Shelby County sees hundreds of COVID-19 breakthrough cases

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County reported its highest number of new COVID cases since mid-April on Thursday at 259.

Among those, the health department confirmed a few are breakthrough cases, meaning that fully vaccinated people contracted the virus.

Health experts say those shots are still the best protection. But we’ve known all along that with the COVID vaccines, like any vaccine, there’s still the risk of getting sick.

So far, Shelby County has had at least 458 cases in which fully vaccinated people have contracted the virus.

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“Of those breakthrough cases, 30 of those have been due to the Delta variant, and we’ve had two deaths as result to the breakthrough cases,” Dr. Bruce Randolph said.

While the cases are of concern, Dr. Randolph said they make up less than one percent of the county’s cases overall.

“It’s not breakthrough cases driving these numbers up. It’s unvaccinated individuals,” he said.

Though the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, Randolph said it’s still very protective against the Delta variant.

He said vaccinated people who end up catching the virus rarely have severe symptoms.

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“The good news is if you happen to be fully vaccinated and you get infected again, you are less likely to experience severe illness, be hospitalized, and very much less likely to die,” he said.

Dr. Randolph said 88 percent of people in the county who are hospitalized or in intensive care with COVID are unvaccinated.

His message to those who haven’t gotten the shot remains the same.

“This could probably be easily resolved by more people rolling up their sleeves and receiving the shot, it’s as simple as that,” he said.

The health department said 80 percent of the county’s cases are due to the Delta variant.