Coronavirus daily blog, March 30: Gov. issues safer at home order; Strickland limits park access

By Updated: March 31, 2020 12:53 PM CT | Published: March 30, 2020 9:32 AM CT

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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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Confirmed cases
Shelby County
379
Metro area
501
Tennessee
1,834
U.S.
143,055

 


March 30, 2020

Pediatrics East reduces hours

7:29 PM CT, March 30

Pediatrics East is reducing its hours and eliminating some services.

The children’s clinic has locations in Arlington, Bartlett, Cordova, Collierville and Germantown.

The offices will stop offering its early walk-in and night clinics due to growing COVID-19 concerns.

On weekdays, pediatricians will see patients for well visits from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Weekday sick visits will be from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Those who do not feel comfortable going to the clinic at this time may schedule a virtual telemedicine appointment. Appointment availability can be checked from by calling 901-757-3535, option 1 between 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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NCAA grants Division I spring sports athletes additional year

6:07 PM CT, March 30

Division I spring sports athletes may have lost a season of play by the coronavirus pandemic, but they won’t lose a season of eligibility.

The NCAA on Monday granted athletes in spring sports an additional year of eligibility and adjusted financial rules to accommodate those who stay an extra year along with new recruits entering school as freshmen.

The question had lingered since the seasons were canceled as the coronavirus problems led to the canceling of seasons, such as baseball and softball. Most seasons had barely started when the NCAA put all sports on hold indefinitely.

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn, said in the NCAA release. “The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that.”

Division I regulations allow a athlete to play four seasons over a five-year period. The extension also will provide those athletes with an additional year of eligibility – extending the five years to six.

The council did not include winter sports in the extension. 

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Memphis Flyer moving to biweekly print publication

5:13 PM CT, March 30

The city’s alternative weekly newspaper, The Memphis Flyer, is temporarily moving from weekly to biweekly print publication, the paper’s parent company announced on Monday, March 30.

Contemporary Media Inc. CEO Anna Traverse Fogle said that the change is occurring because many of the paper’s distribution points are currently closed, because readers are staying indoors and to reduce spending to accommodate for decreased revenue.

The Memphis Flyer is also rolling out a home delivery option for $5 per month. 

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Court cases reset again

5:02 PM CT, March 30

Shelby County Criminal Court and General Sessions court have again reset court cases suspended due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

After the state Supreme Court announced last week that all in-person court appearances for people not in custody are suspended through April 30, the courts again pushed back hearings, trials and court cases for a second time.Criminal court cases in Divisions 1-10, general sessions criminal court division 7-15 or in drug court previously set for March 16 to March 31  have been reset for week of May 1 to May 18.

Court cases in criminal court, general sessions divisions 7-15 and drug court on April 1 to April 30 have been reset for May 19 to June 16.

Bond hearings and arraignments for defendants in-custody are still being held.

Shelby County civil court cases are also reset for May 4 through May 19.

For more information about reset court dates call:

·        General Sessions Criminal Court Clerk: 901-222-3500

·        Criminal Court Clerk: 901-222-3200

·        Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office: 901-222-1300

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City limiting access to Riverside Drive, parks

3:06 PM CT, March 30

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced that beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 31, the city is limiting access to city parks, including closing Riverside Drive by Tom Lee Park, as well as roads near other parks. 

Strickland says he will review the city’s list of essential businesses this week and could make changes. He also said the city’s state of emergency will be extended beyond next week’s expiration date.

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Three hotels offer rooms for medical use

4:50 PM CT, March 30

The father and son team of Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford Sr. and Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr. say three hotels are willing to turn over “a significant number” of their rooms for use as a medical facility.

The Fords said in a press release Monday, March 30, that the owners of the hotels contacted them with the offer “for any medical facility that needs overflow space.”

The three motels are Days Inn at Graceland, 3838 Elvis Presley Blvd. in Whitehaven; Jackson Heights Inn and Suites, 2889 Austin Peay Highway in Raleigh, and Econo Lodge, 9822 Huff n Puff Road in Lakeland.

“This is a good start; however, we know that there has been an uptick of testing in underserved areas,” the joint statement reads. “It is of paramount importance that not only facilities are available for testing and other care for those who may not be in close distance to a clinic or hospital, but the supplies are also accessible.”

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Lee issues statewide order to close nonessential businesses

3:08 PM CT, March 30

Gov. Bill Lee made a statewide stay-at-home order Monday requiring all Tennesseans to avoid all nonessential contact with other people and also ordering nonessential businesses to close.

The governor made his strictest move a week after physicians from across the state urged him to make an executive order for “safer at home” guidelines.

The order is similar to action already taken by the mayors of Memphis, Metro Nashville and Knoxville.

This is not a mandated shelter in place order but it is a strong urging for all Tennesseans to stay home when at all possible.

