Coronavirus Live Blog, May 13: Malco reopening Summer Drive-In

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 18, 2020 10:33 AM CT | Published: May 13, 2020 10:08 AM CT

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May 13, 2020

COVID-19 in Tennessee

3:02 PM CT, May 13



Tennessee adds 259 cases, 9 deaths

2:27 PM CT, May 13

Tennessee has 259 more confirmed coronavirus cases and new additional deaths resulting from the disease, according to Department of Health data.

That brings the total to 16,370 cases and 273 deaths.

With 8,993 more tests since yesterday’s update, the number of tests that have been administered is now 292,917.

More than 8,600 -- 8,624 -- are considered officially recovered from the disease; 1,388 have ever been hospitalized.

The agency reported 3,475 cases in Shelby County, up from the 3,462 the Shelby County Health Department reported earlier in the day.

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reported 3,879 confirmed cases and 38 deaths in Davidson County.


Malco reopening Summer Drive-In Friday

1:21 PM CT, May 13

Malco Theatres Inc. is reopening its Summer Drive-In Friday, May 15; tickets go on sale Thursday, May 14.

Located at 5310 Summer Ave., the drive-in will reopen at sundown with a $20 carload special featuring a double feature of “Trolls: World Tour” followed by “Doolittle” on two screens and “The Invisible Man” followed by “The Hunt” on the other two screens.

Vehicle admission will be limited per screen and guests must purchase a carload ticket in advance by visiting or by using the Malco smartphone app. Only those with a pre-purchased carload ticket, printed or on their phone, will be allowed to enter. The advance tickets are non-refundable.

The drive-in will be capped at 50% capacity. Employees will wear gloves and face masks or coverings, bathroom use will be limited and bathrooms will be sanitized every 30 minutes.

Concession stands will have separate ordering and pickup areas, with 6-foot markings and customers will receive an order number for pickup. The menu will be limited to beverages, popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, pretzels and pre-packaged candy. All food will be served in sealed packaging with disposable containers. There will be no refills allowed.

Malco is encouraging drive-in guests to wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, maintain a 6-foot distance from others and to wear a face mask/covering when entering the concession stand and bathroom.

The company said that the drive-in is its only location that will reopen at this time. The company, which has locations in Memphis, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Missouri, paused its theater operations at the close of business Tuesday, March 17, due to the pandemic.


State education website draws 250k views

12:52 PM CT, May 13

The Tennessee Department of Education announced Wednesday, May 13, 2020, its COVID-19 resources webpage has reached over 250,000 views since launching in mid-March.

Those views represent thousands of school district leaders, educators, Tennesseans, and individuals nationwide who have and continue to access the resources, according to a release. 

“Over the past two months, the department has been working overtime to ensure districts have as much up-to-date information and guidance as possible. Our top priority is to support our students, districts, educators, and families during this time, so we are glad to see these resources are being accessed and used regularly,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We will continue to work closely with districts and support them however we can as they seek to make the best local decisions for their students and families and continue providing access to critical services.”

The department’s COVID-19 resources webpage is updated daily and contains guidance documents and resources.

“As superintendents are seeking to make the best decisions possible for their districts, it is so important they have access to good, up-to-date information. The department’s consistent communication through the COVID-19 webpage and resources has been critical as superintendents lead their districts through this time,” said Dale Lynch, Executive Director of Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS). “I am grateful for the department’s ongoing commitment to providing district staff with as much support and guidance as possible to navigate these challenging times.”

Along with the COVID-19 resources webpage, the department has also developed partnerships and designed several resources for optional, free use by local districts. This includes three times per week superintendent calls, provided access to SchoolMealFinder.cominstructional programming on PBS, an online learning platform ReadyRosieTennessee Principal Learning SeriesSTE(A)M Resources Hub, and acquired an unprecedented approval of federal waivers with a focus on nutrition, accountability and special education.


Mississippi adds 182 cases, 8 deaths

12:51 PM CT, May 13

Mississippi has 182 more confirmed coronavirus cases and eight more deaths, according to the state’s Department of Health.

