Expert examines best & worst-case scenarios for COVID-19 in Memphis, Shelby County

WATCH: Expert examines best & worst-case scenarios for COVID-19 in Memphis, Shelby County

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — 400,000 cases and more than 8,000 dead. That’s the worst-case scenario the scientist leading the coronavirus fight in Memphis and Shelby County said we could face.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain said unless elected leaders and citizens take immediate and prolonged action, our community is in for a crippling number of COVID-19 cases by the end of the year.

Dr. Manoj Jain told FOX13, “We want to starve the virus of infecting one person after another.” It is not his wish but a warning.

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Dr. Jain sent FOX13 his most recent report about COVID-19 with projections for the worst-case scenarios for infections if local governments do nothing.

This year, the infectious disease specialist predicts there would be more than 400,000 cases of the coronavirus in our community if leaders sit on their hands. Again, this is a projection for a worst-case scenario.

“The number of people infected is hard to measure because there is going to be a large number who are not going to have any symptoms,” Jain said.

Dr. Jain compared projections for deaths from COVID 19 compared to the flu or influenza in Shelby county in 2017 through 2018.

The projected deaths from the flu are 261. Deaths from the pandemic, nearly 1900 and that is with serious efforts at social distancing and other measures.

Without any action? Dr. Jain warns the loss of life is projected to reach 8100.

“Five to ten times worse than the flu. Imagine what the flu feels like, now five to ten times more deaths, emergency rooms and hospital visitations” said Dr. Jain.

(Dr. Manoj Jain)

The infectious disease physician said the recent stay in place order, closing of non-essential business and limit crowds and interaction should head the number of infected cases somewhere between the medium number and the low of about 13,000.

If we relax and think we can return to normal, the numbers can turn right back to a worst-case scenario of more than 8,000dead.

“Look at what is happening in London and what is happening in New York and then begin to realize this will likely happen in Memphis if we do not prepare,” he said.

FOX13 asked Dr. Jain about the president’s call to re-open the economy by allowing some employees back to around Easter and easing social distancing.

Doctor Jain said he and other infectious disease specialists believe that could potentially lead to a rebound of more COVID-19 cases.