Health officials say masks still needed in Shelby Co. despite dwindling COVID-19 cases

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 9:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In mid-August, shortly after the start of school, the Shelby County Health Department issued a new mask mandate, requiring masks to be worn indoors.

Shelby County Health Department director, Dr. Michelle Taylor, says children still play a big role in why the mask mandate is still in place.

During the Shelby County Commission meeting, Taylor said the county saw just 87 new COVID-19 cases Monday for a rolling seven-day average of 124.

To put that into perspective, two months ago the seven-day average in the county was 763 cases.

The dwindling numbers led to Commissioner Mick Wright asking when would the county consider rolling back some of its COVID-19 mitigating measures, such as the indoor mask mandate.

“We understand people want to come out of the masks, but I do believe if we stay the course, we’ll see those numbers come down even more,” said Taylor.

Taylor is hoping there will be emergency use approval of Pfizer vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old to lower the numbers even further.

The FDA is scheduled to meet next week to discuss the matter.

Taylor said when health officials consider the county’s population who are fully vaccinated, natural immunity, or a combination of both, about 1 in 4 people in Shelby County are still at risk of getting the virus. Children under the age of 12 make up a large part of that statistic.

Taylor said COVID-19 is still a threat, and so is the upcoming flu season.

“What we do know is that the evidence has been mixed about whether or not it’s going to be a good or bad season,” Taylor said. “With that being said, no matter what kind of season we have, it’s very important for everyone to get their flu vaccine.

Taylor said unlike last year where more people were staying indoors, this year is different with students back to in-person learning and people returning to the workplace.

That makes for a prime environment for spreading the flu virus.

Taylor says you can get the flu shot at their main location at 814 Jefferson Avenue or any satellite location.

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