Essential workers will have free child care at more community centers

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 28, 2020 3:34 PM CT | Published: May 28, 2020 12:12 PM CT

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland started off today’s COVID-19 task force briefing talking about child care. He said they’ve been working closely with the YMCA to find a solution.

Starting June 8, YMCA will offer free child care at eight community centers in Memphis for essential workers. Eventually, the plan is to have free child care at 23 community centers.

More specific information on what an “essential” worker is can be found on the YMCA of Memphis of the Mid-South website.

CEO Jerry Martin said in partnership with the city they will be able to serve an additional 2,000 kids. They are currently serving about 700.

Additional child care locations will open during a phased-in process throughout Memphis, Martin said.

He called the city a “great partner.” YMCA, the city and Shelby County Schools created a partnership earlier this year to provide meals during the community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They have provided more than 400,000 meals since the program began. He also said they will operate meal distribution program for the remainder of the summer.

On how often the YMCA child care facilities cleans, Martin said the facilities currently open are being shut down in the middle of the day to be cleaned and in the evenings.

He mentioned that social distancing and reduction in groups will be in place. To reduce the virus’s spread, field trips and pool trips will be eliminated, Martin said.

Strickland praised YMCA for its efforts during the pandemic and what’s it means for the city. 

Shelby County Health Department health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph spoke on demographics, saying that 63% of Shelby County coronavirus cases are among African-Americans compared to 20% among whites, and 17% among Hispanics.

On deaths, 65.7% occurred among African-Americans. On co-morbidities, 80% of these deaths are associated with cardiac conditions, Randolph said.

Dr. Dwight Dishmon talked about cardiac conditions and COVID-19. 

In response to The Hill article which mentions Memphis as a potential future coronavirus hotspot, Strickland said seven of the past 10 days have been above the 60-90 case range. He said doctors expected an increase in cases from Phase 1 to Phase 2, but doctors are not overly concerned.

”We are not over the virus, we will not be done with this until a vaccine is created and widely distributed,” Strickland said.

Randolph said he’s not familiar with the study and doesn’t consider Memphis to be a hotspot, but that they are monitoring the uptick in cases.

He said they are monitoring whether the case increase is due to increased testing, particularly in nursing homes. He said that they plan to test more in jail and corrections.

Randolph anticipated an increase in hospitalizations in part due to elective procedures returning to hospitals as well. 

”The next 14 days will be very crucial to us to see where we are and if things are still going in the right direction,” he said.

On hospital capacity, Randolph feels comfortable about local hospital capacity especially with the alternate care facility being built.

Randolph mentioned that he’s happy about bringing 141 new employees to the health department to help address the pandemic.

He proposed a slogan in Memphis: “We wear masks.” 

”People need to be wearing masks,” Strickland said. “Even if you’re six feet away, I think it’s best practice to put on a mask.”

Randolph said the health directive will be extended from June 1 to at least June 8. Health department director Alisa Haushalter previously said no decision on when the move into Phase 3 will take place until June 8.

On evictions, Strickland said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has taken the lead on that issue. He said he plans to check with the county today regarding evictions during the pandemic.

Strickland said Paul Young with Housing and Development is trying to find funding to supplement the issue on evictions.

Strickland said he ordered that city employees could not take vacation time during the pandemic. Now with CARES funding, he said he plans to bring a resolution to pay them for the vacation time they lost.

About last night’s protest, Strickland said, “When I watched the video in what occurred in Minneapolis, I understand there may be more footage, but from what I’ve seen it does anger me. I can understand why people are frustrated these things seem to occur over and over. People have the right to peacefully protest. We support that wholeheartedly.”

“I also wish the people who organized the demonstration followed the guidelines,” he said. “By not doing that they endanger their fellow demonstrators and police officers.”

He said Memphis Police officers handled themselves very well.


YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland Jerry Martin Shelby County Schools childcare
Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf covers Bartlett and North Memphis neighborhoods for The Daily Memphian. He also analyzes COVID-19 data each week. Omer is a former Jackson Sun reporter and University of Memphis graduate.


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