Coronavirus live blog, May 14: Testing scheduled next week at Memphis housing units

By Updated: May 18, 2020 10:33 AM CT | Published: May 14, 2020 9:28 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 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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May 14, 2020

COVID-19 in Tennessee

4:16 PM CT, May 14

 

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COVID-19 testing scheduled next week at Memphis housing units

3:44 PM CT, May 14

State Rep. Barbara Cooper announced Thursday, May 14, 2020, that free, voluntary testing for COVID-19 will begin next week in many of the city’s housing units in Memphis. 

Healthcare workers and National Guardsmen wearing medical protective gear, in conjunction with MHA and Gov. Bill Lee’s COVID-19 Unified Command Group, will test for the coronavirus Monday and Tuesday in the following areas:

  • Kefauver Terrace Apartments
  • Jefferson Square Apartments
  • Paul Borda Tower Apartments
  • Montgomery Plaza Apartments
  • Patterson Pointe Apartments

Rep. Cooper says she’s heard from constituents in those areas, many of them seniors, who are concerned about the virus.

“Often senior citizens and others in high rise apartments and public housing may want to get tested, but don’t have the ability to get back and forth to the mobile testing centers; this way we can respond to their concerns and bring the testing directly to them to serve their needs,” Cooper said.

Cooper added the effort is supported by the Governor’s Office, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and the House Democratic Caucus.

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MLGW board approves $200,000 for community COVID-19 fund

3:33 PM CT, May 14

During a specially-called meeting, Memphis, Light Gas and Water’s Board of Commissioners approved $200,000 going into a COVID-19 community care fund created by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

MLGW’s funds will be matched by TVA for a total donation of $400,000 to local nonprofits.

Each of the organizations receiving grants serve the community needs arising from the pandemic. The grants are as follows:

  • United Way of the Mid-South: $25,000
  • Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Fund: $25,000
  • Plus-1 (a MIFA/MLGW partnership): $75,000
  • Mid-South Food Bank: $75,000

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Mississippi adds 393 cases, 15 deaths

3:01 PM CT, May 14

Mississippi has 393 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 15 more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the state’s Department of Health.

That brings Mississippi’s total to 10,483 confirmed cases and 480 deaths.

Statewide, 105,326 tests have been administered.

DeSoto County has 355 confirmed cases, six of those in long-term care facilities, and five deaths. One of the deaths is at a long-term care facility, according to the MSDH.

Marshall County has 63 confirmed cases, two of those in long-term care facilities and two deaths. Neither death was related to a long-term facility case, according to the MSDH.

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Tennessee adds 329 cases, 14 deaths

2:36 PM CT, May 14

Tennessee has 329 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 14 more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the Department of Health.

That brings Tennessee’s total to 16,699 confirmed cases and 287 deaths.

Statewide, 302,317 tests have been administered; that’s 9,400 more than yesterday’s figures.

Close to 9,000 people (8,881) are considered officially recovered from the disease; 1,435 have ever been hospitalized for it.

The Department of Health reports 3,542 cases in Shelby County, up from the 3,523 cases the Shelby County Health Department reported earlier today. Both agencies reported 81 deaths in Shelby County.

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reports 3,889 cases and 42 deaths in Davidson County.

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How COVID-19 cases are growing in Shelby County and Tennessee

2:11 PM CT, May 14

Editor’s note: This blog previously used a linear scale only to show local and state coronavirus case data. Below, we use a logarithmic scale, which measures the rate of growth or decline using relative values. 

The linear scales show the numbers going up; the log scales below show the curve flattening even though the data set used is exactly the same. That’s because log scales show the rate of growth or decline, instead of just the absolute numbers, per day. You should notice,  for example, that the space on the Y axis between 10 and 100 is the same as the space between 1,000 and 10,000. The number of cases are still growing, but the rate of growth has slowed. 

Here’s the same data using a linear scale.

 

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Watch today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing

12:05 PM CT, May 14

Today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing features Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.

Watch below:

 

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Health officer: Both employees and customers must wear masks

12:15 PM CT, May 14

Dr. Bruce Randolph, the county’s health officer, said May 18 is the date the current health directive is set to expire. The directive is the safety measures for businesses and other institutions in the re-opening.

Randolph reminds that according to the directive people still must cooperate with health authorities in stopping the spread of the virus. Also expect to comply with safety requirements including OSHA. Randolph said he continues to get calls from employees who say bosses not providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and not doing social distancing.

That also includes signs for the public. Randolph said the public is missing that businesses must have customers and employees to wear cloth or other types of masks. He said he’s gone through drive-thrus and employees will be wearing masks improperly and customers should wear masks.

”You can transmit the virus simply by talking,” Randolph said.

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said health department locations also still have masks from the state and they are at libraries and coming to fire stations soon. If your organization or church wants them, contact the health department to get some of them for your group.

