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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Shelby County Health Department monitoring largest one-day COVID-19 increase since February

Health experts said it's too soon to know if it's a blip or trend. Meanwhile, the local vaccination drive also includes new incentives.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — "The news about our current data certainly causes us to pause," Shelby County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.

Those at the Shelby County Health Department are keeping a close eye - but not concerned yet - after 262 new COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday, the highest one-day jump since February 13th.

"The real question that we are going to have to watch over the next seven days is, is this a trend where we continue to see higher numbers of cases like this, or is it a blip?" Shelby County Health Deputy Director David Sweat said.

After encouraging COVID-19 declines in February and March, Sweat said more data - and more time - will confirm if local trends are again heading in the wrong direction.

"In that event, it would mean we are entering a fourth wave - and if that's what happened then we are going to have adjust accordingly," Sweat said.

In this race of vaccinations versus the virus, Thursday, local organizers also announced new ways to incentivize and entice those hesitant or unwilling to roll up their sleeves.

"We are not going to quit. We are going to remove every barrier. We are going to remove all obstacles," Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat said.

To do that, the Pipkin Building FEMA vaccine site will be open for both appointments or no appointments through Sunday. 

In addition, the first 2500 people to get vaccinated there Friday and Saturday will receive a $20 Kroger or Walmart gift card.

"Any adjustment that we can make to make it easier for citizens to come in and get vaccinated, that's what we are going to do," Director Sweat said,

Friday night, the Memphis Fire Department will also be putting shots in arms outside the Liberty Bowl ahead of the Memphis Tigers spring football game.

The first 500 fans who are vaccinated for that will receive a $10 concessions voucher.