Coronavirus live blog, April 20: State’s ‘Safer at Home’ order to end April 30

By Updated: May 08, 2020 8:39 AM CT | Published: April 20, 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

You can protect yourself and help prevent the spread of coronavirus by:

  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid close contact (within six feet) with people
  • Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean

To view the city’s stay-at-home order, click here.

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 20, 2020

80% of small businesses haven’t received relief, survey finds

4:26 PM CT, April 20

The NFIB Research Center released a survey Monday, April 20, on the small business loan programs. Small business owners were asked about the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan on April 17, the day after the programs ran out of money.

About 20% of submitted applications have been fully processed with funds deposited in the borrower’s account, but 80% of respondents said they are still waiting, and many do not know where they are in the application process.

Most small business owners believe it will take beyond 2020 to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, with only one-third of owners believing their community will get back to a normal level of economic activity by the end of the year. A quarter of owners believe it will not be until 2022 or later before the economy returns to normal.

“Small businesses were prepared and ready to apply for these programs, the only financial support options for most, and it is very frustrating that the majority of these true small businesses haven’t received their loan yet,” Holly Wade, NFIB director of Research & Policy Analysis, said in a release. “Small businesses make up nearly half of the economy, and it’s crucial that their doors stay open.”

State-specific data was not available, but Tennessee NFIB Director Jim Brown said the survey confirms what the state organization is hearing from members.

“They’re waiting in line to get an SBA loan and too many of them are on the brink of financial failure if they don’t get the money soon,” he said.

~


Explore Bike Share extending free rentals

4:03 PM CT, April 20

Explore Bike Share is extending free bike rentals for an additional month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nonprofit bike share operator reports that nearly 500 first-time riders took advantage of the first month of free rides. It said that it uses daily sanitization protocols, but riders are asked to bring their own disinfectant wipe and hand sanitizer to clean bike handles and touch screens before checking out a bicycle.

“While parks are closed to vehicular traffic, parks are not closed,”  Explore Bike Share Executive Director Anton Mack, said in a statement. “This is an invitation to explore Memphis in an incredibly unique way. Traverse a new bike path or route among our hundreds of miles of bike infrastructure. Our streets are welcoming your daily solo exercise.”

Rentals can be accessed through the BCycle app, a payment kiosk or explorebikeshare.com.

~


Methodist Le Bonheur shares guidelines on how to donate

4:28 PM CT, April 20

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is using alternate sources to obtain necessary personal protective equipment that meets its standards. Since the hospital system is receiving an influx of donations, it also released guidelines on how to safely contribute.

Methodist is collaborating with state and local health departments to receive Strategic National Stockpile distributions, has relied on its internal disaster reserve inventory and has partnered with local companies outside of the household industry that have converted factories. 

The hospital system’s clinical engineering team created a face shield prototype and is producing 1,000 face shields per week. Mary Karen Dixon, a registered dietician at Methodist Olive Branch, adapted a pattern to make isolation gowns in-house from plastic sheeting; employees make 150 to 250 gowns per day. And at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown, an operating room team has been sewing an N95 mask alternative.

And people outside of the hospital have wanted to contribute. Methodist reports that some hospitals have been surprised with donations or are receiving donations that are in violation of COVID-19 visitation policies. 

People who would like to donate are asked to complete this online form www.methodisthealth.org/communitygiving and wait to hear from a hospital employee.

“With sincere gratitude, we would like to thank all of those who have already supported our work by making a generous donation of PPE, food or funds,” Michael Ugwueke, president and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, in a statement. “Please know how much we deeply appreciate your support of our mission now more than ever.”

~


Gov. Lee: Reopening will be phased, smart, strategic

3:50 PM CT, April 20

Gov. Bill Lee said he spoke earlier Monday with Vice President Mike Pence about expanding testing, which he said will be important as the state starts reopening the economy.

The Lee Administration will outline the opening guidelines for the businesses that open, with many starting in 89 counties where the state has health departments.

Those in the remaining six counties with their own health departments will work with the state to develop their own plans. He did not have a time frame for the opening in counties such as Shelby.

“It will be phased. It will be smart. It will be strategic,” said the governor, noting the plan will put people’s health first.

