Coronavirus Live Blog, April 8: COVID-19 claims life of FedEx pilot

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 08, 2020 8:43 AM CT | Published: April 08, 2020 4:00 AM CT

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

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.

And, to get breaking news delivered directly to your inbox when it happens, opt in to our Breaking News updates here.

April 08, 2020

FedEx logs first pilot’s death from COVID-19

8:28 PM CT, April 8

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the life of a FedEx pilot.

The MD-11 pilot, who lived in the Tampa, Florida, area, was one of 16 FedEx pilots diagnosed with the deadly virus as of Tuesday, April 7.

He was identified as Captain Paul Fox by the FedEx unit of the Air Line Pilots Association.

The FedEx family is deeply saddened by the loss of our team member, and our thoughts and condolences are with our colleague’s family, friends and co-workers at this difficult time,” FedEx spokeswoman Jenny Robertson said.

Read More


New testing sites announced

6:02 PM CT, April 8

The Joint COVID Task Force has announced new testing sites, with a goal of testing 1,000 people a day in addition to tests already being performed in hospitals.

The new sites announced Wednesday, April, 8 are:

  • Church Health, 1350 Concourse Avenue. By appointment only, call 272-0003
  • Memphis Health Center, 360 E.H. Crump Boulevard. By appointment only, call 261-2042
  • Tri-State Community Health Center, 1725 Pinebrook. By appointment only, call 572-1573
  • Case Management Inc., 3171 Directors Row. By appointment only, call 821-5880 or email
  • Christ Community Health Services, 3362 S. Third Street. By appointment only, Text ‘Test2020’ to 91999
  • UT Drive-Through Testing @ Tiger Lane, Mid-South Fairground. By appointment only, Text ‘covid’ to 901-203-5526


The latest coronavirus cases, by the numbers

10:03 AM CT, April 8



Tennessee up to 4,362 cases, including 79 deaths

2:09 PM CT, April 8

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there are 4,362 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, including 79 deaths.

More than 56,000 people -- 56,615 -- have been tested.

Four hundred forty nine people have been hospitalized; 592 have recovered from the disease.

Earlier today, the Shelby County Health Department reported 897 cases and 21 deaths. In Shelby County, 9,913 people have been tested. 

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reported 1,140 cases in Davidson County and 12 deaths. In that county, 11,757 have been tested.


Strickland: Number of testing sites will dramatically increase

12:03 PM CT, April 8

Mayor Jim Strickland said the number of testing sites will “drastically increase soon.” He hopes to add 1,000 tests a day in addition to what the number being tested now.

”We are taking every measure possible to enforce the full measure of the law for those who refuse to comply with the 'safer-at-home’ order,” Strickland said.

The mayor said the city ordered two car washes to close. If they continue to remain open the city could forcibly close them. Both are under terms of state and local states of emergency and owners could possibly face arrest. He says the city has looked at blocking access from the street to businesses that are in violation but hopes to avoid using those measures.

The city is using grant funds to set up a call center, which will provide temporary employment for restaurant and tourism industry workers. They will call MHA residents to check on their well-being to let them know about testing options and stress the importance of staying home. The center will go into operation Friday.

Regarding Easter and Passover, Strickland “strongly” encourages religious leaders to do services by stream and broadcasting. “Please do not hold services in person with over 10 people. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it is the right thing to do.”

David Sweat of the Shelby County Health Department said the first analysis on mortality shows COVID-19 having a disparate impact on the minority community.

Sixty-eight percent of all diagnosed cases are among African Americans.

Among those who die from COVID-19 complications, 28% are white and 71% are African American.

Sixty-two percent of those who die are male

The racial disparity percentage is not for all 897 confirmed cases, Sweat said. It is for 238 out of 897. He said some data entry is incomplete and some who are tested do want want to share racial information. 

The county has about a 9% positivity rate for those tested for the virus.

Sweat said the first analysis of data indicates that 45% of those who tested positive traced the infection to close contact with someone who tested positive, and 27% were health care associated — in a medical facility of some kind. 

He said no one yet has a “good explanation” for the racial disparity in those who test positive for COVID-19.

“This virus does not care how old we are. It doesn’t care what our racial make up is,” he said. “. ... but it is having a very profound impact on our minority communities.”

Sweat stressed the importance of those with underlying health conditions to pay very close attention to social distancing guidelines. “It’s very important for you to wear a mask when you are in public, to limit your travel ... and to remain social distant from people who may be shedding COVID-19.”

Bruce Randolph of the Shelby County Health Department said most citizens have followed social distancing and adhered to guidelines, but the health department has received multiple calls and emails on places of worship. A new directive was issued today regarding churches, restaurants and hotels. The directive does not close places of worship. People can gather if there are no more than 10 people, and they must be 6 feet apart. A mask or face covering is suggested but not required. The same rules apply to worship gatherings held outdoors or in parking lots.

“It’s imperative that all such creative procedures adhere to social distancing as set forth by the CDC, Tennessee Department of Health and Shelby County Health Department,” Randolph said.

Randolph said the racial disparity “is concerning to me” as a health officer for the county. “The myth that this virus is mainly a white person’s problem has been shattered.”

