Health Director calls on surrounding counties to reinstate mask mandates as surge continues

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County’s new mask mandate goes into effect at 7:00 Friday morning. But leaders of areas hospitals said surrounding counties also need to get on board to help. But will they?

We’re told health professionals will soon have to make tough decisions about who lives and who dies in hospitals if things don’t turn around. That is why they’re calling on surrounding counties to follow Shelby County’s lead.

”The pneumonia really hurt a lot because it was hard to breathe. I had really low,” said 18-year-old Carlo Digiovanni, who recently recovered from COVID-19 and pneumonia. He said overflowing hospitals in the Memphis area forced him to battle the illness from home.

”I almost got sent to the ER, but they have so many people in there that I just ended up taking some meds,” said Digiovanni.

Because of the surge in COVID cases and the demand area hospitals are facing, leaders of local hospitals are calling on surrounding counties like Desoto, Tipton, Fayette, and Crittenden to follow Shelby County’s lead and reinstate their mask mandates.

”Everything that happens across our borders also happens here, and so my recommendation to them is to look at the rates going on in their states, counties, localities and really consider the health of your residents,” said Shelby County Health Director Michelle Taylor.

FOX13 reached out to all four of those counties, some by phone, others by email. So far, no one in leadership has gotten back to us.

”When we make decisions in Shelby County, we’re considering those residents too because we know we’re in this together,” said Taylor. 

While Shelby County’s mask requirement is for indoor settings, the health department is calling on people to mask up even in crowded outdoor settings and practice social distancing because if things do not get better, more restrictions could follow.