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Coronavirus in Memphis: 7 new fatalities, 319 new cases reported Sunday

Commercial Appeal Memphis logo Commercial Appeal Memphis 2/7/2021 Commercial Appeal, Memphis Commercial Appeal
a group of people wearing costumes: Local press and public relations staff document first responders as they receive COVID-19 vaccines outside of the Shelby County Health Department building on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. © Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal Local press and public relations staff document first responders as they receive COVID-19 vaccines outside of the Shelby County Health Department building on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.

Last updated at 11:45 am. on Feb. 7

Following record-high levels of new cases and hospitalizations triggered by the holiday season, COVID-19 transmission is slowing down in Shelby County. New case counts and test positivity rates have started to decline since the first of the year.

While Shelby County health officials have described these trends as "encouraging," they've also cautioned against believing the worst of the pandemic is over. 

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Hundreds of new cases are still being reported daily. Additionally, health officials in Shelby County are investigating a "highly suspicious" case of COVID-19 that is believed to be B.1.1.7., or the "UK variant."

The variant is known to be more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus. 

Read below for the latest information about both COVID-19 data and vaccination updates in Memphis and Shelby County. 

Watch: City of Memphis, Shelby County joint COVID-19 Task Force latest update

February 4 - City of Memphis/Shelby County Joint Covid Task Force Update

February 4 - City of Memphis/Shelby County Joint Covid Task Force Update

Posted by City of Memphis on Thursday, February 4, 2021

Case growth: The county has recorded a total of 84,798 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 319 new cases Sunday. There were 3,372 active cases Sunday, according to the latest data from the Shelby County Health Department, down from 3,330 active cases the day before.

The county's infection rate — how many people are infected by each person sick with COVID-19 — was estimated as .91 as of Feb. 7, according to COVID Act now. Health officials want this number at 1.0 or below to keep the pandemic in check.

Deaths:  Seven new COVID-19 deaths were reported by the health department Sunday. The reported total of virus-related fatalities now stands at 1,371.The mortality rate of the virus locally is 1.6%.

The mortality rate has increased one-tenth of a percent since Tuesday, a reflection of the accelerated death rate in Shelby County on the heels of holiday-related case surges. 

At the current rate of reported deaths, roughly 10 Shelby County residents are dying of COVID-19 every day.

Tests: The county reported 4,342 new tests on Sunday..

Hospital capacity: As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the latest data available, 90% of local acute care hospital beds and 93% of intensive care unit beds were occupied. There were 304 COVID-19 patients in Memphis-area hospitals Thursday evening. 

In addition to the 304 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals, 52 patients were hospitalized with suspected, but not yet confirmed, cases of COVID-19. 

As of Thursday evening, 249 acute care beds, and 29 intensive care beds were available in the region's hospital system. 

Here's the latest vaccine information from the Shelby County Health Department:

As of Feb. 7, the latest data available, 77,765 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Shelby County. Of that number, 57,016 were first doses and 20,749 were second doses. 

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

  • The Shelby County Health Department opened up COVID-19 vaccinations to people 70 and older on Feb. 4
  • 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
  • The health department announced the locations where individuals who qualify can get the second dose of the Moderna vaccine. These appointments are only open for individuals who received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine at Lindenwood Christian Church or the county health department building on Sycamore View Rd. between Dec. 28, 2020, and Jan. 3.

    Click here for a full list of locations and times. 

  • Appointments for eligible people to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Southwest Community College Whitehaven campus at 1234 Finley Road are now available. The site will provide the Pfizer vaccine. Click here to be directed to the sign-up links.
  • After long wait times at the Pipkin vaccination site in late January, health officials promised to improve inefficiencies there — warning that folks would generally be turned away if they showed up more than an hour early or didn't have an appointment at all.
  • Shelby County is vaccinating people in groups 1a1 and 1a2 of the Tennessee Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, as well as people age 70 and older. When there has been availability, vaccinations have been provided to funeral/mortuary workers. 
  • Shelby County has launched a new text-messaging system called VaxQueue. The service will alert residents in the event of extra vaccine doses becoming available. Read more about how it works, here.
  • Veterans can be vaccinated at a drive-thu vaccination site at the Memphis VA Medical Center. 

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 an 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 cloth face cover: 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: 7 new fatalities, 319 new cases reported Sunday

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