Coronavirus live blog, April 1: Marshall Co. Schools suspends meal plan

By Updated: April 01, 2020 10:35 PM CT | Published: April 01, 2020 4:00 AM CT

, April 1

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April 01, 2020

Marshall County Schools suspends meal program

10:32 PM CT, April 1

Marshall County School District in North Mississippi is suspending its meal program until further notice.

The district made the decision after at least one employee tested positive for COVID-19. However, the social media post said “employee(s)” so it is possible multiple tested positive.

Mississippi State Health Department reported 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases of the virus Wednesday,

The district said while they were not involved in food preparation, they helped distribute meals and made copies for students’ take-home learning material.

Symptoms were not exhibited while working. As soon as symptoms developed, they self-quarantined and did not return.

Marshall County School District sites are closed for the next 14 days and being cleaned and disinfected.

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FedExForum considered for hospital overflow

7:36 PM CT, April 1

The Memphis Grizzlies have been contacted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the possibility of FedExForum being used as a medical facility to deal with potential hospital overflow as COVID-19 cases are expected to surge in Tennessee in the coming weeks, a source with knowledge of the communication has confirmed.  This was initially reported by 92.9 radio host Gary Parrish.

Gov. Bill Lee said during his press conference earlier in the day that the state may need 7,000 more hospital beds to deal with the expected surge. FedExForum is apparently among multiple sites being considered to address to potential need. 

The source also confirmed Parrish’s report that Grizzlies controlling owner Robert Pera has made a donation to the Mid-South Food Bank that would provide 300,000 meals locally.

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issues statewide Shelter-in-Place order

4:34 PM CT, April 1

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a statewide Shelter-in-Place order Wednesday.

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, April 3, and remains in effect until April 20.

“We have to make sure our people understand if you will comply, we will be able to slow this spread,” Reeves said, hopeful he would not have to extend the order.

The order requires non-essential businesses to have minimal operations and are outlined in the order.

“Grocery stores are going to stay open, other essential operations will stay open,” he said. 

Under the executive order, groups of 10 people or more are prohibited. In an effort to discourage congregation, amusement parks, museums, beaches, lakes, movie theaters and parks will be closed. Walking trails will remain open.

Reeves has seen “clusters” of people not working and gathering, which contributes to spread of disease.

The order gives the state the ability to enforce the guidelines. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi Department of Transportation, Highway Patrol and law enforcement will help enforce the measures.

It would have been politically easier to make this decision weeks ago, he noted. The decision was “data driven and based upon advice of the experts.”

He was touched by texts of people saying they were praying for him as he navigated COVID-19’s effects on the Magnolia State.

“The most important mechanism we have in Mississippi is you the people,” he said. “If you will stay at home ... we will be successful in slowing spread.”

As of Wednesday, the state was reporting 1,073 confirmed cases and 22 deaths due to complications from the disease.

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Strickland: Only one family member should grocery shop at a time

3:48 PM CT, April 1

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland met with local grocers Wednesday, April 1, one of several meetings he’s had on a frequent basis with industry groups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Out of the meeting came a call by Strickland to have only one family member grocery shop at a time.

“This will help with social distancing by having less people in the store at the same time and also allows staff to restock the shelves,” Strickland wrote in his daily email update on the pandemic.

Some supermarkets already have signs up at check out lines marking six feet between customers and/or urging groups of people buying food to break up during the check out. Some also have special hours for those over 60 to shop apart from other age groups.

Strickland also has a public service announcement that begins airing on radio stations immediately emphasizing his theme of “working together to stay apart.”

“The most important thing you can do right now is stay at home,” he said in the message. “This is serious and you need to take it seriously. We will get through this Memphis.”

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Maps show concentration of coronavirus cases

4:16 PM CT, April 1

The Shelby County Health Department released the number of individuals infected by COVID-19 sorted by individual ZIP codes Wednesday afternoon.

The 38113, 38131 and 38132 areas are the only spots not affected by the coronavirus as of this week. The total number of cases stands at 497, but only 477 of those were mapped by the city of Memphis. The other 20 were from an unknown ZIP code.

Four areas on the map indicate there are between 28-40 cases present in six different ZIP codes. That is the highest possible range a ZIP code could receive in the Shelby County Health Department graphic.

The Shelby County Health Department also released a heat map Tuesday showing where a number of individuals with coronavirus live. That map represents only 379 individuals infected with the virus. The newly released ZIP code map has more specific boundaries than the heat map.

