Coronavirus live blog, April 24: Tenn. adds 460 cases, largest daily increase so far

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 08, 2020 8:38 AM CT | Published: April 24, 2020 8:35 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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April 24, 2020

Seventh resident, fifth worker of The Village at Germantown test positive

4:33 PM CT, April 24

The Village of Germantown’s administrators report that a seventh resident and a fifth worker have tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to The Village, the resident lives in the community’s Health Care unit. Six others who resided in the unit have also tested positive. Of those, three are hospitalized and four have died. 

The Village said that all had been in and out of hospitals or other health care facilities and have serious health conditions. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our residents and their families,” said Michael K. Craft, chief executive officer of The Village, in a statement. “No other residents are known or suspected to have been infected.”

Of 42 employees tested, five have tested positive, 21 have tested negative and the test results of 16 employees are pending, The Village said.

The fifth employee to test positive is a contractor who The Village said does not serve in a direct care role and presents a low risk of disease transmission to residents. 

“We began testing asymptomatic employees in the Health Care departments earlier this month,” Craft said.

Craft said that to his knowledge all employees are doing well and most are asymptomatic.

There are no positive tests among residents and employees of The Village’s Memory Care, Assisted Living or Independent Living areas, The Village said. 

The Village has about 325 residents and employs a physician medical director on staff. Administrators said that executives are in consultation with an infection disease specialist on an ongoing basis and are in ongoing communications with the Shelby County Health Department and Tennessee Department of Health.

The Village is one of several long-term care facility outbreaks the Health Department is investigating. 

 

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Agricenter farmer’s market to open May 19

4:23 PM CT, April 24

Agricenter International will open its Farmer’s Market on Tuesday, May 19, on an abbreviated schedule due to the coronavirus, the organization announced Friday, April 24.

The market has historically operated six days a week, but will begin its 2020 season being open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. because of the pandemic.

For now, crafts and other non-food items will not be sold.

“The Farmer’s Market is a critical part of our campus, and we are excited about the opportunity to open the market and offer the community better access to local produce and other farm-raised products,” John Butler, president of Agricenter International, said in a release.

“We are making new improvements to the Farmer’s Market to address additional concerns during this pandemic. We will be asking all our customers to practice social distancing and follow all local, state and CDC guidelines,” he said.

The Agricenter International Farmer’s Market has been a partner for the area’s farmers and ranchers since 1986 and is the oldest continuously operated farmer’s market in West Tennessee.

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State Supreme Court extends order suspending most in-person court proceedings

2:54 PM CT, April 24

The Tennessee State Supreme Court order that suspended most in-person court proceedings has been extended an additional month.

Chief Justice Jeff Bivins declared a state of emergency on March 13 for the judicial branch and the Tennessee Supreme Court on Friday, April 24, issued a new order extending the suspension of in-person court proceedings through May 31. All jury trials are also suspended through July 3.

The directive applies to all local and state courts including, appellate, trial, general sessions, juvenile and municipal courts. Court officials are encouraged to use teleconferencing, video conferencing, email and phone calls to conduct business to avoid in-person contact.

The extended suspension of court proceedings applies to civil and criminal court cases. All evictions continue to be put on hold under the order. Orders of protection are extended through June 5.

Judges are asked by the court to come up with a comprehensive written plan to handle in-person court proceedings on non-emergency matters, excluding jury trials. Each judge is asked to include in the plan guidelines and restrictions to address several issues including admission into court houses, the number of people allowed in a courtroom, staggering hearing times and managing social distancing in courts, to minimize the spread of the virus.

Court personnel and the public are encouraged to wear face masks and disinfectants should be made available at court facilities. Screening measures including temperatures taken may be used before entry is allowed at courthouses, the order states.

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said anyone with questions about their court cases including jury trials can call her office at (901) 222-1300.

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Tennessee adds 460 cases, largest daily increase to date

2:22 PM CT, April 24

Tennessee has added 460 confirmed coronavirus cases, the largest daily increase to date, according to Tennessee Department of Health data. 

Case counts have increased by 400 or more for the last three days.

But the number of deaths has decreased by two since yesterday. The Department of Health attributes that to a data entry error being corrected.

The number of tests administered increased by 8,198.

Tennessee has 8,726 confirmed coronavirus cases and 168 deaths. 

More than 800 people --808-- have been hospitalized; 4,370 are considered officially recovered from the disease. 

The Department of Health reports 2,001 cases in Shelby County, up from the 1,981 figure reported by the Shelby County Health Department earlier in the day.

Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department reported 2,176 cases in Davidson County and 22 deaths.

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Mississippi adds 281 cases, 8 deaths

1:31 PM CT, April 24

Mississippi has added 281 more coronavirus cases and eight more deaths to the state’s total.

There are now 5,434 confirmed cases in the state, resulting in 209 deaths. 

