MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Troubling trends continue this week in Shelby County, with a record surge of new COVID cases following the Christmas week.
Data by the Shelby County Health Department Thursday reported 2259 new COVID cases, a record high for the entire pandemic.
That total broke the previous record of 1603 new cases reported Monday in Shelby County.
The daily test positivity rate of 38.72% reported Thursday was also the highest during the pandemic.
On top of that, that record daily positivity came from one of the highest days of new tests at 5357.
Figuring in the new data, active cases in Shelby County skyrocketed from 1917 two weeks to 11046 Thursday, a 476% increase in that span.
"We are at a critical moment," Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor said Thursday. "Less than 50% of Shelby County remains unvaccinated and is vulnerable to becoming infected."
The highly contagious Omicron variant is now the dominant strain in Shelby County, accounting for 61% of active cases.
"People are still dying from COVID-19 in the hospitals and many of the monoclonal antibody treatments that worked on past variants do not work on the Omicron variant," Dr. Taylor added.
COVID patients in Memphis area hospitals also nearly doubled week to week, from 164 to 317 - and that's again putting a strain in overall care.
"That is an incredibly high jump and quite frankly we can't sustain that rate of growth in our hospitals for long," City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said.
There were also 424 new reported pediatric cases in Shelby County, bringing the active number of pediatric cases (those between ages of 0 and 17) to 2,309 in Shelby County, before classes resume from the holiday break Monday.
Those with the Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force Thursday reminded the public to be especially cautious of large, largely unmasked gathering, including ringing in the New Year Friday night.
"We know that it is important to prevent that transmission and there's really only two ways to do it, by staying away from other people who may have it and by putting a barrier between us and the spread of the virus and that's by wearing a mask," McGowen added.
Those with the SCHD said Thursday they are working with the state of Tennessee to expand testing capacity, both at community sites and the amount of available home testing kits.
Dr. Taylor anticipates there will be an announcement of the opening of two additional community testing sites in Shelby County by the end of next week.
At noon Thursday, there will be a the bi-weekly Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force Media briefing.
There, it's expected the updated COVID patient numbers will be released, as it typical each Thursday.
Wednesday, those at in the Baptist Memorial Hospital system reported that at Baptist Memphis, 13 of the 59 COVID patients had been admitted in the past 24 hours.
Follow @BradBrodersTV for the latest updates and notable news from that briefing.