Coronavirus daily blog, March 25: Tennessee up to 784 cases, including 3 deaths

By Updated: March 30, 2020 10:44 AM CT | Published: March 25, 2020 4:00 AM CT Live

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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.

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Confirmed cases
Shelby County
170
Metro area
218
Tennessee
784
U.S.
55,243


March 25, 2020

GMSD 5K Stampede and Color Run delayed amid growing COVID-19 concerns

9:15 PM CT, March 25

Due to growing concerns over COVID-19, Germantown Education Foundation has postponed its annual 5K and color run until Sunday, June 14.

Germantown Education Foundation a non-profit dedicated to raising funds for Germantown Municipal School District, was scheduled to host the annual spring fundraiser April 26.

Registration for the June fundraiser is open online.

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Germantown cancels most commission meetings through June 30

6:22 PM CT, March 25

The city of Germantown told various citizen-led commissions Wednesday afternoon most commission meetings are canceled through the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

The city has canceled all meetings up until April 7, which is the next scheduled Financial Advisory Commission.

The FAC has more than 20 members. The city has not yet announced electronic meetings, but is exploring options.

Planning, Finance and Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings are the only city meetings continuing at this time. 

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State seeks coverage for uninsured Tennesseans

3:12 PM CT, March 25

Gov. Bill Lee says the state is seeking a waiver from the federal government to provide Medicaid coverage to uninsured Tennesseans, with an eye toward treating people with COVID-19.

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State offering emergency cash to qualifying families impacted by coronavirus

3:01 PM CT, March 25

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is making essential financial resources available to families that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. 

Beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 26, families can begin applying online for up to two months of emergency cash assistance if they were employed as of March 11, 2020, and lost employment or at least 50% of their earned income as a result of the pandemic.

All TDHS offices are currently operating on appointment only as a precaution for COVID-19. 

During this time, the department is asking applicants to complete the application process for emergency cash assistance online at https://tdhs.service-now.com/relief?id=relief_registration. 

Applicants are required to upload their verification to the application prior to submitting to TDHS.

Once the application and verifications have been submitted, no further action will be needed. Applicants do not need to call the DHS office for an interview. Applicants will receive a notification of denial or approval via email within five days. If approved, applicants can expect an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card to be sent within 5-7 days of approval via mail.

The Emergency Cash Assistance is funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and provides:

  • $500 for a household of 1 to 2 persons.
  • $750 for a household of 3 to 4 persons.
  • $1,000 for a household with 5 or more persons.

This assistance is available in addition to any unemployment benefits individuals in the family may be receiving.

To be eligible, families must have been employed as of March 11, 2020 but have since then lost employment or at least 50% of their earned income due to the COVID-19 emergency; have a child under the age of 18 or a pregnant woman; have a valid Social Security number; must not have resources exceeding $2,000; and the gross and/or unearned monthly income may not exceed 85% of the state’s median income, which is currently:  

  • Gross monthly income of $2,696 for a household of one.
  • Gross monthly income of $3,526 for a household of two.
  • Gross monthly income of $4,356 for a household of three.
  • Gross monthly income of $5,185 for a household of four.
  • Gross monthly income of $6,015 for a household of five.

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Two inmates test negative for coronavirus

2:25 PM CT, March 25

Two inmates at the Shelby County Division of Corrections who were isolated because of an infection have tested negative for COVID-19, said Anthony Alexander, director of the facility.

“We got the results back Tuesday afternoon and the results are negative,” Alexander said.

He said the inmates will eventually be moved back to the general population after testing negative for coronavirus.  Alexander said no employees have required testing to his knowledge.

The facility earlier suspended in-person visits but video visitations are ongoing at the facility at 1045 Mullins Station Road.

There has been a push locally and nationally by criminal justice officials and advocates to free some prisoners in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

A petition was recently sent to the Tennessee Supreme Court by a coalition of criminal justice and social justice organizations including Just City, a Memphis organization, asking that prisoners be released.

Other states have taken similar steps to free prisoners. Recently in New Jersey, the chief justice of the Supreme Court signed an order releasing 1,000 people from jails in that state.

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170 latest count of confirmed cases in Shelby County

2:01 PM CT, March 25

Shelby County had 170 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon, March 25, according to the Shelby County Health Department.

There were 135 confirmed cases Tuesday, with no additions between the health department’s morning update and its 2 p.m. media briefing.

Among new cases reported were two employees at the Memphis VA Medical Center and two others at Regional One Health. Regional One later said its employee cases were confirmed earlier.

Alisa Haushalter, head of the Shelby County Health Department, says there is enough evidence to know that people are continuing to go to work sick.

