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Mid-South health officials say COVID-19 surge could be coming to an end

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 9:51 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There is good news to report when it comes to COVID-19 in Shelby County, but local health officials say it’s important to not let your guard down because it will likely be spring before we recover from the omicron wave.

“So, we’ve had the opportunity through three previous waves to observe that behavior of how the variant impacts our community, said City of Memphis CEO Doug McGowen.

After two years of battling ups and downs with this virus, McGowen says he has developed a COVID surge timeline.

It takes about six weeks from the start of the wave for cases to start to drop, then hospitalizations begin to decline. This week, there was a 26% drop in active COVID cases from last week.

“Previously once the hospitalization rate has started to come down in prior waves, it’s taken about eight weeks for us to get back down to the previous levels,” said McGowen. “We will be well into March by the time our hospitalizations go back down to where they were when we began this surge.”

McGowen says this omicron wave seems to be right on schedule. However, the surge of cases this time was also much higher than previous variants.

The bottom line is hospitals will still be stressed for the next several weeks. Monday, the current health directive will expire.

Shelby County health director, Dr. Michelle Taylor, 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,” said Taylor.

The health department also plans to reopen a vaccination at Southwest Community College on Finley Road. The site will be open Fridays and Saturdays.

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