Coronavirus live blog: Dental offices, bowling alleys set to reopen

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 08, 2020 8:33 AM CT | Published: May 05, 2020 10:09 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.

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Tennessee delivers 39,000 masks for Shelby businesses

6:28 PM CT, May 5

Tennessee delivered 39,000 masks to Shelby County for restaurants and other business owners to use as the county initiates its reopening process during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than any county in the state received, according to Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell, chairman of the state’s Economic Recovery Group.

Ezell said the group works with Shelby County and Memphis officials each day to determine the pathway to reopening. And because of Shelby County’s high number of COVID-19 cases, 2,901 as of Tuesday, May 5, 2020, the group felt it “made sense” for restaurants in Shelby to open a week later than those in 89 other counties across the state.

The 39,000 masks for Shelby County are part of 5 million the state bought to deliver for businesses reopening in all 95 counties.

In addition, the state has touchless thermometers available for $33, down from $75, for businesses to buy to help them determine whether employees are able to work without showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Ezell discussed these matters on the Redwing Report put on by Ron Redwing in Memphis.

Sen. Raumesh Akbari, a Memphis Democrat, commended the decisions of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to put a shelter in place order in effect early in the pandemic in an effort to keep people from congregating and spreading the disease.

Yet, she said the crisis has shown the stark gap between rich and poor in Memphis and the need to provide more resources for people, especially school children, to stay connected with their education.

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray said the district’s 114,000 students will spend the rest of the year participating in virtual learning, and if they don’t have the technology at home to go online, they will be provided with other materials to continue learning. The school district has distributed more than 50,000 learning guides since the pandemic hit, Ray said.


Nike donating shoes to Memphis healthcare workers

3:58 PM CT, May 5

Nike will donate 30,000 pairs of shoes to health systems and hospitals in Memphis, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and within the Veterans Health Administration, the company announced.

Its video announcement featured Memphis Grizzlies player Ja Morant.

Another 2,500 pairs will be donated to hospitals in Barcelona, Berlin, London, Milan, Paris and in Belgium.

The shoes being donated are Nike’s Air Zoom Pulse, which it calls “the first shoe designed for the healthcare athlete.” Feedback from healthcare workers in Oregon was considered in the shoe’s design. 

Nonprofit Good360 will manage Nike’s U.S. donations of Air Zoom Pulse shoes.


COVID-19 in Tennessee

4:39 PM CT, May 5



Watch Gov. Bill Lee’s press briefing

2:59 PM CT, May 5

Gov. Bill Lee’s coronavirus press briefing is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Watch below:



Dentists can reopen starting Wednesday

3:22 PM CT, May 5

Gov. Bill Lee says he plans to start spending more time outside the Capitol, visiting businesses, communities and nonprofit agencies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. He and his wife, Maria, plan to start this Friday at Second Harvest Food Bank in Nashville helping distribute food to people hurt by the viral crisis and tornadoes and other storms.

The state has been working the Tennessee Board of Dentistry to allow dentists to open starting Wednesday, the governor said.

Small recreation businesses will be allowed to open this Friday, places such as bowling alleys and putt-putt golf courses. Guidance is also slated to go out to a variety of businesses across the state. Thermometers are being procured for businesses to obtain to test staff and customers to ensure they’re not suffering from COVID-19 symptoms.

Masks are being made available at health departments across the state free of charge through an agreement with Renfro Corp. in Cleveland, a global sock brand company.

Tennessee’s case count, at 13,624 on Tuesday, is expected to increase as the state does mass testing at its prisons this week, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey.

One prisoner at Trousdale Turner succumbed to COVID-19, a 57-year-old man with underlying health conditions, according to Piercey. The privately-run prison experienced an outbreak of hundreds of cases, but officials said 98% of them were asymptomatic.

Lee said he will continue to push forward with the ESA program in spite of the chancellor’s ruling. In addition, he will keep some $40 million in funding for the program in next year’s state budget, regardless of the tough financial situation the state faces.

He said he believes it is “worth fighting for” the ESA program, especially in light of the difficult education year students have had during the COVID-19 pandemic by missing the final two to three months of the academic year.

The governor also said he will continue to encourage parents to apply for funds to participate in the ESA program, which will provide $7,300 for students in Shelby and Metro Nashville school districts to enroll in private schools.


State partners with two companies to supply PPE

2:31 PM CT, May 5

Gov. Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group announced two partnerships Tuesday in the state’s COVID-19 re-opening effort to make sure Tennessee households and health care workers have protective face coverings and clean personal protective equipment.

“We’ve used private sector innovation, strategic partnerships, and state procurement efforts to make personal protective equipment available to front-line medical providers and first responders,” Lee said. “As we restart Tennessee’s economy, it’s very important we help Tennesseans feel safe as they go back to work or out to shop, and that our healthcare providers have sufficient personal protective equipment for their workers. We’re grateful to Renfro for their partnership in helping us keep Tennesseans safe.”

