MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Thursday, those with the Memphis and Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force said the area reached an unfortunate milestone this week, setting a new record high with more than 700 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals.
Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor added that the area set two hospital records this past week alone.
The 701 total COVID patients surpassed the previous high in January, and the 186 COVID patients in the ICU topped the December 2020 high mark.
As of Thursday morning, there were just 10 available ICU beds in Memphis area hospitals.
Those with the task force said members of the Tennessee National Guard who were deployed to area hospitals this week continue to be a huge help with staffs that are strained and stressed.
Dr. Taylor said the 2,767 active pediatric cases make up 32.5% of all cases, and those cases in Shelby County now outnumber cases for the 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 age groups for the first time.
To date, 49% of the Shelby County population has received one vaccine dose and 39% of the population received both doses.
The task force is preparing for the approval for booster shots by mid-September for everyone fully vaccinated.
There's also a plan for hospital systems to expand monoclonal antibody infusion treatment by 50% and new capacity is expected soon through the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Dr. Taylor also noted that as of now, the next health directive that begins September 1st will not be stricter.
The health director said she's counting on the community to understand the critical situation facing Shelby County and to mask up when required indoors or whenever possible outdoors in large gatherings.