MEMPHIS, Tenn. — "I don't want to be an alarmist, but these are all red flags," Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said.
There's COVID-19 concern across the board for Shelby County health experts, with the total cases more than doubling in the past four weeks alone.
"We are really straining the public health system. We are beginning to strain the hospital system. We know our testing system is strained as well and our numbers are going up," Dr. Haushalter said.
The recent COVID-19 spike forced health experts to shut down most Shelby County bars - with some exceptions - and restaurants to close by 10:00 p.m. indefinitely, starting Thursday.
"We are trying to partner with the health department in this trying time," Memphis Restaurant Association President Ernie Mellor said.
Thursday, Mellor urged his members to follow the new guidelines and help stabilize the COVID-19 numbers.
"These decisions have a real impact on the livelihood of our industry, our employers, our employees, and their families," Mellor said.
That message, echoed Thursday by Dr. Haushalter, who urged the public to turn the corner on troubling trends, especially wearing masks and keeping our distance.
"We are all committed to getting back to school and getting back to work, but it's going to take all of us," Dr. Haushalter said.
Health experts said by next week, they expect to have new triggers in place, specific data numbers that would require certain types of businesses to move forward or backward in reopening.
As of Thursday, Shelby County hospitals had 88% of its acute care beds in use and 85% of its ICU beds in use, with 341 confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients hospitalized.
"It really won't be long before we are in flu season, so we want to do all we can to get COVID under control," Dr. Haushalter said.