SCHD update on rising COVID-19 cases and Delta variant

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 11:30 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department held a press conference on Thursday to provide more information on the Delta variant that is spreading throughout the Mid-South.

Dr. Bruce Randolph says that there have been 203 Delta variant cases to date in Shelby County, this is both confirmed and suspected.

With a 183 new cases reported Thursday Randolph says it could be anywhere between 70-80 percent that are Delta, which is higher than the national percentage of Delta cases, 58 percent. The reported transmission rate is 1.52, more than twice the .72 transmission rate two weeks ago.

This is the highest transmission rate since April 2020.

Randolph says this is the result of the holiday and people relaxing safety measures, especially those who are unvaccinated.

“It’s really boiling down to two choices, either get vaccinated or get COVID. Those are the two choices that you’re faced with,” Randolph said.

The vaccine is reported to provide 88 percent protection against the Delta variant. Randolph says of reported Delta cases only about nine percent are vaccinated individuals and that this means the vaccine is working.

When asked about stricter safety measures or even another stay at home order, Mayor Lee Harris said he doesn’t think we’re at that point in the conversation.

“Right now, we want to sound the alarm and convince people to get vaccinated. Like Dr. Randolph said, the vast majority of people facing severe negative consequences are those who are unvaccinated and we continue to push the message about vaccination. In fact, we’ll be knocking on doors this weekend,” Harris said.

Randolph says the health department will be keeping a close on the schools with new school year just around the corner. He says roughly 22 percent of children 12 to 15 have been vaccinated.

Randolph says to people who are hesitant to get the vaccine that there have been reports of children in the ICU in Mississippi with COVID-19 and two on ventilators, and he asked if people are going to have to wait for that to happen in Shelby County before they get vaccinated.

“Are you going to wait until children are dying before you’re convinced that this virus is real and that you need to get vaccinated,” Randolph said.

The Shelby County Health Department reported 183 new COVID-19 cases Thursday morning with an active case count of 1,222.

The active case count remained below 1,000 since Friday, May 28, but topped that marker Monday morning is continuing on an upward trend for the last three days.

The hope for the county to reach 100 days below 100 cases was crushed last week as the Shelby County Health Department reported a daily COVID-19 case increase of 142 on July 9.

As of Thursday, the health department reported the 7-day rolling average is 136 new cases per day, and the number continues to increase as officials report 100+ each day.

Health department data shows the 7-day test positivity rate for the week of June 27 through July 3 is at 5.8% up from the 3% for the previous week. It peaked at 17.9 percent in the first few days of the year.

Health officials worry the positivity rate will keep climbing as the Delta variant begins to surge across the Mid-South region.

SCHD department did not report any additional virus-related deaths Thursday morning.

Shelby County has had 101,101 cases and 1,700 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

A total of 708,042 vaccines have been administered with 396,050 people now fully vaccinated. The county’s goal is 700,000 people fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

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