TIMELINE: Mid-South coronavirus updates April 8

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 Wednesday, April 8

UPDATE: (10:25 p.m.) FedEx confirmed a pilot has died after contracting COVID-19.


UPDATE: (6:50 p.m.) Arkansas health officials confirm the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 1,077.

UPDATE: (3:00 p.m.) Gov. Bill Lee started his conference with urging Tennessee to find hope.

Gov. Lee said the Tennessee Department of Workforce is reformatting the unemployment insurance website so that the self-employed will be able to receive the benefits.

79 people have died in Tennessee because of the coronavirus. They have done 57,000 tests across the state of Tennessee. 10,000 new swabs went out to health departments to help with testing.

The Tennessee governor said they are continuing to make sure the state is able to handle a surge of new cases. An executive order loosened the restrictions to allow retired or furloughed health care personnel to help the incoming demand. An online portal has been set up for people to sign up.

HealthStream has opened its learning platform to facilitate the launch of the alternative health care locations. This will ensure high-quality care at the alternative locations, the governor said.

Abbott has created a test that will test patients in minutes, rather than days. The CDC has provided the State of Tennessee with one of the machines and 120 test kits This will allow rapid testing for the state, and will hopefully help with the backlog.

The 120 test kits are going to be used for health emergencies and higher-risk patients, for example, a nursing home resident.

There may be only in a state lab, however, private labs in the state will also be getting access to the tests. This will rapidly scale the testing in Tennessee, according to the governor.

The test is administered with two nasal swaps. The test will get a negative result in five minutes and a negative in around 13 minutes.

“This machine is a game-changer," a medical official said.

UPDATE: (2:31 p.m.) Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves held a daily news conference to update people on the state’s response.

There are 88 new cases in Mississippi, which is down from the previous day. He said it is good news, however, they do not believe this is a downward trend.

In regards to churches across Mississippi, Gov. Reeves emphasized that the state of Mississippi does not have the right to shut down a church or stop them from worshipping.

“We are not going to be kind of government that shuts down worship,” Gov. Reeves said.

Reeves emphasized he is only asking churches to do the right thing, and not hold in-person worshiping.

The governor invited Bishop Stanley Searcy who was still holding services to pray for the state of Mississippi.

“This is a horrific virus,” the bishop said. “The coronavirus is doing more than taking away our lives. It is taking away our constitutional right.”

He thanked the governor for being a Christian and being a straight shooter.

The bishop said he will not be holding church on Easter to respect the governor’s wishes.

“We can only save lives if we all do our part,” Reeves said.

On schooling in Mississippi, Governor Reeves also said he has been urged to continue distance learning. He will continue to talk to parents and teachers. On Tuesday, April 14, he will provide clear guidance on the state’s plan.

UPDATE: (2:00 p.m.) The COVID-19 case count for Tennessee is now 4,362 as of April 8, 2020, including 79 deaths, 449 hospitalizations and 592 recovered.

UPDATE: (1:37 p.m.) Governor Asa Hutchinson gave his daily update which highlighted the state’s response to the pandemic.

There have not been any additional deaths reported in the state. The total remains at 18. Fourteen of the deaths were people 65 or older.

Health officials talked about the need to be creative when celebrating birthdays or holding funerals. They cited events in Chicago that led to the spread of more cases.

They continued to press the need for social distancing and focusing on self-care. The State of Arkansas is providing resources online for people who may need help with mental health concerns while self-isolating.

The State of Arkansas Department of Commerce has 80 people answering phones to help people with unemployment insurance.

There have been more than 100,000 claims, and they expect it to continue to climb throughout the week.

The first round of checks for $600 extra in unemployment insurance provided by the Cares Act has started to go out.

The department is having to create a different system for those people who are gig workers. They expect it to be a 3-week delay, however, they will able to back pay because of the delay.

During the announcement, they emphasized this is not unique to Arkansas and other states are doing the same thing.

UPDATE: (1:25 p.m.) Memphis Police has 15 officers who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a department spokesperson.

UPDATE: (1:15 p.m.) Batesville, Miss. has issued a curfew for all of its residents.

UPDATE: (12:00 p.m.) The Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force gave its daily briefing.

The task force has partnered with multiple organizations that have set up a call center that will set up temporary employment for those who have lost jobs through a grant.

These workers will start Friday and more information can be found on their website.

Mayor Jim Strickland urges people to continue to practice social distancing during this Easter and Passover weekend.

Those who have died had cardiac problems, lung problems and diabetes, plus had close contact with someone who had the virus.

The health department warns of those trying to celebrate Passover and Easter needs to follow the guidelines of social distancing. The celebration has to only have 10 people, wear a mask and people needs to be 6 feet apart.

This applies to those inside and outside the facility.

The city has set a hiring freeze for all city departments except public safety because of COVID-19.

UPDATE: (11:30 a.m.) Southaven First United Methodist Church will host a drive-thru food pantry this Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. until supplies run out, according to a press release.

The church is located at 723 Starlanding Rd. E., Southaven, MS 38672.

The church will also be giving out Easter items for families with children.

Every car will receive one bag of food, and everyone will remain in their car and drive up to get their bag, according to the press release.