He said he spoke with mayors from the state’s largest urban areas, and noted they will be providing their own outlines for opening.

“For the good of our state, social distancing must continue, but our economic shutdown cannot,” he said.

Asked about reopening guidelines, the governor said: “We plan to keep the same social distancing guidelines in place for now and into the next few weeks. ... This change is primarily around businesses and businesses being able to open up. The most important thing to me is people being able to go back to work and businesses opening up.”

The governor said the Memphis Restaurant Association request will depend on a plan the organization works out with leaders in Memphis and Shelby County. It could mirror what the state works out, or it could be different.

State parks will be instructed to begin opening Friday, April 24.

Industry members on the Economic Recovery Group represent more than 140,000 Tennessee businesses that employ more than 2.5 million Tennesseans.

“Our small businesses have suffered tremendously during this COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The state reported 7,238 cases on Monday, 152 dead with 3,575 recovering after the lowest day-over-day increase in cases, the governor said.

For 17 consecutive days, the state has seen only single-digit increases, and the number of recovered cases has overtaken the number of positive cases, he said.

Over the weekend, the Unified Command conducted more than 11,000 tests at 19 pop-up sites, and so far, the state has given more than 100,000 tests.

“It was inspiring to watch. There were long lines,” he said, noting local law enforcement worked with the state to conduct the tests. 

Nobody was turned away, he said, because the state is now allowing anyone who feels they need a test to have one free of charge. They’re also available at every health department in the state.

The state has ordered more than $82 million worth of personal protective equipment.

The state has worked to protect inmates in the Tennessee Department of Correction. A few pockets of cases have been reported in state prisons.

The department took early precautions March 2 to limit visitations and postponing legal visits except in special circumstances, according to Commissioner Tony Parker.

~


Governor announces ‘Safer at Home’ order will end April 30

2:54 PM CT, April 20

Governor Bill Lee announced the order for Tennesseans to remain at home will expire April 30, with the vast majority of businesses in 89 counties allowed to re-open on May 1.

“Our Economic Recovery Group is working with industry leaders around the clock so that some businesses can open as soon as Monday, April 27,” said Gov. Lee. “These businesses will open according to specific guidance that we will provide in accordance with state and national experts in both medicine and business.”

The Lee Administration will work with Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan counties and their health departments as they plan their own re-open strategies.

“While I am not extending the safer at home order past the end of April, we are working directly with our major metropolitan areas to ensure they are in a position to reopen as soon and safely as possible,” said Lee. “Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it.”

The Economic Recovery Group (ERG), composed of 30 leaders from the public and private sector is crafting guidance to assist businesses in a safe reopening. The industry representatives participating in the ERG collectively represent over 140,000 Tennessee businesses that employ over 2.5 million Tennesseans. 

~


U of M to host food bank mobile pantry Tuesday

3:43 PM CT, April 20

The University of Memphis will be a host site for the Mid-South Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry Program at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 21 in the Central Avenue parking lot next to the campus Holiday Inn.

The food bank will bring an 18-wheeler full of food including fruit, vegetables, frozen fruit, meat, dessert, eggs, milk, bread and pantry staples. The pantry will remain open until all the food is distributed.

U of M’s Tiger Pantry staff will sort and distribute food to about 300 families. Attendees must have a state ID or U of M ID, as well as a document confirming their current address. 

The U of M pantry will be one of seven food bank mobile distribution sites on Tuesday. The food bank plans to distribute 50 to 60 pounds of food per family, for a total of about 15,000 to 18,000 pounds. 

The other Tuesday sites are as follows: 

  • 10 a.m. at Pleasant Hill Chapel, 4813 Benjestown Road
  • 11 a.m. at For the Kingdom, 4100 Raleigh-Millington Road
  • 11 a.m. at 440 U.S. Hwy. 72, Collierville
  • 11 a.m. at Bolivar High School, Bolivar
  • 11 a.m. at 1150 Wildcat Drive in Clarksdale, Mississippi
  • 10 a.m. at 1701 Paul Edmonson in Iuka, Mississippi

Since the pandemic began, the U of M reports seeing about 25 students per day coming to Tiger Pantry weekly, getting 15 to 30 pounds of food each visit. The pantry carries perishable and non-perishable food, basic toiletries and basic household items. The pantry is currently located in room 359 of the University Center on the main campus and in the Wilder Campus Center on the Lambuth campus.

