Scenes such as this outside a local hospital have become, hauntingly, all too familiar in Memphis as the effects of the novel coronavirus continue to strain healthcare systems. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

Shelby County’s ride up the local slope of COVID-19 continues, with the latest reported information from the Shelby County Health Department showing 10 deaths among the 706 confirmed novel coronavirus cases.

Fifth death confirmed from outbreak at Tennessee nursing home

NASHVILLE — A fifth person has died from a coronavirus outbreak at a Tennessee nursing home that saw more than 100 people test positive. READ MORE

Credit-no-credit choice posed to UofM students

According to an email sent out this week by Dr. Tom Nenon, the University of Memphis’ executive vice president for Academic Affairs, the UofM is offering all students a credit/no credit grading system for the rest of the semester.

The grading system will remain the same, said Nenon, but students now will have the option between taking grades in all of their classes or opting for the credit/no credit system.

“This system is intended as a unique response to the unprecedented and unforeseeable events causing our transition to online classes”, Nenon said in the email.

Students have the option of keeping the grades they earn at the end of the semester, or they can opt for the credit/no credit option. Grades of credit will earn the same amount of credit as letter grades, but will not be factored into a student’s GPA, according to Nenon.

Students should confer with their academic advisors before making any decisions.

The UofM plans to return to its regular grading system for all classes over the summer and fall.

UTHSC receives donation of thousands of masks from partner institutions in China

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has received a donation of thousands of face masks from China, as a result of the university’s affiliations with academic institutions there.

UTHSC’s College of Graduate Health Sciences, which has developed strong ties with several academic and health care institutions in China, secured the donations. The donations include clinical masks and N95 masks.

Donald Thomason, PhD, dean of the College of Graduate Health Sciences, said the college has already received 2,000 masks from Hebei University and Hebei Medical University, and another 10,000 or more are on the way from Harbin Medical University. First Hospital of Qiqihar City, another partner of the college, is also sending masks.

Dr. Thomason said the college is determining how best to distribute the donated masks.

The initial delivery of 1,000 surgical masks came Tuesday morning, he said. Another shipment of 1,000 masks arrived Thursday. Additional shipments of personal protective equipment are also expected, along with masks.

“This is what the spirit of humanity looks like. It’s not about politics, not about personalities, simply the Golden Rule,” Dr. Thomason said.

“We do not have the capacity to bring millions of face masks to New York like the former NBA player (Stephon Marbury), but this may help in relieving somehow the burden on UTHSC,” said Dr. Weikuan Gu, PhD, professor of orthopaedic surgery.

Dr. Gu has been active, along with other faculty and staff, in developing UTHSC’s relationships with institutions in China.

“While the N95 masks are for clinical use, certain people at work, such as the police, supporting staff, and exponential personnel in the offices and labs, may really need to wear these general clinical face masks,” said Dr. Gu.

“Of course, wearing a mask must not be a substitute for a social distance. It is in addition to social distance. This will help prevent them from being infected and from infecting others.”

How to report social distance policy breakers

Health Director Alisa Haushalter mentioned in Friday’s briefing that there are several numbers the public can call for information and to register complaints/concerns about social distancing/Safer at Home orders.

Those numbers are:

  • The City of Memphis 3-1-1 line
  • The Shelby County Mayor’s Action Line: 901-222-2300
  • The Shelby County Health Department’s COVID-19 Hotline: 833-943-1658

And this is from Mayor Jim Strickland’s April 4 COVID-19 update:

Strickland: :I talked yesterday about the enforcement of the Safer at Home Order, and wanted to update you on our noncompliant numbers through yesterday.”

Total Original Complaints 125
Total Duplicate Complaints 22
First Visit Inspections Completed 98
In compliance 1st visit 68
Violations (Warnings) Issued 19
Re-inspection 27
*Placards Posted 1

*Placards posted is a notice posted on the business telling them to vacate the property until further notice.

The majority of businesses come into compliance quickly, Strickland said in the update.

“Of all the inspections, only one refused to comply, and code enforcement is going out daily to inspect new complaints.”

To file a complaint against a business or person not in compliance with the Safer at Home Order, call 311.