Coronavirus live blog, May 4: Free testing set for Hickory Hill

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 08, 2020 8:34 AM CT | Published: May 04, 2020 10:08 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 6 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.

May 04, 2020

COVID-19 in Tennessee

5:13 PM CT, May 4



Memphis BIG BBQ Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K cancels 2020 event

5:18 PM CT, May 4

Memphis BIG BBQ Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K canceled its 2020 event Monday afternoon.

The race, originally scheduled for April 11 was rescheduled to June 6.

However, Monday race organizers said they will wait to have the event until April 2021, due to coronavirus concerns.

In Shelby County’s Back to Business plan, races are not allowed until the third phase. The guidelines still recommend small crowds.

“While we would love to be putting on this event for you in a few short weeks, we are looking forward to next year when the environment is much safer,” an email to runners said.

In July, registered participants will have the option to transfer their registration to the Memphis Hungry Turkey Half Marathon & 5K, which is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day – Thursday Nov. 26.

However, those who do not transfer their registration will be automatically scheduled for the 2021 BIG BBQ race.

The race benefits the Mid-South Food Bank.


Local chef to distribute free meals in North Memphis Tuesday

2:30 PM CT, May 4

A local chef will be giving out free meals for up to 150 families in the North Memphis area Tuesday, May 5.

Chef Phillip Dwayne will have those meals prepared and ready for distribution at 4 p.m. at Humes Middle School, 659 N. Manassas St. The meals are made possible from a donation from local philanthropists Brad and Felicia Robinson, according to a release.

Dewayne is owner of Park+Cherry Café inside the Dixon Galley and Gardens and RECOVER meal prep service. Meals will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dewayne has also donated meals to front line works at local hospitals in recent weeks through his meal prep service.

“Many families have lost income while the city tries to stop the spread of coronavirus,” Dewayne said. “Our school system and concerned citizens have been making sure students receive lunch so the Robinsons and I decided to provide dinner as another way to assist and let the residents know we care about them, their health, and nutrition. We hope to receive additional funding to make this an ongoing effort.”

Memphis City Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas helped organized Tuesday’s meal distribution event, according to the release.

“It is my pleasure to connect those who want to help the people of my district. We can all appreciate a good meal. This is a great way to love on our children in North Memphis,” said Easter-Thomas, whose district includes North Memphis.

Those who want to donate to Dewayne’s distribution efforts can contact him or call (901) 849-4569.


Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund grants $237,000

2:48 PM CT, May 4

In its seventh round of disbursements, the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund has issued 13 grants totalling $237,000.

According to The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, that brings the cumulative total of grants distributed to the fund to $1.78 million. The fund supports organizations impacted by the novel coronavirus. 

The latest grants are as follows: 

  • Block Party for Peace/Our Grass Our Roots: $10,000 to support the Masks for Memphis project 
  • City of Memphis: $18,000 to purchase and distribute personal protective equipment to essential workers in government, business, and nonprofits 
  • Families Matter: $10,000 to provide mental health support to families and children in ZIP codes with the highest number of administered tests and positive COVID-19 results 
  • First Congregational Church – Memphis: $2,500 to support COVID-19 response work for immigrants being done by Mariposas Collective 
  • For the Kingdom: $10,000 to feed youths, seniors, and first responders Monday-Friday with a goal of expanding to three apartment complexes in 38128 
  • Hospitality Hub: $15,000 to work with Community Alliance for the Homeless, Memphis Housing & Community Development, and MIFA to provide shelter-in-place, case management, and supportive services to those experiencing homelessness in three locations 
  • Love Doesn’t Hurt: $1,500 to support LGBTQ+ victims of domestic violence with emergency services and case management 
  • Memphis Area Legal Services: $50,000 to assist individuals who are unemployed due to COVID-19 avoid eviction or foreclosure, receive SNAP and unemployment benefits, and receive relief from COVID-19-related scams 
  • Memphis Artists for Change: $15,000 to provide food and short-term internet access for 300+ people in Whitehaven, North Memphis, and South Memphis, and to distribute PPE to high-risk populations 
  • Memphis Health Center: $25,000 to support COVID-19 testing and associated expenses 
  • One Family Memphis (Memphis Rox): $10,000 to prepare and serve of 150 lunches Monday-Friday to the Soulsville community and families impacted by COVID-19 
  • Whole Child Strategies: $50,000 to provided coordinated response for families in eight neighborhoods 
  • Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis: $20,000 to provide COVID-19 response in 38126 

Individuals, businesses and foundations have contributed more than $3 million to the fund. Click here to learn more about the fund, or to donate. 


