Task force briefings resume as Delta drives up COVID cases

By , Daily Memphian Updated: July 22, 2021 2:27 PM CT | Published: July 22, 2021 2:18 PM CT
Editor’s note: Due to the public health implications associated with COVID-19, The Daily Memphian is making this story accessible to all readers — no subscription needed.

Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefings have returned because of a rise in cases that health officials are attributing to the Delta variant.

“When we did (stop briefings), we said if things change substantially, we’d be back,” City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said Thursday, July 22. “And we are back, so that means things have changed substantially.”

It’s a matter of sooner, later or never for unvaccinated

McGowen said the Delta variant is driving up the new case rate. Shelby County Health Department Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said 80% of cases in Shelby County are due to the Delta variant.

The Shelby County Health Department reported 259 new coronavirus cases Thursday. On June 22, the agency reported 14 new cases.

The seven-day new case average from June 21-27 was 22, and it’s now 174.

The positivity rate then was 2.7%, Randolph said. Now, it’s 11.1%.

Randolph said there have been 458 breakthrough cases (including two deaths) in Shelby County as of Thursday out of more than 400,000 vaccinated people. He said 30 breakthrough cases have been attributed to the Delta variant.

Randolph also said more than 88% of people hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated.

Last month, 13 people were in area intensive care units with COVID-19, McGowen said. Now, 56 people are in area ICUs, many on ventilators.

“My message is that if you are unvaccinated, you’re at risk,” Randolph said. 

Door-to-door effort delivers Spanish-language COVID vaccine info

McGowen said in the past week, there has been a small uptick in people getting their first COVID vaccine dose. A pilot program will allow those receiving door-to-door vaccine messaging to receive a shot on the spot.

Public vaccinations will continue through the fall, McGowen said, with pop-ups through at least the end of August.

Asked about a return to restrictions, Randolph said the fundamental issue is not restrictions or mandates, but vaccinations.

“This problem can be easily be resolved by more people rolling up their sleeves and receiving the shot,” he said. “Simple as that.”

McGowen said people shouldn’t assume that if they have symptoms, they are due to something other than COVID. He also advised that people who haven’t been tested for COVID in a long time do so. 

Randolph also mentioned the Lambda COVID-19 variant, noting that it is categorized as a “variant of interest,” unlike the Delta variant which is categorized as a “variant of concern.”

He said one case of the Lambda variant has been reported in Shelby County, and that case was reported Thursday. 


COVID-19 coronavirus delta variant lambda variant shelby county covid task force Dr. Bruce Randolph Doug McGowen positivity rate
Elle Perry

Elle Perry

The Memphis native and two-time University of Memphis graduate has written for publications including The Memphis Business Journal, Memphis Flyer and High Ground News, and previously served as coordinator of The Teen Appeal.


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