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COVID-19 – Where do we stand?

Mayor Jim Strickland highlighted Wednesday’s Joint Task Force COVID-19 update with protocols that will be enforced as some restrictions are lifted.

A day earlier, Strickland extended the city’s safer-at-home executive order, with some exceptions, until May 5.

The changes were being made, he said, “with an eye towards the future when we can get back to business.”

Effective at 6 a.m. Friday (April 24), all “big box” retailers must implement safeguards used at most of the city’s supermarkets on a voluntary basis the past two weeks.

Those safeguards include limiting the number of people who can be in the store and providing for lines to enter the store with social distancing standards.

It also requires hand sanitizer and face masks for employees working in crowded areas of the store.

The big box stores must provide at least one hour a day of restricted access to those 55 and older, and to those who are otherwise more at risk for the COVID-19 virus.

In addition to store protocols, continued emphasis will be placed on everyone who is out in public being strongly encouraged to wear facial coverings when engaging with others or enter- ing a place of business.

Consistent with directives of the Shelby County Health Department, fully automated car washes will be allowed to operate, but all ancillary amenities, such as the vacuums, must be closed for public use.

Also, because of a “successful trial this past weekend,” golf courses will be allowed to operate, beginning this weekend, subject to COVID-19 Compliant Protocols specific to golf courses.

Five of the eight public courses will be open – Links at Galloway, Links at Audubon, Links at Fox Meadows, Links at Pine Hill and the Links at Whitehaven.

The Overton Park, Riverside and Davy Crockett courses will remain closed.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is allowing the state’s safer-at-home order to expire on April 30. How- ever, Shelby County is not affected because it only applies to counties without their own health departments. Only 89 counties across the state are impacted by the governor’s order.

“Since the beginning, our approach has been one that is based on medical advice and data,” said Strickland. “Reopening our city and getting our economy moving again is vitally important, but we must get back to business the right way.

“We cannot squander all the good we have done with our social distancing efforts to slow the spread of the virus.”

Three areas, he said, will be considered as local officials plan how to get back to business:

• The numbers of new cases are stable or declining for a period of time.

• Hospitalizations are stable or declining for period of time and the hospitals have capacity to treat all patients.

• Testing and tracing capabilities are sufficient to contain the virus.

According to Wednesday afternoon updates, Shelby County’s count of con-

firmed COVID-19 cases jumped to 1,894, up from 1,857 Tuesday, with 41 deaths from virus-related complications.

Tennessee’s confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 7,842 Wednesday afternoon, up from 7,394 Tuesday, with 166 deaths.

Strickland, meanwhile, thanked Ron and Carolyn Kent, and Jasmine and Sunny Chow, owners of Chow Time Restaurant, for donating 10,000 surgical masks to the Memphis Housing Authority.

“I’ve said this before, but the generosity of so many in our community has been amazing to see during this crisis.”

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