MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friday, Mayor Jim Strickland urged anyone who leaves their house to wear a face mask in public. The announcement came as a Shelby County health officer issued a new order to shut down any non-essential businesses found in violation of the Safer-at-Home orders - calling it a life or death situation.
The new crackdown takes effect at midnight.
That health officer, Dr. Bruce Randolph with the Shelby County Health Department, said he continues to get reports of businesses not following the rules, including three new reports Friday morning.
This comes as health experts try to stem a surge of new Coronavirus cases in the coming weeks, and prevent worst case projections of thousands of deaths in Shelby County.
“We are at critical period in this pandemic,” Dr. Randolph said. "There have been some who either didn't get the message or did not take the message seriously."
Dr. Randolph said non-essential businesses violating the rules who are caught by code enforcement or law enforcement will be shut down for varying periods of time.
"I'm taking these drastic measures in order to protect life and prevent deaths,” Dr. Randolph said.
Friday, Nashville health experts joined the standing of Memphis, in support of people wearing face masks in public as an extra Coronavirus precaution.
Dr. Jeff Warren, a Memphis City Council member, said the masks prevent the spread and protects lives.
"If you don't have a mask, wear a scarf, a bandana, you know, make you own mask. There's all kinds of places online to find out how to do that,” Dr. Warren said.
Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter cautioned the public that masks can provide a false sense of security. She said it’s still critical to wash your wash hands constantly and cover coughs.
"Some of the research shows you are more likely to get infected because they are touching their face and touching their mask,” Dr. Haushalter said.
Those with the Shelby County Health Department said the Safer-at-Home orders in Shelby County so far cut down traffic by 55%. But they said it needs to be at least 60% to effectively flatten the curve of new Coronavirus cases.
FROM SHELBY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: There are several numbers the public can call for information and to register complaints/concerns about social distancing/Safer at Home orders.
Those numbers are:
- The City of Memphis 3-1-1 line
- The Shelby County Mayor’s Action Line: 901-222-2300
- The Shelby County Health Department’s COVID-19 Hotline: 833-943-1658