Star Staff Reports
The Shelby County Health Department issues Face Mask Order No. 4 and the “Safer at Home” Health Directive No. 16. These directives consider the rapid spread of COVID-19 through the community, the loss of over 800 lives to the virus, and the current strain on capacity at area hospitals. The “Safer at Home” Directive provides a balanced solution that limits social gatherings, continues to encourage personal responsibility, and clearly defines risky activities. The Health Department will continue to monitor compliance and may make additional recommendations as necessary. All Shelby County residents are encouraged to submit instances of non-compliance to the Shelby County Health Department COVID-19 hotline by calling 901-222-MASK (6275).
A summary of the “Safer at Home” Health Directive is below:
During the four weeks from December 26, 2020 to January 22, 2021, residents of Shelby County are asked to remain home as much as possible.
Retail capacity decreased to 50%
Indoor dining capacity at 25%
Gyms and fitness facilities capacity decreased to 50%, including staff
Social activities related to entertainment and recreation should be curtailed because they expose everyone to unnecessary risks of spreading COVID-19. This would include, for example, indoor receptions, parties, or events that are not related to places of worship, weddings, and funerals.
Health Directive No. 16 strongly encourages employers to allow non-essential employees to work remotely (where feasible).
All previously approved events that were to occur during the effective dates of this “Safer at Home” should reschedule their event or contact the Health Department to determine whether their event may still proceed.
Businesses that provide goods or services exclusively through curbside service and pickup, drive-thru, shipment, delivery, or virtually may continue.
Certain listed businesses, including some that provide services to customers onsite, may continue to operate (see number 9 beginning on page 4).
Due to the risk of viral transmission, Health Directive No. 16 strongly discourages any on-site dining.
All safety measures for individuals, services, and businesses that were in the previous Health Directive No. 15 will continue under the new Health Directive No. 16.
The Health Department also released today Face Mask Directive No. 4, which:
Clarifies that masks are required in gyms and fitness facilities unless a customer has a medical condition that prevents him/her from wearing a mask, and if that is the case, a face shield is required.
Clarifies that language for dining experiences to require a mask unless a customer is “seated and dining (eating/drinking).”
Full text of Health Directive No. 16 and Face Mask Order No. 4 may be viewed at www.shelbytnhealth.com/healthdirectives.
Health Directive No. 16 is necessary because in recent weeks, transmission of the virus has accelerated at an alarming pace. Over the past seven days, Shelby County has averaged more than 670 new cases per day and more than six deaths per day.
Hospital ICU utilization in our region has exceeded 90% every day since December 7. The influx of COVID-positive patients increasingly strains our health care systems. The Tennessee Department of Health reports that COVID-19 patients account for an average of 25 percent of all inpatient hospital beds and an average of 40 percent of all intensive care unit beds statewide. The influx of COVID-19 patients is putting a severe strain on our ‘region’s health care systems. Continued spread of the virus threatens to overwhelm the health care providers we all depend on to provide needed care.
“The virus has the potential to spread exponentially across our state. Without the necessary statewide interventions, we have to turn to the tools we have at the local level. Unless we take reasonable action to reduce social gathering, we expect that January could have the highest numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Alisa Haushalter, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC
Director, Shelby County Health Department
“Although Shelby County has been one of the best at responding to COVID-19 in our state, Tennessee is on fire. If the state does not act with an effort to combat the current surge, we will have to do something at the local level. If we do not, the numbers we have seen recently foreshadow a very difficult January. The numbers we have seen recently mean lives could be at stake. We can summon the capacity to dig a little deeper and continue the course.”
Shelby County Mayor
Medical experts across Shelby County agree on the need for decisive action to flatten the curve, reduce illnesses, and save lives.
“This virus is spreading at an exponential rate, and many of the infected patients that contract COVID-19 are requiring admission to our hospitals. Our systems are already under tremendous strain. We do not want to get to a point where we have no hospital beds available. Such a situation would affect all of us because anyone of us can have an emergency which may requires hospital care. Furthermore, our analysis shows that if no action is taken, then the number of daily deaths over the next several months will increase significantly.”