Shelby County will be operating under a new health directive as of Saturday (Jan. 23). 

“Health Directive 17 opens everything up from 25 percent operating capacity to 50 percent,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph, medical director for the Shelby County Health Department.

“All the numbers are trending downward – the number of new cases, case rate, the number of deaths and the number of hospitalizations.”

New cases reported on Friday totaled 337, with 15 deaths. There have been a total of 79,388 COVID-19 cases and 1,169 deaths in Shelby County.

Health Directive 16 was set to expire on Friday (Jan. 22). 

“Our position has always been as things improve, we want to loosen the restrictions,” said Randolph. “We want to have restrictions only where necessary. We walk a delicate balance between physical health and the economic health of a person. Health is not just being free from disease, it entails social, economic and political status as well.”

Tennessee adds vaccine groups; no promised extra doses yet

Randolph said the key to making the new health directive effective is going to rest largely on personal responsibility. 

“The Safer at Home directive we had in place seemed to work,” said Randolph. “But it is clear that either people stayed at home for the most part, or they adhered to the safety measures set out by the guidelines. Now, we are going to need everyone to take personal responsibility for their actions. Continue to wear masks, and avoid gather in crowds.”

Randolph said the new directive is not a license to become lax in the masking, social distancing or gathering in crowds.

“Just because something is open doesn’t mean you need to go,” said Randolph. “We must use sound judgment. Just because it is legally permissible does not mean it is reasonably advisable.”

Moving forward and for the sake of being safe, health officials say that no person 65 and older should be in a facility where people are not wearing masks. Those who are 40 and under, if exposed to a crowd where people were not masked, should consider themselves infected. They should self-quarantine and avoid being around persons who may be vulnerable.

Health Directive 17 emphasizes the safety measures recommended by the CDC, consistent with those advised by the health department. They are summarized in the following:

  • Wear a cloth face covering or mask when in public settings, while outside your home in indoor spaces, and anywhere you will be around other people.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Maintain at least 6-feet of distance from people not of your household.
  • Avoid enclosed spaces that have inadequate ventilation.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer (≥60% alcohol).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Get tested for the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Get vaccinated (when available) 

Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 must report this information by calling 901-222-MASK, (which is 901-222-6275), or by faxing the information to 901-222-8249. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must also notify those who have been in contact with them.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate in accordance with CDC Guidance pertaining to isolation.

For any questions regarding the new health directive or other related COVID-19 issue, call 901-222-9000.

Vaccine update:

Beginning Jan. 27, the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) will administer second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at multiple locations to those vaccinated at the Health Department’s drive-thru sites at Sycamore View Road and Lindenwood Christian Church on Dec. 28, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

Information about the vaccination locations and links to sign up for appointments will be released through the media and on the Health Department’s COVID-19 landing page ( on Monday (January 25) at 8 a.m.

Individuals in need of their second dose who signed up for a text notification on the Health Department’s vaccination hotline, 901-222-SHOT(7468), will receive a text notification with sign up information on Monday morning.

Also on Monday, the hotline will be staffed with attendants to assist those who do not have Internet access to set an appointment. That line will be staffed 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days per week.

The Health Department will begin setting appointments for first dose vaccinations during the second week of February.

For the latest information about vaccination availability, visit