Coronavirus live blog, May 10: Flyover set for Tuesday afternoon

By Updated: May 28, 2020 4:33 PM CT | Published: May 11, 2020 10:17 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


Air National Guard sets aerial tribute to Tennessee ‘health care heroes’ Tuesday

3:33 PM CT, May 11

The Tennessee Air National Guard has scheduled a statewide “Salute to Healthcare Heroes” flyover on Tuesday, May 12.

A C-17 cargo plane based at the 164th Air Lift Wing at Memphis International Airport is scheduled to fly over the Memphis area from 2 to 2:15 p.m.

The C-17 from Memphis will rendezvous in Nashville with a KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling craft from the 134th Air Refueling Wing in Knoxville. The aircraft will circle Nashville at 12:30 p.m.

The C-17 will then head west, flying over medical care facilities and communities including Haywood County at 1:27 p.m. and Tipton County at 1:34 p.m.

The Tennessee Air National Guard said on Facebook the flyover will honor health care workers and first responders.

“This flyover is a salute to the healthcare heroes and their selfless service towards the citizens of Tennessee and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

Air National Guard units around the country are doing flyovers tributes to health care workers and first responders while also getting in training time for guard personnel.

A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber did flyovers in Missouri, including Cape Girardeau, last Friday, and New Jersey and Wisconsin guards have scheduled flyovers with F-16 Fighting Falcons on Tuesday, May 12.

The Commemorative Air Force’s Memphis “Delta Blues” Squadron had planned a flyover for 5 p.m. Tuesday, but postponed the event because of a forecast for rain in the Memphis area.

Members of the squadron fly former military aircraft including planes of World War II vintage, including T-6 “Texan” advanced trainer aircraft.

The group does air shows each year during the Memphis in May International Festival and during events honoring veterans.

The Commemorative Air Force flyover, featuring a multi-aircraft formation of vintage craft, has been tentatively rescheduled for May 30.

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Memphis voters challenge state for absentee voting rights during pandemic

3:40 PM CT, May 11

A group of Memphis voters and a local voter empowerment organization have sued the state of Tennessee seeking a court order that any voter concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic can choose to vote absentee, regardless of whether they fit into one of the absentee voter categories set out by state statute.

The complaint, filed Friday in Davidson County Chancery Court against defendants Gov. Bill Lee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins and Attorney General Herbert Slatery, claims that as applied to the unique circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, Tennessee’s strict absentee ballot requirements violate the right to vote under Tennessee’s constitution.

In the alternative, the suit seeks a declaration that an existing statutory exception allowing absentee voting with a doctor’s note should be interpreted broadly to allow a doctor to certify that all voters in a county are “medically unable” to vote in person in 2020 due to pandemic-related health risks.

Joining UpTheVote901 as plaintiffs are a mix of Republican and Democrat Memphis voters, Hunter Demster, Julia Hiltonsmith, Jeff and Ginger Bullard and Allison Donald, according to attorney Jake Brown, with the Apperson Crump law firm.

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COVID-19 in Tennessee

3:48 PM CT, May 11

 

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Rallings: Addresses, not names shared with patrol officers

12:24 PM CT, May 11

Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings said information on who has the coronavirus that is shared with police is only used for health purposes and is then destroyed. 

Rallings said the information is necessary to protect first responders.

”Who responds to the 911 calls when we run out of first responders?” he asked.

Rallings says HIPAA allows for information to be released in “protected” form. He said it is not names shared with patrol officers, but only addresses, and that officers are instructed to take precautions if called to those addresses, including more personal protective equipment (PPE).

He said the information is encrypted and loaded into a computer aided dispatch system. And use of the information outside of those purposes could result in prosecution. 

”We’re doing everything we can do to make sure it is protected,” he said.

Memphis Fire Department Director Gina Sweat said if calls are fire or EMS-related they get info too under the same agreement the police department uses. She said it is used to protect first responders. 

”I think this process is working ... Early on we did have a number of first responders who tested positive because of exposure ... and it’s really gone down in the last 30 days,” she said.

”This is not unusual,” she said. 

They have had alerts in the system for hazardous chemicals and etcetera at a site.

On health data to police, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said they have been using addresses on those who tested positive “for weeks now.” Rallings said the date was March 12 for the agreement between state and Shelby County 911, and then cops had an agreement with 911.

