Coronavirus daily blog, March 22: Miss. reports 18 cases in DeSoto County

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 23, 2020 10:00 AM CT | Published: March 22, 2020 9:13 AM CT

Confirmed cases
Shelby County
Metro area

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 new coronavirus landing page.

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March 22, 2020

Complications from COVID-19 claim U of M instructor

7:48 PM CT, March 22

A University of Memphis instructor has died in Milwaukee and media there is reporting the death was the result of COVID-19 complications.

Lenard Wells, 69, died Saturday at a Milwaukee area hospital, according to Fox6 News in Milwaukee. The TV station said Wells had been hospitalized since March 14 and had underlying health conditions.

The station said Wells was traveling in Milwaukee from another state.

Also, The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal newspaper reported Sunday that the death is being investigated as COVID-19 complications.

The Milwaukee medical examiner’s office confirmed the death Sunday but did not identify a cause.

Wells had taught criminal justice at the U of M since 2013. No local address was immediately available for him and it was unclear whether he taught on campus on online classes.

According to his biography on the university website, Wells graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a BA in Psychology.

He also earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from that school while working full-time on the Milwaukee Police Department. Lenard obtained his PhD in Leadership, Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.

Lenard retired from the Milwaukee Police Department after 27 years and was appointed by Wisconsin’s governor to chair the Wisconsin Parole Board.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, praised Wells in a Facebook post.

“He epitomized what it meant to be a public servant,” Moore wrote. “The Milwaukee community will miss his voice, and his passion, which all drove his deep commitment to building safer, stronger communities.”


Agencies encourage banks to work with borrowers during COVID-19 outbreak

7:15 PM CT, March 22

The Federal Reserve Board, federal financial institution regulatory agencies and the state banking regulator asked banks to work with borrowers affected by the coronavirus in a joint statement Sunday afternoon.

The groups also gave additional guidelines as banks make borrowing changes.

Normally, the changes would be automatically labeled as “troubled debt restructurings,” but under the new guidelines supervised banks do not have to do so as long as their actions are proper.

Part of the statement reads:

“The agencies encourage financial institutions to work prudently with borrowers who are or may be unable to meet their contractual payment obligations because of the effects of COVID-19.

“The agencies view loan modification programs as positive actions that can mitigate adverse affects on borrowers due to COVID-19. The agencies will not criticize institutions for working with borrowers and will not direct supervised institutions to automatically categorize all COVID19 related loan modifications as troubled debt restructurings (TDRs).”

In other words, the Fed and these agencies are encouraging banks to adopt programs for loan modifications to be “proactive” in the COVID-19 climate.

Agencies will review modifications and there will not necessarily be a negative impact to credit rates.


Southaven, Olive Branch mayors declare civil emergencies

4:31 PM CT, March 22

The mayors of Southaven and Olive Branch have issued civil emergency declarations.

Sunday, March 22, Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite said he and aldermen have monitored the situation before it was in the United States, Mississippi and the metro-area.

Southaven is banning on-site consumption of food beginning at 5 p.m, but allowing delivery and take-out options.

Hair salons and recreational facilities such as gyms, theaters and bars must close.

Businesses and organizations must adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to limit crowds to 10 or less.

The civil emergency allows flexibility with some laws so the city can better serve residents and recover irregular costs associated with COVID-19, according to Musselwhite.

He said a shelter-in-place order could come but they tend to be more effective when made by state or federal government.

The measures are in effect until further notice in Southaven.

Olive Branch Mayor Scott Phillips made the same exclusions beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday, but said it lasted until April 21.


Tennessee Health Department reports 505 COVID-19 cases, 66 in Shelby County

2:10 PM CT, March 22

Tennessee Department of Health announced Sunday afternoon 505 individuals in Tennessee have tested positive for coronavirus.

The number includes 66 in Shelby County, which is an increase from the 58 the local health department reported Sunday morning.

Sunday morning the Shelby County Health Department said one person locally is being treated from outside of the county.


Methodist Le Bonheur clinics cancel some appointments, surgeries

3:41 PM CT, March 22

Methodist Le Bonheur is rescheduling well visits, routine follow-up care and some elective surgery.

