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Coronavirus in Memphis: Memphis police employee among those testing positive

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This story was last updated: Friday, March 20 at 5:33 p.m.

The total number of reported cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Tennessee grew to 228 cases was announced Thursday.

Shelby County Health Department reported 30 cases in the Memphis area Thursday morning. The first case in Shelby County was reported March 8. 

Since then, Memphis schools and universities announced closures and events were canceled or postponed as Memphis officials and residents confront the global pandemic. 

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MLGW restricting in-person access for bill payment

Memphis Light, Gas & Water announced restricted access to their community offices effective Monday, March 23. 

The utility company will continue to serve customers wishing to pay their bills through drive-through windows and drop-boxes. They will continue to accept cash, checks, and money orders.

The utility company will also continue to accept payments mailed-in and online.

MLGW community offices are located at:

  • 245 South Main
  • 2935 Lamar Avenue
  • 5131 Navy Road
  • 2424 Summer Avenue
  • 1111 East Shelby Drive

Drive-through accommodations are located at the South Main, Navy Road, and Summer Avenue locations. 

Memphis restaurant group “Re-Opening Party” helps staff now

The owners of Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar, Southern Social, Porch & Parlor and Coastal Fish Company announced that they will be hosting a “VIP Re-Opening Party.” The date is to be determined.  The ticket price to the party is $150 per person. 100 percent of the proceeds from the ticket purchase will go to support each restaurant’s staff.

“We are hoping that this will support our staff during this time,” said co-owner Russ Graham. “When we re-open, we will host a VIP-style cocktail party with all the expenses paid by Tom [Powers] and me.”

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.com; check with each restaurant for specific details. All four restaurants are offering curbside pickup and delivery.

Indie Memphis Launches At-Home Movie Club 

Its weekly theatrical screenings are canceled due to coronavirus fears, but Indie Memphis will continue to make new movies able to its members and to the public in general.

The film organization Friday launched what it has labeled the “Indie Memphis Movie Club,” intended “to provide a virtual screening community experience” via a selection of movies for streaming. The selections mainly will be new independent, foreign and art films, along with some older classics.

The first movie is the new release “Bacurau,” a sinister and politically savvy Western-influenced thriller set in the backcountry of Brazilian. Winner of a Jury Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, the film boasts a cast that includes noted Brazilian-American actress Sônia Braga and cult favorite Udo Kier (star of the 1970s Andy Warhol versions of both “Frankenstein” and “Dracula”).

The movies will be chosen by Indie Memphis artist director and regular movie programmer Miriam Bale. Many of the movies are being made available through film-company platforms; or example, “Bacurau” is presented in partnership with Kino Marquee, a “new initiative” from distributor Kino Lorber “that creates virtual theaters for temporarily closed art house cinemas.” Costs of the streaming rental likely will vary from week to week, but interested “Movie Club” members are invited to convene virtually each Tuesday on the Indie Memphis website, where Bale and various guests will discuss the week’s movie, with the “Bacurau” discussion set for 8 p.m. March 24.

To sign up or get more information, visit indiememphis.org.

Total cases in Shelby County rises to 30

The Shelby County Health Department announced 20 new reported cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 in Shelby County at their daily 2 p.m. press conference

The number of reported COVID-19 cases in Shelby County is now 30.

Before Friday, the largest jump in reported COVID-19 cases came Thursday, when the number jumped from 4 to 10 residents in Shelby County. 

Of the six new cases was someone who did not appear to have a history of travel or exposure to someone with COVID-19, according to Alisa Haushalter, who said the number of new cases represented, “a pivotal moment in the epidemic.”

Tennessee case numbers continue to rise

The total number of reported cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Tennessee grew to 228 from 154 cases a day earlier.

Germantown declares state of emergency

Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo has declared a state of emergency, mandating the closure of bars, restaurants and other businesses in the city as of midnight on Friday.

“I signed a resolution at 11:01 a.m. today declaring a state of emergency for the city of Germantown,” he said.

The mayor said an executive order would be issued shortly, pending review by the city’s legal counsel. That order will spell out which establishments are required to close and which can remain open. 