Health department data crunchers here say that 74% of the cases are in people 60 and younger; 38% are between 21 and 40.

“One of the narratives that has been widely spoken throughout this pandemic is the risk to elderly folks and that younger people are less at risk,” said David Sweat, head of epidemiology for the county. “There’s definitely transmission occurring in younger age groups.”

The health department issued its own stay-at-home order Wednesday for people not included in the city or county mayors’ stay-at-home orders. With it, all Shelby County residents now are to eliminate nonessential trips from home, including work for people in nonessential businesses.

“I think we have a narrow window,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph, health department medical officer.

“If we act together as citizens and people cooperate with what we’re trying to do, we may be able to prevent the overwhelming of our health care system and somewhat blunt the spike we are anticipating with the cases.”

Key to it are quick turnaround times for labs processing the tests so the health department can immediately do begin investigating all the contacts and quarantining those who are at risk.

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Memphis Farmers Market postpones opening

1:32 PM CT, March 25

The Memphis Farmers Market, originally scheduled to begin the season April 4, won’t open as scheduled.

“Following Mayor Strickland’s ‘Safer at Home’ order that runs through April 7, we feel it is our responsibility to do our part to flatten the curve and help stop the transmission of this virus through our city,” a press release sent from market organizers said.

“We have our sights set on a May 9 opening day, but we appreciate everyone’s understanding should that date need to be adjusted. We are also exploring ways to get our vendors' products in your hands in the interim, so we promise to keep you updated on that front as well. Please check back in the coming weeks and we’ll do our best to keep our ‘virtual’ MFM community engaged.”

The website is www.memphisfarmersmarket.org.

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Hope Church employee tests positive

1:25 PM CT, March 25

A Hope Church Memphis employee has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, The Daily Memphian has confirmed. Eleven other staff members who were in direct contact with the person are in self-quarantine. 

The Daily Memphian is not naming the patient because the person has not done so.  The Daily Memphian also does not release emails distributed to a private congregation. Other local media may have different ethical standards.

Hope, a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, is located on Walnut Grove about a mile east of Germantown Parkway. It was established in 1988 when Craig Strickland of Second Presbyterian decided to build a new church in Cordova. Hope purchased 22 acres as its location in 1992.

The church’s main sanctuary seats 5,000. 

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2 Downtown hotels temporarily close

11:59 AM CT, March 25

The Hu Hotel Memphis and Doubletree Downtown Memphis Hotel have temporarily suspended operations because of coronavirus, according to their websites.

Memphis Tourism officials have said they expected widespread hotel closures as the health crisis lengthens.

Due to reduced travel, occupancy at Memphis area hotels had fallen to about 10% earlier this week.

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Memphis Amazon employee tests positive

11:24 AM CT, March 25

There is a confirmed coronavirus case at a Memphis Amazon delivery station, the company confirmed. The person, who was last on-site Saturday, March 21 received medical care and is in quarantine, Amazon said. 

“We are supporting the individual who is recovering,” the company said in a statement. “We are following guidelines from local officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site.

Amazon said it has made employees at the site aware of the case and has asked anyone who was in close contact with the person to stay home — with pay — for 14 days. 

CNN reports that there have been confirmed coronavirus cases in Amazon warehouses in Staten Island, New York; Queens, New York; Moreno Valley, Calif.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Shepherdsville, Ky.; Brownstown, Mich.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Katy, Texas and Wallingford, Conn. 

Amazon said it has implemented preventative health measures for its employees, delivery and transportation partners, including increased cleaning, staggering shift start and break times, suspending exit screening, spreading out chairs and table in the break rooms and requiring employees to sanitize their work stations and vehicles before and after shifts.

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2 Memphis VA Medical Center employees test positive

11:01 AM CT, March 25

Two Memphis VA Medical Center employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Both are in home isolation.

A spokeswoman for the facility said that due to privacy concerns, more information could not be provided. 

The Memphis VA Medical Center is screening veterans and staff who have fever, cough and shortness of breath, who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for evaluation of COVID-19 infection. 

Patients who are at risk for a coronavirus infection are immediately isolated to prevent the potential spread.

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2 Regional One employees test positive

9:48 AM CT, March 25

As a result of its screening process at Regional One,  two employees have tested positive for COVID-19. They are isolated at home, the hospital said.

“Both employees were already in self-isolation at home when the test came back positive. We continue to focus on our screening process for early identification of potential COVID-19 cases. In order to protect patient privacy we will not release any other information at this time,” the hospital said in a statement.

