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VOL. 44 | NO. 46 | Friday, November 13, 2020

Shelby County reports highest daily increase in virus cases

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MEMPHIS (AP) — Tennessee's largest county reported is largest daily increase in COVID-19 cases Tuesday, as health officials express concern about people with coronavirus symptoms who continue to socialize with friends, eat at restaurants and work out at gyms.

Shelby County's health department reported 835 additional cases of the coronavirus, the highest daily jump since July. The increase brings the case total for the county that includes Memphis to more than 43,600. No additional deaths were reported, though 613 people have died from the virus, officials said.

As of Monday afternoon, 389 virus patients were in hospitals around the county, said David Sweat, the county's chief of epidemiology. Hospitals are reporting worker fatigue. Officials said 92% of acute care beds and 89% of intensive care beds were filled in the county, which is the most populous in Tennessee.

Health department director Alisa Haushalter said local hospitals are having trouble finding nurses, as a national surge in cases has limited the number of nurses that can be recruited from other parts of the country.

"We're particularly concerned about hospital capacity as we get into the holiday season," Haushalter said, adding that hospital workers need to push through fatigue and "prepare for the rest of the battle."

Sweat said cases have sprung from instances where the virus can spread among a group of people, such as social gatherings with friends and relatives, eating at restaurants and working out at gyms.

Officials have found that people with virus symptoms are still going about their daily activities, such as going to work, for one to three days without getting tested, Haushalter said.

"Individuals continue to minimize their symptoms," Haushalter said. "If you're sick at all, even very minor symptoms, please go get tested and stay home."

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said leaders of 21 West Tennessee counties were scheduled to meet this week to encourage mask wearing. Officials have recommended limiting travel to counties where mask mandates are not in place.

Shelby County hospitals receive virus patients from neighboring counties, which adds strain to the county's system.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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