Coronavirus Live Blog, April 6: Shelby County deaths now at 17

By , Daily Memphian Updated: April 07, 2020 12:09 PM CT | Published: April 06, 2020 8:16 AM CT

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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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Tennessee’s COVID-19 projections drop

4:32 PM CT, April 6

Tennessee is expecting a smaller COVID-19 surge than projected a week ago as people stay home and the number of new cases begins to dwindle, Gov. Bill Lee said Monday.

“The model is encouraging,” Lee said during his Monday press conference from the State Capitol.

Nevertheless, he encouraged people to “stay vigilant” and continue to follow a “stay at home” order he issued last week after he saw travel trends begin to creep up.

The latest projections by the Institute for Health Metrics at the University of Washington show an April 15 surge when about 9,000 beds will be needed and a shortage of zero beds, not nearly as dramatic as the governor presented a week ago. The state is projected to have about 2,500 beds available, according to the model.

In addition, about 875 intensive care unit beds will be needed with no shortage, along with 208 invasive ventilators.

The model last week showed a need for 15,618 beds hitting its high point on April 19, following a peak of 165 deaths the next day and 3,422 total COVID-19 fatalities by Aug. 4.

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Local coronavirus cases, at a glance

8:58 AM CT, April 6

 

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Shelby County COVID-19 deaths now at 17

4:16 PM CT, April 6

Local deaths from the coronavirus have risen to 17, Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter told the County Commission on Monday.

That number is an increase over the number reported earlier in the day and comes from a report received early on Monday afternoon, Haushalter said while updating the commission on the local impact of the pandemic.

So far, 789 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 8,915 people have been tested, she said.

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Christ Community ramps up COVID-19 testing

4:05 PM CT, April 6

Christ Community Health Services is increasing its COVID-19 testing capacity to 200 a day at its South Memphis drive-thru location as of Monday, April 6, according to a news release.

Testing at the 3362 S. Third St. location remains appointment only and coronavirus testing hours are now 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“The need to provide COVID-19 testing for individuals in the underserved areas of Memphis and Shelby County is great,” the release states. “therefore, the organization is increasing testing availability.”

Since it began coronavirus testing March 21, Christ Community has tested more than 400 people and assessed over 2,000 potential cases over the phone.

Anyone wanting to be assessed for testing, text “Test2020” to 91999 or call (901) 842-3160 to discuss getting tested for coronavirus.

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Tennessee up to 3,802 cases, 65 deaths

2:12 PM CT, April 6

With the latest numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health, the state has 3,802 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 65 deaths.

Three hundred and fifty six people have recovered and 352 people have been hospitalized for the disease.

Statewide 47,350 people have been tested. 

According to the agency’s data, Fayette County has 21 confirmed cases and Tipton County has 36 confirmed cases.

The agency has Davidson County at 819 cases, but the Metro Public Health Department in Nashville puts that county’s number at 1,034 cases.

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Inmate at 201 Poplar tests positive for COVID-19

1:33 PM CT, April 6

An inmate of the Shelby County Jail at 201 Poplar has tested positive for COVID-19, Sheriff Floyd Bonner said.

The tests results came back Sunday night, April 5, and the inmate is isolated at the jail.

The Sheriff’s Office says the inmate has been in custody since January on multiple charges and his bond was set at $599,000. He was taken to Regional One Hospital when he showed symptoms of the virus and was treated and released.

“We have anticipated this happening and we have made arrangements to isolate that inmate,” Bonner said. “For instance, if us or MPD arrests someone with the virus, the plan is not to house them at 201 but to house them out at the Correctional Center in a wing out there. We would do ZOOM with the judges if they have to do court appearances, so we don’t have to transport them back and forth.”

Bonner said officials have already worked out the teleconferencing court appearances with the General Sessions Court judges and the space at the Shelby County Correctional Center will be available Monday, April 6.

Bonner said 14 Sheriff’s Office staff members have tested positive but only one inmate. He said the employees work in different divisions for SCSO. The Sheriff’s Office previously reported that two jail employees and a jailer at the Juvenile Detention Center tested positive. 

The Sheriff said all vacation time has been canceled and business-travel has been suspended through June. 

“We are making adjustments as we go and it is very challenging for law enforcement and the community all across the country,” Bonner said.

