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Coronavirus in Memphis: Active cases remain flat as vaccinations increase

Commercial Appeal Memphis logo Commercial Appeal Memphis 2 hrs ago Commercial Appeal, Memphis Commercial Appeal
a group of people sitting on a bed: Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist, right, and Nurse Alex Williams check on patient Sammy Robinson, a heart transplant recipient from 2010 who the hospital suspects might have recently been infected with COVID-19. Though he has tested negative, many patients who show symptoms of the virus have come back with negative test results. The testing kits and process continue to evolve alongside understanding of the coronavirus itself. © Joe Rondone Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist, right, and Nurse Alex Williams check on patient Sammy Robinson, a heart transplant recipient from 2010 who the hospital suspects might have recently been infected with COVID-19. Though he has tested negative, many patients who show symptoms of the virus have come back with negative test results. The testing kits and process continue to evolve alongside understanding of the coronavirus itself.

Last updated at 12:05 p.m. on March 8. 

As vaccinations increase throughout Shelby County, new COVID-19 infections remain relatively low and flat. The epidemic within Shelby County is not shrinking at the rate it did for months, but it is not growing either. 

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Here's the latest on vaccines in Shelby County

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Shelby County has administered 179,867 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Monday. Of those, 122,116 were first doses and 57,751 were second doses.

More: Vaccine appointment canceled for Memphis winter weather? Here's when it's been rescheduled for

  • Shelby County will move into phase 1c of COVID-19 vaccinations beginning March 8. Phase 1c includes people 16 years of age and older with serious chronic health conditions like chronic renal disease, pulmonary fibrosis or moderate-severe asthma, obesity, heart conditions, sickle cell disease, cerebrovascular disease, dementia and liver disease. 
  • Shelby County moved to phase 1b of the state's vaccination plan Feb. 24. The phase includes teachers, childcare staff and people age 65 and older. 
  • The Shelby County Health Department reported Feb. 19 that 1,300 vaccine doses expired during the recent cold snap and were discarded. The actual number of total discarded doses, it turns out, was higher — at least 2,400 doses have been lost.
  • Some changes are underway in vaccine distribution as the City of Memphis assumes controls of logistics. From the public's viewpoint, not much will change.
  • Eleven Memphis-area Walmart locations are now scheduling appointments for the vaccine in accordance with the state's allocation plan. You can find the list of participating Walmart pharmacies here
  • Veterans 65 and older can be vaccinated at a drive-thru vaccination site at the Memphis VA Medical Center.

Here's the latest COVID-19 case data in Shelby County 

Case growth: The county has recorded a total of 88,908 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including the 140  new cases reported Monday. There were 1,354 active cases Monday, according to the latest data from the county health department, down two cases from 1,356 Sunday.

The county's infection rate — how many people are infected by each person sick with COVID-19 — was estimated as .95 as of March 8, according to COVID Act now. Health officials want this number at 1.0 or below to keep the pandemic in check.

Deaths: No new COVID-19 deaths were reported by the health department Monday. The reported total of virus-related fatalities now stands at 1,527. The mortality rate of the virus locally is 1.7%. 

Over the past seven days, an average of about four people a day have died with COVID-19 in Shelby County.

Tests: The county reported 2,479 new tests on Monday.

Hospital capacity: As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the latest data available, 89% of local acute care hospital beds and 92% of intensive care unit beds were occupied. There were 196 COVID-19 patients in Memphis-area hospitals Wednesday evening.

In addition to the 196 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals, 18 patients were hospitalized with suspected but not yet confirmed cases of COVID-19.

As of Wednesday evening, 265 acute care beds, and 32 intensive care beds were available in the region's hospital system.

Timely hospital capacity reporting in Shelby County has become irregular and unreliable as COVID-19 has slowed in the region.

Coronavirus in Tennessee

How many people have been vaccinated?

How can you get tested for COVID-19?

Anyone in Tennessee who wants a COVID-19 test, regardless of traditional symptoms, can receive it, Gov. Bill Lee announced April 15. Find testing sites here.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Main symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The CDC believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Tips on how you can protect yourself from coronavirus

Prevention is not much different than protecting yourself from other forms of illnesses. The CDC and medical experts recommend you:

  • Know how it spreads: The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
  • Wash your hands often: Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • Avoid close contact: If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members. If you are outside your home, put 6 feet of distance between yourself and anyone who does not live in your household.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering: You can spread the virus even when you do not feel sick. Cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Everyone should wear one in public settings when around people who don't live in your household.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes: Always cover you mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Immediately wash your hands after.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touch surfaces daily: This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
  • Monitor your health daily: Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms of COVID-19. 

Memphis and Shelby County resources for COVID-19

If you think you need to be tested for COVID-19, and are unsure where you should go, call 833-556-2476 or 877-857-2945 for assistance. The City of Memphis website also has an embedded map with the locations of COVID-19 testing sites.

If you are seeking testing at one of the Christ Community Health Services locations, simply text "Test2020" to 91999 to sign up for a free test. 

If you are seeking testing through the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, text "covid" to 901-203-5526 for your appointment. 

A list of additional testing sites can be found at the bottom this City of Memphis webpage. Most, if not all, COVID-19 tests administered in Shelby County are free of cost. 

If you need transportation to a testing center, inform your testing center when you make your appointment, and they will arrange for you to be picked up by MATA.

Currently, most COVID-19 testing sites require are only accepting testing individuals who are experiencing one or more of the known symptoms of COVID-19. However, officials with the county health department have repeatedly stressed that anyone exhibiting even the slightest symptoms qualifi for a test. 

If you experience seasonal allergies, and want to be sure you are not mistaking typical allergy symptoms such as fatigue, cough, or wheezing for COVID-19, you qualify for testing.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Coronavirus in Memphis: Active cases remain flat as vaccinations increase

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