The clinical practices will call patients if it is determined the well-visit checks may postponed. No new well-visit appointments are being taken for at least six weeks.

People with upper respiratory or flu-like symptoms are to call their primary care provider’s office right away to alert the staff of symptoms. A member of the staff will follow up by phone to advise patients whether to come to the office or go to a testing clinic.

If symptoms merit, patients will be referred to an emergency department. Anyone exhibiting possible COVID-19 symptoms is asked call the facility before arriving so proper precautions can be taken.

The clinics cannot take in walk-in appointments until further notice. Appointments will be scheduled for patients with acute injuries or abdominal pain.

Methodist Le Bonheur clinics are not offering COVID-19 testing. Patients with symptoms that meet the testing criteria will be referred to testing facility. 


Tiger Lane testing will open to public Monday; referral required

2:45 PM CT, March 22

The drive-up testing center at Tiger Lane will open Monday to the general public.

A doctor’s referral will be required to be tested in the center run by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in partnership with the city and county.

“We spent the last couple of days training personnel, assuring safety protocols were in place and testing symptomatic first responders and front line healthcare workers,” Dr. Jon McCullers said on Sunday.

“Tomorrow, we will be serving the general public as well, by referral from physicians. Only symptomatic patients who have been referred by a healthcare provider who is concerned about COVID-19 will be tested.”

UT has said it will be able to quickly turn the results, eliminating the one- to two-day lag that has stymied daily counts in the last few days.

In order to prevent long lines, testing will be by appointment only. On Sunday afternoon, physician practices were being alerted about how to make them, McCullers said.



Southwest campuses closed; all classes online

1:03 PM CT, March 22

Southwest Tennessee Community College will offer all of its courses online when classes resume after an extended spring break on Monday, March 23.

All campuses and centers are closed until further notice. Only security and facilities personnel will be on the premises.


Second Presbyterian closes

12:47 PM CT, March 22

Second Presbyterian Church in East Memphis made a change to its original service streaming plans Sunday after a staff member was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The people who were in contact with the individual were part of the team planning to lead worship, but are in cautionary quarantine.

As a result the church re-streamed a service from March 15, according to Pastor George Robertson.

The church is also closing its offices until at least March 30.

However, the church still plans to proceed preparing frozen meals from its kitchen, and will provide updates online.


YMCA taking over Shelby County Schools meal program

12:39 PM CT, March 22

Shelby County Schools has a plan to feed students who depend on the district for meals, it announced Sunday.

The YMCA will be taking over the distribution of meals, the district told parents with automated calls Sunday afternoon. All sites previously scheduled to hand out meals will have them for students.

About 60% of students rely on Shelby County’s free and reduced lunch. The district had planned 60 sites across the city where children could pick up lunch during the extended closure. The program was similar to the lunch program the district offers to students during the summer but was suspended indefinitely when an SCS nutrition services employee tested positive for the coronavirus.

SCS superintendent Joris M. Ray called upon the community to help after that development; within hours, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said she was aware of the situation and was working to find a solution.


Trump tweets thanks to FedEx, Fred Smith for relief flights

12:18 PM CT, March 22

President Donald Trump singled out FedEx for its role in moving medical and relief supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday.

“Thank you to Fred Smith and @FedEx for the rapid emergency deliveries you are making all over our Nation. Keep it going!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.


White House assistant to the president Peter Navarro earlier this week called on FedEx to assist with distribution in the United States of a planeload of test swabs flown in from Italy via military flight.

The shipment was one of numerous flights carrying testing gear, personal protective equipment and other supplies for the pandemic fight that have passed through the FedEx Express world hub at Memphis International Airport this week.


Lee signs executive order

11:07 AM CT, March 22

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 17 calling for businesses across the state to utilize alternative business models beginning at midnight CDT on Monday, March 23, 2020 until midnight CDT April 6, 2020. The order also outlines ways businesses and citizens should work to protect vulnerable populations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created both an economic and a health crisis and our response must continue to address both aspects,” said Gov. Lee. “Our goal is to keep the public, especially vulnerable populations, safe while doing everything possible to keep Tennesseans in a financially stable position.”


