Almost 40 percent of Shelby County active COVID-19 cases are in children

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 3:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The number of COVID-19 cases in children in Shelby County is growing. Those under 18 account for more than 38% of active cases. Currently more than 3,400 children have the virus.

More than 530 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Shelby County Thursday and 175 of them are in children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports Tennessee has the most pediatric COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the whole nation.

Many children remain unvaccinated as those under 12 are not eligible, but health officials said a better vaccinated adult population can protect the kids.

“The old days are gone from the beginning days of the pandemic,” Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor said.

The delta strain and vaccination rates are changing the landscape of this pandemic according to Dr. Taylor.

“We know the delta variant is more contagious and as such we know kids can bring it home and infect other people in the household,” Taylor said.

This summer doctors and nurses have reported seeing multiple family generations hospitalized at the same time with COVID-19. Nurses have reported caring for a grandparent, parent and child all at once.

On Thursday, 28 children were hospitalized with the virus in Shelby County. However, a majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated adults. The ages are trending younger. A majority now in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

“A lot of those folks you see that are getting infected and are unvaccinated are the parents of these children,” Taylor said.

Dr. Taylor said more vaccinated adults can protect kids from the virus, and parents who have children 12 and older should consider getting themselves and their kids vaccinated.

Now, 50% of Shelby County residents are at least partially vaccinated and 40% fully vaccinated.

“Everything adults do right now is so very important,” Taylor said.

Going into Labor Day Weekend, the most patients ever are in Shelby County hospitals with COVID-19. Now, 721 people are hospitalized with it, and more than 150 are on ventilators.

A mask mandate is still in effect in Shelby County for indoor public places.

“We also understand going into the long weekend we still need people to be extra cautious,” Taylor said. “Our hospitals are still strained. They’re still holding a lot of people in emergency rooms they can’t put up into rooms.”

“We have the highest level of people needing to be intubated at 163,” Memphis COO Doug McGowen said.

Ahead of the holiday weekend, the Shelby County Health Department showed some optimism the virus’ reproductive rate is dropping, but still it remains over one. That means every one infection creates at least one more.

“The masking we have done in schools is possibly a direct result of seeing that [reproductive rate] number come down a little bit,” Taylor said.

Taylor said masks will be one of the safeguards the community will need to use this holiday weekend, and going into popular fall events like college football games. Masks are not just for indoors.

“You should also be masking up in outdoor spaces when things are crowded,” Taylor said.

Those 12 and older can get a vaccine today with no appointment at several spots. Click here to find a location near you.

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