Coronavirus live blog, May 21: Executive order permits groups of 50

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 26, 2020 9:41 AM CT | Published: May 21, 2020 10:23 AM CT

Editor’s Note: The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed. Our journalists continue to work around the clock to provide you with the extensive coverage you need; if you can subscribe, please do

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
  • Wear a mask when you are out in public
  • 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

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May 21, 2020

COVID-19 in Tennessee

2:47 PM CT, May 21



Tennessee count increases by 429

2:20 PM CT, May 21

Tennessee has 429 more confirmed coronavirus cases and four more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the Department of Health.

The total is now 18,961 confirmed cases and 313 deaths, the agency reports.

Since yesterday’s update 6,570 tests were administered, bringing the total to 360,583.

More than 12,000 people (12,191) are considered officially recovered from the disease; 1,539 were ever hospitalized.


Governor boasts of strong coronavirus testing program

3:13 PM CT, May 21

Gov. Bill Lee touted Tennessee’s COVID-19 testing program Thursday, saying the state’s ability to quickly identify positive cases through expanded testing enables people to quarantine quickly.

“This is how we are able to reboot our economy and get people back to work,” the governor said.

Lee pointed out a Harvard study found seven states are testing enough to open their economies and Tennessee was one of them. The state tested 2% of its population in April and 3% in the month of May so far.

Testing has been done in all prisons, veterans homes and is being conducted in all nursing homes, he said.

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Watch Gov. Bill Lee’s briefing

2:52 PM CT, May 21

Gov. Bill Lee’s coronavirus press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Watch below:



Health Dept.: The data is determined by behavior

12:12 PM CT, May 21

Shelby County Health Department health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph opened Thursday’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing by going over numbers. There are 29 new cases, down quite a bit from yesterday. Shelby County tested 1,424 just yesterday.

Sixty-seven percent of confirmed cases have recovered. The health department is still investigating nursing home clusters. Of the 4,034 total cases so far, the agency has identified 6,964 contacts and placed 2,277 people in quarantine.

Randolph encouraged citizens to maintain social distancing.

”Just do the right thing,” he said, realizing that all want to return to normal lives. “The reality is that our decision to move from one phase to another is driven by data. But the data is driven by behavior.”

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Mississippi cases increase by 255

11:40 AM CT, May 21

Mississippi has 255 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 10 more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the state’s Department of Health. One of those deaths was in DeSoto County.

That brings the total to 12,222 confirmed cases and 580 death, statewide, according to the agency.

DeSoto County has 419 confirmed coronavirus cases and six deaths. Fourteen cases and two deaths are linked to long-term care facilities.

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Shelby County reports 29 new cases after more than 1,400 tests

10:15 AM CT, May 21

The Shelby County Health Department reported 29 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday while administering 1,424 tests – a positive rate of 2%.

The Health Department reported 270 less tests than performed the day prior.

To date, 57,967 tests have been performed in Shelby County. Of those, 4,034 were positive. The county’s overall positivity rate continues to decline and is slightly less than 7%.

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Watch today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing

12:00 PM CT, May 21

Today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing is scheduled for noon and features Shelby County Health Department health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph.

Watch below:



Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

10:07 AM CT, May 21



How cases are growing in Shelby County and Tennessee

10:06 AM CT, May 21

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Raymond James hosting drive-up food and supply drive today

9:03 AM CT, May 21

Raymond James Memphis is hosting a drive-up food and supply drive for the Mid-South Food Bank from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, May 21. Associates, clients and others are invited to drop off items at its Ridgeway location, 1100 Ridgeway Loop Road.

At the drive, the company will accept items including canned food, paper products and personal hygiene products. Donors are asked to put their donations in the trunk of their vehicles and remain there as the volunteers collect the items.

Second Presbyterian Church donated 60 masks for volunteers through its Protective Masks Project.

Raymond James employees are also holding an internal fundraising campaign through May 29 to raise money for the Food Bank. The company has donated $75,000; the Memphis leadership team donated another $50,000 to encourage gifts from employees.

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May 20, 2020

State issues guidelines for 89 counties to increase restaurant, retail capacity

3:52 PM CT, May 20

Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group issued updated guidelines Wednesday for restaurants and retail stores, along with new guidelines that allow attractions and larger venues to reopen with social distancing and capacity restrictions on or after May 22.

Six counties – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – are allowed to continue following individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with state and local health departments.

The state said the guidelines are based on its ability to meet the White House criteria with a downward trend in case growth, increase in testing capability and sufficient hospital capacity.

“Tennesseans have worked hard to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state, and their efforts have allowed us to continue to reopen our economy further,” said Gov. Bill Lee, in a statement. “These guidelines share best practices to ensure our state’s businesses can continue to operate in a way that protects customers and employees while putting people back to work.”

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Rhodes offers free webinars on coronavirus-related topics

3:25 PM CT, May 20

Rhodes College will offer four free, public Zoom webinars featuring college and community experts addressing coronavirus-related topics. As part of the webinars, the panelists will take audience questions.

“A grounding in the liberal arts encourages a multi-disciplinary approach to the foundational questions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic,” president Majorie Hass, said in a statement. “Our faculty are particularly well-equipped to promote deep thinking and lively dialogue. We look forward to sharing the best of Rhodes’ approach with the wider community. We see it as one of the ways we can serve others during this difficult moment.”

The panels are as follows:

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