A little more than an hour earlier, Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper issued an order going much further. His required all non-essential businesses to close and for people to stay inside except for necessary activities such as going to the grocery store.

The governor’s order also runs counter to a request by 1,500 physicians statewide who called on Gov. Lee to issue a stay-at-home order.

Physicians, including Dr. Aaron Milstone, Dr. Tufik Assad and Dr. Devin Sherman of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Williamson Medical Center, and Dr. David Aronoff, chief of Infectious Disease at Vanderbilt Medical Center urged the governor to make a different order requiring people statewide to stay at home to stop the spread of the virus.

Instead, Lee’s Executive Order 17 prohibits social gatherings of 10 or more people and also enacts the following provisions regarding restaurants, bars, and similar food and drink establishments:

  • Establishments are to exclusively offer drive-thru, take-out or delivery options to support families, businesses and the food supply chain during this emergency.
  • Establishments may sell alcohol by take-out or delivery (with the purchase of food) in closed containers to those who are age 21 and up.

Gyms and fitness/exercise centers or substantially similar facilities are to temporarily close and suspend in-person services until April 6, 2020. In the interim, these businesses are encouraged to pursue digital programming if possible. 

The order also pursues additional measures to keep vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions safe.

  • Visitation to nursing homes, retirement homes, and long-term care or assisted-living facilities is now limited to visits involving essential care only.
  • Businesses are encouraged to enact policies that take extra steps to assist vulnerable populations by considering measures such as shopping hours exclusive from the general public.

“I urge every Tennessean to take these actions seriously — our physical and economic health depend on this as we work to beat COVID-19,” said Lee.

Democratic state Rep. Mike Stewart of Nashville said the governor made the right move, including giving restaurants the ability to keep a revenue stream. He said he wished the Legislature had passed a budget amendment last week enabling restaurants and bars to keep the sales tax and liquor-by-the-drink tax for the next three months.

“But I think he should go the next step and issue a stay-at-home order like Mayor Cooper has done,” Stewart said.

Even though many of the state’s rural counties have not confirmed cases, Stewart said staying at home is a necessity because it’s a “misunderstanding” to think outlying counties don’t have any cases. In most cases, their health departments don’t have testing equipment, but leaders need to assume the virus is spreading as it has in other areas, Stewart

“So we have to assume the entire state’s at risk and act accordingly,” Stewart said.


Mississppi reports 18 coronavirus cases in DeSoto County

10:49 AM CT, March 22

Five new cases of coronavirus were reported in DeSoto County. 

The Mississippi State Department of Health says the 18 cases in the county are part of 207 in the state.

DeSoto has the second-highest number of confirmed cases behind Hinds County, which includes Jackson, Mississippi.

Marshall County reported one case Saturday evening bringing the total in the county to three.

The Mississippi State Department of Health recommended restaurants close dine-ins and begin serving take out only on Friday, March 20.


March 18, 2020

COVID-19 in Memphis & Shelby County: March

4:01 PM CT, March 18


March 22, 2020

Shelby County reports 58 confirmed cases of coronavirus

10:05 AM CT, March 22

Shelby County Health Department announced 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the area.

The number grew as 42 cases were announced in the county Saturday.

Shelby County Health Department notes one of the 58 is a resident from another county being treated locally.

The county’s daily report said 50 people have been approved for testing by the state lab and 114 people are being monitored.

The Tennessee Department of Health reports its number of cases each day at 2 p.m. Yesterday it reported 371 cases, but only accounted for 40 cases in Shelby County. There is a lag time in between the county reporting to the state, officials have said. 

Davidson County, which includes Nashville, still has the highest number of cases in Tennessee at 140.


Kroger stores adjust hours

9:11 AM CT, March 22

Kroger is adjusting its hours in the company’s Delta Division, which includes Memphis.

The 101 stores in the division will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. until further notice.

Seniors (60+) and those at higher-risk as defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are invited from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m.

“Our seniors and high-risk shoppers are very vulnerable during this pandemic, and we want to assist them as much as possible,” said Victor Smith, president, Kroger Delta Division. “We encourage all customers to respect this special time as we work to protect our community.”



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