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said Rallings sought information pretty early in the pandemic and the health department made the decision to release the addresses and had the authority to do so.

Rallings said calls to 911 are screened and dispatchers will ask about COVID-19.

“We have an obligation to protect our first responders in the community,” he said. 

There were a large number of arrests and police towed 69 cars violating social distancing orders at drag races, per Rallings.

 “We will arrest you and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” he said of social distancing.

He said drag racing and ATVs won’t be tolerated.

He said they get about 140 calls per week COVID-related to the MPD. Rallings said there have been 200 arrests in Operation Spring Clean so far -- the annual spring enforcement campaign.

To coronavirus statistics: There is a 7.7% positivity rate with the numbers this morning, 58% of those tested positive have recovered. The number of deaths is 68.

Haushalter said the positivity rate is down because of the increase in testing. She said the testing group has worked to make it countywide and accessible whether people have insurance coverage or not, and by working in specific communities. The ultimate goal is to stop transmission.

Here we still have that, but not significant community transition at this time.

There are 1,800 people currently in quarantine. The health department continues to focus on nursing homes and employee clusters with contact tracing.

Haushalter said work clusters may be employees having lunch together or taking off PPEs together.

She said they are looking at what other states and cities are doing with outbreaks at nursing homes in particular.

They also are discussing postmortem testing to determine if someone really died from COVID and working with the state on that.

Haushalter said testing is coming to Millington the fourth week in May at the latest, but they hope to move that up to next week. There is still “significant” bed capacity in local hospitals. The build-out of the field hospital at 495 Union Ave. is to be finished this week.

Strickland began the COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing by saying Wednesday’s walkthrough by officials is a lead-in to testing going to the city’s public housing development. 

He said testing there is not mandatory. 

Haushalter said the walkthrough this week of public housing is in advance of an expansion of testing.

We are Day 8 on Back to Business plan, Haushalter said we are  “moving in the right direction.” We are slightly up on hospitalizations and those seeking medical care. But she said social distancing is working.

Strickland said the plan is to be evaluated at the end of this week by health officials to see if we can move to Phase 2.

He cautioned that we have to go the full two weeks because of the two week or so delay in cases showing up.

Haushalter said part of the discussion now by the Back to Business group is on reopening schools in August. Things in place must be surveillance by schools and the ability to do social distancing.

Haushalter on aligning with the state plan: “Clearly locally we have a consensus around our Back to Business plan.” She cited “diversity of opinion” on when, but the plan still stands. Gov. Bill Lee may preempt the plan and then they have to follow that.

Masks are now available at libraries for use there, but are not required there.  

As of Friday, 27,000 masks were distributed by the health department countywide and they just got more.

Tomorrow, the Tennessee Air National Guard will do a flyover to honor first responders across the state.

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Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

10:02 AM CT, May 11

 

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How COVID-19 cases are growing locally and statewide

10:02 AM CT, May 11

 

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Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund grants $62,500

3:10 PM CT, May 11

The Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund has awarded $62,5000 to nine organizations in its latest round of grants, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis announced.

The fund, providing monetary support to organizations impacted by the coronavirus, has provided a total of $1.84 million to 81 organizations since March 18. Individuals, businesses and foundations have contributed $3 million to the fund, so far. 

The eighth round of grants are as follows:

  • Alpha Omega Veteran Services: $2,500 to provide supportive services and housing to veterans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak 
  • Apple Seeds Inc.: $2,500 to provide pre-partum, post-partum, and birthing support to high-risk mothers through hospital referrals  
  • Community Legal Center: $5,000 to provide for the increased cost of virtual DACA consultation               
  • Momentum Nonprofit Partners: $17,500 to procure PPE to distribute to area nonprofits
  • Refugee Empowerment Program: $5,000 to provide services and education to new immigrants 
  • RISE Foundation: $10,000 to provide financial support and connect 600+ clients to social services, focused, in part, on seniors and healthcare workers 
  • SRVS: $5,000 to provide food and supplies to the 55 residential homes they serve                    
  • Sweet Cheeks Diaper Ministry: $5,000 to continue to meet the basic needs of families with babies                            
  • United Housing: $10,000 to provide foreclosure and home repair assistance                          

Click here to learn more or to donate to the fund. 

