Could Shelby County see a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There are reports around the country that we may be seeing a fourth wave of the coronavirus.

Here in Shelby County, health officials said we’ve hit a plateau in the number of cases, but there are signs the curve is going up again.

Health officials said it’s mainly because of the new variants we’re seeing, some of which are resistant to treatments.

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“I know we want to be done with the virus, but unfortunately, the virus is not done with us,” Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Manoj Jain said.

Jain said the more transmissible U.K. strain is on track to become the dominant strain in Shelby County by mid-April.

But perhaps even more concerning is the county has confirmed four cases from the Brazilian strain – which is 200 percent more transmissible than the original virus.

“There is another trait to this strain which is worrisome,” Jain said. “That it can evade the vaccine, and also if you had previous infection, it can cause re-infection.”

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Jain said the vaccine is effective against severe disease and hospitalizations. He said because there are only a few confirmed cases of the Brazilian strain in the county, there’s still time to contain it.

“The most important thing you can do is vaccination. The vaccine will protect you against the B.1.1.7 and to some extent, the other strain as well,” Jain said.

The City of Memphis announced earlier this week their vaccine sites would be closed next Friday through Monday.

However, officials said they are evaluating the amount of vaccine they have on hand and may decide to open some of those days.