Anyone that is wishing to donate food or cleaning supplies or Easter items (candy-filled eggs or little toys), can drop them off at the church.

Contact Jan Lacy at 662-643-0011 or Ruth Williams-Hooker at 901-734-8132 for more information.

UPDATE: (10:17 a.m.) New Bellevue Food Ministries will host a drive-thru food giveaway this Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to a press release.

The drive-thru will be open to Tennessee residents who present a valid driver’s license or government-issued ID.

You MUST CALL before tomorrow at 4 p.m. in order to receive a food box.

The food boxes include a 14-day supply of food items, according to the press release.

New Bellevue Ministries is located at 672 N. Trezevant, Memphis TN 38112.

For more information, call 901-590-3040.

UPDATE: (10:11 a.m.) Shelby County health officials are reporting 21 deaths due to the coronavirus.

UPDATE: (10:05 a.m.) The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 88 new cases of the coronavirus this morning.

Sixty-seven people have died from the virus in the state.

The total number of cases in the state is now 2,003.

UPDATE: (9:55 a.m.) Shelby County health officials are reporting 897 cases of COVID-19 this morning.

UPDATE: (9:50 a.m.) The U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers that it is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Acts of retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotion, or reductions in pay or hours, according to a press release.

Read the full story here.

UPDATE: (9:11 a.m.) Tennesseans can report price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic through the Office of the Attorney General.

If you see price gouging, or think you have been the victim of price gouging and want to report it, you can do so here.

UPDATE: (9:04 a.m.) Arkansas health officials are reporting 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Eighteen people have died in Arkansas due to COVID-19.

There have been 201 recoveries, according to health officials.

UPDATE: (9:02 a.m.) The Memphis Soul Music Festival (MSMF) is postponing its inaugural fundraising event planned for June 13 at Shelby Farms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release.

MSMF Founder and CEO of SisterReach, Cherisse Scott, has decided to take part of the funding earmarked for national recording artists’ compensation and use it to partner with churches and organizations to support the practical needs of Memphis families.

Churches and organizations can apply on the SisterReach website (www.sisterreach.org) beginning today through April 15, according to the press release.

Read the full story here.

UPDATE: (7:30 a.m.) Elwood’s Shack will deliver 250 meals to staff on the evening shift at the Memphis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center today, according to a press release.

The restaurant will also deliver 150 meals night shift employees next week.

UPDATE: (7:20 a.m.) The Memphis Ministerial Baptist Association has asked for a day of prayer today due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The prayer will begin at noon.

People are asked not to congregate at their churches but pray to where they are from noon until 12:30.

All denominations are asked to participate.

UPDATE: (7 a.m.) Tennessee Department of Corrections inmates across the state, including at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, have been using textile facilities to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a TDOC press release.

Inmates at WTSP have been making protective gowns for nearly two weeks, according to the press release.

As of last Wednesday, over 2,000 masks and over 800 gowns have been made and donated.

TDOC estimates approximately 1,000 to 1,500 masks and 200 plus gowns will be made daily.

The PPEs are being shipped to TEMA to be distributed to medical facilities throughout the state.

UPDATE: (5:45 a.m.) Beginning today, a mobile food pantry will be set up at the Shelby County Schools Board of Education parking lot, according to SCS officials.

Former Memphis Grizzlies star Zack Randolph donated $10,000 to provide the food pantry.

The mobile food pantry will operate every Wednesday in April (April 8, 15, 22 and 29) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Families can drive through for a 14-day food supply pack while supplies last.

The SCS Board of Education is located at 160 S Hollywood St #324, Memphis, TN 38112.

UPDATE: (5:38 a.m.) The City of Oxford, Miss. is distributing hand sanitizer today at two locations, according to a City tweet.

There will be drive-thrus at City Hall and Jackson Avenue Center.

The distributions will begin at 9 a.m. until supplies run out.

UPDATE: (4:50 a.m.) The Mid-South Food Bank will distribute food today through its Mobile Pantry at the following locations:

Memphis, Iglesia Nueva Vida, 7981 Summer Ave., 10 a.m.

Memphis, NCC, First Baptist Church, 2869 Broad Ave. 38112, 9 a.m. - limited to residents in the 381112 zip code Pre-register at https://www.ncclife.org

Memphis, Idlewild Pres. Church, 1750 Union Ave. 9 a.m.

Memphis, Our Hands to Yours, 2818 Midland Ave. 38111, 11 a.m.

UPDATE: (4:42 a.m.) Below are the latest numbers by state for our area:

Tennessee 4,138 - 10 cases in Dyer County. 21 cases in Fayette County. 6 cases in Hardeman County. 835 cases in Shelby County. 39 cases in Tipton County.

In Tennessee, 72 people have died due to the coronavirus and 356 people have recovered.

Arkansas 997 - 61 cases in Crittenden County.

In Arkansas, 18 people have died due to the coronavirus.

Mississippi 1,915 - 30 in Coahoma County. 140 in DeSoto County. 25 in Lafayette County. 19 in Panola County. 18 in Tate County. 36 in Tippah County. 17 in Tunica County.

In Mississippi, 59 have died due to the coronavirus.

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