Shelby County records highest coronavirus case total

By , Daily Memphian Updated: June 15, 2020 3:41 PM CT | Published: June 15, 2020 12:23 PM CT
<strong>A doctor waves a possible COVID-19 patient in for testing at UTHSC&rsquo;s Tiger Lane testing site April 10, 2020. The Shelby County Health Department confirmed 256 new cases Monday, surpassing the previous single-day increase.</strong> (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

A doctor waves a possible COVID-19 patient in for testing at UTHSC’s Tiger Lane testing site April 10, 2020. The Shelby County Health Department confirmed 256 new cases Monday, surpassing the previous single-day increase. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Shelby County recorded its highest single-day increase of new COVID-19 cases Monday, June 15, as hospitalizations from the virus’s spread continue to rise, according to Shelby County Health Department data.

The rising number of cases led to officials announcing plans at a Monday afternoon press conference to remain in Phase 2, and not move into Phase 3. A recent steady rise in cases and the potential pressure on hospital beds contributed to the decision. No date was given on a potential move to Phase 3. 

Shelby County not moving to Phase 3 as cases, hospitalizations rise

The Shelby County Health Department confirmed 256 new cases Monday, surpassing the previous single-day increases on June 9, with 192 new cases and June 2, with 190 new cases.

Last week, the Health Department announced plans to move into Phase 3 on Monday, unless there were “extraordinary changes” in the data. 

Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said the increase in new cases and hospitalizations, and a higher reproduction rate, led to remaining in Phase 2. 

“These are signs there is significant transmission within the community, and that moving forward would put more people at risk,” Haushalter said. 

A total of 200 COVID-19 patients are in local hospitals, as of Monday, according to the state’s Health Resource Tracking System. That’s the highest tally of confirmed hospitalizations since March when the pandemic was first traced locally.

The 256 new cases in Shelby County came from 2,592 new tests resulting in a 9.9% daily positive rate – nearly three points higher than the overall rate of 7%. The county’s three highest single-day coronavirus case increases have all occurred during Phase 2 of Memphis and Shelby County’s Back to Business plan.

Up to 50 people can gather under Phase 2, compared to 10 in Phase 1. A move to Phase 3 would allow groups of more than 50 to congregate.

Shelby County reported 6,892 coronavirus cases, 139 deaths and 4,744 recoveries, according to the health department. The number of active cases is 2,009.

Coronavirus cases have increased in Memphis and Shelby County over the past three weeks as social distancing measures were relaxed. Citizens are encouraged to social distance, wear facial coverings and wash their hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer to slow the virus’ spread.

Shelby County coronavirus cases continue to rise as testing levels off

To move into Phase 3, public health and elected officials want a 14-day downward trend or leveling in new cases, stable hospitalization numbers, increased testing capacity and contact tracing. 

Shelby County has administered 98,105 tests overall with a 7% positivity rate. While lower than the 10% benchmark health officials desire, the overall rate increased marginally from 6.8% on Wednesday, June 10, to 7% Monday.

Of the 200 COVID-19 hospital patients, 122 are in acute care, while the other 78 are in the intensive care unit. Another 80 patients, 68 in acute care and 12 in ICU, are under investigation for having the virus. For context, a week ago, there were 141 COVID-19 patients and 122 under investigation.

“Those being admitted to the hospital represent our community more broadly, which is another sign that we have broader community transmission that we need to get a handle on,” Haushalter said. 

Current local hospital acute care and ICU staffed bed utilization is at 78%. According to the metrics, Shelby County is in the “green” on hospital capacity, because the bed occupancy rate is less than 80%.

“I want the public to know our healthcare system is available and ready with a thorough plan in the event of a surge,” said William Kenley, executive vice president, Community Group for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. “We have adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) and supplies and capacity to be able meet the needs of our public.”

An alternate care facility, at 495 Union Ave., can house an additional 400 COVID-19 patients if necessary.

The reproduction rate of coronavirus locally is currently 1.12, meaning one infected person is infecting about one other person with the virus. Health officials wants that reproduction rate below 1 to lessen community transmission of coronavirus.


Shelby County Health Department COVID-19 testing COVID-19 Back to Business Phase 2
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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