The employees were not among the new cases announced Wednesday.

“We are following all precautionary and protective protocols from the State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have notified and will provide guidance and support to all who were in close contact with these individuals. We are also working with the Shelby County Health Department to make sure all appropriate follow-up measures are taken.”

The hospital says it is prepared to address the COVID-19 situation as it develops in the community and within the health system.  It has established safety measures including screening and restricted visitation policies. 

 

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Rides on MATA buses, trolleys, MATAplus free until April 30

11:24 AM CT, March 25

Now through April 30, rides on all Memphis Area Transit Authority vehicles will be free.

The temporary measure was approved on Tuesday, March 24, by the Memphis City Council as another strategy to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which can live on surfaces, like money or farecards, for days.

The free fares will help MATA to reinforce social distancing, with passengers boarding through the rear doors, limiting their contact with vehicle operators. However, passengers who need assistance will be able to use the front door and ramp.

“We’re using tape to mark 6-feet spaces between the customer and the operator and we recently issued additional guidance to space customers apart so this is another move to try to combat the spread of the disease in Memphis and Shelby County,” Gary Rosenfeld, MATA CEO said in a statement announcing  the new fare-free policy.

This move follows new guidance already in place, that includes only 10 people on a fixed-route bus or trolley, requiring passengers to sit on every other row, no more than two passengers on a MATAplus vehicle and transporting MATAplus customers only to medical-related destinations, to purchase food or pickup food from a nonprofit organization’s distribution location.

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Shelby County now has 170 cases

9:22 AM CT, March 25

As of Wednesday morning, 170 people have confirmed cases in Shelby County, up from 135 on Tuesday.

The virus is now spreading in workplaces and the community, the Shelby County Health Department said.

People are reminded to stay home except for completely necessary trips, keep children occupied at home and continue to be vigilant in hand-washing.

Statewide, there are 667 cases. DeSoto County has 29; Tipton County has six. 

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Mississippi reports second death, increased cases in DeSoto County

10:17 AM CT, March 25

The Mississippi Department of Health is reporting 57 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state for a total of 377.

DeSoto County now has 36 confirmed cases, the second-most in Mississippi.

Marshall County reported one new case  and has a total of four COVID-19 cases.

The state also reported its second death Wednesday morning; the deceased was in Holmes County, which is north of Jackson and borders the Yazoo River.

MSDH’s first reported death was in Hancock County, along the Gulf Coast. Hinds County, which includes the Jackson metro area, has been the hardest hit in the state, with 38 cases.

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Millington offers free lunches for students

10:55 AM CT, March 25

Millington has announced it will close schools until April 24, which is in line with the recommendation Gov. Bill Lee made Tuesday afternoon. 

Previously the municipal school district was scheduled to be closed until March 31.

Millington is currently serving meals to children 18 and under in a drive-thru format from 10:30 a.m. until noon. Children must be present and everyone must remain in the car

Drive-thru sites:

  • E.A. Harrold Elementary: 4943 West Union
  • Millington Middle School: 4964 Cuba Millington
  • Millington Elementary: 6455 William Osteen Drive
  • Aycock Park: 7330 Renda St. Millington

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PBS stations to offer educational programming during school closures

10:36 AM CT, March 25

WKNO Memphis will provide two hours of quality education television programming beginning Monday, April 6.

The Memphis PBS station will host programming from 10 a.m. until noon daily. Four hours will also be streamed overnight that families can record or watch. Local listings will provide information about the overnight airings.

The local station one of six PBS stations in the state helping students access educational content during extended school closures – even if internet or a device in not accessible. The programming will be developed collaboratively with teachers and the Tennessee Department of Education.

“This is an incredible example of Tennesseans coming together to support kids,” Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn said in a release. “We are so thrilled to be partnering with PBS stations across the state to make high-quality instructional content available to all students so they can continue learning during school closures. Families and students are hungry for content right now, and we are grateful our local stations have stepped up to help fill this need.” 

The programming announcement comes the day after Gov. Bill Lee recommended all schools be closed through at least April 24. Suburban school districts are following Lee’s advice.

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St. Jude down to essential employees only; stepping up screenings

10:04 AM CT, March 25

Starting today, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in adherence with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s Safer at Home order, will have only St. Jude employees who perform essential functions on campus. All other employees are at home.

In addition, St. Jude is conducting enhanced COVID-19 screenings on all patient-care employees, including daily symptoms checks and periodic COVID-19 testing.

“These screenings will improve our ability to identify possible infections in patient-care workers early and minimize the spread of the virus. This is a vital tool to keep our patients – many of whom have compromised immune systems – safe. We are deeply appreciative of our employees as they continue to work hard to care for our patients and keep our campus safe.”

