Coronavirus live blog, April 23: Watch an interview with Dr. Scott Morris

By , Daily Memphian Updated: April 24, 2020 8:40 AM CT | Published: April 23, 2020 4:00 AM CT

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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.

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April 23, 2020

Watch exclusive interview with Dr. Morris

5:56 PM CT, April 23

Eric Barnes interviews the Rev. Dr. G. Scott Morris, a founder and chief executive officer of Church Health.

Watch below:


COVID-19 in Tennessee

3:51 PM CT, April 23



Governor unveils first round of economic reopenings

3:20 PM CT, April 23

Starting Monday, restaurants operating at 50% percent capacity will be allowed to open as long as they follow social distancing guidelines. Retail outlets operating at 50% will be allowed to open Wednesday with state guidelines, Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday during his daily press briefing. More information is to be unveiled Friday.

Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said Thursday the state will be issuing guidance for holding graduation ceremonies either virtually or in person with social distancing guidelines, which are posted on the Department of Education’s website.

Most state parks are scheduled to open for day use only this Friday, April 24. But facilities and gathering areas such as pavilions and playgrounds will remain closed. Cabins, lodges, restaurants, campgrounds and group camps will remain closed too.

Cummins Falls State Park, Seven Island State Birding Park and Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park will stay closed because they become too congested for effective social distancing. And people who visit parks are encouraged to wear masks.


Yearwood, Brooks join PR campaign to ‘Be smart, stay apart’

2:44 PM CT, April 23

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks are the latest talent joining forces with the State of Tennessee “Do your part, stay apart” public service announcement campaign urging Tennesseans to continue safe habits as Tennessee communities gradually reopen.

Commending Tennesseans for “stepping up” in their role to stay home, limit the transmission of COVID-19 and save lives, as Tennessee slowly reopens community life they encourage citizens to “keep it going, to be smart, and to be careful and be diligent. … stay smart, stay strong, stay Tennessee strong.”

The video can be viewed at

Over the past month, the State of Tennessee “Do your part, stay apart” public service announcement campaign involving influential Tennesseans in sports and entertainment reached millions of Tennesseans with the urgent message to adopt preventive health measures and slow the spread of COVID-19.

The campaign registered nearly 20 million impressions across social media, digital and outdoor advertising, broadcast television, radio and newsprint platforms. Public outreach was strategic to the state’s efforts to impact Tennesseans’ attention to the seriousness of coronavirus and to encourage stay-at-home and social distancing behaviors to limit the spread of COVID-19 and help move Tennessee toward a gradual reopening.

“From the moment Tennessee declared a state of emergency it has been our priority to get the attention of all Tennesseans to take this threat seriously so that together we can slow the spread of coronavirus and keep our state healthy,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “Our talented community of artists, athletes, leaders and organizations stepped up to get the word out about staying safe during this pandemic. Maria and I thank them all and are grateful for their willingness to lend a hand.”

“Do your part, stay apart,” participants in video, broadcast TV, radio and billboard messaging includes Brad Paisley and Kimberly Paisley-Williams, University of Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway, Carrie Underwood and former Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher, University of Tennessee athletics director and Hall of Fame Coach Phil Fulmer and Vicky Fulmer, former UT and NFL great Peyton Manning, Steve Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, the NBA Memphis Grizzlies, NFL Tennessee Titans, NHL Nashville Predators, University of Tennessee Department of Athletics and more.

In less than 30 days, campaign metric performance tally nearly 20 million impressions:

  • More than three million social media views and an extended audience potential of more than 200 million individuals
  • More than 8.5 million impressions and almost one million video views on digital advertising
  • Almost 500,000 subscribers of Tennessee weekly newspapers
  • Nearly five million impressions from donated outdoor advertising
  • Sustained presence on broadcast television through Tennessee cable providers reaching millions more


Watch Gov. Bill Lee’s press briefing live

2:56 PM CT, April 23

Gov. Bill Lee has a press briefing scheduled for 3 p.m.

Watch below:


Tennessee adds 424 cases, 4 deaths

2:23 PM CT, April 23

Tennessee has 424 more confirmed coronavirus cases and four more deaths, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The day prior resulted in 448 new cases, the highest daily increase to date.

Statewide, there are 8,266 confirmed cases, resulting in 170 deaths. Nearly 800 -- 793 -- people have hospitalized for the disease and 4,193 are considered officially recovered. 

And 123,100 tests have been administered, an increase of 8,120 since yesterday’s update.

The Department of Health reported Shelby County’s confirmed cases to be 1,950, up from the 1,931 the Shelby County Health Department reported earlier in the day.

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reported 2,144 cases in Davidson County, resulting in 22 deaths.


How local COVID-19 cases are growing

9:46 AM CT, April 23



Gov. Bill Lee to visit free Memphis testing event

1:25 PM CT, April 23

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is scheduled to visit a Memphis drive-thru coronavirus testing event on Saturday, April 25. The testing, which is free, is available to people even without symptoms and does not require an appointment.

