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

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 14, 2020 2:52 PM CT | Published: May 14, 2020 11:27 AM CT
<strong>A Memphis Police officer directs traffic at a University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Shelby County Health Department drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 on April 6, at the Memphis Fairgrounds.</strong> (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

A Memphis Police officer directs traffic at a University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Shelby County Health Department drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 on April 6, at the Memphis Fairgrounds. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

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. 

New testing numbers remain comfortably about 1,000, but dropped from the record-setting numbers of Monday (1,843) and Tuesday (1,667). A total of 1,326 tests were confirmed Thursday, and the positivity rate of those results was 4.6%.

The county’s COVID-19 task force wants to test 2,400 people a day, and continues to expand community testing to accomplish that goal.

Local data for the remainder of the week and early next week likely will reflect how well Shelby County did in slowing the virus’ spread since social distancing requirements were relaxed May 4.

On monitoring a potential spike over the weekend, Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said officials will consider several factors: comparing the current case rate with the previous 14-day period, hospital capacity, testing capacity and transmission rate.

Social distancing also remains vital, she added.

“We can remain open and move into the next phase if we’re all diligent about following the instruction that was listed earlier,” Haushalter said. “Particularly with the facial coverings and most importantly the ability to wash our hands and stay 6 feet from each other.”

Elected and public health officials say that data will guide their decision on moving Memphis and Shelby County to the next phase of the Back to Business plan. The earliest Phase 2 could begin is May 18, Haushalter said.

“We don’t want to make a decision too early,” she said on Phase 2 reopening data. “We are all striving to be data-driven and use local data to drive those decisions. This is a critical period.” 

Phase 2 of the Back to Business plan includes increased capacity for libraries, gyms and attractions to 50% capacity. Contact sports facilities are also eligible to reopen in Phase 2. 

Groups of 50 are allowed to congregate with social distancing in place in comparison to 10 allowed under Phase 1. 

After Thursday’s statistics, the overall rate of positive cases dropped from 7.7% to 7.6%. Health officials want the percentage below 10%, because it’s an indicator of less community transmission of coronavirus.

County health department data shows 3,523 coronavirus cases, 81 deaths and 2,115 recoveries as of Thursday’s report. A total of 46,444 tests were administered locally for COVID-19.

Forty-two of the reported 81 coronavirus-related deaths were confirmed since April 21. More than one-fourth of the total deaths (21) resulted from outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

There are an estimated 124 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, according to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s daily update Wednesday. About 53 of those patients are in the intensive care unit.

With 2,115 recoveries confirmed, the number of active coronavirus cases in Shelby County is 1,330. As of Thursday, 60% of people diagnosed with coronavirus have recovered, health officials are encouraged by the consistent uptick in recovery numbers.

Statewide, Tennessee reported 16,370 coronavirus cases, 273 deaths and 8,624 recoveries as of Wednesday. Statewide, a total of 292,217 COVID-19 tests were administered.

 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


COVID-19 testing Shelby County Health Department coronavirus Tennessee Department of Health Back to Business
Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf covers Bartlett and North Memphis neighborhoods for The Daily Memphian. He also analyzes COVID-19 data each week. Omer is a former Jackson Sun reporter and University of Memphis graduate.


Reading comments and joining the conversation are some of the many benefits of subscribing. Join the conversation by clicking the View Comments button below. Not a subscriber? Click here. 

Our commenting policy can be viewed here