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Delta Dental commits $3.3M to help TN dentists reopen

2:32 PM CT, May 11

Delta Dental of Tennessee announced that it will provide a $1,000 credit to all dentists in the state -- regardless of if they participate in its network -- to purchase supplies, equipment and technology to reopen their practices following coronavirus-related closures.

Tennessee dental practices have been closed to all but emergency procedures since mid-March and many dentists donated their personal protective equipment to hospitals and other medical workers. 

“As dentists work with local health authorities to reopen and scale up their practices in the coming weeks, they face unprecedented challenges, from the loss of income to rehiring staff, and above all, protecting the health and safety of everyone involved - dentists, staff, and patients,” said Dr. Phil Wenk, CEO and president of Delta Dental, in a statement. “During this difficult time, we hope this support helps ease the burden as dentists return to their practices and safely move beyond providing emergency-only care.”

Delta Dental has committed to more than $3.3 million for its Operation #SmilesMatter program.

Dentists can find more information about the program here

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Free testing at U of M

2:14 PM CT, May 11

Free drive-thru coronavirus testing will be conducted from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 12 through Thursday, May 14 at the University of Memphis.

The testing will held on the Central Avenue parking lot, next to the Holiday Inn. The test consists of a self-administered nasal swab.

Health care workers, and symptomatic and asymptomatic people are eligible for testing, based on a virtual screening. Click here to be screened and then schedule a test.

Test results are expected to be returned in about 48 hours; Kroger Health expects to administer 250 tests per day.

Kroger Health is partnering with U of M and Cherokee Health Systems for the testing. 

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

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Tennessee adds 559 cases, 8 deaths

2:17 PM CT, May 11

Tennessee has 559 more confirmed coronavirus cases and eight more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

Statewide, the total is 15,544 confirmed cases and 251 deaths.

More than 8,000 people -- 8,038 -- are considered officially recovered from the disease; 1,344 were ever hospitalized for coronavirus complications.

Since yesterday’s update 11,408 tests have been administered, bringing the total to 273,277.

The Department of Health reports 3,372 confirmed cases  and 70 deaths in Shelby County, up from the 3,315 cases and 67 deaths the Shelby County Health Department reported earlier in the day. 

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reports 3,669 confirmed cases in Davidson County and 35 deaths.

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Mississippi adds 173 cases, 5 deaths

1:47 PM CT, May 11

Mississippi has 173 more confirmed coronavirus cases and five new deaths, reports the state’s Department of Health.

That brings the total to 9,674 confirmed cases and 435 deaths resulting from the disease.

DeSoto County has 336 confirmed cases, resulting in five deaths.

Marshall County has 56 confirmed cases, resulting in two deaths.

The number of tests administered statewide is 95,885 and 6,268 are considered presumed recovered from the disease, per MSDH.

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Southwest holding virtual commencement

2:56 PM CT, May 11

Southwest Tennessee Community College will host a virtual commencement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony will take place 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 13 during a livestream. College president Tracy D. Hall will officiate the ceremony, which will include the National Anthem, speeches and awarding of degrees and certificates. 

During the ceremony, videos will be shown of the graduates turning their tassels, alongside their names, credentials and any earned honors.

The ceremony was originally scheduled to be held Saturday, May 2 at FedExForum.

In addition to the new, virtual commencement, Southwest will hold a “Curbside Cap & Tassel Pickup” event from 9 a.m. until noon Tuesday, May 12 on both the Macon Cove and Union Avenue campuses.

Southwest said that college officials will practice social distancing, as well as wear face masks and gloves while passing out the items. Southwest is also asking students to wear a face mask or covering during the event.

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Wolfchase Galleria reopens

2:05 PM CT, May 11

Wolfchase Galleria reopened Saturday, May 9.

With its reopening comes “enhanced safety protocols,” which mall tenants are also obligated to adhere to.

