COVID-19 cases in kids climbing faster than any other age group, SCHD says

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Hospitals are on the brink of collapsing because the ongoing surge in COVID cases continues to be an issue in the Mid-South, and county leaders are concerned.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare reported a record number of hospitalizations Wednesday.

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“I’m terrified by the number of students and teachers that come down with COVID-19,” said Tonya Edwards, SCS Parent.

Tonya Edwards is concerned with the rise in COVID cases amongst children. And rightfully so, data shows children make up roughly 40% of COVID cases.

“Pediatric cases continue to outpace other age groups in the county,” said Michelle Taylor, Shelby County Health Department Director.

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As a result, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is reporting the largest increase in COVID hospitalizations at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

“The pediatric hospitalization number is 28, and there are seven in the ICU,” said Taylor.

Shelby County Health Director Michelle Taylor is encouraging people to get themselves, and their children vaccinated if eligible. They’ve also encouraged people to mask up as large events return like the University of Memphis Football Games, the Southern Heritage Classic, etc.

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“You should be masking up when you are in indoor public spaces, and you should mask up in outdoor crowded spaces,” said Taylor.

A measure Edwards is taking to protect her children.

“Everyone continue to mask up,” said Edwards.

Once again, health leaders said the only way to turn things around is through vaccination and masking. They said they have seen a modest uptick in people rolling up their sleeves.

Health officials in Shelby County gave an update Thursday on COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and vaccine data.

During a live press briefing, Chief Doug McGowan said hospitalization rates have reached a record high.

721 people are hospitalized today. 203 are in ICU.

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McGowan said 163 are intubated, the highest level that has needed to be intubated.

Roughly 4% of ICU bed capacity is available.

Hospitals are still experiencing staffing challenges as the pandemic continues.

Vaccinations have reached an important milestone: 50% of the county’s population has received at least one vaccination, and 40% have received two or more.

RELATED: Health leaders calling current surge “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”

McGowan said the county is encouraged by an uptick in vaccinations.

The county expects a surge in vaccinations when booster shots are approved sometime this month.

Vaccines are widely available at public and private sites across Shelby County.

Visit for locations and more information.

McGowan said over 400 people experiencing homelessness have been vaccinated by a health care team.

Over 6,000 vaccinations were given in August at the county’s public vaccine pods.

Capacity is increasing at community testing sites so residents can have more access to COVID-19 testing and know their status.

Additional lanes have been added at several sites, and a new site opened at 3362 Third St. (Christ Community Clinic).

The clinic is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., McGowan said.

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SCHD Director Michelle Taylor said 531 new cases were reported today, and there are over 8,000 active cases at this time.

For every identified case, approximately 2.5 more are not identified, Taylor said.

The transmission rate has declined some but is still above 1.

There have been 20,209 pediatric cases to date with 175 new cases reported today.

38138 and 38139 have the highest vaccination rates, Taylor said. The zip code with the lowest vaccination rate is 38127.

Pediatric infections continue to outpace other age groups, Taylor said.

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