Shelby County health officials give update on COVID-19 data, variants found in community

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County health officials spoke Tuesday about COVID-19 data and vaccines in our community.

Mayor Lee Harris encouraged everyone to get a vaccine.

New variants that are more infectious have been found recently in the county.

FAQ: Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in the Mid-South

Appointments are available for anyone over 16.

Restaurant and hospitality workers can visit www.memul.org to apply for a one-time $1000 grant being distributed by the Memphis Urban League.

Harris said several local restaurants are giving out free face masks designed by a local restaurant owner.

Get yours here.

Harris said domestic violence and aggravated assaults in our community have increased at least 21 percent during the pandemic.

The County Commission approved the county’s first Safe Leave policy, where County employees can take time away from work to address domestic violence situations and seek help.

David Sweat, deputy director of SCHD, said over 91,000 cases have been reported in Shelby County. 93 new cases were reported Monday.

1,567 people have died due to the virus.

306,679 total vaccine doses have been administered, Sweat said.

Over 98,000 people in the county are fully vaccinated at this time.

RELATED: Colleges could make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement in the fall

Sweat spoke about the P1 (Brazilian) variant strain found in Shelby County.

The UK variant is the most common in our community.

Dr. Manoj Jain, infectious disease expert, said local health leaders are seeing indications of COVID-19 cases increasing again.

Jain said the mutant virus strains are causing cases to increase.

The UK variant strain is making up 30-50 percent of positive cases. It is more transmissible and increases mortality.

Jain said the Brazilian strain is 200 percent more transmissible than the original virus. It can also evade the vaccine and cause reinfection.

Vaccines can protect against severe disease and hospitalization, Jain said.

RELATED: Appointments fill up quickly as vaccine eligibility opens to all adults in Shelby County

Residents should continue wearing face masks to reduce transmission.

Testing is also important, Jain said. Testing is widely available throughout the community.

“Everyone we can do is being done,” Jain said.

CLICK HERE to visit the city’s COVID-19 website.

Call 901-222-SHOT to make a vaccine appointment.