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Shelby County Health officials concerned about the rise of COVID-19 cases in children

"We are seeing sick kids. We are seeing them admitted to our respiratory floors and also to our critical care units,” said Dr. Nick Hysmith.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis & Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force held a briefing Thursday as the number of cases continue to rise across the Mid-South.

Shelby County said Thursday there were 623 cases and no new deaths. That makes a total of 107,909 cases and 1,738 deaths in the county since the pandemic began.

The 623 new cases Thursday made up the highest one-day jump since 691 on January 11th.

The 7-day rolling average for cases in Shelby County is at 478, and a total of 421,782 people have been vaccinated in the county. Find more HERE.

You can watch the briefing HERE. 

Wednesday, the department said a quarter of the Shelby County cases are being seen in children as schools prepare to resume classes next week. Health officials said that of the more than 4,300 active cases, over 1,000 are among people under 18. 

"So, we are seeing sick kids. We are seeing them come to our emergency department, and we are seeing them admitted to our respiratory floors and also to our critical care units,” said Dr. Nick Hysmith with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

"Our age group 18 to 34-year-olds is one of our groups that has the lowest rates of vaccinations. Remember that most of the folks in that group are the people who are the parents of the children that are about to return to school. So, if protecting children is one of our top priorities, it should be the goal of everyone in Shelby County to wear masks in indoor settings and also crowded outdoor settings,” said Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor.

COVID hospitalizations are also surging in Shelby County, with 423 people hospitalized as of Thursday, including 118 in the ICU and 78 on ventilators. 

That compares to the end of June, when there were just 50 people hospitalized with COVID, including 13 in ICU and six people on ventilators. 

"Our hospitals systems are strained, our hospital systems are stressed," City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said. "We are on an upward trajectory and that means we are going to continue to have more people hospitalized, sicker people hospitalized, and more people needing ICU and vents that are in precious short supply. I would ask you to do you part and not add to the problem. It's as simple as wearing a mask."

Meanwhile, we have learned one of the two Mid-South children who died from COVID-19 complications was from West Memphis, Arkansas. 

Tuesday, Le Bonheur confirmed one child had died at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and another passed away at another facility the hospital serves. 

Thursday, West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon confirmed 11-year-old Jordyn Franklin died Monday. 

A candlelight vigil will be held in her honor Friday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Jackson-Wonder Elementary where she attended school.