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Binghampton Development Corp. establishes COVID-19 response fund

2:56 PM CT, April 1

The Binghampton Development Corp. established a COVID-19 Response Fund on Wednesday, April 1, to help neighborhood residents in need, according to BDC director Noah Gray.

The fund’s purpose is to provide emergency assistance for Binghampton residents who are struggling to find money to pay rent, mortgages and utility bills. The BDC says 100% of all funds received will go directly to supporting residents.

“We are seeing residents struggle with loss of employment, inaccessibility to food and household goods, and a rapid decrease in options for child care, transportation and internet access,” Gray said. “We know that many economically vulnerable individuals and families in Binghampton will now increasingly struggle to make ends meet.”

If you want to donate to the COVID-19 response fund, here is a link.

You can also donate a check through the mail with “COVID-19 RESPONSE FUND” in the memo to Binghampton Development Corporation, P.O. Box 111447 Memphis, TN 38111.

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497 coronavirus cases, 3 deaths in county Wednesday afternoon

2:02 PM CT, April 1

The number of people in Shelby County infected with coronavirus stood at 497 Wednesday afternoon, with three deaths reported.

The count was up from 405 Tuesday. In the Memphis metro area, there are now 668 cases with four deaths total.

Health Department medical director Dr. Bruce Randolph said 5,506 have been tested with 9% positive rate.

At a 2 p.m. briefing, Randolph talked about the outbreak at Carriage Court assisted living facility in Memphis where five residents and an employee have tested positive.

Carriage Court is taking appropriate actions to contain the virus, he said.

In spite of stay-at-home orders, people are still not adhering to social distancing and the other directives.

By law, he is now issuing a directive for individuals and businesses to comply with those orders. Those who fail to comply can be charged with a misdemeanor, although they will be warned first verbally and then in writing.

“Stay home, unless you have to be out,” he said, noting 100,000 deaths could occur from this disease nationwide.

All bench warrants issued in the county have been suspended, said County Mayor Lee Harris.

Bench warrants are issued to people charged with crimes who don’t show up for their court dates.

The county is promoting free teletherapy counseling sessions for county employees to help them deal with mental health issues as the crisis unfolds. 

 

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Watch the Health Department briefing live

1:47 PM CT, April 1

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

Watch below:

 

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MATA announces refunds

12:56 PM CT, April 1

The Memphis Area Transit Authority is offering prorated refunds to fixed route bus customers who bought 7- or 31-day passes prior to the start of temporary free fares that began March 25.

Those eligible must show either the pass or a receipt from a purchase between March 17-24 and visit the William Hudson Transit Center, 444 N. Main, between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. April 2-4 to receive the refund.

The free fares are available until April 30 as part of an overall strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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Health Department investigating outbreak at Carriage Court of Memphis

10:20 AM CT, April 1

The Shelby County Health Department has revealed the name of the assisted living facility whose coronavirus outbreak it is investigating. 

In its daily coronavirus update email, the Health Department said it is currently investigating Carriage Court of Memphis, located at 1645 West Massey Road. 

According to the agency, it has tested 22 people at the facility, including residents and staff.

Four people tested positive, 16 people tested negative and the test results for two people are still pending. 

Before the Health Department began its investigation, two people were tested by other health providers and tested positive. 

To date, there have been six positive cases: five residents and one employee. 

“Carriage Court of Memphis is taking appropriate actions to contain the virus,” read the Health Department email. “The employee who tested positive is recovering at home in isolation.”

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Virus count rises 23% in Shelby County

8:36 AM CT, April 1

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus Wednesday morning jumped 23% from Tuesday, rising to 497, according to the City of Memphis.

There have been three deaths in Shelby County related to the disease, according to the city’s COVID-19 website.

Statewide, there are 2,239 confirmed cases and 23 deaths. Currently, 175 are hospitalized in Tennessee and 121 who got the virus have recovered.

Total number of people tested is 27,360 in Tennessee, with an 8.18% positivity rate, according to the website.

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State lawmaker calls for ‘Immunity Certificates’

11:43 AM CT, April 1

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart today called on the Lee administration to start an “Immunity Certificate” program to test Tennessee’s healthcare providers, first responders and other people likely to be exposed to COVID-19 and identify those who are immune and can freely work on the front lines of the fight the virus. 

