MEMPHIS, Tenn — In Shelby County, those with the health department said local hospitals have enough equipment and supplies, and they want to keep it that way.
That’s why Thursday afternoon, health experts urged those in the Memphis area to stay vigilant and follow Safer at Home orders, as well as practice social distancing to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Shelby County Health Department’s chief of epidemiology reiterated Thursday afternoon that local cases continue to go up, making it unclear when the Coronavirus will peak in Shelby County.
The good news for now: that expert said Shelby County hospitals are managing, and testing is expanding locally.
Every morning, Shelby County’s top health experts meet to go over trends and how Memphis area hospitals are responding to the growing number of local Coronavirus cases, which jumped from 10 to nearly 200 in the last week.
"We are maintaining, the health care sector is not yet overwhelmed and doesn't show critical stress - and we are trying to keep it that way,” David Sweat, the Shelby County Health Department Chief of Epidemiology, said.
Sweat said that’s why the community limiting contact with others through social distancing is so important - to prevent area hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
“That is our goal, to keep our health care systems operating within its capabilities, and so far, that's where we are at,” Sweat said.
Sweat said expanded local testing will give a clearer picture of when Coronavirus cases will peak in Shelby County.
Thursday afternoon, a UT Health Science Center spokesperson said 150 to 200 people daily - by doctor appointment only - are taking part in drive-thru testing near the Liberty Bowl.
Next week, UTHSC will be able to analyze 1500 tests a day, with a less than 24-hour turnaround time for results.
"Every time that happens, the number of people tested increases and that changes the data streams,” Sweat said.
Sweat said there’s another silver lining.
Right now, around 80% of people who test positive for the Coronavirus deal with mild symptoms but don’t require hospitalization.
“Most people surviving COVID-19 meant you felt sick, but you survived it and recovered and continued to do well after that,” Sweat said.
As of Thursday afternoon - because of the Coronavirus - more than 460 people in Shelby County are either being monitored or completed the 14-day monitoring period out of precaution.
The Safer at Home orders - which took effect Tuesday evening across Shelby County - are expected to remain in place until April 7th.
Coronavirus in Context:
The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80-percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.