Tennessee adds 325 cases, 9 deaths

2:13 PM CT, May 4

Tennessee has 325 more confirmed coronavirus cases and nine more deaths, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

That brings the total confirmed number of cases statewide to 13,502, with 219 deaths.

More than 6,000 -- 6,081 -- are considered officially recovered from the disease and 211,443 tests have been administered. 

The Department of Health reports 2,878 confirmed cases in Shelby County, up from the 2,850 confirmed cases the Shelby County Health Department reported earlier in the day. 

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reports 3,191 confirmed cases in Davidson County and 27 deaths. 


Mississippi adds 109 cases, 12 deaths

1:56 PM CT, May 4

Mississippi has 109 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 12 more deaths, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases statewide to 7,550, including 303 deaths. And 77,593 have been tested. As of April 28, the latest data made available, 3,413 people are presumed recovered. 

DeSoto County has 298 confirmed cases, resulting in four deaths. One of those deaths is related to a long-term care facility outbreak. 

Marshall County has 47 confirmed cases, resulting in two deaths.


Free drive-thru testing coming to Hickory Hill

10:48 AM CT, May 4

Christ Community Health Services is hosting free, drive-thru coronavirus testing from 2-6 p.m. Wednesday, May 6 in Hickory Hill. Those seeking a test do not need to have COVID-19 symptoms.

The testing will take place at Christ Community’s location at 5366 Mendenhall Mall. No appointment is necessary, but pre-registration is encouraged. People can pre-register by texting Test2020 to 91999 or by calling (901) 842-3160.

Citizenship will not be verified during testing to encourage participation from all communities, according to Christ Community.


Watch today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing live

12:00 PM CT, May 4

Today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing is set to feature Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris; Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department Director and Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Department Health Officer.

Watch below:


More than 23,000 Tennesseans received free tests at drive-thru sites

11:51 AM CT, May 4

Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday more than 23,000 Tennesseans have received a free COVID-19 test at 67 drive-thru sites over the past three weekends, as part of Unified Command Group’s efforts to reduce barriers and widen access to testing for all Tennesseans regardless of symptoms.

“Testing remains one of the most important tools for gaining more information in our fight against COVID-19, and the 23,000 tests we’ve completed over the last three weekends have provided incredibly valuable data,” Lee said. “We’re grateful to the thousands who came out to receive a test this weekend and we continue to remind Tennesseans: when in doubt, get a test.”

The Tennessee National Guard supported Tennessee Department of Health personnel at 16 sites across the state May 2 and 3 where 5,153 Tennesseans received a free COVID-19 test. Eight sites were operated on Saturday with 2,733 individuals tested and another eight sites on Sunday with 2,420 individuals tested. Hamilton County operated their site both days and tested 1,168 individuals for COVID-19 representing nearly a third of the weekend total.

None of the sites were in Shelby County.

“Our weekend sites have been equipped to meet the demand for free testing across the state,” said Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner. “With ample capacity at our county health departments during the week, we continue to encourage Tennesseans to take advantage of free testing at these locations.”


Momentum Nonprofit Partners offers free publicity primer for nonprofits

11:46 AM CT, May 4

Momentum Nonprofit Partners is offering free, 60-minute webinar on issues nonprofits face in the pandemic. The class, which repeats, will be offered at 9 a.m. on May 19 and May 26.

The class will serve as a crash course in how to publicize a nonprofit’s mission through news media, social/digital media, grassroots marketing and effective branding. The strategies can also be used by civic groups, clubs and congregations.

Participants will learn how to build rapport with journalists, pitch story ideas, book TV and radio interviews and follow through for maximum coverage. In addition to the class instruction and Q&A, participants will receive a database of local journalist contacts as well as advice on approaching reporters at top-tier national, international and trade media outlets.

