Testing surges will occur at 201 Poplar, Penal Farm

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 22, 2020 12:18 PM CT | Published: May 22, 2020 12:11 PM CT

On 201 Poplar and corrections center: Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said detainees “deserve humanity and compassion just like the rest of us.” 

He said the county will continue to expand efforts to make prisons and jails safe. They have organized a COVID testing surge at 201 and will do more. They are planning to do a testing surge at the corrections center June 8 in coordination with the state. All there will be offered a test and will take several days to complete tests. They have already limited access to the corrections center, provided free phone calls, while in lockdown and distributed masks. They will keep protections there for the rest of the year and “as long as it takes.” 

”We have to be aggressive,” Harris said.

He announced the health department expansion moves forward including city and county funding. They are prepared to hire 141 new employees “singularly devoted” to work on COVID-19 and the health department is recruiting. People can apply on the county government website. Positions include admin staff, strike teams, epidemiologists, nurses, data entry.

Lloyd Kimble, investigations supervisor at Shelby County Health Department, said if you get a call with a 222 prefix, it’s the health department and you should take the call. In hiring investigators, Kimble said they need someone with the ability to put people at ease and get detailed information.

David Sweat, chief of epidemiology, on numbers, said testing today should take the total tested over 60,000.

Sweat said that number is an achievement; 68.9% of confirmed cases have recovered so far.

They have closed 3,259 cases, identified 7,105 contacts, placed 2,300 people under control measures like quarantine currently per Sweat.

Pediatric cases (those less than 18) are 7.5%, 57% are African-American children. 

”What we believe this is really about is household transmission,” Sweat said of this week’s spike in confirmed cases.

Sweat cautioned people on this Memorial Day weekend to avoid family get-togethers if anyone in the family is ill because of household transmission patterns..


201 Poplar Penal Farm

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Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city and county government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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