MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If not enough social distancing is done, or enough masks worn in public this Memorial Day weekend, the Shelby County Health Department worries that could lead to a spike in new COVID-19 cases and push back phase three of the area's reopening plan.
The decision to move forward will be considered exactly two weeks after Memorial Day.
"Brothers and sisters, we've come too far now to turn back," Shelby County Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. Dr. Randolph hopes it won't be the unofficial uptick of new, local COVID-19 spread, and slow down future reopenings.
"Our desire is not to go backwards, but we will if the data, which is determined by behavior, dictates that we go that way," Dr. Randolph said.
Groups of up to 50 people can gather this holiday weekend in Shelby County - with social distancing.
"Let's do the right thing," Dr. Randolph said.
To celebrate, but also prevent COVID-19 transmission, the health department said stay home if you or a family member is sick, go outside if possible compared to staying inside, wear masks when possible - especially around non-family members, and avoid sharing common utensils or drinking pitchers.
"You can enjoy yourself and you should, but you should do it in a safe manner," Dr. Randolph said.
Thursday, Dr. Randolph said as long as travelers to and from Memphis wear masks and stay six feet apart in public, he's not concerned.
The health officer did frown upon certain populations getting on a plane or going out of state.
"If you are at risk because you have some underlying chronic disease, now is not the time to travel," Dr. Randolph said.
The Shelby County health officer also said he's hopeful that once new positions are hired within the health department next month, it's likely more testing will be offered to those not only with, but also without, COVID-19 symptoms.