DeSoto County has 256 confirmed cases, resulting in four deaths.

Marshall County has 40 cases, resulting in two deaths.

According to MSDH, 55,389 have been tested statewide.

 

 

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Nearly 400 tested at 201 Poplar

1:16 PM CT, April 24

Health officials have conducted COVID-19 testing on nearly 400 inmates and employees at the Shelby County Jail at 201 Poplar and expect test results back next week, officials said Friday.

The Tennessee Department of Health, the Shelby County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted the testing by collecting nasal swabs from inmates and corrections deputies Friday, April 24.

Earlier this week, a jailer identified by family members as Jeremy Smith died from the virus.

Last week, SCSO officials said 96 jail employees had been tested. To date, 46 SCSO employees – 42 corrections officers and four deputies -- have tested positive. Two employees were in the hospital and 18 recovered.

As of April 24, eight inmates have tested positive with two in the hospital and two recovered. Officials said last week 225 inmates were quarantined after coming in contact with inmates who tested positive.

“I am thankful for the collaborative efforts among public health officials in this joining us in a concerted effort to keep our staff and detainees safe,” Sheriff Floyd Bonner in a statement.

Bonner said his office has been working with other criminal justice partners and law enforcement to reduce the jail population at the three correctional facilities SCSO oversees.

At the men’s jail at 201 Poplar, there were 1,757 inmates, 162 inmates at the women’s jail and 62 children detained at the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center as of Friday, April 24.

 

 

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Harris extends county emergency order through April 30

12:23 PM CT, April 24

Today’s briefing by the COVID-19 task force was led by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris with officials of the Shelby County Health Department.

Harris renews and extends the county emergency order through April 30. There will likely be changes beyond that to align all governments within Shelby County on measures. 

He said a consensus among all county leaders is days away, including the suburbs. 

On all Shelby County jurisdictions being on the same page, Harris said they have to be aggressive on large gatherings across the county.

David Sweat, head of epidemiology for the Health Department, said said if anyone leaves Memphis to areas with different restrictions, the same advice applies on social distancing and etcetera.

”Those are personal measures that anyone can take and that everyone should take,” he said.

Harris said he could go to the Shelby County Commission with COVID relief part two to go with initial $2.5 million in county funding. Look for it in less than 30 days.

He said he will ask the Tennessee Legislature to reverse deregulation of nursing homes enacted in 2015 that says owners of nursing homes are not liable in certain instances. 

Also on prisoners and detainees, there are zero cases at the corrections center, but they are taking steps to prevent outbreaks there including screening all who enter the facility with a questionnaire. No visiting is allowed, but virtual visits happen once a week, for 25 minutes, for free. At CJC ramping up testing with 400 tests coming from the health department.

Harris said case numbers give reason for “guarded optimism.” Today, there were 50 new cases again. Harris calls it a “war at our rear” to deal with lost livelihoods.

Sweat said the average this week is 35-50 new cases a day and this is a week from the county high of 223 over two days last Thursday and Friday.

The recovery period is 21 days after testing positive: 870 or 44% of all cases in Shelby County have reached that threshold. Deaths are 2.2%. The rest are those still battling the disease.

Sixty-three percent of deaths are among males, 70% African American, by exposure type -- 42% no specific exposure cited but 20% exposure to another case.

Most important contributing cause in deaths was cardiac causes at 78%, respiratory is 29% of deaths, with 19% obesity and 24% diabetes, which mirrors national outcomes.

Harris said he is worried about pressure on the Memphis hospital system from the surrounding region, especially Regional One. He said because of lack of Medicaid expansion, smaller hospitals are in a “precarious state.”

If the Legislature reconvenes in June, Harris said it should consider Medicaid expansion.

He listed small rural hospitals that have closed in recent years, closings he attributes to lack of Medicaid expansion over several years.

Sweat said there are plenty of tests with room for more appointments at the different public sites. He said there are conversations about routing health care workers to be tested with or without symptoms.

Harris said nursing homes are “high risk,” and that additional protections could be coming. But he said legislation is necessary. 

The liability law “has led to some of the understaffing at nursing homes and the lack of protection,” Harris said.

He also wants to explore whether nursing homes should be required to have insurance. They don’t currently.

Harris said they are talking specifically about public health capacity -- whether the health department is at full strength for the longer haul on contact tracing.

Harris said he wrote an email to other elected leaders across the county urging them to see if they can lend employees to the health department effort as the health department builds capacity for contract tracing.

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‘New Normal Summit’ to feature industry-specific info for biz leaders

12:12 PM CT, April 24

The office of Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and the Greater Memphis Chamber are partnering on a free, virtual conference on how to conduct business during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, April 28, the four micro-conferences in the “New Normal Summit” will feature industry-specific information for the government sector, hospital and restaurant industry, large employers and small business owners. 

