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Living through COVID-19, Part XII

Things continue to look up

With his rising confidence in the volume of passenger traffic at Memphis International Airport, entrepreneur James Cook this week reopened the second of two businesses he been forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concerns about the virus resulted in airline passenger traffic dropping to a trickle. That was bad news for Cook’s Runway 901 Bar & Grill and Lenny’s Grill and Subs, along other concessionaires at the airport.

Three weeks ago, passenger traffic had picked enough to allow Cook to reopen the Lenny’s, although on a reduced schedule of 5 a.m. until noon. He said he has been averaging about 100 customers a day.

On Tuesday (July 14), Cook reopened Runway 901, also on a reduced schedule and with a limited menu.

“We still are only opening Lenny’s from 5 a.m. to noon and Runway 901 from noon to 4 p.m. They are next door to each other, so it works out well,” he said.

Runway 901 served 70 customers Tuesday. “Anything over 50 is good,” Cook said.

When The New Tri-State Defender checked with Cook two weeks ago, he anticipated closing the deal on a building he purchased in Whitehaven. He plans to turn it into the “Living Room Lounge,” a place to get a drink and a meal, and relax.

He closed the deal and has reached out to the Greater Whitehaven Economic Redevelopment Corporation (GWERC) for help in securing a loan or grant to help with the rehab of the building.

Good news and bad

 Margaret Cowan’s daughter, Cayden, was involved in a traffic accident Tuesday (July 14) night at Germantown Parkway and Dexter, while driving Cowan’s car.

Cowan, founding keeper of the nonprofit I Am My Sister’s Keeper, said the driver of the other vehicle turned into her daughter’s path. Cowan’s vehicle was heavily damaged.

Cayden, who was picking up her sister from work, did not appear to be seriously injured, although her mother was scheduled to take her to a doctor Wednesday to be evaluated.

Meanwhile, Margaret Cowan said the resources made available to her through the Network for Good’s Jumpstart program are exciting.

Her nonprofit, which works with single mothers to help them increase their earning potential, received free services for a year, valued at $10,000, from the program. Network for Good advises nonprofits on how to maximize their fundraising, using the latest technology and resources.

“The data base they have is a tremendous resource. I’m very exciting” about what this will mean for moving her nonprofit forward, she said.

COVID-19 concerns

 COVID-19 cases in Memphis/Shelby County have been spiraling upward and that has barber William Gandy Jr. concerned that barber shops and beauty salons could be ordered to shut down again as a way to slow the virus’ spread.

Shelby County’s reported COVID-19 cases climbed to 15,678 on Friday, with 408 new cases reported from the previous day. The total number of deaths was 233.  And, the positivity rate from testing also is ticking upward, with it reported at 14.7 percent on Friday.

County Health Department officials and other Shelby County leaders have talked about instituting tripwires, specific measurements such as rate of new case growth and ability to contact trace new cases, that would launch moves for increasing or relaxing social-distancing restrictions.

Gandy, meanwhile, said his customer volume remains about 50 percent below normal because of virus concerns.

 (Jerome Wright is deputy editor for The New Tri-State Defender.)

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