Coronavirus live blog, May 6: Shelby County has lowest increase in a month

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 08, 2020 8:35 AM CT | Published: May 06, 2020 10:01 AM CT

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You can protect yourself and help prevent the spread of coronavirus by:

  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with people
  • Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean

To view the city’s stay-at-home order, click here.

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.

And, to get breaking news delivered directly to your inbox when it happens, opt in to our Breaking News updates here

May 06, 2020

COVID-19 in Tennessee

4:56 PM CT, May 6



Methodist Le Bonheur to host virtual COVID-19 town hall

2:50 PM CT, May 6

Methodist Le Bonheur Healhcare is hosting a virtual COVID-19 town hall at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 7.

During the panel, experts will speak about the system’s process for resuming services, telehealth services and why social distancing is still important.

The public is invited to watch and submit their questions in the comment section during the Facebook live session.

The panel can be viewed at this link.


Tennessee adds 314 cases, 13 deaths

2:17 PM CT, May 6

Tennessee has 314 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 13 additional deaths resulting from the disease, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

That brings the Tennessee total to 13,938 confirmed cases and 239 deaths.

Statewide, 227,101 tests have been administered, an increase of 8,305 since yesterday’s update.

And 1,221 have ever been hospitalized for the disease; 6,564 are considered officially recovered. 

The Department of Health reports 3,010 confirmed cases in Shelby County, up from the 2,948 the Shelby County Health Department reported earlier in the day.

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reports 3,346 confirmed cases in Davidson County and 33 deaths.


Mississippi adds 217 cases, 32 deaths

2:43 PM CT, May 6

Mississippi has 217 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 32 additional deaths from the disease, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

The state’s total is now 8,424 confirmed cases and 374 deaths.

DeSoto County has 310 confirmed cases and four deaths.

Marshall County has 49 confirmed cases and two deaths.

And 4,421 are “presumed recovered” from the disease.

More than 80,000 people -- 80,308 -- have been tested statewide.


UrbanArt, MMDC release artist opportunities in response to pandemic

3:56 PM CT, May 6

Two Memphis organizations have shared new opportunities for artists in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

The Memphis Medical District Collaborative’s new grant program is designed to support Memphis-area creatives during the pandemic and also to get concepts to be considered for future Medical District public art projects.

Finalists will receive a $2,000 grant to develop a project concept; the proposed projects must be achievable on a $50,000, or less, budget. Concepts should either consider or connect to a site in the district, organization/business in the district and/or MMDC goals.

Applications are due 11:59 pm. Friday, May 8. 

Applicants do not need to have previous public public art experience; they must be at least 18 years of age and reside in the Memphis-area. Teams can apply. 

The UrbanArt Commission has two new opportunities: Bridging The Distance artist project grants and a call to artists for the Movable Collection - Part Two.

For the grants, UrbanArt has re-allocated $10,000 from project funds to support 20 $500 grants for Memphis-area artists to create and share their work with their communities. Visual artists, performing artists, writers and art educators are eligible for the grants. (Musicians can apply with mixed-media projects; emergency grants for music-only projects are available through Music Export Memphis.)

Artists are invited to submit project ideas that answer two questions:

  1. What message do you most want to share with your friends, neighbors and fellow Memphians during this uncertain time?
  2. How would you creatively share this message with your community?

Bridging The Distance applications are due Tuesday, May 19; the call to artists for the Movable Collection closes 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, June 2

In the call to artists, UrbanArt is seeking to acquire more work and expand its galleries in Memphis Public Libraries with $50,000 allocated from the City of Memphis’ fiscal year 2020 percent-for-art program. 

Artists can submit collaborative work and artists who have applied before, but were not selected, can apply again.

UrbanArt will hold an information session, via Zoom, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 12. Individual meetings can also be scheduled to have questions answered or concepts or portfolios reviewed. 

Artists interested in either UrbanArt opportunity can contact Brett Hanover at


Haushalter: current numbers due to stay at home order

12:21 PM CT, May 6

Today is day three of Back to Business protocols in Shelby County. City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen emphasized that the ability to go beyond this depends on what happens today. He cautioned against “letting our guard down” and pushed using face masks in public and more going in for testing.

