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Shelby County has reached 80% herd immunity, but health experts are cautiously optimistic

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain said 80% of Shelby County has reached immunity through immunization or previous COVID-19 infection.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As cases decline and the transmission rate is at its lowest since the start of the pandemic in Shelby County, health care workers are still cautiously optimistic. 

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain said the county has also reached 80% herd immunity. 

"That looks very promising that the number of individuals who have had the infection or who have had the vaccination is well above 80%," Jain said. 

Jain is more optimistic, but he said we need to continue masking and being cautious. 

"We have to keep in mind that number changes, because the immunity can wane and new variants can come which can evade the vaccine or evade previous infection," Jain said. 

Pharmaceutical company Merck has filed for emergency use authorization for its at-home COVID-19 treatment pill. 

Morgan Jones, a clinical pharmacy specialist with Methodist University Hospital, said the pill will help in some aspects of the fight against COVID-19. 

"It’s not a medication that will prevent the spread of the coronavirus," Jones said. "It is potentially a medication that can alleviate strain on America’s hospitals." 

While 75% of the U.S. has received at least one dose of vaccine, Jones said the challenge we face now is kids who are not eligible to be vaccinated and those who are immunocompromised. 

"The thing that has me the most cautiously optimistic is the fact that hopefully in the next 30 to 60 days we’re going to get authorization for the vaccine in 5 to 11-year-olds," Jones said. "I really do think the key in ending this pandemic is being able to immunize as many people as possible."