TIMELINE: Mid-South coronavirus updates March 31

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The impact of the novel coronavirus is being felt all across the Mid-South where new cases are being announced every day and new steps are being taken to help limit the spread. Keep checking back for the latest COVID-19 updates throughout the day.

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Below are the latest updates for Tuesday, March 31

UPDATE: (7:45 p.m.) Mississippi Department of Human Services announced emergency supplement benefits for SNAP recipients. Households eligible for SNAP benefits will receive an emergency food benefit for March and April.

UPDATE: (7:30 p.m.) Arkansas health official announced the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 564.

UPDATE: (4:55 p.m.) MATA released there will be adding buses to lessen wait times at bus shelters and bus stops.

The release stated:

Extra buses have been added on key routes to address the issue of frequency and to serve customers who may have to wait longer at bus stops and bus shelters due to the 10-person limit that was instituted to comply with local Executive Orders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Effective immediately, MATA will begin posting new schedules on matatransit.com that reflects additional buses operating between scheduled trips. In addition, beginning on Wednesday, April 1, MATA will begin staging buses at the William Hudson, Airways, and American Transit Centers in order to be able to respond quickly that additional buses are needed to serve more customers who may be left waiting due to the 10-person limit. By using this process, wait times should lessen greatly and MATA operators should be able to respond faster.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, more adjustments of service may occur. During this time, MATA also requests that employers be as flexible as possible

UPDATE: (4:20 p.m.) Mane T-shirts purchased several billboard around the city of Memphis to remind people to ‘STAY HOME MANE’ during the coronavirus outbreak.

The billboards are up in several spots along I-40 and I-55.

UPDATE: (4 p.m.) The Shelby County Clerk’s Office released vital information regarding vehicle registrations and licenses, per the governor’s executive order.

They are:

  • Real ID’s have a 1-year extension
  • Those vehicle registrations set to expire between March 12 through May 18, will now have until June 18
  • Class A, B, C, D, P and M driver’s licenses plus Class ID Photo licenses set to expire between March 12 through May 18 have an additional six months from the date of expiration
  • Valid enhanced handgun carry permits set to expire between March 12 through May 18 will received an additional six months from the date of expiration

UPDATE: (3:35 p.m.) A spokesperson for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Officer has confirmed an additional case of COVID-19 within SCSO.

UPDATE: (3 p.m.) Governor Bill Lee held his daily press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The state has conducted 27,000 coronavirus tests.

The “Safer at Home” goes into effect tonight.

“We need you to heed this call to stay at home for two weeks,” he said. “Lives depends on this.”

You can still support Tennessee businesses by shopping online, ordering takeout, but also do not hoard goods that you get at the grocery stores, the governor added.

He said the “Safer at Home” was one of his hardest decisions and he supports all the small businesses because they are taking the brunt of this order.

He reiterated that there will be options for you in the coming days and months to help the small businesses in the state.

The governor also mentioned the mental health problems during this pandemic and he said his administration will be committed helping the Tennesseans with any mental health issues that come and will make options available for you.

The federal government has provided a grant to help mobile health units for rural areas in the state.

There are multiple crisis systems in place for each person who needs help.

Mental health services will be available to everyone, even if you don’t have insurance.

The governor said multiple companies and universities have donated PPE to healthcare providers and first responders and continue to make them available when they become available.

He also commended those companies stepping forward to help make PPE for those who need them in the state.

The state will be releasing negative results, recovered results and death identified by county, each day, by the end of the week.

Childcare remains a challenge in the state.

The state has relaxed the licensing for childcare providers to make sure there are options for those essential employees.

They are trying to make more supplies available to all childcare locations, especially cleaning supplies.

The state is also running quicker background checks for those people who are trying to become an emergency childcare provider. They have only denied one person because of a previous drug charge.

UPDATE: (2:00 p.m) The Shelby County Health Department said there were more deaths from COVID-19 with most being between the ages of 50 and 60.

The health department is really looking into the mapping of who the positive cases have been around. They are calling it a heat map to find the clusters.

Most of the overall cases are ages 60 and younger.

The health department also said they are contacting employers of those positive cases to see if there is spreading within the workplace.

All assisted living and nursing homes are not allowing visitors.

The health department has noticed there is a delay in reporting, that a lot of employers know of a case within the workplace before the health department.

