Thanksgiving holiday parties held in “different locations” yielded multiple violations of the latest COVID-19 health directive, Shelby County Health Department Officials said Monday.
Health Department Medical Director Dr. Bruce Randolph did not specify those locations, other than the In Love Memphis Club at 7144 Winchester Rd., which has drawn particular attention after a video circulated of Saturday’s All-Black Affair hosted annually by Curtis Givens.
The video clip shows a packed venue, with what appear to be multiple violations of the directive mandating masks and social distancing.
Many fear it may turn into a super-spreader event.
“We intend to hold all services, businesses and individuals to the health directives, particularly the health directive No. 15,” said Randolph at the Memphis-Shelby County COVID-19 Joint Task Force briefing.
The All-Black Affair – called such because of the clothing color scheme – was made a major part of Monday’s briefing. An investigation of the event is underway.
Randolph had harsh words for those in attendance and issued a call to party-goers to get tested as soon as possible.
“We all have a role to play in preventing the transmission of this virus,” he said. “Just because something is legally permissible doesn’t mean it is medically advisable. You don’t have to go. … We repeat over and over again how COVID-19 is transmitted …those in attendance need to get tested as soon as possible.”
Those who simply refuse to wear a mask as directed by the mandate put at risk loved ones “who are more susceptible to the adverse effects of the virus,” he said, and are “just selfish.”
Shelby County is in the throes of an alarming surge, with 609 new cases reported Tuesday and 11 deaths in a 24-hour period. There have been 48,714 total cases and 679 fatalities.
In addition to the In Love gathering, Randolph said those who attended any large gathering should be tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.
Givens told The New Tri-State Defender on Monday that crowd control in a huge tent dubbed “The Bubble” got out of hand as the event was shutting down. He did not return multiple calls and texts on Tuesday afternoon.)
Meanwhile, Health Department officials did not detail possible penalties and any enforcement that may be exacted on In Love Memphis.
Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said that evidence and data, including videos and pictures, must be corroborated by eyewitnesses.
Randolph said an internal investigation also is being done to identify the “successes and failures inside the Health Department that may have contributed to Saturday night’s alleged violations.
“We’re looking to see where we dropped the ball,” Randolph said. “An inspection was done on site at In Love at 3:46 p.m. on Saturday. Another investigation was done at 8 p.m. At that time, it appeared that masks were being worn and social distancing was being utilized.”
Givens extended the square footage of the club by attaching a huge tent, which he called, “The Bubble.” Randolph said that the tent could not be considered “outside” because it was enclosed in plastic and air was not freely circulated.
Meanwhile, a case-study sample of 303 cases in the county showed that the highest number of new cases fall within the group ages 25-34, Randolph said. Another at-risk group, ages 35-44, are more likely to be in the workplace, engaging in social activities and going to school.
Transmissions continue to surge because 49 percent of residents continue going about their “activities of daily living,” while 76 percent continued to work.
Officials said there are presently 500 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. There is concern about hospital staff shortages.
“COVID-19 beds require special staff,” said Haushalter. “We are reducing or halting elective surgeries at this time.”
Surges in surrounding counties continue to be concerning since many cases are routed to Shelby County health systems.
For information on testing, or to file a complaint against an establishment or business in violation of the health directives, call 901-222-9000, or 901-222-MASK.