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SCHD reports encouraging 7-day average COVID-19 case counts, but stresses that the pandemic is not over

“Overall, that low case count is the fact that we have vaccinated a lot of people from the alpha variant," said infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Local 24 is keeping you informed with the latest information surrounding COVID-19 and new developments getting attention this week is very encouraging. However, it's also a good reason to not let our guards down.

The Shelby County Health Department reported Thursday’s 7-day average for new cases is the lowest since the pandemic began, dropping from 40 to just 23 per day. 

In fact, we've now gone 100 straight days with fewer than 100 people testing positive.

Vaccinations per day though, just okay at about 1,100 shots per day. That's where the concern comes in. 

The new delta variant is starting to take hold here and because it's 60% more contagious than other strains, it has the potential to  spread very fast.  

“Overall, that low case count is the fact that we have vaccinated a lot of people from the alpha variant," said infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain. "The original virus.”

But not very far away, the CDC said neighboring Missouri had the highest percentage of the new delta variant in the nation as of June 5th. So the state officials are now testing wastewater in fifty communities to track its spread.  

In Shelby County there are just 18 delta variant cases. A majority of them occurring locally. 

Children remain some of the most vulnerable because of lack of vaccination and lack of prior disease.  

“We do have over 300 active cases right now," said David Sweat, chief of epidemiology at the Shelby County Health Department. "29%, 92 of those active cases, are pediatric cases.”  

Dr. Jain said what continues to be troubling is the low vaccination rate here compared to other parts of the country. 

“It is very likely that we are going to see an increased number of cases," said Jain, "But I’m really hopeful that our hospital capacity will not be inundated.” 

Jain stresses any coronavirus death now is a preventable death.