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Mid-South coronavirus updates: 3rd MS death, 784 TN COVID-19 cases, 170 in Shelby County

With more news coming in every hour about the coronavirus, this post will update you with the latest you need to know.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus and cases are spreading around the Mid-South since the virus arrived in the United States in February.

At Local 24, our coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit our coronavirus section for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about COVID-19, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here.

We will continue to track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Memphis and the Mid-South on this page. Refresh often for new information


Mississippi reports third death from COVID-19

3:35 p.m. - (MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS RELEASE) - Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the third death from coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mississippi. The case was a male 65-70 years old from Webster County with underlying health conditions. He died while hospitalized.

Currently, Mississippi has reported 377 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with previous deaths reported in Hancock and Holmes counties. MSDH strives to update new case counts at 10 a.m. each day.

For more information on prevention measures and a list of local testing sites, visit www.HealthyMS.com/covid-19. Keep up with the latest COVID-19 information by downloading the free MS Ready mobile app or follow MSDH by email and social media at www.HealthyMS.com/connect.


Memphis Mayor provides COVID-19 response update

3:00 p.m. - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland released his daily update on the COVID-19 response in the city, It includes funding for public transportation and the Mid-South Food Bank amid COVID-19 concerns. Read the full update HERE.


TN Department of Health updates COVID-19 numbers for state

2:00 p.m. - The Tennessee Department of Health now reports a total of 784 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

53 people have been hospitalized in the state, and there have been three deaths.

The state says between private labs and the state lab, 11,796 people have been tested. There have been 784 positive tests from those, and 11,012 negative tests.

Find more from the TN Department of Health HERE.

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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital sends non-essential employees home

From St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: "The health and safety of our patients, families and employees are our highest priority. Starting today, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in adherence with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s Safer at Home order, will have only St. Jude employees who perform essential functions on campus. All other employees are at home. In addition, St. Jude is conducting enhanced COVID-19 screenings on all employees providing patient care. The enhanced screenings include daily symptoms checks and periodic COVID-19 testing. These screenings will improve our ability to identify possible infections in patient care workers early and minimize the spread of the virus. This is a vital tool to keep our patients – many of whom have compromised immune systems – safe. We are deeply appreciative of our employees as they continue to work hard to care for our patients and keep our campus safe."


DeSoto County ordinances due to COVID-19

11:15 a.m. - The Desoto County Economic Development Council is providing an update on ordinances that have been passed due to COVID-19.

Please note, these ordinances do not currently impact those industries that are providing valuable resources needed to continue the fight against COVID-19. We appreciate your efforts on the front lines.

On the Local Level:

On the State Level:

On the Federal Level:

BlueCross BlueShield donates $750,000 to Mid-South Food Bank

11:15 a.m. - The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation is donating $3.25 million to food banks across the state. The Mid-South Food Bank will receive $750,000 in funds.

From the news release: “The financial gift will help Tennessee food banks meet the needs of the communities affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Food banks can often purchase supplies at a much lower cost than individuals can, stretching to provide as many as four meals for each dollar they receive in cash donations.

‘Every day, families count on local food banks for help — and that’s especially true now,’ said JD Hickey, M.D., chairman of the BlueCross Foundation. ‘Tennesseans can get through these challenging times by coming together, and we’re expanding our support for food banks statewide as another way to bring peace of mind to our neighbors.’

Community members who want to help can find and donate to their local food bank by visiting www.FeedingAmerica.org.”


Mississippi reports 377 total cases in state; 36 in DeSoto County

10:05 a.m. - The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 57 new cases of COVID-19 in the state. Seven of those cases were reported in DeSoto County, making it a total of 36 there. 

There are now 377 total reported COVID-19 cases in Mississippi. Two people have died, the first in in Hancock County, the second in Holmes County.

From the MS Department of Health: "This morning MSDH is reporting 57 new cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, with first #coronavirus cases in Amite, Calhoun and Prentiss counties. The state total now stands at 377, with two deaths, the second of which was recorded today.

Full details on the state's second COVID-19 death: http://HealthyMS.com/page/23,21889,341.html

More details of COVID-19 in the state, along with preventive steps to take against COVID-19, are online at http://HealthyMS.com/covid-19

The Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline is the best way to get your questions about COVID-19 answered. Call any time: 877-978-6453."

MS Department of Heath COVID-19 information can be found HERE.


Mississippi reports second COVID-19 death

9:52 a.m. - (MS Health Department News Release) - Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the second death from coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mississippi. The case was a male 60-65 years old from Holmes County with underlying health conditions. He died while hospitalized.

As of Tuesday, Mississippi had 320 cases and one previous death reported in a male 60-65 from Hancock County with underlying health conditions. MSDH strives to update new case counts at 10 a.m. each day.

“We knew that more deaths would be inevitable, just as we expect numerous new cases. It is a very sad update to report, regardless,” said MSDH State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH. “Please do your part by practicing all preventive measures. It is vitally important that we all do what we can right now to help slow the spread of this virus.”

