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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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COVID-19 UPDATE: Shooting for ‘100 Days Under 100 New Cases’

With great fanfare, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris hailed the county’s 50-day milestone of keeping new COVID-19 cases below 100 daily and set course for a new push.

At a Friday morning press conference, a huge banner heralding “The Road to 100 Days Under 100 New Cases” was unveiled on the Second Avenue terrace of the Shelby County Administration Building. The new milestone target date is August 10.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris recounts the community’s hard work in fighting the spread of the coronavirus ahead of unveiling a new goal. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

Harris praised county employees for their hard work in reaching the 50-day mark, noting that it took the joint effort of all Shelby Countians, who “rallied together” during the pandemic.

“We’ve all made sacrifices,” said Harris. “We have all done the hard work to keep our neighbors and our families safe. This was a unified effort that was unimaginable a year and half ago, but we did it, we all did it.”

Detailing that effort, Harris said, “Strangers began leaving food boxes and care packages on the porches of seniors in need. Neighbors began to create caravans so they could celebrate the graduations, the accomplishments and the homegoings of their friends and loved ones… . As a result of all of that effort, our case counts have remained relatively stable.”

Touting the merits of COVID-19 vaccination, he urged those who have not made the choice to do so. “If not to protect yourself, then to protect those in your family who may be vulnerable,” he said.

Getting vaccine holdouts to go ahead and take the vaccine is part of the “100 Days” campaign.

As another sign of transition in the long fight to check the spread of the. Pandemic, earlier this week it was announced that local health officials no longer will conduct daily COVID-19 briefings. However, task force meetings with stakeholders will be ongoing.

At Friday’s press conference, David Sweat, the Shelby County Health Department’s outgoing deputy director and chief of epidemiology, also referenced those who “have worked so hard for so long to get us to this day. …

“Our numbers are better now than they have ever been since the first two weeks of the pandemic. So, that’s a tremendous achievement.”

Sweat, who has accepted an offer to lead the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina COVID-19 response team, said Shelby County has “not achieved victory.” The COVID-19 vaccine – which he called “a miracle of science” – is what will get  Shelby County “over the top and through it all,” he said.

As for his work here in Shelby County, Sweat said, “It’s been an honor, it’s been a pleasure and it’s been a journey.” Harris presented him with a commendation from the county.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris prepares to present a commendation to David Sweat, a familiar face during the county’s fight against COVID-19, serving as the Shelby County Health Department’s deputy director and chief of epidemiology. Sweat has accepted an offer to lead the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina COVID-19 response team. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

As of Friday, the health department reported the 7-day rolling average from June 18 through 24 as 28 new cases per day.

So far, 384,108 people have been vaccinated in Shelby County, reaching 54.9 percent of the county’s goal to vaccinate 700,000 people. Shelby County averaged 1,125 vaccinations per day over the last week. Health officials have, however, declared county residents more than 70 percent protected from the virus by the combined number of those receiving the vaccine and those who have antibodies in their blood from having survived the virus.

Getting vaccinated

Throughout the rest of June and in July, the city has scheduled 31 pop-up vaccination sites, with support announced for a publicly accessible walk-in vaccine clinic.

Notably, the Pipkin Building at the fairgrounds will cease operating as a drive-thru vaccination site at the end of July.

Those who have not been vaccinated can still call to schedule with the health department. Pharmacies and physicians’ offices also are offering vaccines. For more information, call 901-222-SHOT or 222-6468.

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