The case breakdown of ages are:

  • 11-20-year-olds= 4.7%
  • 21-30-year-olds= 22.7%
  • 31-40-year-olds= 19.1%
  • 41-50-year-olds= 16%
  • 51-60-year-olds= 17.4%
  • Grand Total= 79.9% of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County have been in people 60 or younger.

The hotline for the health department is 833-943-1658.

UPDATE: (2 p.m.) The Tennessee Department of Health reports that there are now 2239 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

The new tally includes 23 total deaths and 175 hospitalizations.

There are now more than 3600 cases across the Mid-South.

UPDATE: (1:30 p.m.) The Arkansas Governor confirms there are 523 cases of COVID-19 with 64 hospitalized and one new death

Total deaths are at 8.

The biggest issue the governor said was the out of state travelers coming into the state to visit the state parks. These travelers are coming from coronavirus hot spots.

There are 17 children, 158 adults older than 65 and 348 adults ages 18 to 64 that have COVID-19.

Out of all the cases, there are 79 that are healthcare providers.

The governor has signed a disaster declaration for the coronavirus.

He has asked for National Guard members to be implemented in a humanitarian effort.

The state has had over 30,000 unemployment claims.

An executive order was signed to suspend notary actions in person, these can be down in audio and visual means that include lawyers, banks, wills, etc.

UPDATE: (12:10 p.m.) A Memphis based healthcare facility has been approved to process COVID-19 tests.

Poplar Healthcare, a leading anatomic and molecular pathology laboratory announced they will process the tests in its 113,000-square-foot, high-complexity CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited laboratory.

They are also working to be approved to provide initial testing to those who think they have COVID-19.

“As coronavirus spreads across the nation at an alarming rate, Poplar Healthcare is well situated to help control the outbreak by providing patients and providers access to COVID-19 testing,” said Poplar Healthcare Medical Director, Shawn Kinsey, MD. “Our proximity to FedEx allows our laboratory to not only service the city of Memphis and surrounding communities, but anywhere FedEx flies. We are routinely providing results in 24 to 48 hours from receipt of the specimen.”

Poplar Healthcare’s Vice President of Genomic Operations and Development, Anami Patel, PhD said: “Providing testing on different platforms allows the laboratory flexibility to adapt to challenges in the supply chain and provides additional capacity to serve patients and healthcare workers who need the testing the most.”

Poplar Healthcare is one of the largest physician-owned pathology group practices in the United States, offering a wide variety of DNA- and RNA-based molecular tests.

It receives thousands of samples each day and is supported by a team of over 25 board-certified and fellowship-trained pathologists.

Healthcare providers and institutions interested in obtaining access to the test can contact Poplar Healthcare at 901-526-1912 or email covid19@poplarhealthcare.com

UPDATE: (12 p.m.) The First Horizon Foundation announced today it is donating $2.5 million in support of COVID-19 emergency relief efforts to nonprofit organizations throughout the community.

The funding will be distributed to select organizations that provide food, education and emergency assistance relief in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas.

The Foundation will collaborate with First Horizon Bank market presidents to identify and coordinate with the organizations that will receive expedited grants.

UPDATE: (11 a.m.) St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has created a blog to share heartwarming acts of kindness during these challenging times.

The “Inspired by Your Kindness” blog shares positive stories of hope and encouragement with the community amid the coronavirus outbreak.

UPDATE: (10:15 a.m.) The Mississippi Department of Health announced 90 news cases of COVID-19 within the state.

The total number of cases is 937 in the state and 20 deaths.

UPDATE: (10:05 a.m.) The Shelby County Health Department announced there have been two additional deaths in the county.

This makes three total deaths.

UPDATE: (9:45 a.m.) FOX13 has confirmed a pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis has died due to complications of the coronavirus.

Tim Russell died yesterday at Baptist Hospital.

The church is located at 4055 Poplar Ave., Memphis TN 38111.

UPDATE (9:30 a.m.) Regional One Health and the Red Cross have teamed up to launch blood drive opportunities beginning today in the Mid-South.

The blood drives will be held every Tuesday through May 19 at the American Red Cross at 1399 Madison Ave., Memphis TN 38104 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Employees of Regional One Health, including members of the executive staff, will be donating blood during the launch event today, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Blood banks continue to experience severe blood shortages due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancelations during the coronavirus outbreak.

UPDATE: (9 a.m.) There are now 405 cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County, according to health officials.

There have been 13 coronavirus-related deaths in Tennessee, including 1 in Shelby County.

