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1,000 COVID deaths in Shelby Co. over next 2 months if transmission stays the same

Model predicts 16 deaths per day.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County health leaders say 1,000 people could die in the next two months from COVID-19 in Shelby County if nothing is done to slow the virus.  

If left unchecked, between now and just past Valentines the latest prediction shows, we will average 16 deaths a day.

It is just one of the reasons the Shelby County Health Department put into place tighter restrictions on businesses and restaurants. 

That new health directive goes into effect the day after Christmas. 

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According to the new health directive, beginning December 26th, retail establishments will be limited to 50% capacity and restaurants 25 percent. Health Officials say to decrease the number of deaths we need to decrease the number of cases. 

"If we can blunt the curve prior to January and February we are going to make a significant difference for our community," Alisa Haushalter, SCHD director.

Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says we are in a critical period. The new health directive put restrictions into place until late January. Haushalter says the more we can reduce community transmission, the more we can reduce the burden on our healthcare systems.

"We still have all the other health problems people have every day. People have heart attacks strokes and so on and we want to make sure they can access treatment," said Haushalter.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain says new modeling shows, worst case scenario we could have nearly 1,000 deaths in Shelby County in the next two month, average 16 deaths a day. The number is lowered to 7 deaths a day if we can significantly reduce the transmission rate.  

While you have likely seen images from overwhelmed hospitals around the country. Health leaders said we are not that far away from it happening here. 

"When you compound what we are currently going through and what we could be going thru in another two to three weeks. We potentially and We hope we don't but we potentially could place our regional health systems in that type of scenario," said Dr. Reginald Coopwood, Regional One Chief Executive Officer.

The latest health directive has been heavily criticized. Some say it goes too far and will result in job losses and business' closing. Others who say it doesn't go far enough to protect lives.   

"We really have to believe that what we have written and what we have directed will make a difference so yes,  we believe it will make a difference," said Haushalter.

Haushalter said there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Shelby County Health Department expects to begin administering the Moderna vaccine next week. 

Tuesday the "Pay it forward Midsouth" campaign was announced. It was set up to help people in the hospitality industry who have lost their job or have had their hours reduced due to this latest health directive. Employees can qualify for a $300 grant.  

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