Individuals can learn more about each micro-conference and register at http://covid19.shelbycountytn.gov.

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State projects $870M loss of hospitality revenue; $5B loss in GDP

11:08 AM CT, April 24

The state is projecting an $870 million loss of hospitality revenue over the last month and a $5 billion loss in gross domestic product. 

As the economy reopens Monday for restaurants, the state will ask that tables be six feet apart and silverware guidelines will be used. Bars will not be allowed to open, and close contact shops such as barber shops, salons and tattoo parlors will remain closed.

Bands will not be allowed at restaurants, which are to open with 50% capacity. Retail stores must use face covers and gloves and potentially offer delivery and special times for vulnerable customers.

The state has no plan to enforce guidelines such as personal protective equipment in businesses, but it expects businesses and consumers to enforce them.

Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell, who is heading the governor’s Economic Recovery Group, said Friday the state is not encouraging travel from other states to tourism destinations in Tennessee.

The governor’s office is likely to announce a lifting of restrictions next week on hospitals, which have been prohibited from doing elective surgeries, as well as dental offices, which were asked to close down so the state could have a better supply of personal protective equipment. In addition, the governor said the state will monitor data across Tennessee to determine whether it needs to reverse and put restrictions in place again if COVID-19 surges in some areas.

Those restrictions remain in place through April 30.

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Local coronavirus cases, at a glance

9:30 AM CT, April 24

 

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Watch today’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing

12:02 PM CT, April 24

Today’s joint COVID-19 Task Force/Shelby County Health Department briefing is set to feature Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and officials from the health department. 

Watch below:

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Watch Gov. Bill Lee’s press briefing live

9:56 AM CT, April 24

Gov. Bill Lee has a press briefing scheduled for 10 a.m.

Watch below:

 

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Shelby County adds 50 COVID-19 cases, two deaths

8:32 AM CT, April 24

As of Friday, April 24, Shelby County now has 1,981 confirmed coronavirus cases with 43 deaths, according to the latest numbers from the Shelby County Health Department.

For the past two days, the number of new cases locally has been 37, but the area also saw 50 new cases on April 21. 

A total of 21,655 people have been tested in Shelby County, according to the health department. That’s an increase of 894 from the day prior. 

There have been 878 recoveries from coronavirus in Shelby County, according to the latest data from state’s Department of Health.

Statewide, there are 8,266 cases with 170 deaths as of Thursday, April 23, according to the latest data from the state.

In Tennessee, the total number of tests taken is 123,100 with a 6.7% positive rate.

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PPP gets a $310 billion infusion of funds

8:42 AM CT, April 24

Congress passed a bill late Thursday, April 23, that provides $310 billion in new funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, which gives small firms loans that could be forgiven if they use them on wages, benefits, rent and utilities.

The bill expected to be signed by President Donald Trump includes $60 billion for Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans and grants, $75 billion in grants to hospitals overwhelmed by a rush of Covid-19 patients and $25 billion to bolster coronavirus testing, something medical experts have said is a necessary element to restarting the U.S. economy.

“These additional funds will provide badly needed relief for more small businesses on the brink of closure,” Suzanne Clark, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a release. “Unfortunately, we anticipate these new funds will be exhausted quickly. Congress must start working now on bipartisan solutions to ensure these programs do not lapse again.

“Small businesses and the families and communities they support are counting on these critical relief programs to help them survive the economic shutdown and get on the path to recovery.”

One in four small businesses are on the brink of permanent closure, according to the Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll released by the U.S. Chamber and MetLife. 

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Growth, over time, in Shelby County and Tennessee’s COVID-19 cases

8:18 AM CT, April 24

 

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April 23, 2020

Watch exclusive interview with Dr. Morris

5:56 PM CT, April 23

Eric Barnes interviews the Rev. Dr. G. Scott Morris, a founder and chief executive officer of Church Health.

Watch below:

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Governor unveils first round of economic reopenings

3:20 PM CT, April 23

Starting Monday, restaurants operating at 50% percent capacity will be allowed to open as long as they follow social distancing guidelines. Retail outlets operating at 50% will be allowed to open Wednesday with state guidelines, Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday during his daily press briefing. More information is to be unveiled Friday.

Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said Thursday the state will be issuing guidance for holding graduation ceremonies either virtually or in person with social distancing guidelines, which are posted on the Department of Education’s website.

Most state parks are scheduled to open for day use only this Friday, April 24. But facilities and gathering areas such as pavilions and playgrounds will remain closed. Cabins, lodges, restaurants, campgrounds and group camps will remain closed too.

Cummins Falls State Park, Seven Island State Birding Park and Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park will stay closed because they become too congested for effective social distancing. And people who visit parks are encouraged to wear masks.

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coronavirus COVID-19

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