UPDATE: (8:45 a.m.) A forgivable loan program has been created for businesses in Downtown Memphis that are in jeopardy of permanent closure to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Downtown Business Continuity Forgivable Loan Program will give money to eligible businesses that are in serious jeopardy of permanent closure due solely to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic impacts.

The program will provide direct financial assistance to existing, locally-owned, eligible businesses, with a preference for businesses operating continuously within the Central Business Improvement District (CBID) for a minimum of 12 months preceding the application submittal date.

The loan can be used for fixed assets (leasehold improvements or equipment), operational expenses, rent and restructuring debt.

Loan applications will be accepted beginning April 2, and end when the approved funding is depleted.

A business may be eligible for a forgivable loan of up to $20,000.

Contact Brett Roler, Vice President of Planning & Development Downtown Memphis Commission, at roler@downtownmemphis.com or at (901) 575-0574 for more information and an application packet.

UPDATE: (8:25 a.m.) Wal-Mart announced it now be conducting temperature checks and general health screenings on employees as they report to work each day.

In a post on the company’s website, John Furner, the company’s President and CEO, said any associate with a temperature of 100.0 degrees will be paid for reporting to work and asked to return home and seek medical treatment if necessary.

The associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.

Additionally, face masks and gloves will be available for employees who wish to wear them.

Furner said the masks would arrive within 1-2 weeks.

Furner said the company is implementing a “6-20-100 framework” for employees to remember:

6 feet is the amount of space people should keep from others to maintain social distancing.

20 seconds is the amount of time people should take to wash their hands with soap and water.

100 is the temperature that someone should stay home with.

UPDATE: (8:20 a.m.) Regions Bank announced it is donating advertising to the Mid-South Food Bank in order to encourage financial gifts to the organization during the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition, Regions is launching general advertising to encourage viewers to support all local food banks.

UPDATE: (7:45 a.m.) Dollar General is giving a 10% discount to all medical personnel, first responders and active National Guardsmen.

Individuals can present their employment badge or ID at more than 16,300 stores, including every Dollar General in the Mid-South, to receive the discount.

DG CEO Todd Vasos said the company wishes to show gratitude to these individuals for their service to their communities.

The discount is being offered through April 30, although the offer could be extended, according to a press release.

UPDATE: (7 a.m.) In order to ensure there are enough hospital sites in the Mid-South during the coronavirus outbreak, several local hotels have opened up rooms to any medical facility that needs overflow space.

The Days Inn Graceland, 3838 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis 38116; Jackson Heights Inn and Suites, 2889 Austin Peay Hwy., Memphis 38128 and Econo Lodge, 9822 Huff n Puff Rd., Lakeland, TN 38002, have opened up rooms for medical care.

The Memphis City Council is asking any other places of lodging who can make space available to contact them.

UPDATE: (6:05 a.m.) A first-grade teacher has made a document for other parents with tips and activities for keeping students busy and engaged while they are at home.

The document breaks down activities by subject, and includes links to websites students can use.

UPDATE: (6 a.m.) Beginning today, Riverside Drive between W. Georgia Avenue and Union Avenue will be totally closed to through traffic to enforce the city’s “Safer at Home” directive.

This section of Riverside Dr. will remain closed for an indefinite period of time.

UPDATE: (5:05 a.m.) The Mid-South Food Bank is distributing food today through its Mobile Pantry at the following locations:

Memphis, Downtown/Life Church, 430 Vance Rd. 9 a.m.

Memphis, St. Paul Church, 2124 Holmes Rd. 38116 10 a.m.

Memphis (kid friendly), Hillcrest High, 4184 Graceland Drive 38116 10 a.m.

Memphis, MAM-Leawood, 3638 Macon Rd. 10 a.m.

Lake County, TN- 552 Bishop Ridgely, 38080 10 a.m.

McNairy County, TN- 877 W. Cherry in Selmer 38375 10 a.m.

UPDATE: (4:45 a.m.) Below are the current number of coronavirus cases by state for our area:

Tennessee 1834 - 3 in Dyer County, 10 in Fayette County, 396 in Shelby County, 16 in Tipton County. 13 reported deaths.

Arkansas 508 - 17 in Crittenden County. 7 reported deaths.

Mississippi 847 - 20 in Coahoma County, 77 in DeSoto County, 14 in Lafayette County, 13 in Marshall County, 6 in Panola County, 11 in Tate County, 23 in Tippah County, 12 in Tunica County. 16 reported deaths.