There are now more than 10,000 confirmed cases: 10,090, with 465 deaths.

DeSoto County has 350 confirmed cases and five deaths resulting from the disease.

Marshall County has 62 confirmed cases and two deaths resulting from the disease.


Harris details proposed Health Department expansion

12:12 PM CT, May 13

(Internet is down at the Benjamin Hooks Central Library, preventing the feed from being broadcast live.)

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris started the COVID-19 Joint Task Force meeting with his proposal to expand the Shelby County Health Department.

The proposal calls for 141 new positions at the health department financed with federal funding through the CARES Act.

Four epidemiologists are to be hired -- the folks who analyze and interpret the data and make recommendations. That would double capabilities. Also strike teams to focus on vulnerable populations including seniors, nursing home residents and prisoners and detainees. Also expands collaboration with media on information and uses social media in what amounts to a campaign.

Contact tracing is now being done with employees on loan from other parts of city and county government. Harris said that’s “not sustainable.” They will recruit “dozens and dozens” of tracers and related staff. It’s also a “massive” expansion of enforcing health directives, including technical assistance for businesses and institutions. Also a testing team that manages testing out of the health department with at least eight nurses. This is a new function to have this specific testing within the health department.

Shelby County has $49.9 million in CARES Act funding. Most of the new positions will be durational and there as long as the federal funding pays for it.

Health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said 2,771 of confirmed cases have closed investigations. That’s 80% of the cases. More than 5,000 contacts were identified; 58.5% of the confirmed cases have recovered.

Randolph said investigations are still underway in 14 nursing homes. He said the risk of transmission in the workplace is “significant” and the age range confirms that.

He said the positivity rate is going down because of more testing. The hope is that with more testing the positivity and prevalence will not be as great as initially thought.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said Phase 2 plans for reopening are underway and all of the mayors are together and unified on this. He said decision will be “rooted in what the data provides.”

Harris said the $11.4 million will last eight months, although he expects some of the changes in the health department expansion will “stick,” meaning they will remain part of the health department with some kind of county funding proposed at the end of year to continue them. 

The expansion isn’t all of the CARES Act funding the county is getting. And some of the rest of that could be used for efforts outside the health department, including wraparound services for those quarantined or isolated who can’t go to work. Some of it, to the tune of $6 million, will go to the six suburban towns and cities who could not apply for direct federal relief.

Also look for some funding for technical support of close contact businesses like barber and beauty shops and churches -- to help them adopt the best social distancing practices in the reopening.

And there will be other relief efforts through the county Community Services division.

Randolph said the alternative care or field hospital at 495 Union Ave. will take COVID cases, but not those requiring acute care. Meanwhile, he said hospital capacity has tightened some because of the return of elective procedures. He said the task force is not “overly concerned” about that.

In closing, Randolph pushes wearing face masks or coverings and wearing them properly.


Vanderbilt study shows Mid-South hospitalizations increase but transmission rate declining

12:18 PM CT, May 13

A Vanderbilt University COVID-19 report shows the Mid-South’s hospitalization totals at 95 on May 11, up from 63 slightly less than a month earlier, even as the Memphis area’s transmission rate decreases.

The region’s number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units also increased to 45, up from 38 nearly a month ago, and the number of patients on ventilators rose to 19 from 10.

Statewide, the hospitalization rate increased to 275 on May 11, up from 195 in mid-April, and the number of patients in intensive care units increased to 137 from 97 and on ventilators to 53 from 41.

Yet, the report pointed out its April 10 report estimated a “peak” of 1,200 concurrent hospitalizations in mid-May. That was based on the belief the transmission rate would not hit 1 until mid-May, the number of people likely to be infected by one person.

Yet the state – and Memphis and Nashville areas – reached a transmission number of 1 by mid-April, dropping from 1.4 in the Shelby County area.

“This effectively reduced the growth of COVID-19, as it meant that cases (and hospitalizations) were no longer growing exponentially,” the report states.

Consequently, the total of hospitalizations statewide, nearly 300, is substantially lower than the number of people ever hospitalized statewide, 1,363.