McGowen said there is “broad ranging compliance” with reopening so far in Memphis.

“We understand it’s not easy,” he said.

He warned that there will always be outliers and that is a learning process. He said that Cinco de Mayo was the “first big surge” that was expected. McGowen said that code enforcement remains the primary force for watching what is happening at street level and responding to complaints.

McGowen said this only day three of Back to Business and there is no uptick in calls so far. The path to Phase 2 is no less than 14 days of stable or dropping numbers, as well as hospital capacity remaining.

Director Alisa Haushalter said there are lots of questions to the Shelby County Health Department about how to keep employees and customers happy with the reopening. The Health Department is providing technical assistance on that.

There is testing from 2-6 p.m. today at Christ Community Health Center in Hickory Hill for those with symptoms or who are asymptomatic. The testing this afternoon is open to anyone -- not just first responders.

Testing capacity has doubled in the last week.

We are about a week away from the field hospital opening on Union Avenue, if needed, said McGowen talking about the expected surge. He also said elective surgeries have begun their return which he says will better prepare hospitals for the possible surge.

On the surge: it is no longer mid-April to late May; it has been pushed out. The Health Department’s data team is crunching numbers. More recent calculations put it in June or July, but that is tentative.

Haushalter said an indication of a surge is an increase 10 to 14 days before in confirmed cases. She emphasized it depends on social distancing.

Haushalter said the Friday update will be more comprehensive in numbers on the local pandemic. The current numbers are the smallest increase since March and she attributes it to compliance with safer at home order.

The death toll is up to 60 in Shelby County -- two more were reported this morning after the 10 a.m. news release.

Fifty-six percent of cases have recovered.

On masks: the state health department sent thousands to the local health department. Those are available at satellite clinics and the main office. They are also distributing at community testing sites, with more masks to come. The commodities food site on Bellevue will also distribute masks.

At tomorrow’s briefing, a lab manager will talk more about masks and how to properly wear them. Also a restaurant inspection manager will talk about what you should expect when you go to a restaurant, because Mother’s Day is this weekend. Tuesday, Linda Phillips will be at the briefing to talk about voting.

McGowen on use of Memphis Area Transit Authority vehicles to get people to testing for the last week: he emphasized these are specially equipped vehicles, not regular city buses or smaller MATA buses. He said the city is working on a solution for those who may have problems accessing because of disabilities. Ridership numbers for this have been very low -- only three yesterday.

The Health Department will do more testing at 201 Poplar -- county jail -- but for now they are doing investigations of positive cases there. They are also getting into charts for detainees to see what happened when prisoners said they were sick. On other corrections centers, they are moving to testing of prisoners because they have been dealing with corrections officers.

Haushalter said there is no mandated testing of front-line responders. They are encouraging them to use health care plans. Some locations have had cases among employees -- in those areas they have encouraged employers to have their employees tested in the public testing part of this.

McGowen on tourism: the first priority is city facilities like the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Memphis Zoo -- those linked to parks. They are submitting specific plans. Others are different kinds of venues that draw visitors from out of town, that need a “special degree of control” to keep visitors and staff safe from the virus.

Haushalter was asked about COVID-19 cases in 2019 being explored elsewhere. She said at the local level, the medical examiner here can look at data and work with the state on possible changes in cause of death.

She said the Health Department team has been going through death certificates as they come in. If they see something, they might pull them and seek additional information. She said she is confident initial cases were from trips to Mardi Gras. The likelihood of cases here before that is “very limited” because the positivity rate was low with original cases.


Watch today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing live

12:00 PM CT, May 6

Today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force update is scheduled for noon.

It’s set to feature City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen and Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.

Watch below:


Shelby County records lowest case count in month, fewer tests

10:00 AM CT, May 6

Shelby County has 2,948 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Shelby County Health Department’s latest data. An increase of 26 cases from the day prior.

That’s the lowest single-day total in a month, but also came with slightly lower testing numbers as well.

There have been 35,228 total tests taken in Shelby County with a 8.4% positivity rate. That’s a total of 613 new tests from the previous day, but the positivity rate of those tests was 4.2%.

