Weekly Update

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This week, you might have heard talk about mass testing for students and teachers as school starts back. I wanted to give a little more background on how the plan came about and where we are now.

Earlier this year and in partnership with City Council, we allocated $12 million from the federal CARES Act funds assigned to Memphis for enhanced COVID-19 testing. Of that $12 million, City council approved an initial $2 million for a pooled testing pilot.

In order to use this method of testing, we were required to get F.D.A. approval. With the help of Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Marsha Blackburn, Congressman Steve Cohen, Congressman David Kustoff and their staffs, we received the necessary approvals and were able to move forward. Their support was instrumental is getting us to where we are today.

Now, we’ve talked about the pooling method before, but to give you a quick refresher, it combines multiple patient samples and runs the test of all the samples together. If the result is negative, all samples are cleared. If they come back positive, each pooled sample would then be run individually to determine which may be positive.

To find out exactly how this pilot would work, we created a testing committee that meets virtually three times every week, and we started testing our own city employees first. After a few successful internal rounds of city employees and some children in summer programs (with parental approval of course), we expanded the pilot to include teachers and are currently in the process of adding (on a first-come-first-served basis) schools that are open for in-person learning this fall semester.

As it stands right now, we have the capability to test up to 4,000 students and teachers per day, every day and that number will hopefully grow as we move forward. Now I’m not advocating for schools to be opened or closed for in-person instruction this fall, but in order to safely keep our schools open (if they choose that route) and our teachers and children safe, we are strongly encouraging schools to test and test often. It is the best way to know from week to week if someone is infected and to stop a potential outbreak before it starts.

The right path: After having eight straight weeks of steady increases, our positivity rate has been dropping each of the last three weeks, and our reproductive rate remains below 1. This is exactly the path we want to continue going down.

positivity 8-14

Our number of new daily cases continues to stabilize and our testing capacity is back up to where we need it to be.

If you’re having symptoms—get tested.

Even with the good trends we’re seeing, there is one area where the numbers are still too high—our hospitalizations. We’re averaging between 350-400 hospitalizations each day.

These are averages from the 1st through the 8th of June, July and August:

  Tests Positives  Hospitalizations
June 1,725 124 148
July 2,361 321 316
August 1,933 259 374



Those numbers serve as a stark reminder that it’s as important as ever to keep wearing a mask (it works, and our dropping positivity rate is proof) washing our hands, and please stay home if you’re sick.

If we can keep wearing a mask for the next several weeks, we will drastically reduce the number of new cases, new hospitalizations, and prevent unnecessary deaths.

100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment: Next Tuesday, August 18th, will mark 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote and Tennessee’s historic role as the 36th and final state to ratify.

To commemorate this historic occasion, we are asking all local churches to ring their bells at noon on the 18th to celebrate and to serve as a reminder of this important milestone in our nation’s history.

Liberty Park: As you may have seen yesterday, our plan for the old Memphis Fairgrounds property is finally coming together.

The new name will be Liberty Park and will represent our iconic destinations such as Liberty Bowl and Tiger Lane, the Children’s Museum of Memphis, and the Kroc Center. Over time, this projected $200 million transformation will grow to include a mixed-use, public-private development and sports and events center with phased openings beginning in 2022.

To get the full picture, check out the website complete with renderings, future plans, and for the developers among us—leasing and contact information for your next business venture.

Have a great weekend!


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