Business was flowing steadily at Kimble's Fish Market 4672 S. Third St., last Friday and that was ahead of Mondays announced shift to Phase II of the Back to Business Plan. Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Memphis and Shelby County now has shifted into Phase II of the Back to Business plan, according to the Memphis/Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force.

The Phase II announcement came at Monday’s task force briefing an is based on four criteria the COVID-19 Joint Task Force has been monitoring — the growth in new cases, health care systems capacity, public health system capacity and testing capacity.

The Shelby County Health Department will soon issue a directive with new orders and recommendations for individuals and businesses. It will be posted here:

“We said from the beginning that reopening Memphis and Shelby County would be data-driven rather than date driven,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.

During Phase II,  which will be in effect for 21 days, additional businesses — such as museums, some attractions and some contact sports facilities — have the OK to open. A recommendation to move into Phase III will be based on COVID-19 numbers and trends.

Rather than 10-person, maximum gathering, 50 persons can now congregate without violating Back To Business regulations. Businesses such as nail salons, tattoo parlors and spas can open with the stipulation of operating at 50 percent capacity. In Phase I., businesses that could reopen could only operate at 25 percent.

 “I am grateful for the hard work and many sacrifices of the residents of Shelby County,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. “We have seen encouraging results because of a collective willingness to do all that we can to reduce the spread and embrace new skills, like social distancing.

“Although we still have a long way to go in Shelby County’s fight against COVID-19, we have made substantial progress and are therefore prepared to enter Phase 2. We all played a role in getting to this important mile marker. We all have a role to play to get to the next one.”

Mayor Jim Strickland noted that there has been close monitoring of data over the last 14 days. “Based on the opinion of our medical experts, we are ready to move to Phase ll of our Back-to Business plan allowing more Memphians back to work in a safer way.”

Shelby County Health Department Officer Bruce Randolph said continued, widespread testing is still important.

“We encourage everyone to go get tested,” Randolph said. “There has been a decline in testing, but it is important that asymptomatic people be tested to keep the Phase II. opening safe.”

For more information about the Safer at Home order or to register concerns about businesses, contact:

  • The Shelby County Mayor’s Action Line: 901-222-2300
  • The Shelby County Health Department’s COVID-19 Hotline: 833-943-1658
  • Email[email protected].

(This item reflects the reporting of Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)


United Way of the Mid-South Free Tax Prep begins extended season

United Way of the Mid-South’s Free Tax Prep program is continuing drive-thru drop-off tax preparation for the extended season.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS extended the regular filing deadline to July 15th, 2020. Free Tax Prep’s Drive-Thru Drop-Off is open to file current year returns, prior year returns and amended returns.

“United Way’s Free Tax Prep program allows individuals and families to receive the maximum refund from their tax returns,” said Lori Spicer Robertson, United Way’s chief communications and engagement officer. “During this time of crisis, now more than ever it is imperative that United Way adapt and pivot to support our most vulnerable neighbors in securing funds and stimulus related returns.”

Drive-Thru Drop-Off service allows filers to submit their tax return documents to process their refunds without leaving their vehicles and while meeting social distancing guidelines.

Participants will still need to bring all appropriate documentation. A “Stimulus Hotline” is available to help individuals understand their eligibility, provide resources to prepare “stimulus” related returns, and to check the status of the current payment.

All services will be open Monday through Saturday until July 15, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Free Tax Prep will be closed for holidays on May 23rd, May 25th, July 3rd, and July 4th. No appointment is necessary.

(For more information, call the United Way of the Mid-South Relief Call Center at 888-709-0630.)


Native Memphian to serve on Federal Aviation Administration advisory board


Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao has announced the appointment of native Memphian Pamela Williams to the board of the newly-formed Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB).

Pamela Williams (Courtesy photo)

The WIAAB, comprised of 30 board members, was established on October 3, 2019, under the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. It is designed to develop strategies and recommendations that would encourage women and girls to enter the field of aviation. The WIAAB will assess education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women in the aviation industry.

“It is such a high honor to be selected from such a qualified pool of candidates to serve in this capacity,” said Williams.

During her 32-year tenure at FedEx, Williams has held several position in Human resources and now serves as the Human Resources Director on the Board of Directors for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP).

“Aviation is a multifaceted profession that offers great career opportunities in very diverse fields, but women, particularly women of color may feel they lack the training and access required to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Williams. “As a part of the WIAAB, I plan to focus on expanding access and awareness of opportunities in aviation to help more women of color gain entry.”

Members will be appointed to the WIAAB for the duration of its existence, which is anticipated to be a minimum of 2 years, and will meet up to two times per year to carry out its duties.

“This is a significant moment in the history of our profession and signals a long-awaited focus on the value of inclusion in our industry,” said Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison, Board of Directors Chair for OBAP. “We couldn’t be more proud of Pamela, and all of the women appointed to the Board! I’m looking forward to their progress benefiting women who will come into this profession in the future.”

Founded in 1976, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of minorities in all aviation and aerospace careers.

Learn more at

Looking ahead to ‘Strictly business for MWBEs’

Todays TSD Music Video Vibe: