Shelby County sees uptick in COVID-19 cases

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 11:22 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - COVID-19 cases are slowly climbing back up in the Mid-South with 201 new cases added to Shelby County’s total Friday.

While the numbers are not high enough to again overwhelm the hospital system, it’s enough to raise concerns of our elected officials as we head to the busy holiday season.

In a statement to Action News 5 Friday, Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor said, “An increase following the Thanksgiving holiday is not unexpected and may be attributable to holiday travel and gatherings. We are monitoring this trend closely to see if it continues.”

“I have three thoughts. Get vaccinated, get vaccinated, and get vaccinated. We are not done with this pandemic,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Strickland said he’s seen some improvement in vaccination numbers among city employees, growing from 50 percent of employees being vaccinated to 59 percent. But it is a struggle to get more people to step up to get the jab.

About 47 percent of Shelby County residents are vaccinated, which is slightly behind the statewide average of about 49 percent.

“Getting vaccinated is the best defense,” Strickland said. “It helps stop the spread and it helps lessen it. I can speak from first-hand experience. Even if you get COVID and you get vaccinated, you’re most likely not to get very sick.”

The Shelby County Health Department also reported the COVID-19 test positivity rate nearly doubled from the week prior to Thanksgiving.

Taylor commented Thursday about the possible reason for the sudden spike.

“Testing volume actually did go down over the Thanksgiving holiday, so what you’re seeing in that test positivity rate is probably a result of that,” Taylor.

Health officials are aware that COVID-19 could surge during the holiday season.

Strickland is also making a big push for booster shots. He said he will get his booster shot next week.

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