The city reports that 15 Memphis police officers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Strickland said figures on the number of those police officers currently hospitalized with the virus and how many are in ICU will also be provided.

Regarding the Jackson Avenue field hospital, Strickland says it will probably be a secondary facility. The search is on for a location closer to other hospitals. The fire department is preparing for the peak and will have a fairgrounds facility at the Pipkin Building for triage when the surge hits.

The mayor also touched on his budget presentation in two weeks: “It’s not a pretty picture.”

He said there will be a hiring freeze for all except public safety workers going into new fiscal year. He said the city could lose 20% to 25% of sales revenue. “The question is for how long.”

Officials are waiting on stimulus package direct payments from the the federal government to city governments including Memphis. Strickland wants as much flexibility as possible in the use of those funds to fill holes in budget. The question is when will that money arrive.

The mayor also discussed the new information on racial disparity. He said there are outreach efforts in the African American community, which include Memphis Housing Authority efforts and the call center.

“People are hungry for facts,” he said.


Watch today’s joint COVID-19 Task Force/Health Department briefing live

11:59 AM CT, April 8

Today’s joint COVID-19 Task Force/Shelby County Health Department briefing is set to include Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and the health department. 

Watch below:


UnitedHealth Group takes steps to speed payments to health providers

10:57 AM CT, April 8

UnitedHealth Group is taking steps immediately to accelerate payments and other financial support to health care providers to help address the short-term financial pressure caused by the COVID-19 emergency. 

Its move to accelerate claim payments to medical and behavioral care providers applies to UnitedHealthcare’s fully insured commercial, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid businesses. Other financial support currently includes the provision for up to $125 million in small business loans to clinical operators with whom OptumHealth is partnered.

The decision to accelerate claims and incentive payments builds on other measures taken by the company to streamline processes for health care professionals and facilities, and help members more easily access care. This includes:

  • Suspension of prior authorization requirements to a post-acute care setting
  • Suspension of prior authorization requirements when a member transfers to a new provider
  • Extension of timely filing deadlines for claims during the COVID-19 public health emergency period for Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and Individual and Group Market health plans
  • Implementation of provisional credentialing to make it easier for out-of-network care providers who are licensed independent practitioners to participate in one or more of our networks


Shelby County has 897 coronavirus cases, 21 deaths

9:57 AM CT, April 8

Shelby County now has 897 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and with 21 fatalities as of Wednesday, April 8. 

There have been 9,913 total tests taken in Shelby County with a 9.05% positivity rate, according to the city of Memphis’ latest numbers.

In Tennessee, there are 4,138 cases with 72 deaths as of Tuesday, April 7, according to the city’s data.

There have been 52,784 total tests statewide, with a positivity rate of 7.83%.

The city’s website data shows there have been 408 hospitalizations in Tennessee due to the virus and 466 recoveries. 


Mississippi tops 2,000 coronavirus cases

10:10 AM CT, April 8

Mississippi State Department of Health reported 88 new coronavirus cases Wednesday for a total of 2,003. 

DeSoto County reported four new cases for a total of 144 in the state. The northwest county remains at one death and has the second-highest number of cases in the state behind Hinds County.

Marshall County remained at one death and 24 confirmed cases, according to Wednesday numbers released by MSDH.

MSDH is reporting a total of 67 deaths due to COVID-19 complications. The department is also watching 41 outbreaks at long-term care facilities.


Shelby Farms will be closed to vehicular traffic on Easter

9:02 AM CT, April 8

Shelby Farms Park will be closed to vehicular traffic on Easter Sunday in an effort to limit crowds during one of its busiest days.

Park officials posted on Twitter Wednesday, April 8, the decision to close the park on April 12 to vehicles, but visitors can still enter the park on foot or by bicycle. The park will reopen with regular hours on Monday, April 13.

“Each year, Easter Sunday is one of the days that brings the highest volume of visitors to the park,” the post read. “We’re keeping the Park open but closing the gates to cars to protect public health by reducing crowds, which helps us in our effort to keep the Park open as a community resource.”

The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy said it will continue to monitor visitors coming to the park and will adjust gate closures accordingly.


April 07, 2020

The latest coronavirus cases, by the numbers

10:25 AM CT, April 7



Collierville allows employees to work from home

1:26 PM CT, April 7

Two weeks ago in a Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session, town leaders agreed those working for the suburb should not work from home. 

But 12 days later –Tuesday, April 7 – a number of employees were working from home. 

“Our objective is that everyone employed stays employed,” Jay Jeffries, Human Resources director said.

Department heads have been given authority to determine what tasks can be done remotely as well as to determine essential tasks that need to be done in the office, according to Jeffries. Those leadership positions are setting up schedules so those who physically need to be in the office can serve Collierville residents in a safe manner.

For example, human resources has split into two groups. Work from home days can be spent doing emails and phone calls while employees might go in to assist other employees with typical functions such as medical insurance needs.



coronavirus COVID-19


Want to comment on our stories or respond to others? Join the conversation by subscribing now. Only paid subscribers can add their thoughts or upvote/downvote comments. Our commenting policy can be viewed here