Germany and Great Britain are rolling out broad testing and certification to find people who are immune and can perform key jobs without risk. 

“We need to get the resources in place to test all of our healthcare workers so we know which ones can work without fear of COVID-19 and which ones need maximum protection against the VIRUS,” said Stewart, a Nashville Democrat. 

As reported in Business Insider and other news sources, Germany is planning to send hundreds of thousands of tests to determine whether persons who have developed antibodies to COVID-19 so those who are immune can be given certificates permitting greater movement and activity.

“This is a concrete action Tennessee can take to protect the healthcare workers on the front lines and get this virus under control now – why would we NOT take the lead?” Stewart said. “I have spoken with numerous industry representatives who say it is feasible to vastly expand our testing capacity; broadly testing our healthcare workers to determine which ones are already immune is commonsense,” Stewart observed. “With enough capacity, we could also test persons, such as many first responders, who are in high contact jobs that inevitably require them to work in close quarters with large numbers of people.”

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901 FC participating in USL eCup

12:09 PM CT, April 1

The United Soccer League season may be on hold, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a way for Memphis 901 FC players to stay competitive.

On Friday, the club will play its first game in the USL eCup: Rocket League Edition against Tulsa at 4 p.m. Forward Brandon Allen, the team’s leading goalscorer in 2019, and midfielder Raul Gonzalez will be at the controls.

Memphis is part of a 32-team World Cup-style tournament that features clubs from both the USL Championship and League One. In addition for the chance to win local bragging rights, the tournament will also benefit local charities nominated by each club. Memphis will represent the Mid-South Food Bank.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to provide some action for our fans while supporting the efforts of the Mid-South Food Bank,” club president Craig Unger said in a statement.

The tournament began Wednesday and can be watched on both ESPN.com and the ESPN app. Memphis plays in Group 8 alongside Tulsa, Forward Madison FC and Birmingham Legion FC.

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MPD allows self-reporting of accidents

11:14 AM CT, April 1

The Memphis Police Department is allowing anyone involved in a minor car accident in the city to call it in to precincts or the traffic office within five days of the crash in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The accidents have to be minor with no injuries or drugs or alcohol involved and the vehicles are drivable.

Residents are asked to exchange names, addresses, insurance information, tag numbers and phone numbers and take pictures of the damage. They can then call it in to one of the following precincts or the traffic office:

·        Traffic: 901-636-4679

·        Crump precinct: 901-636-4600

·        Mt. Moriah precinct: 901-636-4199

·        North Main: 901-636-4099

·        Old Allen precinct: 901-636-4399

·        Raines precinct: 901-636-4599

·        Tillman precinct: 901-636-3000

·        Central Records for copy of accident report: 901-636-3650

An officer or police service technicians will make the scene of an accident only if: a confrontation occurs, injuries are reported, drugs or alcohol involved, a driver refuses to share information or if a vehicle is disabled.

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Mississippi reports 136 new cases

11:00 AM CT, April 1

Mississippi State Department of Health reported 136 cases Wedenesday, bringing the total to more than 1,000.

There are 10 new cases in DeSoto County for a total of 94. DeSoto County still has one death. It has the second-highest number of cases in the state behind Hinds County, which has 109 cases reported and is in the Jackson, Mississippi metropolitan area.

Marshall County has one new case for a total of 15.

The state is reporting an additional 21 deaths, one in each of the following counties: Amite, Bolivar, Hancock, Harrison, Humphreys, Lafayette, Lee, Leflore, Montgomery, Panola, Perry, Rankin, Suflower, Tunica and Webster.

Holmes, Tippah and Wilkinson counties are reporting two deaths each.

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Rhodes doing away with ACT, SAT scores in 3-year pilot

9:40 AM CT, April 1

Rhodes College will not require prospective students to submit SAT or ACT test scores for freshmen for the next three years.

The college is conducting a three-year, test-optional pilot project in light of the COVID-19 situation and cancellation of College Board and ACT test dates this spring.  

“We’ve heard from many of our prospective students, this is an uncertain and difficult time for them. We don’t want the uncertainty of SAT and ACT testing schedules to add to their stress,” said J. Carey Thompson, vice president of enrollment & communications.

“At Rhodes, we have always looked at the whole student. I’m confident that we will continue to recruit bright and talented students.”

Rhodes joins more than 1,000 colleges and universities that have moved to be test-optional.