The state is partnering with Renfro Corp., a global sock brand company headquartered in Mount Airy, N.C., with a manufacturing and distribution operation in Cleveland in southeast Tennessee to make washable, reusable cloth face masks available to as many Tennesseans as possible.

UCG is also partnering with Battelle, a global research and development company in Columbus, Ohio, to provide an N95 respirator mask decontamination system and service to Tennessee health care providers to protect health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Unified Command is supplying the first 300,000 Renfro masks, based on population, to Tennessee’s county and municipal health departments this week. Each health department will receive at least 1,000 masks and will serve as a convenient pickup location for county residents who need masks.

“Tennesseans can now come to their local health department on any weekday to get a free cloth face mask,” UCG Director Stuart McWhorter said. “And while residents are at the health department, we would encourage them to get a free COVID-19 test, regardless of their symptoms, if they haven’t already done so.”

The mask distribution at county health departments is part of the command group’s first wave in a larger mask distribution effort in Tennessee with Renfro, which it will announce as details become final.

“For a century, Renfro has focused on manufacturing millions of pairs of socks every week at our facilities in Alabama and Tennessee,” said Stan Jewell, Renfro’s President and CEO. “Then in March, it became apparent that our design and manufacturing expertise could be used to provide millions of face masks to communities to help reduce the spread of COVID19. We have a long, distinguished history in Tennessee, and we are proud to partner with the State to equip all Tennesseans with a protective mask as part of the solution to combat COVID-19.”

Battelle will locate one of 60 nationally deployed decontamination systems in Jackso as part of an effort to bring down the costs, and increase the availability of, N95 masks for health care providers.

The Battelle system uses hydrogen peroxide vapor in a 2.5-hour process that will remove biological contaminants, including the virus that causes COVID-19, from used N95 respirator masks.

“The Battelle service should relieve some of the demand pressure on N95 masks for Tennessee’s healthcare providers,” McWhorter said. “Battelle’s associated costs for system staffing and training is provided through a number of federal grant sources, making the N95 mask decontamination service free to Tennessee health care providers.”

Healthcare providers will collect, label, and ship their used N95 masks daily to the Battelle site in Tennessee using a barcoded serial number for tracking. Battelle will decontaminate the masks and return directly to providers. Battelle will also mark each mask with the number of times the mask has been through the decontamination process.

Tennessee health care providers must take care not to ship any N95 masks containing cosmetic residue to the Battelle service location. The presence of cosmetic products on N95 masks will interfere with Battelle’s process and prevent proper decontamination.


Free testing opens for frontline workers, regardless of symptoms

2:01 PM CT, May 5

Beginning Wednesday, May 6, local frontline workers will be able to be tested for the novel coronavirus, for free, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

Those considered frontline workers include healthcare employees; first responders (including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers and firefighters); people working in fast food, gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, public utilities, and sanitation; and jail and prison employees.

Workers can be tested by the following providers:


Tennessee adds 122 cases, 7 deaths

2:32 PM CT, May 5

Tennessee has 122 more confirmed coronavirus cases and seven more deaths, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

That brings the statewide total to 13,624 confirmed cases, resulting in 226 deaths. Nearly 1,200 people -- 1,156 -- have been ever hospitalized from the disease and 6,356 are considered officially recovered from the disease.

And 218,796 tests have been administered, an increase of 7,353 since yesterday’s report. 


Largest class ever graduating from U of M in online service May 9

1:46 PM CT, May 5

The University of Memphis won’t be able to celebrate spring commencement in the traditional manner on Saturday, but seniors have been invited to take part in an online commencement/celebration hosted with Marching Order, a company that uses technology to enhance graduation ceremonies.

The graduates were asked to upload a photo of themselves and include a personal message. A file will be created for each participant, and on Saturday, they can log into the site to view a commencement video. They will be able to download their image to share with #STILLDRIVENSTILLDOING.

The class has some noteworthy milestones. Among these are:

  • The total number of degrees and certificates is 2,592, the largest graduating class on record
  • 16 undergraduates who have attained a perfect 4.0 GPA during their studies, a record for one semester
  • A record number of doctoral degrees will be awarded – 109
  • Almost 900 students earned academic honors distinction – summa, magna or cum laude
  • 38 military veterans will graduate.

Graduates represent 42 states and 32 countries. Thirty-four percent of graduates have identified as first-generation.

Spring graduates will be invited to participate in a traditional ceremony once it is safe to have it. 


Mississippi coronavirus cases top 8,000

12:34 PM CT, May 5

The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 330 new coronavirus cases in the state for a total of 8,207 since March 11. 

MSDH reports 4,421 people have presumably recovered.

DeSoto County has 10 new cases for a total of 308 confirmed cases and four deaths. One of those deaths was in a long-term care facility.

