COVID-19 update

National lockdown. A member of the Biden coronavirus task force says a 4-to-6 week lockdown “could get the pandemic under control in time for a vaccine.” During the campaign, Biden said he would “shut down the virus, not the country.” The AP says Biden faces a “tough choice.”

Vaccine inadequacy. Dr. Fauci says social distancing and masks will be needed even after a vaccine is available.

Mask protection. Updated guidance released by the CDC on Tuesday says masks also protect mask wearers, not just those around them, by providing “filtration for personal protection.” The new guidance cites studies showing that masks reduce the risk of transmitting or catching the virus by more than 70%.

Vanderbilt study. A study by The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine shows Tennessee counties without mask mandates have higher COVID-19 death rates. The report stresses that this is a correlation and “the observed relationships between hospitalizations, deaths, and mask requirements is about a set of behaviors, including but not limited to masking.”

Also in the news this week:

  • The City of Germantown voted 3-2 to ask Gov. Lee for a statewide mandate.
  • The $51 million field hospital in Memphis is “ready,” except for the medical staff who would be needed to run it; there aren’t enough nurses.
  • Study: Temperature checks, symptom screenings not very effective in detecting COVID-19 infections
  • The Shelby County Health Department had to close facilities after positive COVID-19 cases among employees.

This week. Below we check in on the local numbers.


COVID-19 update

Pandemic continues. While the nation shifted its attention to the federal election this week, COVID-19 metrics sharply increased both in the United States and around the world.

No gatherings. The White House is asking Tennesseans and citizens in other “red zone” states to avoid gatherings with others outside of their immediate household.

Vascular disease. Scientists continue to research the effects of COVID on blood vessels.

Blame game. This week the Daily Memphian‘s Jane Roberts finds a new local source of spread: nurses, “who may be passing the disease to each other when they let their guard down outside patient rooms.”

Pool testing. Memphis restaurants and businesses will participate in an asymptomatic mass testing program.

Rapid testing. Action News 5 did a scan of Memphis locations looking for sites offering rapid tests.

G-town Grinch. The City of Germantown cancelled Christmas and joined the calls for a statewide mask mandate.

Better masks. Harvard Business Review says essential workers need better masks. Ask yourself why.

This week: Below, we check in on the local numbers.


COVID-19 update

New scare. The local numbers are rising again. Hospitalizations are going up substantially. Area hospitals are discussing surge plans. There is new concern the field hospital may be needed.

Governor Lee has extended the state of emergency.

Placing blame. Local health officials point to these contributing factors: rural counties with no mask mandates, youth sports and weekend soccer events in the suburbs.

Mask mandates. Memphis area hospital systems urge masking but political figures want them (double or triple) mandated:

Wearing masks. The Shelby County Health Department says there is already widespread masking.

As reported by News Channel 3, “mask usage went from around 50 percent to more than 90 percent in Shelby County after a mask mandate was introduced this summer.”

As reported by the Daily Memphian, “in Shelby County, more than 90% are wearing masks.” This information has been removed from an updated version of the story.

Stubborn facts. In addition to the already widespread usage of masks, here’s what else seems to be lost in the calls for increasing government powers:

In the news. Some additional headlines:

  • LocalMemphis: Where are Shelby County’s COVID-19 clusters?
  • LocalMemphis: Shelby County keeps most COVID-19 cluster information from public
  • Fox13Memphis: How and where you can vote safely if you have COVID-19 symptoms on Election Day
  • WMCActionNews5: Tiger at Tennessee zoo tests positive for COVID-19

This week: Below, we check in on the local, state and national numbers.


COVID-19 update

It’s alive. The SCHD has “not cancelled Halloween.”

Close encounters. The CDC has redefined what counts as close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 to now include “shorter but repeated contacts that add up to 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.”

The definition change was triggered by a report on that case of a 20-year-old Vermont correctional officer, who was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection in August. The guard, who wore a mask and goggles, had multiple brief encounters with six transferred prisoners before test results showed they were positive. At times, the prisoners wore masks, but there were encounters in cell doorways or in a recreational room where prisoners did not have them on, the report said. An investigation that reviewed video footage concluded the guard’s brief interactions totaled 17 minutes during an 8-hour shift.

Everything right. Italy is once again getting hammered despite aggressive mask mandates, social distancing and lockdowns.

What’s particularly troubling about the return of COVID in Italy is that the country has done everything experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have been advising. Face masks in public places have been compulsory for months, social distancing is strongly enforced, nightclubs have never reopened, and sporting arenas are at less than a third of capacity. Children who are back at school are regularly tested and strictly social-distanced, and yet, the second wave seems completely unstoppable.

Social censoring. Social media companies are censoring speech by experts who question the level of protection offered by masks.

Back to school. Shelby County Schools “could reopen in January.”

Winter wave. Some local health professionals fear “what could be a tsunami of new cases” in the colder months ahead.

Approved treatment. The FDA gave approval to the first treatment for COVID-19: the antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir).

Mouthwash study. “A new study conducted by researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine has found that a common dental item can inactivate human coronaviruses: mouthwash and oral rinses.”

New website. The Tennessee Department of health has launched a new website for COVID-19 information:

This week: Below, we check in on the local numbers.


COVID-19 update

Haunted advice. The Shelby County Health Department released Halloween guidance to warn against the dangers of giving treats to children wearing masks.

Back to school. The Health Department also released health directive 14 in part “to clarify ongoing questions about whether schools may reopen.” Spoiler alert: they can.

But while the talking heads are starting to think it’s time for SCS to open up, the school board remains unmoved. Meanwhile, the district confirmed 28 staff members have tested positive.

Prominent cases. A member of Bill Lee’s security detail tested positive, causing the Tennessee Governor to quarantine.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie surfaced after a hospital stay to say he regrets not wearing a mask on the White House grounds.

Three staffers connected to the Biden campaign tested positive, causing Kamala Harris to suspend travel. The three employees were part of campaign flights and contracted the virus even though “everyone on the Biden campaign plane is required to wear a mask.”

Federal warning. White House officials reportedly told state leaders that “a statewide mask mandate must be implemented.”

In the news:

  • Pfizer said it would apply for emergency use approval for a vaccine in late November.
  • People with blood type O may have lower risk of Covid-19 infection and severe illness.
  • A CDC study showed 70% of symptomatic adults “always” wore a mask in the 14 days prior to illness onset.
  • Europe has overtaken the U.S. in new cases following lockdowns.
  • A Japanese study shows humidity limits aerosol spread of coronavirus.
  • A Nevada man became the first to be infected twice.

This week: Below, we check in on the local numbers.