They include the following:

  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved products, with an emphasis on high-traffic areas (including dining areas, bathrooms, escalators, stairs, directories, trash bins, door knobs)
  • Making available face masks, sanitizing wipes and temperature testing at entrances and property offices
  • Encouraging customers to stay home if they have had COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms in the past 72 hours
  • Hand sanitizing stations
  • Signage displaying CDC guidance on personal hygiene
  • Preemptive employee health screenings
  • Frequent handwashing protocols for employees
  • Offering personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees
  • Occupancy limits
  • Furniture and bathroom spacing
  • Closing play areas
  • Traffic signage and distance markers

”The health, safety and well-being of the community we serve will always be our highest priority and we have developed a thorough and detailed set of protocols highlighting the exceptional measures we’ve implemented for shoppers, retailers and employees as we reopen,” said Charles Tarkington, Wolfchase Galleria’s general manager, in a statement. “We also recognize that individuals and families in our community are suffering significant hardship as a result of both COVID-19 and the economic shutdown, and we believe that reopening our property will not only help people get back to work during these challenging times, but also enable us to use our property to further support charitable initiatives.” 

Wolfchase Galleria originally closed on Thursday, March 19. The mall will host food banks, clothing donations, COVID-19 mobile testing and blood drives.

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First Lady Lee sets Tennessee’s Day of Service for Saturday

12:11 PM CT, May 11

Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee announced that on Saturday, May 16, 2020, the Volunteer State will celebrate the first Tennessee’s Day of Service and make it an annual event.

“Now more than ever, it is crucial that we remember to care for and serve one another,” Maria Lee said. “Tennessee’s Day of Service is about Tennesseans uplifting each other and entire communities through selfless acts of service. It is my hope that this day will encourage the hearts of those in need across the state.”

The statewide day of service will commemorate one year since she launched Tennessee Serves with the goal of mobilizing Tennesseans to serve one another and volunteer in their communities.

“Serving one another is core to our state’s character and in times of trouble, we have seen Tennesseans step up and serve in countless ways,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “I invite every Tennessean to use the day of service as a chance to find a need, love a neighbor and embrace the Volunteer Spirit.”

Ways to get involved in Tennessee’s Day of Service range from COVID-19 relief efforts to disaster relief and virtual volunteer campaigns. A list of service opportunities is available here.

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45 of 48 teens test positive at Bartlett residential youth treatment facility

11:42 AM CT, May 11

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services said 45 of 48 teenage boys at a Bartlett residential youth treatment center have tested positive for the coronavirus after a second round of testing at the facility.

The additional testing was done last week at the Memphis Center for Success and Independence (CSI) when DCS requested the state Department of Health and the Tennessee National Guard conduct a second round of mass testing of the youth at the facility after they initially tested negative for the coronavirus.

The results showed 17 additional teens tested positive, for a total of 45 of the 48 at the facility testing positive for the coronavirus, DCS officials said in a press release.

The first round of testing was done on April 22. DCS said three teens have been released to their families and 45 remain at the facility. The 17 teens who tested positive have been quarantined from the other youth who previously tested positive.

DCS said in addition to the teens testing positive, 13 employees at CSI also tested positive and six have returned to work.

Parents of the teens at the facility have been notified of the positive test results. DCS said the teens are being monitored by CSI nursing staff. They are also working with the Shelby County Health Department, which is providing additional guidance for caring for the youth and cleaning the facility.

CSI is also following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for screening and care of the children and staff at the facility. Staff have their temperature taken and are screened for symptoms of the virus before entering the facility.

CSI is operated under contract by Youth Opportunity Investments and houses 48 children and has 60 employees working at the facility. It is a secured residential treatment facility providing mental health, drug and alcohol treatment for youth who are 13 to 18 and have been placed in state custody.

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Watch today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing

12:01 PM CT, May 11

Today’s COVID-19 Task Force Briefing is set to feature Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Memphis Fire Department Director Gina Sweat, Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings and Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.

Watch below:

 

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Shelby County reports new daily high of coronavirus tests

10:08 AM CT, May 11

Shelby County reported 85 new coronavirus cases Monday as it reported a new high in tests administered, according to the Shelby County Health Department. 

A total of 1,843 new tests were confirmed and the positivity rate of those tests was 4.6%. 

There have been 42,239 total tests taken in Shelby County with a 7.8% positivity rate. 

The health department reported no new deaths from the virus Monday. The total remains at 67. 

A total of 1,921 people has recovered from the disease in Shelby County, according to the agency.  

In Tennessee, there are 14,985 cases with 243 deaths as of Sunday, May 10, according to the state’s department of health.

There have been 261,869 total tests statewide, with a positivity rate of 5.7%.

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Topics

coronavirus COVID-19 Testing Shelby County Health Department Tennessee Department of Health

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