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Mid-South coronavirus updates: Memphis Education Fund donates $150,000 to help students in need

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

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


Memphis Education Fund donates $150,000 to help students in need

(MEMPHIS EDUCATION FUND NEWS RELEASE) - When COVID-19 hit Memphis, few realized the potentially long-lasting impact that closing schools and businesses across Shelby County would have on students and families. For families, the economic impact of the shelter-in-place order has left many Memphis families with little to no income with the added stress of caring for and educating their school-age children. For students, the quick shift to at-home learning relies heavily on technology which has created an education crisis for students without adequate access to computers or the internet. In rapid response, Memphis Education Fund (MEF) has donated $150,000 to assist struggling families and to provide technology for students.

MEF is contributing $100,000 in “Family Relief Grants” to help over 500 Shelby County Schools (SCS) and Achievement School District (ASD), including many charter schools, families, and 1,300 students that are struggling to stay financially afloat during the pandemic. Households receiving these grants are being referred by MEF’s community partners. The grants, which range from $150 to $250 per household, can be used for rent, utilities, medical and sanitizing products, transportation, and student education supplies. Additionally, to help narrow the digital equity gap, Memphis Education Fund (MEF) is donating a total of $50,000 to SCS fundraising intermediary School Seed and the Tennessee Charter School Center, to provide laptops and devices to enable more students to learn at home.

“When our public schools were forced to close, district leaders and educators here in Shelby County immediately swung into action to address the most pressing needs - prioritizing student and teacher health, providing food to students in need, and supporting parents as the shift began to support remote learning and home instruction,” said Terence Patterson, CEO of the Memphis Education Fund.

“The Memphis Education Fund, in partnership with our local grantees, is pleased to be able to support these efforts to advance learning and access across our community. We hope others will join this conversation and help.”

For more information about the Memphis Education Fund and these efforts, please visit www.MemphisEducationFund.org.


Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee gives daily update on COVID-19 response in state

3:00 p.m. - Watch HERE.

Bullet points from Gov. Lee's news conference: 

  • Friday morning will be the release of what businesses can reopen and the roll-out of the guidelines.
  • Lee says he has not had direct communication with Trump or Pence, but Lee's administration has been involved in calls with White House Coronavirus Task Force and other mayors.
  • Lee is moving forward with plans in phases that he says is based on data of case counts and other medical stats.
  • Lee says restaurants will be opening to 50% capacity in most counties Monday. Retail opening to 50% capacity in most counties the following week.
  • Businesses in reopened counties are required to take safety measures: temp checks, masks, continued social distancing.


Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves gives daily update on COVID-19 response in state

2:30 p.m. - Watch HERE.

LIVE: Governor Tate Reeves COVID-19 Response

Mississippians helping Mississippians. Small businesses stepping up to help combat COVID-19. That’s what we’re highlighting in today’s daily briefing.

Posted by Tate Reeves on Thursday, April 23, 2020


Tennessee reports more than 8,200 confirmed cases and 170 deaths

2:00 p.m. - The Tennessee Department of Health reports 424 new confirmed cases and 4 new deaths since 2:00 p.m. Wednesday. There are now 8,266 cases and 170 deaths in the state total.

123,100 people have been tested. 793 have been hospitalized and 4,193 have recovered. 

Find the full breakdown from the Tennessee Department of Health HERE.


Walgreens to open drive-thru testing site in Memphis

(NEWS RELEASE) - Walgreens will open a COVID-19 testing site in Memphis beginning tomorrow, Friday, April 24. Testing is being conducted outdoors on the property where Walgreens pharmacists are overseeing patients’ self-administration of the COVID-19 test, using Abbott’s new ID NOW COVID-19 test. 

Testing at this location is available by appointment only, and only to individuals who meet eligibility criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In order to receive a tests individuals must first complete an online health assessment to determine eligibility available at Walgreens.com/coronavirus.

Testing will be available at no cost to eligible individuals who meet CDC criteria. 

All drive-thru testing is being conducted outside and patients are instructed to not leave their vehicles.


UTHSC to open new drive-thru testing sites 

(NEWS RELEASE) - The University of Tennessee Health Science Center continues to work to expand community access to testing for COVID-19 by adding new drive-thru testing sites that will be open a few days a week in areas of need in the community. The first of these sites opened Tuesday in Frayser at the North Frayser Community Center, 2555 Saint Elmo Avenue.

“I am excited that UTHSC is partnering with city and county officials to ensure testing for all of our communities,” said College of Medicine Dean Scott Strome, MD. “We are hopeful that this testing will allow us to better understand the incidence of COVID-19 in symptomatic patients, so that we can reduce spread throughout our region.”

The Frayser site is a similar, but smaller, version of the drive-thru testing site at Tiger Lane at the Mid-South Fairgrounds that was established in March by UTHSC and its affiliated clinical practice partner, University Clinical Health, in collaboration with the Shelby County Health Department and the City of Memphis. The scheduling procedure at the new site also is similar to that used for Tiger Lane. Appointments can be made by texting “covid” to 901.203.5526.

The Tiger Lane site did not operate on opening day of the Frayser site, because equipment and personnel moved to the new location. However, Jon McCullers, MD, interim senior executive associate dean for Clinical Affairs in the UTHSC College of Medicine, said he expects the fairgrounds site to remain the primary UTHSC testing location.