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March 24, 2020

Germantown announces extended closure, online learning

9:33 PM CT, March 24

Germantown Municipal School District acted similarly to suburban schools across Shelby County.

The district is following Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation to close until April 24th.

Before the extended closure announcement, the district sent an email to families earlier in the afternoon Tuesday, thanking them for their patience and communicating distance learning plans.

District staff communicated that students have learned more than 75% of information for this year, but is creating resources for students to master the standards while away from the classroom.

The district is not collecting assignments or giving grades at this time. However, the district is hosting conference calls to help parents understand online resources. Parents can join online or by calling +1 302-364-6761 PIN: 994 222 208#

  • March 25: 10 a.m. until 11 a.m.
  • March 25: 1 p.m. until 2 p.m.
  • March 26: 4 p.m. until 5 p.m.
  • March 26: 5 p.m. until 6 p.m.
  • A recording will be posted on the website on Friday, March 27.

The calls will help parents learn how to use the online learning technological tools students will be utilizing in the next month.

Although GMSD is not collecting work, AP and dual enrollment students should continue their course work. They should be in contact with their teachers, and questions about dual enrollment can be directed to Missy.Abel@gmsdk12.org

Nurses should be reaching out to families whose students take daily medication. Individuals who have not heard from their nurse by end of day March 24, should contact their principal.

Students will be able to pick up essential items such as instruments, Advanced Placement, dual enrollment and ACT materials and district-issued devices and charges by signing up online. Library books, work books, textbooks and school supplies are not considered essential items. Questions about other items should be directed to school principal’s via email.

No more than 10 people will be allowed in a school building at a time. Students may bring one guardian with them and district staff will be present throughout the building to enforce safety guidelines and precautions.

Students who need meals at this time may get them at one of more than 60 sites where YMCA is giving meals to Shelby Count Schools students.

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Millington extends school closure

6:58 PM CT, March 24

Millington has announced it will close schools until April 24, which is in line with the recommendation Gov. Bill Lee made Tuesday afternoon. 

Previously the municipal school district was scheduled to be closed until March 31.

Millington is currently serving meals to children 18 and under in a drive-thru format from 10:30 a.m. until noon. Children must be present and everyone must remain in the car

Drive-thru sites:

  • E.A. Harrold Elementary: 4943 West Union
  • Millington Middle School: 4964 Cuba Millington
  • Millington Elementary: 6455 William Osteen Drive
  • Aycock Park: 7330 Renda St. Millington

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Bartlett City Schools following governor’s recommendation

6:09 PM CT, March 24

Bartlett City Schools will remain closed until April 24, the district announced Tuesday.

The extended closure is in line with Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation made Tuesday afternoon. 

The district will communicate information and instructions about remote learning this week.

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SCS to remain closed ‘until further notice’

4:52 PM CT, March 24

After Gov. Bill Lee asked that Tennessee schools remain closed through at least Friday, April 24, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray announced that SCS schools will be closed until further notice.

“Our team is meeting daily to assess rapidly changing development and next steps,” Ray said in a statement on Tuesday, March 24. “We will continue to seek and adhere to all local, state and national guidance concerning this unprecedented outbreak, and make the best decision on behalf of children in Shelby County.” 

The district said it plans to continue to provide daily meals to students in partnership with the YMCA and that it is expanding instructional resources that are available to students while schools are closed.

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Arlington Community Schools closed until April 24

4:34 PM CT, March 24

Arlington Community Schools will close until April 24, a letter sent to families from Superintendent Tammy Mason said.

She said students have been taught between 80-90% of the year’s materials, and students would have been on track to take TNReady tests, but the requirement was eliminated by legislators. Therefore, the district will provide online optional resources for students to continue learning.

The resources should be available by Wednesday April 1. Additional information will be sent to families early next week and questions should be directed to info@acsk-12.org.

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Collierville announces extended school closure

4:08 PM CT, March 24

Collierville is adhering to the advisement of Gov. Bill Lee and closing schools until April 24.

The district announced earlier that its technology team was working on a online learning plan and it could begin as early as Monday, March 30, but students and families will be notified with further instructions by the district.

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Lakeland announces extended school closure

3:53 PM CT, March 24

Lakeland School System announced Tuesday it will follow Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation and be closed through April 24. 

Friday, school families will receive information about online learning and students will begin using online resources April 1.

“We are encouraged and grateful for the support and encouragement of out school community and will continue to keep our stakeholders informed as this situation develops.”

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