Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) officials have announced new guidelines for businesses following a recent rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and directives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Phase II of Shelby County’s Back-to-Business reopening produced a rise in citizens testing positive for the virus, moving from 7 percent in May to 14 percent currently.
According to data dated Thursday (July 16), SCHD reported 4,915 currently active cases and 233 deaths. African Americans represented 61.7 percent of those who have died.
On July 16 alone, 466 new coronavirus cases were reported.
Three days earlier, 86 percent of the Mid-South’s intensive care unit (ICU) hospital beds were in use – including 30 percent COVID cases – leaving only 62 ICU beds available.
To get the virus under better control, plus avoid the spikes emerging in other major cities with large black populations – including Atlanta, Houston and New Orleans – new directives for Shelby County businesses demand some temporary closures.
“What we know is you really can’t drink at a bar when you have a mask on,” says Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department Director.
“You have to take it off. And then when you take it off, you’re talking with other people. That’s high risk for transmission. We have to reduce those settings where it’s high risk for transmission.”
New guidelines for Shelby County businesses include the following:
- All businesses and services in Shelby County may open except: bars, limited-service restaurants, clubs and adult entertainment venues.
- Restaurants must end service by 10 p.m. daily and record the first name, last name, time of service and cell phone number of “family units” for contact tracing purposes. Restaurants must keep seating charts for 21 days and client records for at least 30 days after the service date.
- Hair and nail salons, barbershops and other personal appearance businesses must maintain a record of all patrons, including the first name, last name, time of service and cell phone number. Records must be kept for at least 30 days after the service date.
- Guidance on school re-openings will be developed in partnership with the schools and provided well in advance for the fall 2020 school year.
- Live music is prohibited unless each performer maintains 18 feet of social distance between performers or any other persons
- Scholastic and organized teams not deemed “high-risk” by the National Federation of State High School Associations may conduct practices, but contact must be limited and all social distancing principles should apply as practicable.
High risk sports such as wrestling, football, lacrosse, competitive cheer, and dance should not occur at this time.
- Festivals, fairs, parades, large scale sporting events and large scale community events are under consideration for future dates.
- Businesses must provide a plan on how to communicate with customers if an employee is exposed to anyone who tests positive for COVID.
- Places of worship are not mandated to close; weddings or funerals are permissible under directives set by the State of Tennessee.
- SCHD may take targeted action against specific businesses where COVID-19 outbreaks or clusters occur.
Guidelines for daycares, exercise facilities, long-term care sites and other businesses are found on the July 15 SCHD Public Health Directive. (See website below.)
Nursing home residents are among groups most vulnerable to the virus.
According to SCHD, healthcare-associated exposure caused 48 percent of current fatalities while 13.9 percent were reportedly caused by close contact (cardiac conditions, diabetes, respiratory issues and obesity are contributing factors).
Fatalities range from age 27 to 99 with an average of 74.
Since March, SCHD has reported 14,804 COVID cases, 9,748 recoveries and more than 162,000 tests conducted.
(For more information, visit the Shelby County Covid-19 Resource Center at: https://insight.livestories.com/s/v2/covid-19-resource-center-%7C-shelby-county-tn/f8b36caa-950f-43b0-99bb-4ce4b39bbb41.)
(For technical assistance, call the Shelby County Health Department COVID-19 Call Center at 833-943-1658, 8:00am-4:30pm, Monday-Sunday).