COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise ahead of another potential surge

By , Daily Memphian Updated: November 29, 2020 11:02 AM CT | Published: November 28, 2020 12:20 PM CT

New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rose in Shelby County over the past two weeks ahead of a potential post-Thanksgiving surge. 

Following significant spikes in cases after Memorial Day and July 4th weekends, local health officials have raised concerns Thanksgiving could lead to a similar outcome.

From Nov. 14 to Saturday, Nov. 28, the Shelby County Health Department reported an average of 391 cases and 4,113 test results a day yielding a 9.5% positivity rate.

While both new cases and tests reported grew during this period, a rising positivity rate again indicates case growth is outpacing tests performed in Shelby County.

In the previous two-week period, the Health Department reported about 285 new cases and 3,228 tests performed each day with an 8.8% positivity rate.

Shelby County reports 519 more COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Overall, the Health Department has reported 47,215 total coronavirus cases and 659 deaths, classifying 43,181 cases as inactive/recovered. Active cases in Shelby County stand at 3,375, an increase from the 3,149 reported Nov. 14.

Symptoms for coronavirus include, but are not limited to, fever or chills, cough, fatigue and shortness of breath, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Wearing a mask or facial covering, remaining 6 feet apart from other people and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds are several key strategies for slowing the virus’ spread.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Memphis-area hospitals is 422, as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, an increase from the 376 two weeks ago, according to Tennessee’s Healthcare Resource Tracking System.

For nearly four months the peak hospitalization date was July 31 with 384 COVID-19 patients. Current hospitalizations numbers are regularly trending above 400. With the pandemic’s current trajectory, it may continue to rise in the coming days and weeks.

Intensive care unit bed capacity is classified in the “red” at 92% utilization. Acute care bed occupancy is at 90%. Overall, capacity has tightened compared to two weeks ago when acute care bed usage was at 90% and ICU bed utilization at 90%.

Currently, those with COVID or suspected of having the virus represent 16% of acute care patients and 33% of ICU patients.

Hospital data is reflective of facilities in Shelby, Lauderdale and Tipton counties in Tennessee, Crittenden County in Arkansas, and DeSoto County in Mississippi.

Surge capacity is available at local hospitals, but additional staff will be needed for those beds. The building that housed The Commercial Appeal, at 495 Union Ave., has about 400 additional hospital beds for COVID-19 patients if they’re needed.

Since March, a total of 657,351 coronavirus tests have been performed in Shelby County, yielding an 8.7% positivity rate. The number of people tested for coronavirus countywide is 365,001 with 12.9% of those test being positive results. The numbers differ because some people have been tested more than once.

Despite the rise in cases and positivity rate, the infection rate fell this week. This week, it’s 1.0 compared to 1.2 last week, according to COVID Act Now. Though because it’s at one, that means community transmission is occurring.

Reported coronavirus deaths have also increased in the past two weeks. From Nov. 14 to Saturday, there were 49 virus-related deaths reported in Shelby County. In the previous two weeks, it was 37.

The three most common comorbidities associated with coronavirus deaths in Shelby County are cardiac conditions (59.1%), diabetes (33.5%) and respiratory conditions (33%), according to Health Department data.


Shelby County Health Department hospital capacity coronavirus COVID-19 COVID-19 cases
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.


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