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COVID-19 in Memphis: Active cases continue slow climb, one new fatality reported

Commercial Appeal Memphis logo Commercial Appeal Memphis 19 hrs ago Commercial Appeal
Collierville firemen prepare over a 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at Germantown Baptist drive-thru vaccination site on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. © Ariel Cobbert/ The Commercial Appeal Collierville firemen prepare over a 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at Germantown Baptist drive-thru vaccination site on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.

Last updated at 11 a.m. on April 14.

As vaccinations increase throughout Shelby County, new COVID-19 infections remain relatively flat. The epidemic within Shelby County is not shrinking at the rate it did for months, but it is not growing, either. Hospitals have capacity. People are still dying from the virus, but in smaller numbers than earlier this year. 

However, the introduction of COVID-19 variants in the community threatens to reverse the gains made in blunting the curve of the pandemic. The spread of the UK variant is increasing, and area labs have detected a second Brazil variant in the region. 

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Health officials are asking county residents to recommit to familiar safety precautions — testing, masking, and social distancing — in order to give vaccination levels a head start in a foot race against the spread of COVID-19 variants. 

Here's the latest on vaccines in Shelby County

As of Wednesday, the latest data available, 280,521 Shelby County residents have received COVID-19 vaccinations. Of that total, 115,529 residents are partially vaccinated, and 164,992 are fully vaccinated.

At the current count, about 17.6% of residents are considered fully vaccinated. 

Related news: What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines in Shelby County this week

As of Sunday morning, thousands of appointments for next week were available. Sign-ups for those appointments are at covid19.memphistn.gov.

At the Pipkin vaccination site,no appointment is needed between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., per the vaccination sign-ups site.

  • Shelby County has opened access to the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone 16 and older.
  • For more information on vaccine signups at sites run by the city of Memphis, visit covid19.memphistn.gov or call 901-222-SHOT (901-222-7468.) 
  • Walgreens pharmacies are also offering COVID-19 vaccines. Appointments can be made online — click for the link.
  • Kroger pharmacies are also now offering COVID-19 vaccines. Appointments can be made online — click for the link.
  • Christ Community Health Services is offering COVID-19 vaccines at clinic locations in Memphis and Jackson. Register by texting the word "Vaccine" to 91999. You will receive a text back with instructions for online registration. 
  • Veterans can be vaccinated 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 92,984 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 148 new cases reported Wednesday. There were 1,400 active cases Wednesday, according to the latest data from the county health department, up from the 1,373 reported the day before.

The county's infection rate — how many people are infected by each person sick with COVID-19 — was estimated as 1.1 as of April 14, according to COVID Act now. Health officials want this number at 1.0 or below to keep the pandemic in check.

Deaths: One new COVID-19 death was reported by the health department Wednesday. The reported total of virus-related fatalities now stands at 1,586. The mortality rate of the virus locally is 1.7%.

Tests: The county reported 1,609 COVID-19 tests Wednesday.

March 25 - City of Memphis/Shelby County Joint Covid Task Force Update

March 25 - City of Memphis/Shelby County Joint Covid Task Force update

Posted by City of Memphis on Thursday, March 25, 2021

Hospital capacity: As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the latest data available, 90% of local acute care hospital beds and 88% of intensive care unit beds were occupied. There were 141 COVID-19 patients in Memphis-area hospitals Sunday evening.

In addition to the 141 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals, 19 patients were hospitalized with suspected but not yet confirmed cases of COVID-19.

As of Sunday evening, 240 acute care beds, and 45 ICU beds were available in the region's hospital system.

Hospitalizations are now updated twice weekly, which means data will usually lag in this category.

Related news: Why state official says investigation into Shelby County expired doses is 'very encouraging'

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. 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 qualify 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: COVID-19 in Memphis: Active cases continue slow climb, one new fatality reported

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