MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We are following up on what is being called a "super spreader event" in the Mid-South.
Saturday, CGI Entertainment hosted a party in East Memphis where many did not adhere to social distancing and mask guidelines.
Many people were outraged by the social media pictures and videos, wanting answers from the Shelby County Health Department and city and county governments.
Local 24 News Reporter Brittani Moncrease went searching for answers as we received an update on cases in our region.
Our COVID cases are rising, rising, and rising.
Baptist Memorial Hospital's Dr. Steve Threlkeld said we're seeing an increase on top of the increase.
“We had, if I recall correctly, 102 people on Wednesday and went to 122 on Friday. Yesterday, it was 140 and change and today it was 160. We saw a dramatic rise,” said Dr. Threlkeld, Baptist Memorial Hospital Infectious Disease Medical Director.
It is a surge on top of a surge.
“When you look at those kinds of numbers, I don’t care how good your preparation is, it can be outstripped by this sort of thing,” said Dr. Threlkeld. "That pace cannot continue. It just can’t.”
One thing health officials are up against is COVID fatigue. We saw it with the overwhelming number of travelers over the Thanksgiving holiday, and with social gatherings like Saturday's "All Black Affair" party in East Memphis.
It was CGI Entertainment party where many were seen without masks and not social distancing.
“I found a couple of those things that we saw online rudely, unbelievably dangerous, and spectacularly irresponsible. Attached to any number of those people at parties with people without wearing a mask, people being too close together, are grandparents and parents. We will no doubt lose a few people because of such a gathering at this moment of time,” said Dr. Threlkeld.
How did a gathering of this size get this far? What protocols are in place to address such violations?
Local 24 News turned to the Shelby County Health Department. We have not received an answer yet.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland's office said they are ready to stand by the health department with any necessary requirements - stating, “With COVID-19 cases rising exponentially in Shelby County, it’s extremely unfortunate that some people chose to endanger themselves and others by attending large gatherings without wearing a mask. This was a violation of the health department’s current health directive. As we have for several months now and in addition to the Shelby County Sheriff, the City of Memphis stands ready to help the Shelby County Health Department with enforcement of their health directive as necessary and as needed.”
“The rate of positivity and the rate of transmission in our community is well beyond something that we can conscious events like that. We just can’t do that." said Dr. Threlkeld.
It is a plea as we enter what many hope will be the final stretch.
“We’re close enough to a vaccine where you need to be careful. If you just stay away from those higher risk behaviors independent of your travel, you’re going to be better off,” said Dr. Threlkeld.
We also reached out to Shelby County Mayor, Lee Harris, about Saturday's party.
His office replied in a statement: "Shelby County is in the midst of a surge in the number of cases of COVID-19. It would be hard to think of a worse time to let our guard down. I implore the attendees to get tested and, above, all, avoid going around older relatives or others who have respiratory issues, until they are certain that they are not carrying this disease. Additionally, investigations into any reports about businesses that organized any event that put our community at increased risk are in process and I expect that will be completed shortly."