The class is taught by Marvin Stockwell, director of media relations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“I’ll keep the class lean on lecture so there’s plenty of time to answer questions and talk through current challenges people are facing,” said Stockwell, who previously taught the class through the University of Memphis. “In the week between our two sessions, the context of the pandemic will likely change, and being attuned to the current context is so important to communicating effectively.”

Momentum is a resource and professional development hub for nonprofits. It regularly offers fee-based publicity classes to its members, but because of unique COVID-19 challenges nonprofits are facing, organizers are offering the classes as free webinars.

While the sessions are independent, different issues, driven by participant questions, will be addressed.

“We’re all trying to get the right messages to the right people, and nonprofits are facing unique pressures, Stockwell said. “I’ll cover evergreen publicity tactics people can use anytime, but I wanted to be responsive to what’s on everyone’s mind.”

Register for the classes here


Harris: Hair care businesses are now in Phase 1

12:05 PM CT, May 4

Shelby County Lee Harris said there is a new 14-day Shelby County Health Department directive and he said reaching agreement has been “challenging.” Harris said all county leaders are together.

Harris said hair care businesses are in Phase 1 now, but not nail salons and other “close contact” businesses. He said some hair salons and barbers could open locally on Wednesday.

Germantown has said all close contact businesses can reopen on Wednesday. Harris said he will check with Germantown on that. Harris said countywide it is only hair salons -- not nails or other close contact businesses.

Harris said he doesn’t think appearances drive the high level of comment around hair salons. He said he thinks that it’s more the economic devastation that those businesses have faced with the closing and that group has a hard time getting Small Business Administration loans and unemployment. 

”That’s the group whose costs continue to run ... whether they are in business or not,” he said. And they can’t recover lost business, Harris adds. “Whatever business they miss ... they will never be able to recoup those losses.”

Harris said Governor Bill Lee “threw us a bit of a curve ball last week” on close contact businesses. He said the change caused “a bit of disruption toward the end of last week.”

Harris said they “need to work toward unity even when it is difficult.” Harris said different regulations within Shelby County “will not work.”

”It takes a lot of work to keep the train on the tracks,” Harris said. He also said leaders have to deal with practical limits of enforcement. 

“People are cutting and styling their hair right now,” he said. “We need some way to regulate this and move it out into the open,” Harris said. “We will move forward. We will not move forward as fast as the rest of the state.”

Harris said the Shelby County approach will require temperature checks at hair salons, they also must stock with hand sanitizer, wipes and soap, having an appointment book with names and times, require face covering by stylists and customers whenever practical, have drapes are that one-time use or steam cleaned, they must maintain six feet between workstations, stylists are encouraged to be tested before coming to work, salons must be appointment only -- walk ins are permitted if customers wait in the car, there must be 15 minutes between appointments to sanitize work stations, there must be regular disinfection of areas and equipment, and unless customer is a minor -- no companions are permitted.

“We have to have reasonable restrictions in place,” Harris said.

He said there is still consensus among local leaders and mayors. 

”I think we’re all in unison,” Harris said. The only disruption last week was there was an acceleration at the state level on how to treat close contact businesses.” 

He said feedback from suburban mayors is that the toughest issue was barbers and hair salons: “Substantial discussion about how we align with the state on that issue.”

”That changed expectations for everybody,” Harris said of state changes last week.

”This has always been the toughest issue,” he said of hair salons.

Harris said the state has promised locals will run the show on enforcement of hair salon measures without interference from the state.

Shelby County Health Department Health Officer Bruce Randolph said the greatest percentage by age is 25 to 64 among confirmed cases.

Also on demographics, African Americans are 68% of cases. He re-emphasized: “We’re reopening but the virus is still there.”

Health Department Director Haushalter says she wants a staff of 150 with several dozen for contact tracing in her budget request.

She said there is targeted testing in a number of nursing homes.

Harris said that testing is expanding: “A real significant increase” in testing when the average had been 800 or so.

He said there will be “massive expansion” of the health department if the Shelby County Commission will pass his budget. He adds that the number of confirmed cases the versus number of those tested is the way to look at COVID pandemic locally, not just confirmed cases.

Haushalter said there are no clusters among the homeless. It is a vulnerable population and they have worked closely with service providers to get information out. They also have provided shelter for isolation. To date, no clusters but they will continue to focus on that because of vulnerability.