It provides for the continuation of essential businesses.

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Collierville closes park playgrounds

4:20 PM CT, March 30

Collierville has announced it closing all park playgrounds.

The precaution goes into effect Tuesday, March 31, until further notice.

Guidelines from public health officials suggest that it’s possible play structures could contribute to community spread. Additionally, people tend to congregate in parks and the town wants to limit opportunities for transmission. 

Arlington, Germantown and Memphis have also imposed restrictions at their parks.

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Ramadan dinner off

4:13 PM CT, March 30

Memphis Interfaith has postponed its annual Ramadan dinner indefinitely. For details call  901-878-2047  or email rsvp@memphisinterfaith.org.

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FedEx Ground hub in Olive Branch hiring 400

4:12 PM CT, March 30

FedEx Ground is hiring 400 people at its Olive Branch hub to meet a spike in demand for deliveries as the country responds to coronavirus.

The company said Monday, March 30, it has openings for package handlers on day and night shifts at the hub on Nail Road.

Online applications are at groundwarehousejobs.fedex.com.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Pay starts at $12.35 an hour, with medical,  dental and other benefits available after a minimum threshold of service.

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Watch City of Memphis COVID-19 update

2:54 PM CT, March 30

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is holding the first briefing for the City of Memphis and Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force at 3 p.m. 

Watch below:

 

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More ICU beds in Shelby County used for COVID-19 patients

2:00 PM CT, March 30

The count of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Shelby County stood at 379 Monday afternoon, March 30, health officials announced at a 2 p.m. briefing.

 

One death related to the disease has been reported in Shelby County.

The Shelby County Health Department reports that 4,382 people have been tested. 

There was a 2% positivity rate over the weekend, said Alisa Haushalter, director of the health department.

Haushalter said the only death in the county was over the age of 60 and the person’s health deteriorated quickly, but she would provide no more on specifics, including their gender.

She also said more people are being hospitalized and more ICU beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients in Shelby County, but she did not provide specific numbers, saying local hospitals are managing the patient load right now. 

“Any death is a tragedy; we recognize we are likely to have more, as we are across the state,” she said.

If exposed to someone diagnosed, you should be quarantined for 14 days. No one comes in and out unless they live with you.

County Mayor Lee Harris said the county commission will be driving a conversation when it meets Wednesday to invest in a safety net, to be prepared for “consequences and disruption we expect.”

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said there will be no jury trials in April to reduce traffic out of 201 Poplar where the jail is located. 

“We can make sure people in 201 Poplar are the worst of the worst, cutting down on low-level offenders that might be in custody,” she said.

There are 1,834 confirmed cases across Tennessee, with 13 deaths, as of 2 p.m. Monday. Statewide, 148 are hospitalized, according to the latest figures from the Tennessee Department of Health.

There are 15 confirmed cases in Tipton County and 17 confirmed cases in Crittenden County, Arkansas. In Mississippi, DeSoto County reported 77 confirmed cases; Marshall County confirmed 13 cases. 

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Watch the Health Department briefing live

1:46 PM CT, March 30

The Shelby County Health Department’s daily coronavirus update is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Watch below:

 

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Commercial Appeal to trim costs through furloughs

1:21 PM CT, March 30

The Commercial Appeal’s parent company on Monday announced plans to furlough employees five days each month because of revenue losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gannett publisher Maribel Perez Wadsworth said in a Monday morning email to staff that furloughs of employees and 25% salary reductions for senior leadership would be effective for the April-June quarter.

The email said Gannett would be asking union representatives to support the furloughs in those markets where some workers are unionized. The Memphis Newspaper Guild represents part of The Commercial Appeal’s workforce.

Wadsworth cited economic uncertainty and COVID-19’s impact on advertising and sponsorship revenues.

“As you’ve seen the havoc wreaked on our nation’s and the world’s economy, so too, is the uncertainty around the coronavirus outbreak increasing financial pressure on our own company,” she wrote.

“As businesses close and live events cancel across the globe for the next few months, we are seeing many advertisers and sponsors reducing or even eliminating their marketing spend. With the current pressures and so much uncertainty, it’s difficult to chart our next steps for more than the next few months,” Wadsworth added.

Wadsworth said furloughs would not apply to employees who earn less than $38,000 annually or to part-time employees.

Mark Russell, executive editor of The Commercial Appeal, referred questions to a corporate spokeswoman.

Katherine Burgess, president of the Memphis Newspaper Guild, said the union had consulted with its attorney and scheduled a bargaining session with the company on the matter for Tuesday, March 31.

Eric Barnes, chief executive officer of The Daily Memphian, said, “We are not planning to reduce staff or their hours.”