The U of M also wants to make sure that eligible students are connected to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Tiger Pantry staff is available to talk with students about SNAP and can help students apply for food stamps via Zoom.

~


Mid-South COVID-19 fund distributes $362,500

3:07 PM CT, April 20

The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis has announced its latest round of giving from the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund. The fifth round of grants dispersed a total of $362,500 to 18 organizations.

In total, the fund has provided $1.3 million in grants to support organizations and those they serve during the pandemic. Individuals, businesses and foundations have contributed $2.3 million to the fund. 

The latest round of grants are as follows:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis: $25,000 to provide meals to families and provide childcare services for essential medical and other first responder workers   
  • Christ Community Health Services Inc.: $25,000 to support COVID-19 testing and associated expenses 
  • Church Health: $25,000 to support COVID-19 testing and associated expenses  
  • Community Alliance for the Homeless: $20,000 to support the City of Memphis-led sheltering of homeless families  
  • Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas: $25,000 to provide emergency food boxes and continue mobile pantry in 12 counties in East Arkansas  
  • Heights CDC: $7,500 to support a relief fund that assists residents with utility, mortgage and rent payments                          
  • Hope House: $7,500 to provide food, toiletries and cleaning products through its emergency pantry  
  • JUICE Orange Mound: $7,500 to partner with the Orange Mound Street Assembly provide food and hygiene items during community-wide outreach programs on April 25 and May 9 
  • Just City: $25,000 to provide bail of $5,000 or less to inmates at 201 Poplar and Jail East to remove them 
  • Memphis Health Center: $25,000 to support COVID-19 testing and associated expenses 
  • Memphis Leadership Foundation: $7,500 to provide for food distribution through Las Americas                                                 
  • Mid-South Food Bank: $50,000 to provide food to the Mid-South community        
  • Music Export Memphis: $15,000 to provide emergency grants directly to Memphis-based musicians                                      
  • New Direction Christian Church: $15,000 to provide food and supplies to community members impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak   
  • Palmer Home for Children: $25,000 to provide emergency services and support to children and families dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak 
  • Restoration Time Family and Youth Services: $7,500 to provide mental support, career coaching, emergency supplies and referral services to 3,000 families in Frayser 
  • Urban Strategies Inc.: $25,000 to provide services to over 2,500 residents in 38126, a hotspot in positive COVID-19 cases    
  • Whole Child Strategies: $25,000 to provide coordinated response for families in eight neighborhoods    

To donate, visit cfgm.org/COVID.

~


Watch Gov. Bill Lee’s press briefing live

3:00 PM CT, April 20

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is giving a press briefing.

Watch below:

~


More than 100,000 tests performed statewide

2:18 PM CT, April 20

According to the latest data from the Tennessee Department of Health, more than 100,000 coronavirus tests have now been performed statewide. 

The Department of Health reports that 100,689 tests have been administered. Of that total, 7,238 have been positive for COVID-19. And 152 people across the state have died from the disease. 

The Department of Health reported 1,839 confirmed cases for Shelby County, up from the 1,807 cases the Shelby County Health Department reported earlier in the day. 

Nashville’s Davidson County had the most confirmed cases in the state with 1,903, according to that county’s health department. Twenty people there have died from the disease. 

The state reports that 3,575 are considered recovered from the disease. 

~


The Village at Germantown confirms 4 deaths, identifies additional COVID-19 case

1:54 PM CT, April 20

The Village at Germantown confirmed four of its residents have died from COVID-19 complications.

The fourth resident died in the hospital over the weekend.

 “We are saddened by these deaths and mourn the loss of our friends and neighbors,” said Michael Craft, chief executive officer of The Village said in a release. “And we are determined to do all we can do to protect the health and safety of our residents and our associates.”

It also identified one short-term rehab patient returned to the hospital and tested positive for the virus while there.

“We do not believe the patient had contact with others who tested positive while here,” Craft said

One resident remains in the hospital also recovering from COVID-19.

The skilled nursing unit remains the only affected area. The retirement community has about 325 residents.