She said dialing back reopening would not just be number of cases -- it would be a “constellation” of factors that includes duplication and replication rates -- number of days to duplicate in duplication rate, which is now 15 to 18 days and how many people one infected person infects which is the replication rate.


Shelby County reports more cases as testing increases

10:04 AM CT, May 4

Shelby County now has 2,850 confirmed coronavirus cases with 53 deaths, according to the latest numbers from the Shelby County Health Department.

That’s an increase of 101 cases over the previous day, but also came with a reported 1,636 new tests. That’s a 6.2% positivity rate. 

There have been 1,457 recoveries from coronavirus in Shelby County.

In Shelby County, there have been 33,896 total tests taken with a 8.4% positivity rate. 

Shelby County reported no new deaths from the virus Monday.

Statewide, there are 13,177 cases with 210 deaths as of Sunday, May 3, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

In Tennessee, the total number of tests taken is 204,607 with a 6.4% positive rate.


How COVID-19 cases are growing locally and statewide

10:01 AM CT, May 4



Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

10:03 AM CT, May 4



Mosques to remain closed for now

9:41 AM CT, May 4

Despite being able to reopen, all eight Memphis-area mosques remain closed for now as they work toward a reopening plan.

All physical locations closed March 17 after meeting and speaking with health officials prior to “safer at home” order issued by Shelby County. Like other places of worship, many have offered its services virtually in the weeks since.

Under Memphis and Shelby County’s Back to Business Phase 1 plan, places of worship could reopen at 25% capacity. This was before Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order that prevents local government from regulating crowd sizes at places of worship, preempting the local order.

“This past weekend, we again met with our local masjid (mosque) and religious leadership and were presented with up-to-date new information from the same expert physician panel,” the Memphis Islamic centers said in a joint statement released Sunday evening. “The expert panel strongly recommended we remain closed and continue the suspension of all prayers, programs, and activities at all Memphis Area Masjids until further notice.”

“Our priority remains the health and safety of our community,” the statement continues. “While we understand the city and state efforts to reopen, we will not immediately change the current status in our masjids at this moment. We are working towards our own phased return that will follow the advice of our expert advisors in addition to the guidelines from our government and health officials.”

The closing of mosques comes during the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims. In the statement, the Memphis Islamic centers expressed hope to release another update on the status of reopening plan before Ramadan concludes, which is expected to finish around May 23.

All Islamic Centers in the Memphis area support this position:

Masjid Al-Mu’minun

Masjid Al-Muslimeen

Masjid Al-Noor

Masjid Ar-Rahman

Masjid As-Salam

Masjid At Taqwa

Memphis Islamic Center

Midtown Mosque


May 03, 2020

Tennessee reports 516 new cases

2:10 PM CT, May 3

Tennessee Department of Health reported 516 new coronavirus cases in the state for a total of 13,177.

The state also reports 2,815 cases in Shelby County – 66 more than reported during the local health department’s daily 10 a.m. update.

The state department reports one additional death in the state for a total of 210.

Tennessee Department of Health reports 96 new recoveries for a total of 5,814.

Ten new hospitalizations due to COVID-19 were reported, which is additional 10 since Saturday.

So far the state has tested a total of 204,607, an increase of 8,331 since Saturday.


May 04, 2020

Mississippi reports 109 new cases, deaths top 300

9:06 AM CT, May 4

Mississippi State Department of Health reported 109 new cases of the novel coronavirus Sunday and 12 new deaths.

The state has seen 7,550 confirmed cases since March 11. There have been a total of 303 deaths, according to MSDH.

The report comes two days after the state saw its largest daily increase causing Gov. Tate Reeves to reconsider plans for re-opening the state.

Mississippi adds 397 cases, 20 deaths

DeSoto County has a total of 298 cases and remains at four deaths. One long-term care facility had an outbreak. The individual with coronavirus died.

Marshall County has 47 cases and remains at two deaths.

Hinds County near Jackson still has the highest number of cases at 507.

Lauderdale County, which has seen 305 cases, has seen 26 deaths – the most of any in the state. 

The state is also monitoring outbreaks at an additional 104 long-term care facilities.



COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic Memphis tennessee Mississippi


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