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Shelby County Health order expires Jan. 31; no new order will be issued

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:10 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For nearly two years, the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) has issued health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but beginning next Monday, that will come to an end.

“On Jan. 31, health order No. 29 will expire and the health department will transition from ordering formal health orders,” said SCHD Dr. Michelle Taylor.

During Thursday’s COVID-19 Task Force briefing, Taylor said instead, the health department will post the most current information to its website.

The transition will allow the department to provide more timely updates on vaccination eligibility, testing information, and safety recommendations.

“The change won’t be dramatic, except that you won’t have that multipage document that says ‘health order,’” Taylor said.

Taylor said the health department still encourages masking indoors, especially when it comes to schools, but Tennessee state law prevents the department from issuing mask mandates.

“Schools should take the necessary steps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This may require schools to require universal masking, social distancing, and other steps, depending on the needs of students seeking reasonable accommodations,” she said.

The current health directive’s expiration comes as COVID-19 cases in Shelby County are decreasing.

As of Thursday, the seven-day rolling average of cases is 1,251, down from the 1,699 average this time last week.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have plateaued, but the strain on local hospitals remains a concern.

“That’s an indication that hospital systems and first responders will continue to be stressed for at least the next few months. An analogy we’ve always used, ‘we are coming down the mountain, but it’s a very high mountain,’” said City of Memphis CEO Doug McGowen.

Health officials still encourage vaccinations and testing.

For more information on where to get vaccinated, click here.

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