COVID-19 cases are rising in Shelby County as vaccine sites are set to close

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — During Thursday’s COVID-19 Task Force briefing, Shelby County health leaders announced several vaccination sites will close within the next week.

The first site to close will be the First Baptist Church in Bartlett. That site will close after Friday, May 21.

The Gill vaccine site will close on May 27, and the Raleigh vaccine site will close on May 29.

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Memphis Fire Chief Gina Sweat said the county is administering around 2,300 doses a day across all sites, and about half of those doses are being administered at community pods.

“To me, that’s a good sign,” said Sweat. “That means we’re starting to normalize vaccines. People are getting them at their doctor’s offices. People are getting them at different locations.”

Vaccinations are slowly increasing with people ages 60 to 74 and ages 75+ are seeing the most vaccinations.

Deputy Director of the Shelby County Health Department, David Sweat, says younger people are slowly getting vaccinated with about 10% of kids 12-17 having been vaccinated. Even with vaccination efforts well underway, David Sweat says COVID-19 cases are going up too.

“In terms of case count, 97,870 cases have been reported in the pandemic. That’s an increase of 109 new cases yesterday,” said David Sweat.

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The Deputy Director went into detail explaining that the virus is infecting different groups of people.

“77% of the cases that have been diagnosed in the last 14 days have been diagnosed in residents who are Black. In the last two weeks, 56% of cases have been in people less than 35 years of age,” said David Sweat.

He also mentioned that within the last two weeks, 22% of children have been infected with the virus.

A map shown during the briefing shows some zip codes have more people getting vaccinated than others.

The darker shaded areas have between 44 and 61 percent of people vaccinated. The lighter shade has 21 to 25 percent of people vaccinated. A few vaccine sites that are closing help service the areas with low vaccine turnout.

Chief Sweat says the city will continue hosting community vaccine pods, but there is no guarantee they will help.

“Unfortunately, at our community pods, we’ve seen some of the same downward trend of people coming out. We’re trying to take the vaccines to those areas as much as we can, but we still have to have the people to come out and get vaccinated when we bring it to them,” said Chief Sweat.

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The city does have several community pod vaccine sites event set for this weekend. There is one Friday, May 21, at Riviana Food from 12 p.m. -4 p.m. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available there.

On Sunday, May 23, a vaccine event will be held at Handy Park on Beale Street. This event is from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be administered at this event.

People who attend and get vaccinated will receive a voucher for a free meal at a restaurant on Beale Street.

Over 97,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic, an increase of 109 since yesterday.

Dr. David Sweat said 1,648 deaths have been reported.

As of Wednesday, the county has reached 49.2 percent of its goal to vaccinate 700,000 people in order to reach herd immunity.

Nearly 345,000 people have been vaccinated. 262,093 people are fully vaccinated at this time.

Fire Chief Gina Sweat said the Pipkin Building is still open for vaccinations even after FEMA crews left Wednesday.

New hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No appointment is needed.