Lee is scheduled to attend the testing event which will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Christ Community Community Health Services’ Frayser Health Center, 696 Frayser Blvd.

According to Christ Community, the testing event is a part of Lee’s efforts to ensure that COVID-19 testing is available to all state residents. Nurses and National Guard medics will administer the tests, which will be available to any attendees who want to be tested.

Attendees also do not have to be residents of Shelby County. 

Those tested are asked to isolate themselves while they wait for their test results, which should be available within 72 hours.


Pandemic factors in closing of two KIPP schools

12:51 PM CT, April 23

KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools’ board of directors voted to close two of its schools and according to the charter school system, the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in that decision.

The board voted Wednesday, April 22 to close KIPP Memphis Preparatory Elementary and KIPP Memphis Preparatory Middle at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

KIPP will operate the two closing schools until June 30. 

Both schools are located at 2230 Corry Road in South Memphis. The elementary school has 394 students; the middle school 307.

According to the school network, the pandemic played a role in the closing, because its financial impact prevented the schools from receiving long-term funding from its usual philanthropic sources.

“While the community welcomed our network with open arms, we’ve been unable to fulfill our academic promise to our students, teachers and families,” said James Boyd, chairman of the KIPP Memphis board of directors, in a statement. “We strongly believe this decision is in the best interest of our KIPP Memphis community and is a step in the right direction to improve our organization’s ability to build a stronger network of schools.”

The network will continue to operate its five other schools. Those schools are KIPP Memphis Academy Elementary, KIPP Memphis Academy Middle, KIPP Memphis Collegiate Elementary, KIPP Memphis Collegiate Middle and KIPP Memphis Collegiate High.


Mississippi adds 259 cases, 8 deaths

10:27 AM CT, April 23

Mississippi has 259 new coronavirus cases and eight more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The state now has 5,153 confirmed cases and 201 deaths.

According to the MSDH, DeSoto County has 252 confirmed cases and four deaths. The agency is now monitoring two outbreaks at long-term care facilities there.

Marshall County has 40 confirmed cases and two deaths.

Hinds County has the most confirmed cases in the state, with 383. Lauderdale County has the most deaths in the state, with 18.

More than 50,000 people -- 53,835 -- have been tested for COVID-19 statewide. 


Local coronavirus cases, at a glance

9:44 AM CT, April 23



Shelby County reports 37 new cases, no new deaths

9:40 AM CT, April 23

Shelby County now has 1,931 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Shelby County Health Department’s latest data.

As of Thursday, April 23, deaths due to complications from the virus remain at 41. A total of 799 people has recovered from the disease in Shelby County, according to the state.

There have been 20,761 total tests taken in Shelby County with a 9.3% positivity rate. That’s an increase of 446 tests from the day prior.

In Tennessee, there are 7,842 cases with 166 deaths as of Wednesday, April 22, according to the state’s department of health.

There have been 114,980 total tests statewide, with a positivity rate of 6.8%.

Correction: An earlier headline on this story said today was the sixth day with fewer than 50 new cases. It is actually the fifth.


April 22, 2020

Methodist joins Mayo in antibody test

5:17 PM CT, April 22

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has joined a Mayo Clinic program for treatment of patients with COVID-19.

Researchers believe that convalescent plasma, blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19, may help patients with advanced illness Improve faster.

Researchers believe antibodies in the plasma could help patients fight the virus and recover more quickly.

“We’ve seen this virus in the Mid-South and across the country especially impact people who have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, asthma and kidney disease, among others,” said Dr. Arthur Townsend, vice president and chief clinical transformational officer.

“An effective treatment will also help us battle this virus if another wave hits our country.”

Tuesday, a fully recovered COVID-19 patient was the first to donate convalescent plasma to the Methodist and Mayo Clinic program.

Dr. Daniel Wakefield, a 30-year-old radiation oncology resident here, says donating was the right thing to do after he recovered. He was tested after he developed a cough after working at a COVID-19 testing site in Memphis. Wakefield is now fully recovered and hopes his story will encourage others to donate convalescent plasma.

Dr. Dipen Kadaria and Dr. Amik Sodhi will develop the treatment program for Methodist patients. People interested in donating convalescent plasma must have had a verified diagnosis of COVID-19, be symptom-free and fully recovered for at least 14 days. 

The American Red Cross, Vitalant and other blood-donation sites are supporting the nationwide effort. Fully recovered COVID-19 patients should contact the American Red Cross or Vitalant for further instructions about donating plasma.



Gov. says differences in lifting restrictions in Memphis and rest of state should be clear

3:33 PM CT, April 22

Gov. Bill Lee tried to allay concerns Wednesday about confusion over the time frames for business renewals in Shelby County and rural counties, saying it should be clear to residents.

The state is set to lift “safer at home” restrictions April 30 in 89 counties and allow some businesses to reopen April 27. Memphis is set to lift restrictions May 5.



coronavirus COVID-19


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