the technology by Friday, then the cases scheduled for April 9 will be reschedule for May 14, Planning Director Josh Whitehead said in an email Monday.

Gov. Bill Lee, meanwhile, signed an executive order Friday, March 20, permitting electronic voting by municipal and county boards to increase social distancing required due to COVID-19.

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Community Foundation COVID-19 fund accepting donations

Updated: March 24, 2020 7:46 AM CT | Published: March 23, 2020 4:57 PM CT

Shelby County Commission Chairman Mark Billingsley said efforts have begun to help those who have been negatively effected.

“A lot of people are at home happy and healthy, but they want to help in some way,” the Germantown commissioner said.

People may donate to the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund which is hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis Foundation.

“The (fund) will provide flexible funding to organizations serving community members who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus and the economic consequences of the pandemic in West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas and Northern Mississippi.”

The foundation administers grants to many area non-profit sponsors.

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