Will the rise in COVID-19 cases bring restrictions back to Shelby County?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Shelby County has risen more than 200% in just the past two weeks.

Doctors blame the highly-transmissible Delta variant. The question now is how to slow the spread?

“I feel like it’s too early for me to get vaccinated. That’s why I still got my mask on,” said Tyren Goodman, a resident of Memphis.

Three COVID-19 vaccines have been available to adults for months, but Tyren Goodman is still on the fence.

“I feel like they’re saying you can still get COVID, so what’s the point of getting the shot? And with the new strand out, I’m still not sure about it,” said Goodman.

Goodman is not alone. Across Shelby County, about a little more than a third of the population is fully vaccinated. That’s leaving room for the Delta variant to infect people.

“We are dealing with a much more contagious virus, and our numbers have more than tripled in hospitalized patients, and that’s one of the best ways to keep track of this,” said Steve Threlkeld, MD/ Baptist Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist.

Threlkeld said there have also been what are called breakthrough cases, where fully vaccinated people catch the illness.

“People you have seen have breakthrough cases and gotten sick have been at ground zero of a super-spreader situation. They were around someone hitting them with a lot of virus,” said Threlkeld.

An issue that could be avoided if those on the fence, roll up their sleeves.

“I’ll give it some time, and then after a while I’ll probably get vaccinated,” said Goodman.

Dr. Threlkeld does not believe the gradual increase in cases will result in Shelby County reinstating COVID restrictions. He said it would ultimately come down to hospitals becoming overwhelmed.