Monday, December 21, 2020

New Stay-At-Home Order Lasts a Month After Christmas, Restricts Retail, Restaurants, Gyms

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2020 at 4:16 PM

click to enlarge Shelby County Health Department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter at COVID-19 Task Force briefing. - CITY OF MEMPHIS/FACEBOOK
  • City of Memphis/Facebook
  • Shelby County Health Department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter at COVID-19 Task Force briefing.

Shelby Countians are asked to stay at home for four weeks after Christmas and businesses will be restricted in a new lockdown order issued Monday afternoon from the Shelby County Health Department.

The new order, Health Directive 16, is a Safer At Home order to be in place between Saturday, December 26th, and Friday, January 22nd. In it, all ”social activities related to entertainment and recreation should be curtailed.” These include “indoor receptions, parties, or events that are not related to places of worship, weddings, and funerals.”

Also, the new directive limits retail capacity to 50 percent. Indoor dining capacity is decreased to 25 percent. Capacity at gyms and fitness facilities are decreased to 50 percent, including staff.

The health department also issued a new face mask directive that clarifies that masks must be worn in gyms unless a customer has a medical condition. It also clarifies that masks must be worn in restaurants unless a customer is seated and “dining (eating/drinking).”

Here are comments from local leaders on why the new directive was set in place:

Alisa Haushalter
Director, Shelby County Health Department

“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 percent every day since December 7th. The influx of COVID-positive patients increasingly strains our healthcare 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 healthcare systems. Continued spread of the virus threatens to overwhelm the healthcare 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."

Lee Harris
Shelby County Mayor

”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."

Dr. Manoj Jain
infectious disease advisor to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland

"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."

Dr. Jeff Warren
Memphis City Council member

“Our hospital capacity is under severe strain. We should do everything we can right now. These are tough decisions. I get that. However, people could die. We will get through this, but we are asking everyone to please practice the social distancing, wear a mask, and try to avoid social gathering for the next four weeks.”

Dr. Jon McCullers
Senior Executive Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

“Although no one wants additional restrictions, we believe that at this point we have to do everything we can to remind the public of the importance of reducing social gatherings. That is our tool for slowing the spread. These additional restrictions show to me a very concerted effort to understand what is happening in our community right now and, with the limited tools available, what we might do to bring down the transmission rate.”

Michael Ugwueke
President & Chief Executive Officer
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare

"Since the start of this pandemic, protecting the health and safety of our community has been our top priority. With the surge we have experienced over the past two weeks, I believe a return to Phase One is the best tool we have to protect the health and safety of those we serve. I support this as a necessary step based on COVID trends in our area. By working together and following proven infection prevention best practices, we can once again reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community, and hopefully we can spend time with our loved ones in the New Year.”

Sally Deitch
Chief Executive Officer
St. Francis Healthcare

“Though the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present unique challenges for everyone, it is important to us that you know we have the processes and protective supplies in place to provide care safely. The most effective safety measures we can take against COVID-19 continue to be wearing a mask, washing our hands, and maintaining social distance. These measures are important during the holidays as we continue to see a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations. The Shelby County Health Department’s health directive will further encourage us all to do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Dr. Reginald Coopwood
President and CEO
Regional One Health

“With coronavirus surging at a record pace in this community, Regional One Health joins with the other hospital systems who care for the individuals affected by this pervasive and ongoing pandemic. From our staff, nurses, and doctors, everyone is doing their part to continue to provide high quality care to our patients.

“High transmission of COVID-19 in the community has created the most challenging conditions we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic. As the Shelby County Health Department makes determinations to reduce the risks of COVID-19, our community must make a conscious and collective effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. I urge everyone to practice social distancing, wear your masks appropriately, and do not gather in crowds or with people outside your household. All must do their part to flatten the curve so that we can continue to provide the care our community needs.”

Here are some further details from the new health directive:

• 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 on-site, 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.

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