For more information on preventive measures and the latest guidance, download the free MS Ready mobile app or visit HealthyMS.com/covid-19.


Amazon employee at Memphis delivery site tests positive for COVID-19

9:30 a.m. - Amazon tells Local 24 News an employee at the company’s delivery station in Memphis has tested positive for COVID-19. They say the person was last onsite March 21st, and has received medical care and is in quarantine.

From Amazon: “We are supporting the individual who is recovering. We are following guidelines from local officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site. 

  • We have made employees at the site aware of this confirmed case and asked anyone who was in close contact with the diagnosed individual to stay home with pay for 14-days in self-quarantine
  • All Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay. This additional pay, while away from work, is to ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost income. This is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March.” 

Find more from Amazon HERE.


Two Regional One Health employees test positive for COVID-19

9:25 a.m. - (Regional One Heath News Release) - Regional One Health actively prepared for weeks for the arrival of COVID-19 patients in our community and health system. We enacted screening processes in anticipation of positive cases in the community increasing.

As a result of our aggressive screening process two employees screened positive for COVID-19 and are appropriately isolated according to CDC guidelines. Both employees were already in self isolation at home when the test came back positive. We continue to focus on our screening process for early identification of potential COVID-19 cases. In order to protect patient privacy we will not release any other information at this time.

We are following all precautionary and protective protocols from the State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  We have notified and will provide guidance and support to all who were in close contact with these individuals.  We are also working with the Shelby County Health Department to make sure all appropriate follow-up measures are taken. 

We are prepared to address the COVID-19 situation as it develops in our community and within our health system.  We have already established safety measures including screening and restricted visitation policies.  Our priority continues to be to care for and protect our patients, staff and community. 

Find more from Regional One Health HERE.


70 cases in Shelby County

3/25/2020 9:20 a.m. - The Shelby County Health Department reports there are now 170 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. They say, "All out-of-county residents have been transferred to their local health department jurisdictions. Going forward, Shelby County Health Department will only track resident cases."

As of Tuesday night, there were 667 total cases in the state of Tennessee.

From the health department: Please note: "Laboratory reports of positive cases are reported to local health departments as soon as results are available. State numbers are updated at 2 p.m. CDT daily; but there is a lag in reporting of cumulative numbers at the state level, and that accounts for any discrepancy."

The health department says it has received 1359 calls to its COVID-19 hotline since it was launched March 12, 2020. Tuesday, they had a total of 98 calls.

To learn more about COVID-19 in Shelby County from the department, CLICK HERE.

For information on Memphis' response, CLICK HERE.

What you need to know To further combat the spread of COVID-19, the City of Memphis will issue a Safer at Home Order effective midnight on March 24, 2020 through midnight April 7, 2020 - directing all residents of Memphis to stay inside their homes, and immediately limit all movement outside of their homes beyond ...


236 total cases confirmed in Arkansas

As of 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, The Arkansas Department of Health is reporting a total of 236 positive COVID-19 cases. There have been 10 total recoveries. 

On Monday, Gov. Hutchinson said the filing and payment deadline for individual taxpayers will be moved to July 15, but corporate filings will remain the same. This aligns with the federal filing deadline which has moved to July 15.

Dr. Nate Smith directed that hair salons, barbershops, tattoo shops and massage parlors should close in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Key facts to know:

  • 236 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas 
  • 1,286 total tests
  • 1,050 negative test results
  • 2 reported deaths
  • All public schools are closed until April 17


3/24/2020 - (MID-SOUTH FOOD BANK RELEASE) - Mid-South Food Bank has made the decision to suspend volunteers at the warehouse on South Perkins, beginning Thursday, March 26, until further notice, due to the evolving COVID-19 situation.  Volunteers were packing 14-day food boxes with nonperishable food for distribution through the Food Bank's partner food pantries.  More than 10,000 boxes have been packed since the effort began last week, and many have been delivered to partner agencies.  Food will still be distributed to food pantries, but in bulk, rather than the packed boxes, and through Mobile Pantries. 

Mid-South Food Bank President & CEO Cathy Pope said the decision to suspend volunteers was difficult, but necessary.  "When Mayor Strickland called for the Safer at Home initiative, I knew it was best to tell our volunteers to stay home and stay safe too," she said. "It was also a decision to keep our Food Bank a safe environment for the employees who remain at work, getting food out to those who need it."

Pope said about one-third of the Food Bank's 62-member staff is already working from home, but that is not an option for the warehouse workers and truck drivers who are loading and driving the trucks all over Memphis, west Tennessee, north Mississippi and Crittenden County, Arkansas.

Volunteers who would still like to help will be directed toward the Food Bank's partner agencies and the Mobile Pantry distributions.  The volunteer services team is compiling lists of agencies and Mobile Pantries to see where volunteers may serve. 

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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.