On the county ordinance proposed to fine businesses $50 if customers are not wearing masks: Haushalter said that is up to the County Commission. but expressed concern about violent reactions to mask requirements. She’s also concerned about undue burden on businesses to maintain mask requirements. And they must have enough masks. Some may not comprehend the need to wear a mask. She said they have to be sensitive to all of those things.

Haushalter said this is a critical time for evaluating the pandemic and reopening. “We’re looking at the data very closely. ... This is the time we really have to stay focused on social distancing.”

Haushalter said she doesn’t want to make a decision on Phase 2 too early. 

”This is really a critical period,” she said.

Cases contracted at the start of Phase 1 won’t show up until the end of the 14-day period -- this weekend, in other words.

They won’t be making a recommendation today. And Phase 2 will evolve. The group has a list of possible changes, but are still considering. They also want a unified approach across the county and are hearing requests from businesses and other institutions on that.

Haushalter said Monday, May 18 is the earliest Phase 2 re-openings could begin. She realizes businesses need some notice. She says mayors within the county will meet on this.

She again said that a spike is not a raw number. And she said that between now and Monday they will be looking at data very closely and comparing it to 14 days ago, in line with the incubation period, and days when there might have been breaches in social distancing practices.

That includes emergency room visits with the other factors to tell if we have significant increases in transmission. 

She said the death toll in Shelby County stands at 81.

Haushalter made an appeal to take advantage of testing. On May 18 and 19, the Memphis Housing Authority will be offering testing in five developments with state health officials. This follows a walk-through this week to set the stage for that.

Haushalter said she’s not concerned with availability of testing, more concerned that more people aren’t taking advantage of it.

There is plenty of bed and safety net capacity at hospitals. Public health capacity is being stretched, but Haushalter said that has been as funding has been cut over a number of years.

Haushalter said the ribbon cutting on the field hospital at 495 Union Ave. will be early next week with a soft opening later this week.

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No spike in new COVID-19 cases locally as positive percentage declines

11:27 AM CT, May 14

The latest COVID-19 data shows no spike in local cases as the rate of positive results continues to decline, according to Shelby County Health Department data released Thursday, May 14.

Shelby County reported 61 new cases Thursday morning, consistent with the average of 60 new cases a day from May 7 to Wednesday. It also remains in line with the stabilization trend from the past month, even as the day-to-day totals fluctuate.


Coronavirus live blog, May 14: Testing scheduled next week at Memphis housing units


Five deaths were reported from the virus in Shelby County by Thursday afternoon as the death rate continues to increase. That’s three additional deaths since the health department’s daily morning report Thursday. 

Read More

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Local college participating in virtual commencement featuring former President Barack Obama

11:32 AM CT, May 14

Former President Barack Obama will be the commencement speaker at LeMoyne-Owen College’s virtual commencement on Saturday, May 16. LeMoyne-Owen is one of 78 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) participating in the “Show Me Your Walk” ceremony.

The commencement will air at 2 p.m. Saturday on JP Morgan Chase’s social media platforms, Essence Studios and HBCU Connect on Facebook. Chase, along with The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the United Negro College Fund, are the event’s sponsors.

The commencement will also feature speakers and performers, including financial expert Mellody Hobson and comedian Kevin Hart. 

“While we are disappointed that we are unable to recognize our students’ accomplishments with the traditional pomp and circumstance, we are pleased that this option is available to them to celebrate themselves,” Carol Johnson Dean, LeMoyne-Owen interim president said, in a statement. “We thank the generous partners involved in this effort for recognizing HBCU graduates, specifically, and we plan to celebrate with an in-person commencement ceremony once it is safe to gather together again in large crowds.”

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BlueCross BlueShield to cover telehealth permanently

10:59 AM CT, May 14

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced Thursday it will provide permanent coverage of virtual visits with in-network providers effective immediately.

The BlueCross decision makes it the first major insurer to embrace long-term telehealth after the dramatic expansion of these services during the COVID-19 pandemic, a move the company said aligns with other steps it has taken to improve access to primary care, according to a statement.

In March, the insurer began covering telephone and video visits with in-network providers. The change initially included primary care providers, specialists and behavioral health providers and was later expanded to include occupational, physical and speech therapy as well as ABA therapy services. All of these services will now be covered on an ongoing basis.

“We’re committed to helping our members get the care they need, and telehealth offers them and the providers they trust with more options that fit their everyday needs,” said JD Hickey, president and CEO. “This recent period has proven virtual care can work for preventive, routine and maintenance care, and we’re making this decision because the added convenience can bring better health.”

BlueCross telehealth coverage includes both member-to-provider and provider-to-provider consultations, and it has seen health care providers across Tennessee demonstrate increasing support for these services.

