Shelby County health leaders are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about falling COVID case numbers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Cautiously optimistic. That’s how Shelby County health leaders describe the coronavirus situation as we head into the holidays.

COVID-19 cases across all age groups have dropped, and hospitalizations are down.

County leaders said the numbers are going in the right direction, but they continue to encourage people to get vaccinated and mask up.

”I haven’t got my shot yet,” Frayser resident Ashley Walls told FOX13.

And Walls is not alone. Only 44 percent of Shelby County’s population is vaccinated.

”I don’t plan on getting it because I’m scared because my family got the shot and still got COVID,” said Walls.

Despite the low vaccination rate, COVID pandemic indicators continue to fall. The county continues to see a downward trend in COVID cases among every age group and in nearly every major category. The seven-day average is falling. And hospitalizations are down.

”Because we have more people who have been infected in the community, combined with those who have taken advantage of those who have vaccinations, we have less of a vulnerable population in Shelby County,” said SCHD Director Michelle Taylor.

While cases are on the decline, vaccinations are also lagging. Shelby County Health Department Director Michelle Taylor says it is important people do their part and get vaccinated.

”I’m cautiously optimistic, and I say cautiously because we know natural immunity wanes a lot more quickly than vaccination immunity,” said Taylor.

As for Walls, she said she might get the vaccine if she catches COVID and recovers from it.

”I’ve been thinking about it because a lot of people have gotten it, had no symptoms, but I’m not going to edge into it,” said Walls.

The health department believes that vaccination statistics will climb once the FDA approves the vaccine for kids 5 to 11.

The health department does not plan on changing the universal mask mandate policy at this time.