The Village said in a release each of the six who tested positive had underlying conditions. The two recovering are asymptomatic.

The facility has taken proactive steps and precautions to offer testing to front-line employees.

~


Harris: County budget will reflect the pandemic

12:28 PM CT, April 20

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said he has a $1.4 billion county budget he takes to the Shelby County Commission later today that will reflect the pandemic. 

”The work of Shelby County must continue,” he said of the “lean” budget with “really tough decisions.” 

The budget will “refocus” including spending on education, public health and emergency preparedness, as well as the social safety net.

On testing capacity, Harris said access is expanding. Testing so far is about 2% of the population. 

Harris plugged a Greater Memphis Chamber event to be talked about later by Bobby White,  chief policy officer of the Chamber.

Harris says local businesses should have best practices and resources to reopen and stay open “in the shadow of virus.” The April 28 event is the “New Normal Virtual Summit” with four micro-conferences for government, large employers, food and hospitality and small business.  This is a free event.

White described the Chamber as a first responder for businesses in the gap before state and federal government funding arrives for those local businesses. Eighty-nine to 90% of Chamber membership is small business. White said the chamber has “fought the good fight” to get state and federal aid to those businesses.

”Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t remain a source of information,” White said of the Chamber. The April 28 conference will be virtual. 

”We ensure that we want to reopen responsibly. ... We want businesses to be ready,” White said. “This is our new normal. And we want you all to be ready.”

White said businesses hope to deal with how -- not who and when. “Our thing is to do the how and to give businesses a strategy.”

Dr. Bruce Randolph, health officer for Shelby County Health Department, said on nursing home/long-term care clusters: Carriage Court has four deaths now, eight positive cases; Christian Care Center, 14 positive cases; Parkway Health and Rehab 16 positive cases; Heritage At Irene Woods has 11 positive cases, King’s Daughters and Sons 6 positive cases, The Village at Germantown has four dead, seven positive cases; Lakeside has three positive cases.

Randolph encourages people to get tested -- “even those who have mild symptoms.”

”We are still in need of volunteers,” he says of the need for “all types” -- medical, clinical and clerical.

Randolph said numbers show that COVID cases are growing but not at as fast a rate as they were. The percentage of positive cases among African-Americans is at 68% which is a drop from 70% or 71% before.  Randolph attributes that to an increase in testing.

Harris said nursing homes need more regulation in his opinion and said he has talked with Shelby County delegation to the Tennessee Legislature about tighter regulations in the future.

“We have deregulated nursing homes more than we should have,” he said.

Randolph said the Health Department has a team that goes to nursing homes with an outbreak -- two or more cases. 

”We are encouraging the employers in general, if you are going to require that your employees be tested, be prepared to assist with that happening in terms of cost. You should be prepared to cover that cost as much as possible.”

Randolph said the Health Department monitors any facility where residents require some kind of assistance.

City chief operating officer Doug McGowen says MATA starts rides to testing tomorrow and will go with 15 rides or trips per day at least to start to see how it works.

~


Mississippi reports 238 new cases

11:38 AM CT, April 20

Mississippi State Department of Health reported 238 new COVID-19 cases Monday for a total of 4,512 since Saturday, March 11.

DeSoto County has four new cases for a total of 238 and remains at three deaths, according to MSDH. One facility in the county has an outbreak. The northwest Mississippi County has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the state.

Marshall County saw no change in Monday’s report and remained at 38 cases and two deaths.

Hinds County still has the most cases with 347, according to MSDH.

Lauderdale County has 15 deaths, the most of any in the state.

MSDH reported a total of 169 deaths and 77 long-term care facilities with outbreaks Monday morning.

~


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

12:00 PM CT, April 20

Today’s joint COVID-19 Task Force/Shelby County Health Department briefing is set to feature Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and officials from the health department. 

Watch below:

~


Shelby County confirms 41 new cases, one additional death

10:06 AM CT, April 20

Shelby County now has 1,807 confirmed coronavirus cases with 38 deaths, according to the latest numbers from the Shelby County Health Department.

That’s an increase of 41 cases and one death from yesterday’s report. 

In Shelby County, there have been 19,195 total tests taken with a 9.4% positivity rate.

There have been 572 recoveries from coronavirus in Shelby County, according to the latest data from state’s Department of Health.