“I hate seeing any reduction in the number of journalists anywhere, but in Memphis especially, and especially right now. I’m sure it’s a very difficult, financially painful situation for the journalists at the CA. I hate it for them,” Barnes said.

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Redbirds, 901 FC reduce staff amid pandemic

12:56 PM CT, March 30

The Memphis Redbirds and Memphis 901 FC have laid off 18 full-time employees and furloughed other full-time staff as sports teams adjust to life without games, the team announced Monday.

Craig Unger, president of both the Triple-A Redbirds and the USL soccer club, confirmed that laid-off employees were notified Friday. He said that Memphis 901 FC and the Redbirds have combined full-time office staff of just over 50 people. Both teams play their games at AutoZone Park.

The coronavirus pandemic resulted in the suspension of the USL season, which had just started in early March. When MLB shut down spring training for the parent St. Louis Cardinals and every other club, and ultimately opening day was postponed, minor league baseball in turn announced it would delay its season.

On Monday, Unger gave the following statement to The Daily Memphian: “As a result of the economic impact from the postponement of sports and events at the facility due to the unforeseen and unexpected COVID-19 emergency, we have made the difficult decision to right-size our staff during this period.

“To assist our teammates, we are filing unemployment claims on their behalf and covering 100% of their health insurance premiums of front office employees affected by these adjustments.

“We look forward to resuming our seasons and welcoming fans back to AutoZone Park as soon as it’s safe to reopen.”

So far, there is no timetable for when the United Soccer League, which is taking its cue from Major League Soccer (MLS), or the Redbirds’ Pacific Coast League season, might be in play.

Peter Freund, who is principal owner of both clubs, last week told The Daily Memphian that if games were played at AutoZone Park without fans to preserve some degree of social distancing, it wouldn’t help the minor league teams the way such a scenario might allow NFL, NBA or MLB to ease back into operations.

“It would be the equivalent to not playing at all,” Freund said. “We’re in the live-event business. We don’t have TV dollars or national sponsorships. In some ways, we’re no different than the restaurant down the street.”

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Tenet Healthcare cutting back on 401(k) benefits for now

10:20 AM CT, March 30

As Tenet Healthcare focuses on serving COVID-19 patients, it is having to make financial adjustments.

On Sunday, March 29, CEO Ron Rittenmeyer sent a memo to employees, including here at Saint Francis, telling them some benefits will be postponed:

“As a result of these demands, and after careful and thoughtful consideration, we have decided to postpone funding our 401(k)-match program. We are also eliminating non-essential contractor and vendor spend so we can focus our resources on critical operations. This is a prudent and thoughtful set of actions we have seen mirrored by other companies.   

“We appreciate your understanding and patience as we navigate this unprecedented time. The next several weeks will be challenging until we see the peak level out. Remember, Tenet’s mission is to provide quality, compassionate care in the communities we serve. At times of crisis, it’s important to remember that mission and remain steadfast in providing uninterrupted support for our hospitals and care facilities so we can treat and fight this pandemic, while continuing to care for thousands of patients with other illnesses and conditions. We do this with purpose and a commitment to protect our team members on the front lines.”

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DeSoto County continues to see increase in COVID-19 cases

10:13 AM CT, March 30

Mississippi State Department of Health reported 89 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Monday morning for a total of 847.

DeSoto County now has 77 cases, six more than numbers reported Sunday morning. The county still reports one death.

Marshall County remained at 13 cases in Monday’s reported numbers

MSDH reports 15 additional deaths, one in each of the following counties: Amite, Hancock, Harrison, Holmes, Lee, Leflore, Perry, Rankin, Sunflower, Union and Webster

MSDH reports Tippah and Wilkinson County both have two deaths.

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Shelby County cases up to 379

8:55 AM CT, March 30

The City of Memphis is reporting 379 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County now, up from 362 at last count.

So far, only one death related to the disease has been reported in the county.

The Shelby County Health Department reports that 4,382 people have been tested. 

There are 1,537 confirmed cases across Tennessee, with seven deaths, as of 2 p.m. Sunday, March 29. There are 133 people currently hospitalized with the disease.

There are 15 confirmed cases in Tipton County and 17 confirmed cases in Crittenden County, Arkansas. In Mississippi, DeSoto County reported 77 confirmed cases; Marshall County confirmed 13 cases. 

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March 29, 2020

State reports 1,537 confirmed cases and 7 deaths

2:33 PM CT, March 29

The Tennessee Department of Health released updated numbers Sunday afternoon and said 1,537 people in the state have COVID-19.

The state said there have been 133 hospitalizations and seven deaths.

The state is accounting for only 313 Shelby County cases due to a lag time in reporting. Shelby County Health Department reported 362 cases Sunday.

Davidson County still has the more cases than Shelby County, according to Nashville Mayor John Cooper, who said on social media the middle Tennessee county has 394 cases.

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