How our latest COVID-19 surge compares

By  and , Daily Memphian Published: August 06, 2021 11:30 AM CT

The COVID-19 surge Shelby County is experiencing now is expected to be steeper than the others because the Delta variant is so contagious.

“We think it will likely peak in the next couple of weeks,” said Dr. Manoj Jain, infectious disease physician. “It will take another four weeks or so for it to come down. It will be a slimmer, steeper curve because this variant to so highly transmissible,” he said.

Using daily data reported by the Shelby County Health Department, the chart above shows how the number of new cases has ebbed and flowed over the past 18 months. To compile a simple chart over time, The Daily Memphian sampled the number of new cases on the same day of the month each month since March 2020. 

Delta now accounts for 98% of skyrocketing COVID cases

The figures shown do not represent the mean or median. 

But they do provide a snapshot of the area’s current situation compared to previous times during the pandemic. 

On Friday, Aug. 6, the area’s positivity rate was 19.4, the highest it has been here since the beginning of the pandemic. The reproductive rate, at 1.48, is also a pandemic high.

Under current statistics, about one in five people who are tested are positive. 

That pattern of this peak will be similar to what the United Kingdom experienced this summer. There were days when it was reporting 26,000 new cases.

Masks will be required in all K-12 schools in Shelby County

The Shelby County Health Department has also identified a cluster of the Lambda variant here. It is not associated with someone traveling outside the region, which means there could be more cases.

Lambda is resistant to the vaccine and previous infection, which means there is little or no natural immunity here.

Health authorities say the Lambda cluster is associated with someone who works in retail and many people were directly exposed.

There are currently 5,021 active novel coronavirus cases in Shelby County.

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COVID-19 cases
Jane Roberts

Jane Roberts

Longtime journalist Jane Roberts is a Minnesotan by birth and a Memphian by choice. She's lived and reported in the city more than two decades. She covers business news and features for The Daily Memphian.

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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