Statewide, there are 7,070 cases with 148 deaths as of Sunday, April 19.

In Tennessee, the total number of tests taken is 97,098 with a 7.3% positive rate.

~


State tests 11,000 over the weekend at pop-up sites

9:53 AM CT, April 20

Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday, April 20 that more than 11,000 people received free COVID-19 tests through the weekend efforts of Unified Command Group to offer tests regardless of traditional symptoms.

“Tennesseans across the state heeded the call of ‘when in doubt, get a test’ and we believe these efforts will be an important part of our overall strategy to reboot Tennessee’s economy,” Lee said. “While demand exceeded original projections, our Unified Command group adapted quickly this weekend so that individuals who needed tests could receive them.”

Saturday turnout was the largest with more than 6,500 samples taken from 22 sites across all three grand divisions of the state, including locations in Tipton, Hardin, Fayette and Weakley counties in West Tennessee and Jackson/Madison County.

Tennessee Department of Health personnel and soldiers and airmen of the Tennessee National Guard operated 19 sites, four more than originally planned, to meet the testing demand. 

The additional sites were opened in coordination with city and county officials to meet demand based on local needs. Hours were extended to ensure all participants received a test.

Sunday testing turnout exceeded expectations with more than 4,600 tests collected across 11 sites. On both days, many Tennesseans drove to sites outside their county of residence to obtain a test from a neighboring county that operated a weekend site.

“Since Gov. Lee’s expanded testing initiative announcement last week, we continue to see an increase in the number of citizens who want to be tested whether it’s on a weekday or weekend and regardless of symptoms,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. “We thank our local partners for their help in making testing events a success and encourage citizens to utilize their local health departments for testing during the week.”

The Unified Command Group is a joint partnership between the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Department of Military and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).

Expanded testing will continue for the next two weekends, April 25-26 and May 2-3. A full list of sites can be accessed at https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/health/news/2020/4/15/covid-19-drive-through-testing-locations-open-this-weekend-statewide.html. In addition to drive-thru sites, all rural county health departments across the state offer free COVID-19 testing 5 days a week.

~


Free drive-thru testing coming to Frayser

9:45 AM CT, April 20

Kroger Health is partnering with Cherokee Health Systems and Memphis Business Academy for free drive-thru coronavirus testing in Frayer this week. 

The testing, which is by appointment only, will be held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 22 through Friday, April 24 at 3306 Overton Crossing. The screening will take place in the school’s parking lot. 

The testing will be provided for those who have fever, cough, tiredness, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; for healthcare workers and for first responders. Participants must arrive in a vehicle and make sure all their windows are up when in the testing area and have photo ID ready. 

Those interested should schedule an appointment at www.krogerhealth.com/covidtesting.

~


YMCA, Boys & Girls Club providing free childcare for essential workers

10:07 AM CT, April 20

The YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club are now able to offer free childcare to essential workers through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Human Services until June 15.

The childcare is available through payment assistance and a network of temporary care locations.

According to the YMCA, operating hours have been extended and weekend care will be available if community need arises.

Essential workers include healthcare workers, law enforcement, first responders, corrections officers, military, activated national guard, human and social services workers, postal workers, transportation employees, restaurant workers and grocery workers.

Essential employees with school-aged children can find more information about the YMCA’s offerings, as well as sign up for care, here

Essential employees can find more information about the Boys & Girls Club’s offerings here

~


April 19, 2020

Tennessee reports 330 new COVID-19 cases

3:51 PM CT, April 19

Tennessee Department of Health reported 330 new COVID-19 cases Sunday for a total of 7,070, and a total of 148 deaths.

The state is also reporting the most cases in Shelby County at 1,778. 

The state says 51% of people with the virus are female, but 60%  of the deaths are in males.

Statewide the number of cases is highest among those ages 21 -30. However, those 81 and older who have died make up 32% of the state’s deaths.

The state is reporting 47% of people have recovered, but the number only accounts for those who have been confirmed asymptomatic by their local health department.

~


April 20, 2020

The latest cases by the numbers

9:25 AM CT, April 20

 

~


Comment On This Story

Email Editions

Sign up for our morning and evening editions, plus breaking news.