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Mask mandate discussed at Memphis City Council as new health directive takes effect

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 6:03 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:55 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s another day in Shelby County when the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases is up. Tuesday’s numbers show a seven-day average of 411.

To address the case numbers, Memphis City Council added an agenda item to Tuesday’s meeting, to submit a request to the Shelby County Health Department to reimpose a mask mandate on the county.

The item was discussed during the executive session later that afternoon, and shortly before 5 p.m., city council unanimously voted on the resolution that would make the request.

Coincidentally, Tuesday is the day the 24th COVID-19 health directive took effect in Shelby County.

SCHD Health Directive
SCHD Health Directive(WMC)

At Methodist LeBonheur Health (MLH) they are now at 206 COVID-19 hospitalizations across their facilities, as of Tuesday morning, and 48 are in ICU.

That number was 119 just last week.

“We thought we were past this. We thought we wouldn’t have to see this again,” said Dr. John Eick with MLH.

Eick said what he’s seeing more of is younger, unvaccinated patients, many with underlying health conditions.

“High blood pressure or obesity, which we know is so prevalent here in the Mid-South, risk factors, that could be modifiable over the long run of getting better control of blood sugar, losing weight. Try to decrease your risk of getting COVID-19, but that’s in the long run. Unfortunately, we don’t have that time,” he said.

Though vaccinations in Shelby County are also continuing to rise, showing a 1,500 seven-day rolling average on Tuesday, the spread of the Delta variant, the most prevalent in the county, is showing a higher rate of spread than its predecessors.

“A person infected with the Delta variant can go on to infect up to nine other people, whereas the original version of the virus, one infected person could go on to infect up to two or three other people,” said Dr. Shirin Mazumder, an infectious disease expert with MLH.

We asked Mazumder about the possibility of another mask mandate being imposed in Shelby County.

“For vaccinated people, they offer a layer of protection, and for unvaccinated people, they’re really key,” Mazumder said. “I think that the two things that are really going to help us through this right now are, number one, vaccines. That’s what’s going to get us through this in the long run, but I do think masks are really important to keep people protected right now as our case numbers are so high.”

Both Mazumder and Eick are urging people to get vaccinated, that the risk of contracting the virus is almost nonexistent and any side effects far outweigh actually contracting the virus.

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