U of M study shows low mask usage numbers in Memphis entertainment districts

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Real concerns for health officials and county commissioners over the number of people wearing not masks in our entertainment districts, like Highland Row and Beale Street.

It stems from a University of Memphis study FOX13 first reported last week, showing young people aren’t masking up as they should.

RELATED: U of M study shows more people are wearing masks

Researchers say surveillance video from Beale Street on Saturday night shows most people aren’t wearing masks.

“What’s distributing is that the ones who are not wearing masks are not six feet apart from the people they’re standing with so the COVID-19 virus can easily transmitted to them,” said Dr. Marian Levy, University of Memphis School of Public Health.

Dr. Levy said mask compliance was less than 60 percent in entertainment districts before the mask ordinance passed but even after it passed, she said mask usage only increased to around 67 percent.

Levy said young people are the problem. “I think younger people think they’re invincible and they need to understand it may not affect them that badly but it will affect older people,” said Levy. “If they care about themselves, and if they care about the older people in their families that they love they will wear a mask and they will do social distancing.”

Limited mask usage is also happening inside some entertainment venues.

This same weekend, Memphis Police say 300 to 400 kids were dropped off at the Putt-Putt Fun Center on Summer Avenue Saturday night.

RELATED: Video shows local teens damaging Putt-Putt Fun Center

In cell phone video, you can see kids weren’t social distancing or wearing masks.

This violates the county’s COVID-19 health directive.

Commissioner Tami sawyer says she believes it’s partially a business’ responsibility to control what happens inside their venues.

“Just like I don’t believe Beale Street and other entertainment districts are essential and need to be open while we’re trying to slow the spread, I don’t believe that we should be taking our kids to these places, nor should these places be allowing that amount of people in there,” she said.

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