Shelby County Health Dept. gives details on Phase 3

By  and , Daily Memphian Updated: June 11, 2020 4:46 PM CT | Published: June 11, 2020 10:15 AM CT

Shelby County Health Dept. director Alisa Haushalter opened Thursday’s briefing with some thoughts on Phase 3.

Haushalter said 3,700 people are in quarantine currently. On nursing home clusters, she said there are 15 open investigations there. There are 8 “closed” facilities in Shelby County meaning there is no longer transmission and the investigation is over.

Haushalter said 58% of coronavirus cases are under the age of 44.

“As people are out and about ... they are contracting COVID. ... But they are also the individuals who are going to take it home,” she said.

Haushalter stressed the importance of masking.

On pediatric cases, to date 430 cases are among children, half among African American children.

“Children of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID,” Haushalter said.

Deaths by races - 66% of them are among African-Americans.

For those who have died, more than 50% are associated with health care related outbreaks.

Haushalter said she realized this is a “marathon.”

“You really have to plan ahead for the distance,” she said.

Haushalter said COVID will be here for many months, if not a year. She said she anticipates going ahead with Phase 3 on Monday, but emphasized precautions and social distancing.

”It’s really critical that we wear masks while in public or around individuals who are not in our households,” Haushalter said.

She also said if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you must be quarantined for 14 days. If you are tested during that 14 days and tests are negative, you must still maintain the two-week quarantine.

”It’s really critical that we wear masks while in public or around individuals who are not in our households,” Haushalter said. 

City of Memphis chief operating officer Doug McGowen said still projecting national surge in September. He said it had been pushed out to November, but it’s now back to September because of the recent bump in cases.

On the council mask ordinance: McGowen said he encourages Memphians to follow mask recommendations and hopes it never comes to enforcement questions that are part of the council debate.

McGowen said to treat masking like you do wearing seat belts.

On Phase 3, McGowen said there will be questions, but he does not have answers on what happens in the fall with big events and school reopening, and that there is no timeline yet. On big events, McGowen said the Back to Business group is working on those decisions and talking with organizers.

McGowen said the plan for Riverside Drive is to open it when Phase 3 begins. Riverside Drive will be open to auto traffic Monday morning until the end of the Friday afternoon rush hour and all day Saturday and Sunday. No weekday night closings except on Friday.

McGowen said we are “pivoting to our marathon mode.” Testing sites in tents will be tough to sustain in summer. They look to move sites into more permanent and sustainable locations. That might mean fewer locations.

There are currently about 30 testing sites, with most of them bring outside.

Haushalter said no clusters related to protests have shown up yet.

On the “new normal” in the daily confirmed case count, Haushalter said it stayed steady. It had averaged about 65 cases a day, and anytime it is more than 100 is a big increase. Only six days have above 100 cases for the local pandemic.

“There’s not anything that alarms me that says we couldn’t move into Phase 3,” Haushalter said. 

On city pilot on targeted asymptomatic testing by the city, McGowen said the idea is to come to the workplace or to school to isolate and do contact tracing early on to prevent further transmission.

“The key is testing and then isolation and quarantine,” McGowen said.

McGowen said you also have to make it affordable as well as high volume. They are currently trying to identify barriers and hurdles to bringing it to scale.

This is new nationally.

Haushalter said the countywide health directive recommendation on face masks stands for now and is not a requirement. She said possibly making it a requirement is a “legal discussion” at this time with input from the state on how that might work.

McGowen said the city prefers that everyone wear a mask. He and Haushalter said there isn’t a difference of opinion on this.

Haushalter said she wouldn’t be saying she was ready for Phase 3 if she wasn’t comfortable. She said people have to be continuing social distancing.

“My hopes in the end are that it’s not a mixed message. We may say it somewhat differently,” she said. But she said ultimately the message is the same.

McGowen on “adverse facts”: He said the only other activity if not mask compliance is to crack down and limit activities, and that that is a trade off.

“Please understand we are doing this deliberately,” McGowen said of mask recommendation so far.

Shelby County has 125 more confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the health department, and no additional deaths.

The increase follows yesterday’s increase of 101 cases. 

The new cases bring the county’s total to 6,345 confirmed cases and 136 deaths. More than 4,000 (4,401) are considered officially recovered from the virus. 

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, there were 27,869 confirmed coronavirus cases in Tennessee, with 18,013 people considered recovered. Statewide, there have been 435 deaths and 1,974 hospitalizations, according to the same data. 

More than 500,000 tests have been administered in the state. 

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


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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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