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‘Our Faithful Comeback’ grants target small churches, faith-based organizations

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris kicked off Tuesday’s (Oct. 20) COVID-19 Joint Task Force update with some good news for small faith-based entities.

“Our smaller faith-based institutions having 100 members or less have taken a huge hit,” Harris said. “The lack of technology and resources to stay connected has been a challenge. And this is a time when people need to be connected with their faith more than ever.”

The “Our Faithful Comeback” grants will assist small churches and faith-based organizations by:

■ Providing livestream equipment to connect members to services and other activities.

■ Or, providing churches with up to $1,500 for PPE (personal protective equipment). Receipts for the purchase of PPE must be provided.

Churches and organizations applying for “Our Faithful Comeback” must provide documentation that they are nonprofit entities.

For additional information on the grant program, contact Dominique Winfrey in the mayor’s office at 901-222-2011.

The Shelby County Health Department Wednesday reported 227 new COVID-19. That brought the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in the county to 35,077.

The Health Department reported two new virus-related deaths Wednesday, increasing the number of COVID-19-related deaths to 556.

“This fall spike or fall wave, or whatever you want to call it, is happening not only in Shelby County, but we’re seeing it all over the country,” Health Department Chief Epidemiologist Dr. David Sweat said on Tuesday.

“We are seeing the most increases in Arlington, Millington, East Memphis, Hickory Hill, Collierville and Bartlett. This is a call to action.”

Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said hospitalization capacity is being strained because people are coming in from surrounding counties. Health officials predicted that the fall spike would send the number of hospitalizations up by mid-November.

Haushalter said the county’s testing capacity still is being underutilized. Three counties: Shelby (Memphis Metro), Davidson (Nashville Metro) and Knox (Knoxville Metro) account for a quarter of the total number of cases in the state.

“This is a significant moment in time,” Haushalter said. “Masking is a critical piece of our success. It is mandated, but we get calls every day of limited service bars and other businesses that are not following the mandate. We got a call that one store had taken the mask mandate signage down at the entrance.”

Although coronavirus cases numbers are surging, Haushalter said the Health Department “has not cancelled Halloween.”

“We have received calls asking if fall festivals and Halloween have been cancelled,” Haushalter said. “We have not done so, but we are asking that wise, individual choices are made to reduce transmissions.

“Gatherings in the home or in a faith-based facility should be kept small, with masking and social distancing. Individual choice will make the difference.”

Sweat said if Shelby County is to see a drop in new virus infections, everyone must “recommit to wearing a mask at all times in public.”

Said Sweat: “Mandates are no good if people do not voluntarily agree to abide by them…”

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