Coronavirus live blog, May 20: ‘Face masks do make a difference’

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 26, 2020 9:41 AM CT | Published: May 20, 2020 8:36 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
  • Wear a mask when you are out in public
  • 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

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State issues guidelines for 89 counties to increase restaurant, retail capacity

3:52 PM CT, May 20

Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group issued updated guidelines Wednesday for restaurants and retail stores, along with new guidelines that allow attractions and larger venues to reopen with social distancing and capacity restrictions on or after May 22.

Six counties – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – are allowed to continue following individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with state and local health departments.

The state said the guidelines are based on its ability to meet the White House criteria with a downward trend in case growth, increase in testing capability and sufficient hospital capacity.

“Tennesseans have worked hard to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state, and their efforts have allowed us to continue to reopen our economy further,” said Gov. Bill Lee, in a statement. “These guidelines share best practices to ensure our state’s businesses can continue to operate in a way that protects customers and employees while putting people back to work.”

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Rhodes offers free webinars on coronavirus-related topics

3:25 PM CT, May 20

Rhodes College will offer four free, public Zoom webinars featuring college and community experts addressing coronavirus-related topics. As part of the webinars, the panelists will take audience questions.

“A grounding in the liberal arts encourages a multi-disciplinary approach to the foundational questions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic,” president Majorie Hass, said in a statement. “Our faculty are particularly well-equipped to promote deep thinking and lively dialogue. We look forward to sharing the best of Rhodes’ approach with the wider community. We see it as one of the ways we can serve others during this difficult moment.”

The panels are as follows:

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350 tested at The Village at Germantown

2:40 PM CT, May 20

Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare administered 350 tests to The Village at Germantown residents, and the tests were all negative.

As part of efforts to prevent transmission of the disease, all employees and residents in assisted living, memory care and long-term care were tested on May 14-15.

“We are thankful to report 100% negative,” Michael Craft, The Village chief executive officer, said in a release.

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Mississippi adds 263 cases, 16 deaths

2:26 PM CT, May 20

Mississippi has 263 more coronavirus cases and 16 more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The total is now 11,967 confirmed cases and 570 deaths, according to the agency.

DeSoto County has 418 confirmed cases and five deaths. Thirteen of those cases and one death are linked to long-term care facilities.

Marshall County has 68 confirmed cases and three deaths. Two cases are linked to long-term care facilities. None of the three deaths are linked to long-term care facilities. 

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Tennessee adds 154 cases, 4 deaths

2:40 PM CT, May 20

Tennessee has 154 more confirmed coronavirus cases and four more deaths resulting from the disease, according to the Department of Health.

That brings the total to 18,532 confirmed cases and 309 deaths.

There have been 1,515 hospitalizations for the disease and 11,783 are considered officially recovered.

Since yesterday’s update, 7,890 tests have been administered, bringing the total to 354,013.


Memphians show off their favorite masks

2:31 PM CT, May 20

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said it is important to create a social environment where cloth face masks or coverings are the norm.

So far, face masks or coverings are required for employees while at work in businesses, but merely encouraged for others, even in situations where it might be hard to practice social distancing.

Recommend or require: Dividing line in mask debate

“If it’s a fashion statement, people are more likely to wear masks, so we encourage people to get creative with their masks and we believe that will help move people to wearing more masks and facial coverings in public,” Haushalter said earlier this week.

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Haushalter: Health Department hiring can call attention to public health’s role

12:20 PM CT, May 20

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland started the COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing with a recap of how he would use the $113.6 million in federal CARES funding, including $8.7 million on contact tracing for the Shelby County Health Department, starting with $2.7 million approved for immediate use. It was approved by the Council Tuesday.

Forty city employees have been doing contact tracing for the last six weeks on temporary assignment. The funding is to hire people for those positions at least until the end of the calendar year.

Director Alisa Haushalter said hiring at the health department can call attention to public health’s role.

On hiring more at the health department, Haushalter said the national recommendation is 250 contact tracers. 

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Watch today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing

12:01 PM CT, May 20

Today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing is scheduled for noon and set to feature Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.

Watch below:



Shelby County tops 4,000 cases

10:16 AM CT, May 20

Shelby County Health Department reported 128 new cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday as 1,701 tests were performed.

The number is nearly 700 shy of the count’s goal to test 2,400 per day, and about 900 fewer than administered the day prior. The county has completed 56,543 tests county-wide.

The total reported in the county since March 9 is 4,005.

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UT students can expect ‘a new normal’ on campus

8:31 AM CT, May 20

The University of Tennessee system’s COVID-19 task force has released a report that provides guidance, recommendations and best practices to reopen its campuses in the fall.

<strong>Randy Boyd</strong>

Randy Boyd

“The faculty and staff at each of our campuses have done an incredible job of thinking through the details of reopening their campuses this fall,” President Randy Boyd said.

The system created a task force in April, led by Dr. Jon McCullers, senior executive associate dean of clinical affairs at UT Health Science Center in Memphis, to advise on policies and procedures that would prioritize the safety and wellbeing of UT’s students, faculty and staff.

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Local and state coronavirus cases, tests and recoveries

10:02 AM CT, May 20



How cases are growing in Shelby County and Tennessee

9:58 AM CT, May 20


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Memphis Zoo ups capacity to 5,000

9:35 AM CT, May 20

This week, Memphis and Shelby County moved into Phase 2 of the Back to Business plan. 

That includes the Memphis Zoo.

With that move, the institution has increased its capacity to 5,000 guests at any given time. 

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