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March 31, 2020

Le Bon Appetit postponed

5:42 PM CT, March 31

Le Bon Appetit, the bi-annual fundraiser for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital that Kelly English hosts with the Le Bonheur Club, has been postponed from June to June 12, 2021.

The decision was announced Tuesday afternoon and is due to the uncertainty of when restaurants will reopen and people will be able to safely gather in large groups.

“It’s obviously been on our radar, but as a hospital and a small independent restaurateur, we both had giant fish we had to fry immediately,” English said.

The first festival was held in 2012 at The Columns and in 2014 and 2016 at other venues; in 2018, it was at Crosstown Concourse.

“We found our forever home there,” English said.

He said he and other organizers considered a date in the fall, but decided against it. Chefs from around the country come in for the event, and English feels they’ll all be preoccupied with getting their own businesses running again.

“We thought about doing it more quickly but there were several things we considered,” he said. “The other chefs, that we don’t want to have to reschedule it more than once, and the fact that if everything is back to normal, Memphis is going to be one busy place in the fall. It is going to be fun!”

Le Bon Appetit has raised more than $1 million for the hospital since it started

.If you already have tickets, you can use them for the 2021 event, make it a donation, or get a refund. Get more information at lebonappetit.org or call 901-287-6308.

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More changes for MATA to better service for riders

5:39 PM CT, March 31

Beginning Wednesday, April 1, Memphis Area Transit Authority will stage additional buses at its transit centers to alleviate the problems that have been created when a bus reaches its 10-passenger limit.

MATA will also post new schedules online that reflect the additional buses operating between scheduled trips, transit officials announced Tuesday.

The staged buses will be waiting at the William Hudson Transit Center on Main Street and the transit centers on American Way and on Airways. The process is intended to reduce wait times for passengers and position MATA drivers to respond more quickly.

MATA began operating at reduced levels on Monday, while adding extra buses to key routes. However, to comply with local executive orders and guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MATA has adhered to a 10-person limit on buses that left some passengers waiting for a bus.

And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, MATA officials are also asking that local employers be “as flexible as possible.”

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Forgivable loan program approved for affected Downtown businesses

4:59 PM CT, March 31

A Downtown body approved a new forgivable loan program to assist Downtown businesses negatively affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

During a specially-called virtual meeting on Tuesday, March 31, the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Center City Development Commission approved the Downtown Business Continuity Forgivable Loan Program, which will distribute a total of $200,000 to between 10 and 30 businesses. 

Applications for the loans, ranging in amounts from $5,000 to $20,000, will be accepted beginning Thursday, April 2.

“The goal here is to assist eligible businesses that are in jeopardy of closing solely due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and socioeconomic impact,” said Brett Roler, DMC vice president of planning and development. “So we’re not providing a tool for businesses with structural issues or (that) haven’t been successful in the past. What we’re trying to do is stabilize businesses that have been very successful, up until now, and are in danger of closing, solely due to this health crisis.”

The loans are available to existing, locally-owned, eligible businesses. Franchises, nonprofits and independent contractors are not eligible. 

The funding can be used for fixed assets, operational expenses, rent and restructuring debt. 

If the business operates continuously and remains in business for two years after the loan closes and the funds are received, the remaining balance will be forgiven. But if the business closes or reduces staff by more than half after reopening, fails to maintain regular operating hours or fails to make regular monthly loan payments, the balance will not be forgiven.

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Radians donates respirators to Memphis

4:52 PM CT, March 31

Radians, a manufacturer of quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), has donated more than 14,000 N95 masks to its hometown Memphis.

Face masks, like the NIOSH-approved N95 masks, provide better protection than loose-fitting surgical masks and are becoming scarcer, subject to increasing demand amid the COVID-19 crisis, the company noted.

Radians added the N95 respirator to its PPE portfolio in 2018.

“We knew that adding N95 respirators to our portfolio was important,” said Radians President, Bill England, “but with the COVID-19 pandemic, they have become a critical PPE item to help protect those with the highest risk of exposure.”

Radians CEO, Mike Tutor, said the donation represents the company’s corporate responsibility to help during challenging times.

“With a worldwide shortage of respirator masks, we knew this donation would quickly assist first responders and health care workers as they help Memphis rise above the COVID-19 crisis,” Tutor said. “The respirators will also be of service at COVID-19 test sites.”

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