The health department also reported an additional death due to the virus with the total now at 58. A total of 1,667 people have recovered from the disease in Shelby County, according to the county.

In Tennessee, there are 13,624 cases with 226 deaths as of Tuesday, May 5, according to the state’s department of health.

There have been 218,796 total tests statewide, with a positivity rate of 6.2%.


May 04, 2020

Free drive-thru testing coming to Hickory Hill

10:48 AM CT, May 4

Christ Community Health Services is hosting free, drive-thru coronavirus testing from 2-6 p.m. Wednesday, May 6 in Hickory Hill. Those seeking a test do not need to have COVID-19 symptoms.

The testing will take place at Christ Community’s location at 5366 Mendenhall Mall. No appointment is necessary, but pre-registration is encouraged. People can pre-register by texting Test2020 to 91999 or by calling (901) 842-3160.

Citizenship will not be verified during testing to encourage participation from all communities, according to Christ Community.


May 06, 2020

Memphis Botanic Garden outlines reopening plan

9:38 AM CT, May 6

Memphis Botanic Garden is seeking city approval to reopen outdoor areas only, and be initially for members only for up to two weeks.

Executive director Mike Allen said the garden is ready to open within 24 hours of receiving city approval.

Allen said in a statement:

“In response to the many calls and emails we have received, the Memphis Botanic Garden is awaiting approval from City and Health Department officials prior to reopening.

“We have submitted our reopening plan to government officials and it envisions a phased-in approach to opening our outdoor spaces – only.

“We will begin by admitting members only, for up to two weeks, and then, adding in daily admission guests.

“Certain high-touch areas including our Children’s Garden will remain closed for the foreseeable future, but the vast majority of our 96 acres will be open to those who observe common sense, social distancing guidelines.”


How COVID-19 cases are growing locally and statewide

9:52 AM CT, May 6



Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

9:57 AM CT, May 6



May 05, 2020

Tennessee delivers 39,000 masks for Shelby businesses

6:28 PM CT, May 5

Tennessee delivered 39,000 masks to Shelby County for restaurants and other business owners to use as the county initiates its reopening process during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than any county in the state received, according to Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell, chairman of the state’s Economic Recovery Group.

Ezell said the group works with Shelby County and Memphis officials each day to determine the pathway to reopening. And because of Shelby County’s high number of COVID-19 cases, 2,901 as of Tuesday, May 5, 2020, the group felt it “made sense” for restaurants in Shelby to open a week later than those in 89 other counties across the state.

The 39,000 masks for Shelby County are part of 5 million the state bought to deliver for businesses reopening in all 95 counties.

In addition, the state has touchless thermometers available for $33, down from $75, for businesses to buy to help them determine whether employees are able to work without showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Ezell discussed these matters on the Redwing Report put on by Ron Redwing in Memphis.

Sen. Raumesh Akbari, a Memphis Democrat, commended the decisions of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to put a shelter in place order in effect early in the pandemic in an effort to keep people from congregating and spreading the disease.

Yet, she said the crisis has shown the stark gap between rich and poor in Memphis and the need to provide more resources for people, especially school children, to stay connected with their education.

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray said the district’s 114,000 students will spend the rest of the year participating in virtual learning, and if they don’t have the technology at home to go online, they will be provided with other materials to continue learning. The school district has distributed more than 50,000 learning guides since the pandemic hit, Ray said.


Nike donating shoes to Memphis healthcare workers

3:58 PM CT, May 5

Nike will donate 30,000 pairs of shoes to health systems and hospitals in Memphis, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and within the Veterans Health Administration, the company announced.

Its video announcement featured Memphis Grizzlies player Ja Morant.

Another 2,500 pairs will be donated to hospitals in Barcelona, Berlin, London, Milan, Paris and in Belgium.

The shoes being donated are Nike’s Air Zoom Pulse, which it calls “the first shoe designed for the healthcare athlete.” Feedback from healthcare workers in Oregon was considered in the shoe’s design. 

Nonprofit Good360 will manage Nike’s U.S. donations of Air Zoom Pulse shoes.



coronavirus COVID-19 Shelby County Health Department Coronavirus testing Hickory Hill


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