Marshall County added one confirmed case for a total of 48. The county remains at two deaths.

Hinds County, in the Jackson metropolitan area, has the highest number of cases with 565. MSDH reports 33 people have died from complications of the virus in Lauderdale County, the most of any in the state.

MSDH reported 32 new deaths Tuesday for a total of 342. The state is tracking outbreaks at 11 long-term care facilities.


Health Department wants 2,400 tests available daily

12:14 PM CT, May 5

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter touts almost 35,000 tested so far. Fifty-three percent of cases have recovered. She said they are working on nursing homes and especially to confirm cases among those who work in nursing homes.

Haushalter says 10% of confirmed cases identify as Latino. More testing is to come among that demographic.

Haushalter said they want 2,400 tests available a day, including at health care providers: 2,400 is the minimum, 3,000 is the ideal.

They are now expanding testing among those working in prisons or jails, first responders, those who work in gas stations, fast food, groceries, pharmacies and at public utilities.

The state health department and National Guard will be working to increase testing at public sites.

Haushalter said while they are focused on COVID-19, they are also working on hepatitis A outbreaks and the ongoing opioid problem. They have seen an increase in overdoses in recent days.

On the uptick in opioid overdoses, Haushalter said it id hard to tell if that is connected to the pandemic. They want to look at that more closely.

Health Department Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said despite yesterday’s directive, it’s “not back to business as usual.” “Stay home if you can.”

”Try to avoid crowds and gatherings as much as possible” and wear face coverings especially when in public with others, Randolph said.

If you get tested, remain at home until you get the results. In order to go into Phase 2 of reopenings people must continue social distancing, Randolph said.

Randolph says businesses not in Phase 1 have contacted him, including massage businesses. He said they remain in Phase 2 and he will evaluate then.

Haushalter said numbers locally for COVID cases will go up because they will be targeting nursing homes or assisted living centers and in jails and in targeted communities.

She said there are not “an abundance of complaints” about openings yesterday and businesses opening who aren’t in Phase 1.

Haushalter said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed the recommendation for isolation on those who test positive. Period is now 10 days.

She said that and other guidance from the state could change depending on how the pandemic evolves. Haushalter said they are working on the local health department directive to sync it with state orders where relevant. But she said short of the state pre-empting the local order again, the local health department still has autonomy to set conditions that differ from the state.

On 201 Poplar testing: no new cases today but test results continue to come in from the county jail.

She said depending on how businesses that are open adhere to social distancing they could tighten restrictions when measures are not being followed and cases take a jump not related to testing in specific clusters or hot spots.

Haushalter said “people have done exceptionally well in terms of adhering to social distancing.”

She asked for “good judgment” in making Mother’s Day plans.




Watch today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing

12:06 PM CT, May 5

Today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing is scheduled for noon.

It’s set to feature Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.

Watch below:



21 deaths attributed to long-term care facility clusters

10:37 AM CT, May 5

According to the Shelby County Health Department, 21 deaths are now attributed to coronavirus clusters at long-term care facilities. 

There have been 57 deaths resulting from the virus overall in the county, according to Health Department data.

The agency has investigated outbreaks at at least 15 long-term care facilities. More than half of them have had deaths related to coronavirus, reports the Health Department.

According to Health Department data, they are Carriage Court Assisted Living Facility (4 deaths), Christian Care Center of Memphis (1 death), Highlands of Memphis Health and Rehabilitation Center (2 deaths), Parkway Health and Rehab (3 deaths), Heritage at Irene Woods (1 death), The King’s Daughters and Sons Home (4 deaths), The Village at Germantown (5 deaths) and Grace Healthcare of Cordova (1 death),

The latest long-term care facility cluster the agency has investigated is Compass Rehabilitation. According to the Health Department, the cluster was identified on May 4; 33 residents and seven staff have tested positive.

Only one of the long-term care care facilities, Carriage Court, has a cluster or outbreak that is deemed “resolved.” Resolved means that the facility has gone 28 days without a new case.



New cases and testing drop in Shelby County

10:06 AM CT, May 5

There are 72 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County, according to Shelby County Health Department data.

The total number of cases is 2,922 with 57 resulting in death from complications from the virus as of Tuesday, May 5. There were four new deaths reported Tuesday.

The 72 new cases came as the county reported an additional 719 tests Tuesday. That’s the lowest number of new tests in six days. 

In Shelby County, there have been 34,615 tests for coronavirus with 8.4% of those tests being positive.

There are 1,558 recoveries from the virus in Shelby County.

Statewide, there are 13,502 cases with 219 deaths as of Monday, May 4, according to the latest figures from state’s health department.

In Tennessee, the total number of tests performed is 211,443 with a 6.4% positivity rate.


Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

10:03 AM CT, May 5



How COVID-19 cases are growing locally and statewide

10:03 AM CT, May 5




coronavirus COVID-19

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