COVID Hospitalizations, Predicted for November, Arrive Early

Oct 21, 2020


COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Shelby County.
Credit Katie Riordan

New daily cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Shelby County and across the state as health officials are asking the public to stick with masking and limit social interactions.

Tennessee is one of 31 states across the country on the White House’s growing list of “red zones.” That means last week it had more than 100 new COVID cases per 100,000 residents. The state currently has the 16th highest rate in the country.  

The numbers are concerning for Shelby County leaders who also reported a local three-day average of almost 300 cases per day on Tuesday. 

David Sweat, deputy director at the health department, says both surging local numbers and those in surrounding rural counties, which depend on the Memphis-area’s healthcare system, are driving up hospitalizations. 

“Saturday morning we were modeling hospital data and predicting that by mid-November we would have 230 people in the hospital.”

But, he says, those November numbers are already here. There were 238 Covid-positive cases in area hospitals as of Monday, not including people waiting for test results. 

In recent weeks, the health department says it has implemented new contact tracing methods to better understand where transmission is taking place. Sweat says data analysis hasn’t so far produced any standout trends but include many situations that could increase someone’s exposure to the virus.  

“We have people reporting going out to eat in restaurants, people having social gatherings in their homes, attending parties,” Sweat said. “We also have people talking about employment and employment related clusters.” 

Sweat says the health department has noted increases in positive cases among people who work in a healthcare setting. 

“We need to do some deeper analysis of that right now,” Sweat said.