The sobering and ongoing count of local deaths attributed to the coronavirus includes a pediatric death announced Tuesday during the Memphis-Shelby County Joint Task Force update.

“A 13-year-old child died from COVID-19 this week in Shelby County, either directly from the virus or indirectly from contributing factors of the infection,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.

No additional information was given on the child’s race, area of residence or how long he or she had suffered with coronavirus. Haushalter said the average age of death from COVID-19 is 73, and the majority of new cases are individuals below the age of 45.

There were 26,656 reported COVID-19 cases reported in the county as of Wednesday (Aug 26). Data shows that some 2,365 cases have been among children younger than 18.

Wednesday’s data showed 122 new cases reported over the previous 24 hours, with 366 total deaths.

Total coronavirus cases recorded in Shelby County was listed at 247,503.

The positivity rate continues to decline and is now 10.8 percent. Officials would like to see the positivity rate below 10 percent, but are optimistic as positivity rate soared over 14 percent at the beginning of August.

Reporting on schools

Shelby County Schools are set to open in the next week, and Health Department officials say school reporting of COVID-19 cases will be “scientifically based.”

“We will notify any school staff or other students’ parents within 12 hours if individuals were put at risk,” Haushalter said. “We know that some schools, not in Shelby County, have dismissed school for extended periods, and it was not scientifically based.”

If a child tests positive for the coronavirus, and the child wore a mask, was asymptomatic with no sneezing or coughing, was continuously directed to social distancing, then there would be no contacts at-risk to notify, according to Haushalter.

“We want to balance the safety of each child with the scientific approach in determining a contact list,” she said.

Haushalter reiterated that any sporting event must enforce social distancing at 12 feet because transmission is at a higher risk when people are singing, yelling, and cheering loudly.

However, children who are under the age of 3 should not be wearing masks, Haushalter said. They run a high risk of suffocating or choking with a mask on.

Micro-grant program

 Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris was on hand to tout the micro-grant program, “Our Beautiful Comeback” Grant.

“Commissioner (Mickell) Lowery and the County Commission recently announced that $1 million had been set aside for these grants,” Harris said. “They were named ‘Beautiful Comeback’ because these businesses are tied to the beauty industry ⸺ beauty shops, barbershops, and other personal service providers. We want to help them through a safe, cautious recovery.”

A virtual grant-application walk-through will be provided for businesses to help them apply for the $2,000 micro-grant.

The online event is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m. Business owners may register for the event by going to: covid19shelbycountytn.gov.