COVID transmission down across Shelby County, mask mandate remaining in place, SCHD says

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — COVID cases may be on the decline across Shelby County, but local leaders said they have no intention of lifting the universal mask mandate anytime soon. The health department believes the mask mandate is part of the reason cases are declining.

“We’re contemplating maybe having Christmas with our children if the numbers are down and they have all received their vaccine,” said Margaret Weathers, Mississippi.

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Margaret Weathers passed on celebrating Christmas with her family last year because of COVID, but this year they may all get together.

“We plan on doing it safely, but again it depends on the numbers,” said Weathers.

Across Shelby County, COVID-19 cases are declining. 

“Today there are 294 new cases. This is down from 350 this time last week. And 423 two weeks ago,” said Bruce Randolph, MD/SCHD.

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Data shows the test positivity rate in Shelby County is down to 6.9%. The reproductive rate is at 0.74, the lowest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Pediatric cases are showing a downward trend as well,” said Randolph. While this data is promising, Shelby County health leaders said the universal mask mandate will remain in place.

“We don’t want to prematurely take our foot off the gas. We want to keep going,” said Randolph. And, Weathers agreed.

“I think we should keep it in place a little longer,” said Weathers.

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Convincing Shelby County parents to get their kids vaccinated remains a priority for health leaders. Data shows 39% of kids 12 and up in the county are fully vaccinated, while nearly 47% have received one dose.

“I think parents will do what they believe is in their best interest to get their kids vaccinated,” said Randolph.

To convince parents, the city of Memphis is hosting an online discussion Friday to educate parents on the benefits of vaccinating their kids.

“The message, straightforward, honest, answer the question and acknowledges the concerns they may have,” said Randolph.

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“People may say you don’t have any young children. No, I don’t, but I know how it affected her,” said Weathers.

The Shelby County Health Department continues to push the importance of getting vaccinated. The goal is to have 70% of the population vaccinated. Currently, only 42% of eligible residents are vaccinated.

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