Criminal Justice advocates have pushed for inmates at local jails and prisons to be released because they say the correctional facilities are a hotbed for the virus to spread.

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Governor announces local government grants to fight COVID-19 pandemic

1:14 PM CT, April 6

Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday, April 6, $200 million in grants will be distributed to every county and city government across Tennessee for one-time, local expenses, including COVID-19 expenses, in fiscal year 2021.

“Capital maintenance, public safety and road projects don’t pause for disasters like the March tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lee said. “This grant fund will ease the burden on local governments as they work to meet infrastructure and safety obligations.”

In budget changes approved by the Legislature in the final days of its session in mid-March, the governor added $100 million to $100 million he had already planned for local government grants.

Funding is based on population as published by the U.S. Census Bureau. Each county will receive at least $500,000, and each city or municipality will receive at least $30,000. The three Metro governments (Davidson, Moore and Trousdale) will receive one allocation, whichever is largest. The application will be made available by April 30, 2020, and the funds will be made available after July 1, 2020. 

Funds can be used for road projects, I.T. upgrades, capital maintenance, utility system upgrades and public safety projects. Certain disaster-related expenses are also eligible for funding.

One-time expenses related to COVID-19 are eligible including supply and equipment purchase, cleaning, emergency food and shelter programs. Counties impacted by the March 2020 tornadoes including Benton, Carroll, Davidson, Gibson, Putnam, Smith and Wilson counties may also use the funds for tornado relief efforts.

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11 at Marion, Ark. nursing facility test positive for coronavirus

12:52 PM CT, April 6

Nine residents and two employees of a nursing home and rehabilitation facility in Marion, Arkansas have tested positive for coronavirus, and testing is ongoing, according to Arkansas health officials.

Arkansas Department of Health spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill said nine residents and two employees had tested positive, and other residents and employees were still being tested.

The number was up slightly from Saturday, when Dr. Nate Smith, Arkansas Secretary of Health, said eight residents of Willowbend Healthcare and Rehabilitation had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The cases were disclosed during a statewide coronavirus update by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and others Saturday, April 4.

The facility is at 830 Canal St. in Marion.

Of 67 people hospitalized in Arkansas for COVID-19 as of Sunday morning, 60 were nursing home residents, the state Department of Health said. It said 27 were currently on ventilators.

The disclosure comes after reports of coronavirus striking Carriage Court, an assisted living facility in East Memphis, and Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing in Middle Tennessee.

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Strickland extends ‘safer-at-home’ order through April 21

12:07 PM CT, April 6

At today’s joint COVID-19 briefing, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says the state will announce a second field hospital today to go with the one being worked on on Jackson Avenue. He said that testing more is his number one concern.

Strickland pushed social distancing, saying that virus is three times more infectious than normal flu and says surge is two to three weeks ahead.

“The virus feeds on social interaction,” he said. “We need to starve the virus.”

Strickland extended his safer at home order through April 21.

Strickland said “courtesy crews” of city employees will work in parks on social distancing. He said that 140 businesses who should be closed have been reported. One hundred thirty four were called on by city and all but one has agreed to comply. Police got 41 calls of crowds gathering in different parts of the city and 15 violations from churches. The Shelby County Health Department handled the church calls. Strickland said in most cases officials got voluntary compliance.

Strickland on the homeless: “They are top of our mind.” 

He said the city is coordinating with agencies to ensure they “are able to shelter in place.” He said the task force has two hotels with 60 rooms for homeless women and families and is looking for more hotel rooms for homeless men.

The task force is working on mobile COVID-19 testing aimed at the homeless.

”It is going to take time but we will get through this,” Strickland said.

Shelby County health officer Bruce Randolph says locally 8,915 have been tested so far.

A majority of cases are ages 20-30, followed by ages 30-40 and then 40-50. So 21-60 is “way over the majority of the cases we are dealing with,” Randolph says.

On flattening of the curve, Randolph says they still anticipate the surge in about two weeks and are preparing hospitals for surge. Strickland said, “We hope for the best but plan for the worst.”

Strickland said, “Models change everyday. ... We always plan for the worst but hope for the best.”

Strickland says there is (personal protective equipment) PPE supply enough for today and days ahead. But he says they have to plan for the surge. One of sub task forces works on purchasing masks and other supplies for medical professionals and also for first responders. 

