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

Shelby County prepares first large-scale drive-thru COVID-19 testing location as mayor issues state of emergency

"We are in a moment unlike any other that any of us have ever experienced,” Mayor Harris said.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thursday afternoon, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris issued a state of emergency, after the largest overnight spike in new Coronavirus cases to date in Shelby County.

Those at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center also finalized the setup of a drive-thru testing site near the Liberty Bowl, that’s expected to take in patients in the coming days.

Those with Shelby County acknowledged this is a pivotal moment with the Coronavirus epidemic, with the first sign of community transmission, meaning most of our local cases aren’t connected to outside travel or each other.

"We are in a moment unlike any other that any of us have ever experienced,” Mayor Harris said.

That’s why Thursday afternoon, Mayor Harris ordered a state of emergency for Shelby County, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and six new confirmed cases since Wednesday.

"There is reason to believe that the number of patients with severe reactions could be relatively large,” Mayor Harris said.

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The emergency declaration allows Shelby County to request federal money for medical supplies and equipment, small businesses, and even grocery money for seniors.

"Employers need to look at alternate ways to allow people to work home or to temporarily change their operations to avoid contact,” Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said.

There will soon also be the first large-scale, drive-thru coronavirus testing in Shelby County near the Liberty Bowl.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center will do testing by appointment only and are ironing out which patients will be prioritized and how many kits are available.

"We really want to under promise and over deliver so a lot of that is going to depend on supply chain,” Dr. Scott Strome, the UTHSC Executive Dean of College of Medicine said.

Those with UTHSC said their team will also run the tests in Memphis, allowing for a much faster turnaround time to get results compared to private labs.

"It's going to be critical both in our ability to treat patients and our ability to prevent spread,” Dr. Strome said.

Details are being finalized with UTHSC on how people can register or apply for an appointment for coronavirus testing.

RELATED: Shelby County launches online resource offering local information on COVID-19