Shelby County tests far below goal, 42 new cases

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 18, 2020 2:18 PM CT | Published: May 18, 2020 12:02 PM CT

Testing was down considerably according to data from the Shelby County Health Department released Monday, resulting in a low number of positive tests.

Still, the percentage of positive tests remained in line with recent results at about 6.1%. The Monday figures showed 688 tests – less than half the 1,775 tests reported Sunday.

Of those 688 tests, 42 of them were positive.

The number of tests was far below the county’s target of 2,400 a day, but the 42 cases continued to show a leveling in the percentage of positive tests.

Shelby County Health Department issued a press release Monday morning saying officials would move to Phase 2 of the Back to Business plan under Memphis, Shelby County and the surrounding six suburbs.

The continuing drop or stabilizing in the percentage of positive tests is one of the key barometers the health department and government officials are watching as they decide to move forward with the different phases. Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said Phase 2 will last at least 21 days.

“We’ve made great progress to the point where we’re now able to move into Phase 2,” Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Department health officer, said. “Let’s not turn back. It’s very important we continue to do those things that have enabled us to get to this point.”

Randoph encouraged people to continue good hygiene, social distancing and reminded sick individuals to stay home.

The county has administered a total 52,277 tests, 18,381 since the county reopened on Monday May, 4. 

The county’s overall positivity rate remains steady at 7.2%. In the last week, 9,988 tests have been performed. The county says the number reflects 37% of its testing capacity.

“Over the past week – which is similar across the United States – we have less people requesting (testing appointments),” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter. county health department director. “We have quite a few more opportunities for individuals who want to be tested.”

Next week Shelby County Health Department will open two new testing facilities. One will be in Millington and another in Collierville, according to Randolph.

“We also began to look at the need to push towards testing people with minimal to no symptoms,” Randolph said. “Bottom line is we want to test as many people as we can.”

The department also launched a campaign encouraging testing for at-risk populations.

The health department reported 2,453 people have recovered and 1,223 of the cases are current. 

The county reported one new death Monday, the first reported since Friday. In Shelby County, 85 people have died from complications of the virus.

In Shelby County, 67.3% of the cases affect African Americans. Only 315 Latinos have tested positive for the virus. Church Health will begin concentrating Sunday on Latinos.

The city of Memphis does not report hospital data daily. On May 13, it said 141 people were hospitalized because of the virus and 52 were in ICU.

About 19.4% of the county’s positive coronavirus cases affect those ages 25-34.

The county issued a new health directive Monday. Face coverings are strongly encouraged in the guidelines, but not required. However, businesses may continue to require customers to wear masks.

Tennessee Department of Health is reporting 17,388 confirmed coronavirus cases. More than 1,480 Tennesseeans have been hospitalized because of COVID-19. While 298 people have died, 9,652 have recovered.


Shelby County Health Department coronavirus Back to Business Phase 2
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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