Since mid-April, the state embarked on comprehensive testing in nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters, which combined have caused the state’s numbers to spike.

In addition, the state offered free testing at drive-thru centers in 37 counties. All of those likely combined to push the number of cases higher across the state, making it hard to determine whether the increases are caused by more testing or spread of the virus, the study notes.

Shelby County has several areas with 30 to 50 new cases reported in the last 10 days, the study shows.

Because the virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days, cases reported this week likely reflect infections transmitted up to two weeks ago, making it difficult to gauge the impact of reopening businesses statewide as more Tennesseans venture outside their homes.

“We stress, however, that this relative stability is best viewed as a new ‘baseline’ for evaluation of further changes as business restrictions are lifted – and not as an evaluation of the impact to date of the expiration of the safer at home orders,” the study states.


Shelby County reports 1,200 more tests, 4 deaths from virus

10:01 AM CT, May 13

Another 41 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Shelby County Wednesday with 1,212 more tests reported, according to the health department.

The positivity rate of those 1,212 tests was 3.4%, more than 4% lower than the overall rate. 

There were four new deaths from the virus reported Wednesday; the toll is now 76. 

Shelby County reports 3,462 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, according to health department data. 

In Shelby County, there have been 45,118 tests for coronavirus with 7.7% of those tests being positive.

There are 2,025 recoveries from the virus in Shelby County.

Statewide, there are 16,111 cases with 264 deaths and 8,336 recoveries as of Tuesday, according to the latest figures from state’s health department.

In Tennessee, the total number of tests performed is 283,924 with a 5.7% positivity rate.


6,000 jump ropes being given away with meals

9:56 AM CT, May 13

Although in-person classrooms are closed, Shelby County Schools students have been receiving meals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, students will receive something new alongside those meals: jump ropes. More than 6,000 of them.

Through a partnership with Cigna and the YMCA, the Mid-south American Heart Association is donating the jump ropes and activity cards to students and families participating in SCS’ meal distribution program.

The jump ropes will be distributed today from noon to 1 p.m. at the Davis YMCA in Whitehaven, 4727 Elvis Presley Blvd.

According to the AHA, social influencers of health, like food insecurity and physical activity, have been a way that the organization can address address health equity issues at the source.


Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

10:08 AM CT, May 13



How COVID-19 cases are growing locally and statewide

10:09 AM CT, May 13



May 12, 2020

Cigna donates $20,000 to YMCA for meals

4:53 PM CT, May 12

The YMCA has provided more than 170,000 meals to local children via community meal sites during the coronavirus pandemic. Cigna is donating $20,000 to help the YMCA and its partners with the program.

The organization will use the grant to cover costs of the program including costs of meals, transporting meals, staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The YMCA partners with Shelby County Schools, the City of Memphis, Shelby County and the Mid-South Food Bank for the emergency meal program.


Alexander’s dog steals the show at hearing

4:30 PM CT, May 12

The backdrop for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander this past Sunday on “Meet The Press” looked just a little too good to be true to some. Appearing from his home in Maryville, Tennessee, Alexander’s dog, Rufus, quickly became the focus on some early social media speculation.

Rufus didn’t appear to move at all during the interview of about 10 minutes.

Fast forward past the later news that an Alexander staffer tested positive for COVID-19 and that Alexander was self-quarantining as a result. And Tuesday found Alexander chairing Tuesday’s Senate Health and Education committee hearing from the same home setting in Maryville.

This time, Rufus was more animated although napping a good part of the time. He raised his head during comments by Senator Mitt Romney that also turned out to be one of the major points of the hearing. So clearly, those paying more attention to the dog than the hearings may have believed this was some indication of Rufus’s political leanings. At another point, he left to go for a walk.

At some point during the hearing a dog could be heard barking. Although there were other Senators and the witnesses themselves at the hearing via videoconferencing, Rufus got pegged as responsible for the breach of Senate decorum.

Later in the day, Alexander defended Rufus on the allegation calling it “fake news” in a Tweet.



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