While the Frayser site will be open only one day this week, it is tentatively scheduled to be open Monday through Wednesday next week. Tiger Lane will be open Thursday through Saturday. The hours are tentatively 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

“It's an evolving process, as we're trying to figure out what's the best way to meet the needs of the community,” Dr. McCullers said. He added that the two may operate at the same time in the future, if the demand warrants, as guidelines for who can be tested ease to include those with mild or moderate symptoms.

Initial discussions by the university about opening several sites have evolved as more organizations have provided testing in the community. “The question is then, how many more sites do we need, is one more site enough, or two more sites enough,” Dr. McCullers said. “We've kind of settled on, we're going to open up probably two more sites, maybe three, that we are going to staff maybe a couple of times a week, so we can rotate and have one to two sites open around the city. That way, we're covering more, but we're not concentrating all in one place and we're not deploying a huge amount of resources if there isn't demand for it.”


MedPost Urgent Care now offers COVID-19 testing

(NEWS RELEASE) - MedPost Urgent Care centers in Greater Memphis now offer COVID-19 evaluations and testing 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Patients can call ahead, schedule online, or walk in at their convenience at the following locations:

All locations provide coronavirus evaluations and testing, in addition to treatment for a variety of urgent care needs.

Patient safety is of utmost importance at MedPost Urgent Care:

  • Masks and hand sanitizer are provided for everyone entering the building;
  • Social distancing is in place;
  • To supplement social distancing, patients also have the option of waiting in their car after check-in and receiving a text when it’s time to be seen.

If potential patients have any questions, they should call their nearest MedPost location for additional information.


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson gives daily update on COVID-19 response in state

1:30 p.m. - Watch HERE.


Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to visit drive-thru testing site in Frayser Saturday

1:10 p.m. (NEWS RELEASE) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is scheduled to attend Christ Community Health Services Free COVID 19 drive-through testing event this Saturday, April 25, from Noon -3 pm at Christ Community Health Services Frayser Health Center at 696 Frayser Blvd.  

The testing event is in association with Governor Lee's efforts to ensure that COVID 19 test is available to all Tennessee residents.  All tests are administered by Nurses and National Guard medics and is available to anyone who desires to be tested for COVID 19.

Unlike previous drive-through testing, you do not need to be experiencing any COVID 19 symptoms and do not need to pre-register or schedule an appointment. 

Testing is open to everyone, and participants do not have to be Shelby County residents.  

Test results should be available within 72 hours, and everyone tested will receive a call regarding their results. Follow up information will be provided, and everyone should be prepared to isolate themselves while awaiting test results.


Memphis private school pushes back reopening amid concerns from parents

Christ Trinity Christian Academy, which leaders had originally said would reopen April 27th, has now pushed that date to May 4th. In a letter to parents, they say those who are concerned about sending their students back to class will have the option to continue with remote learning.

Read the full letter on the school's website HERE.


Another death in Desoto County - now at 252 total cases & 4 deaths

10:05 a.m. - The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 259 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, with 8 new deaths.

The total of coronavirus cases since March 11 is now 5,153, with 201 deaths.

Desoto County has 1 new death, and now stands at 252 total confirmed cases with 4 deaths, and 2 outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

Find a full breakdown from the Mississippi State Department of Health HERE.


Shelby County cases hit more than 1900 total

10:00 a.m. - The Shelby County Department of Health reports 37 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday morning, and no new deaths. 

There are now 1931 total cases and 41 deaths in the state. 

A total of 20,761 people have been tested.

Credit: Shelby County Health Department

Find the full breakdown from the Shelby County Health Department HERE.


Arkansas cases jump to almost 2,400

(KTHV) -  As of Wednesday night, the Arkansas Department of Health has confirmed 2,392 positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state, along with two added deaths, bringing the total deaths to 44.

On Tuesday, Gov. Hutchinson said the numbers of positive cases increased by 304 within the last 24 hours. Out of the 304 new positive cases, 262 cases are out of Cummins Prison.

Key facts to know:

  • 2,392 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas 
  • 31,442 total tests
  • 29,050 negative test results
  • 44 reported deaths
  • 893 recoveries
  • All Arkansas schools are closed for the remainder of the school year

Mid-South counties in Arkansas:

  • Crittenden County has 147 cases; 5 deaths
  • Cross County has 9 cases
  • Mississippi County has 9 cases
  • Phillips County has 4 cases; 1 death
  • Poinsettt County has 13 cases
  • St. Francis County has 66 cases

Watch Governor Hutchinson's Wednesday COVID-19 briefing:


Mid-South Food Bank mobile food pantry locations for Thursday, April 23

  • Haywood, TN- First Baptist, 311 E. Jefferson 38017, in Brownsville 10 a.m.
  • Memphis, Divine Life 5270 Riverdale Rd. 38141, 10 a.m.
  • Memphis, YMCA-Cordova 7950 Club Center Cove 38016, 10 a.m.
  • Memphis, MAM-Grizzlies Center 2107 Ball Rd. 38114, 10 a.m.
  • Shelby Cty, TN- Inglesia Nueva Vida 7981 Summer Ave. 38133, in Bartlett 10 a.m.
  • Tunica Cty, MS- 3873 US Hwy 61 38676, at the Arena, 1 p.m.
  • Tipton Cty, TN- 632 St. Luke 38019 in Covington 10 a.m.
  • Memphis, New Direction Church 6120 Winchester 38115, 11 a.m.

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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.

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