MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County is stuck in Phase 2 of the Shelby County's "Back to Business" plan for the foreseeable future. Doctors on the COVID-19 Joint Task Force explained Tuesday why they believe moving to Phase 3 would have had deadly consequences.
Tuesday, almost another 200 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Shelby County. Monday it was 250. Doctors on the Joint Task Force say the increasing numbers was just one of their concerns.
"We hit a pause button there. And the reason I think it's important to put a pause button is so that we don't have to put a rewind button," said Dr. Manoj Jain.
Jain says Shelby County needed to hit the pause button because cases are climbing. Jain said the medical community can handle and maintain the 100 or so cases a day that they had been seeing, but recent spikes are a concern.
In addition to the increase number of cases, there has been a steep incline in the number of hospitalizations. Previously the majority of the hospitalizations were from people in nursing homes, the elderly, or those with comorbidities - chronic long-term conditions.
"We are now seeing much younger people coming to the hospital, many of them in their 20s and 30s, and in many cases, people who do not have any health conditions or comorbidities. This is very worrisome because it's different than the patterns we have been seeing," said Dr. Jon McCullers.
McCullers says that shows there is community spread from people who are not social distancing.
For now, there is no target date to get out of phase 2, but McCullers says that doesn't prevent people from going out in public.
Most commercial establishments can continue to operate at 50% capacity, though the latest Shelby County Health Department directive removes that percentage for restaurants, and instead stresses the six-feet rule between tables.
"We firmly believe if proper social distancing etiquette is carried out, if people wear masks, if the employees wear masks, it's safe to go out at a restaurant right now," said McCullers.
If you dine at a restaurant, McCullers say you should wear your mask into the restaurant, when get seated, and when place your order. When your food or drinks are delivered, then take off your mask and enjoy your meal.