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Shelby County reports 61 new cases as positivity rate falls

10:06 AM CT, May 14

Shelby County’s COVID-19 cases increased by 61 Thursday as new tests reported were at 1,326.

The positivity of rate for the additional tests reported was 4.6%. The total number of coronavirus cases in Shelby County is now 3,523.

Since coronavirus testing began, a total of 46,444 tests were performed in Shelby County with a 7.6% positivity rate.

The health department reported two new deaths due to the virus with the total now at 78. A total of 2,115 people has recovered from the disease in Shelby County, according to the agency.  

Statewide, Tennessee reports 16,370 cases with 273 deaths and 8,624 recoveries as of Wednesday, according to the state’s department of health.

There have been 292,217 total tests statewide, with a positivity rate of 5.6%.

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How COVID-19 cases are growing locally and statewide

10:04 AM CT, May 14

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Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

10:04 AM CT, May 14

 

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Shelby County grand juries to restart May 18

9:11 AM CT, May 14

Shelby County grand juries are expected to begin meeting again next week, District Attorney General Amy Weirich said in an emailed statement.

Court sessions involving defendants who are not in custody ground to a halt in late March when the state Supreme Court limited courtroom activity statewide because of concerns over the coronavirus.

Court cases for defendants who are in custody continued, while the cases for those not in custody were reset. 

The three grand juries have missed 25 sessions since March, Weirich said.

She said the grand juries meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and citizens can be seated for each grand jury beginning May 18 with cases to be heard the next day.

Social distancing and other health precautions will be in place, Weirich said.

She said prospective jurors are encouraged to bring their own face masks during the proceedings.

Witnesses will appear electronically. Weirich said the cases brought before the juries will be felony cases involving defendants who have been in jail a long time.

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May 13, 2020

State education website draws 250k views

12:52 PM CT, May 13

The Tennessee Department of Education announced Wednesday, May 13, 2020, its COVID-19 resources webpage has reached over 250,000 views since launching in mid-March.

Those views represent thousands of school district leaders, educators, Tennesseans, and individuals nationwide who have and continue to access the resources, according to a release. 

“Over the past two months, the department has been working overtime to ensure districts have as much up-to-date information and guidance as possible. Our top priority is to support our students, districts, educators, and families during this time, so we are glad to see these resources are being accessed and used regularly,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We will continue to work closely with districts and support them however we can as they seek to make the best local decisions for their students and families and continue providing access to critical services.”

The department’s COVID-19 resources webpage is updated daily and contains guidance documents and resources.

“As superintendents are seeking to make the best decisions possible for their districts, it is so important they have access to good, up-to-date information. The department’s consistent communication through the COVID-19 webpage and resources has been critical as superintendents lead their districts through this time,” said Dale Lynch, Executive Director of Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS). “I am grateful for the department’s ongoing commitment to providing district staff with as much support and guidance as possible to navigate these challenging times.”

Along with the COVID-19 resources webpage, the department has also developed partnerships and designed several resources for optional, free use by local districts. This includes three times per week superintendent calls, provided access to SchoolMealFinder.cominstructional programming on PBS, an online learning platform ReadyRosieTennessee Principal Learning SeriesSTE(A)M Resources Hub, and acquired an unprecedented approval of federal waivers with a focus on nutrition, accountability and special education.

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Malco reopening Summer Drive-In Friday

1:21 PM CT, May 13

Malco Theatres Inc. is reopening its Summer Drive-In Friday, May 15; tickets go on sale Thursday, May 14.

Located at 5310 Summer Ave., the drive-in will reopen at sundown with a $20 carload special featuring a double feature of “Trolls: World Tour” followed by “Doolittle” on two screens and “The Invisible Man” followed by “The Hunt” on the other two screens.

Vehicle admission will be limited per screen and guests must purchase a carload ticket in advance by visiting www.malco.com or by using the Malco smartphone app. Only those with a pre-purchased carload ticket, printed or on their phone, will be allowed to enter. The advance tickets are non-refundable.

The drive-in will be capped at 50% capacity. Employees will wear gloves and face masks or coverings, bathroom use will be limited and bathrooms will be sanitized every 30 minutes.

Concession stands will have separate ordering and pickup areas, with 6-foot markings and customers will receive an order number for pickup. The menu will be limited to beverages, popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, pretzels and pre-packaged candy. All food will be served in sealed packaging with disposable containers. There will be no refills allowed.

Malco is encouraging drive-in guests to wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, maintain a 6-foot distance from others and to wear a face mask/covering when entering the concession stand and bathroom.

The company said that the drive-in is its only location that will reopen at this time. The company, which has locations in Memphis, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Missouri, paused its theater operations at the close of business Tuesday, March 17, due to the pandemic.

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coronavirus COVID-19

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