”The challenges that you see nationwide on procuring that equipment is true here,” he said.

Strickland said that they are using a local model on future cases but not discounting Vanderbilt University and other models.

Strickland said the second field hospital will be “hundreds of beds.” And he said he foresees a Phase 3 and Phase 4 for hospitals. Strickland also said he is concerned people will see new reports and modeling showing the curve is being flattened on the curve and abandon social distancing. 

The more optimistic modeling reported comes with the caveat that it assumes rigorous social distancing through mid-May.

In terms of the field hospitals: no decision yet on whether they will be for COVID-19 patients or non-COVID. The task force is meeting later today on that and other issues.

Randolph said 15 churches were reported Sunday and he saw an additional one as he was driving to one of the 15. He says most have complied. He said the Health Department is putting together guidance for churches on what they can and cannot do including spacing for worshippers if they have live services. 

”We are treating churches just as we treat all essential businesses,” Randolph said..

But the Health Department suggestion is no more than 10 people and those 10 people be six feet apart from each other.

Strickland said the practical problem of social distancing in supermarkets is lines six feet apart become a problem. He suggested covering face and trying to stay six feet apart with no prolonged period of time next to someone. 

Randolph said the best way to prevent transmission is no close contact. 

”Even a lot of the businesses that we closed primarily were businesses that involved direct contact,” he said.

He said the focus is separation even in the businesses that are deemed essential “as much as is reasonable.”

The business cited for remaining open is a car wash on Park Avenue per Strickland. Strickland said he is told the business has now closed.

Randolph said testing the homeless gives a truer picture of the spread of virus.

Strickland said the city is offering employment for Memphis Housing Authority residents who work in the tourism industry to work spreading word about testing and other activities related to COVID-19 response.

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Watch today’s joint COVID-19 task force/health department briefing live

12:01 PM CT, April 6

Today, the Shelby County Health Department and the City of Memphis have changed course slightly, offering a joint COVID-19 task force briefing. 

The update is being led by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph. 

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U of M Pro Day canceled

10:37 AM CT, April 6

The University of Memphis canceled its April 10 Pro Day due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

The Pro Day showcases the talents of players such as wide receiver Antonio Gibson and running back Patrick Taylor who could be drafted. Both participated in the NFL Draft Combine and have talked with professional teams.

“With NFL scouts unable to travel due to CoVID-19 stay-at-home conditions, the University of Memphis football team has canceled its Pro Day, scheduled for April 10,” the university’s athletic department said in a release. “April 10 was the last possible day for teams to host a scouting combine and in the interest and safety of all, the Memphis event will not be held.

“The Tiger coaching staff will continue to work with NFL scouts to assist the senior class of 2019 in pursuing football opportunities.”

Tight end Joey Magnifico and defensive end Bryce Huff weren’t invited to the draft combine and use Pro Day as a tool to show what they can do to scouts. Cornerback Chris Claybrooks, offensive lineman Dustin Woodard and linebacker Austin Hall would also had planned to attend.

Several former players have been drafted the last two years. Both Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard were taken in the 2019 NFL Draft while Anthony Miller and Genard Avery were selected in 2018.

No new date were set for the Memphis Pro Day. The NFL Draft runs from April 23-25 meaning some former Tigers may not work out for scouts prior to the draft.

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Shelby County at 789 cases, 13 deaths

8:17 AM CT, April 6

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Shelby County stands at 789 Monday morning, April 6, with the death toll now at 13.

According to the Shelby County Health Department, 8,915 people tested in Shelby County with a positivity rate of 8.85%.

Statewide, there are 3,633 confirmed cases, with 44 deaths and 328 are hospitalized, as of 2 p.m. Sunday, April 5.

Statewide 45,300 have been tested, with 8.02% testing positive for the virus.

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DeSoto up to 136 cases

10:16 AM CT, April 6

There were 136 confirmed coronavirus cases in DeSoto County, Mississippi, as of 6 p.m. Sunday, April 5.

Marshall County had 23 cases.

Each county has had one death from the disease.

Statewide there were 1,738 cases and 51 deaths.

DeSoto County had the second highest number of confirmed cases in the state behind Hinds County, which had 158 cases.

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