The Memphis area’s three independently owned movie theaters closed Friday

The Palace Cinema at 5117 Old Summer Road, the Hollywood 20 Cinema at 6711 Stage Rd. in Bartlett and the CinePlanet 16 at 79 Atoka-Munford Rd. in Atoka had remained open Wednesday and Thursday, even after Malco Theatres Inc. – the Memphis-based cinema circuit that owns most of the region’s multiplexes – shuttered its theaters Tuesday night.

However, owners of all three theaters said Friday they were shutting their doors for the foreseeable future, in response to cautions from Mayor Jim Strickland, the CDC and other authorities that have advised against public gatherings, to inhibit the spread of the virus.

All public tennis centers closed

Tennis centers owned and operated by the city are now closed until further notice. 

The closures include the Wolbrecht Tennis Center on Ridgeway Road, the Bellevue Tennis Center on Orgill Road, and the Eldin Roark Tennis Center on Finley Road

Loflin Yard to host outdoor market

With large inventories of food and supplies, the restaurant group that includes Railgarten, Rec Room, Bounty on Broad and Highland Axe & Rec plans to operate an outdoor market at Loflin Yard (7 W.Carolina St.) each week on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.

With plenty of fresh food, prepared food, cleaning supplies and even toilet paper, the restaurant group thinks it can help the community stay supplied and safe while avoiding indoor stores.

Blood drive cancellations trigger “critical” shortage, Red Cross says 

The American Red Cross said an unprecedented cancellation of blood drives across the country amid the spread of the novel coronavirus has caused a severe shortage in the nation’s blood banks. 

It is still safe for healthy, asymptomatic individuals to donate blood, the Red Cross said. The humanitarian aide organization has also added extra cleanliness precautions to the already-sterile process of giving blood. 

The Memphis Chapter of the American Red Cross, located at 1399 Madison Avenue in Midtown, has set up several scheduled blood drives in hopes that healthy individuals will donate.

The upcoming blood drives scheduled at the Memphis location are:

  • March 24: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • March 31: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • April 7: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • April 21: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • May 5: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • May 19: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Memphis police employee among those who tested positive

At a Friday morning press conference, Mayor Jim Strickland said that of the 10 people in Shelby County who tested positive for COVID-19, one was an employee of the Memphis Police Department. 

Strickland declined to provide additional information about this, or other cases. 

During the same meeting, Strickland issued a somber statement. Memphis, the mayor said, has a choice in how the city responds to the threat of community spread. 

The city could respond with an abundance of caution coupled with drastic measures as the county of South Korea has done, or be faced with the difficult life-and-death decisions that occur daily in Italy. 

“We have a choice,” Strickland said. “….Italy has chosen, which has overwhelmed their medical system, or the road that South Korea has chosen, which has tamped down the virus….We have the power in our hands to tamp down and slow the virus… Ironically, we have to come together as a community to be apart from each other. ” 

Strickland noted in Italy, doctors are choosing whom gets potentially life-saving treatment. He also acknowledged again, that Memphis, like many other cities across the U.S., does not have enough testing quits or equipment. 

More: Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland declares emergency amid coronavirus outbreak

“There will be more hard decisions that have to be made… I am very concerned about the thousands of people in Memphis losing their jobs or having their businesses closed, but the health and well-being of Memphians overcomes those concerns,” Strickland said. 

Mississippi schools postpone commencement ceremonies

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Universities across Mississippi are postponing their spring commencement ceremonies because of the coronavirus.

The University of Mississippi said Thursday commencement ceremonies have been postponed to an unspecified date. 

“This is a sad but necessary decision for our university community,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said on the university’s website.

Jackson State, where two students have tested positive for the virus, also said the university has indefinitely postponed its undergraduate and graduate commencements originally scheduled for May 1 and May 2.

Mississippi State University announced it would postpone all of its spring commencement ceremonies as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. One staff person at Mississippi State University Extension has tested positive.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a pandemic. Reported illnesses range from very mild to severe, including death. Agencies anticipate widespread transmission will occur in the U.S. in coming months and recommend social distancing among other measures to slow the spread.  Call your doctor and stay home if you are sick. Get more information at CDC.gov/coronavirus or contact the Tennessee Department of Health coronavirus information line at 877-857-2945 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT daily.

Thursday updates

Click here to read are all the updates from Thursday

  • FedEx employees tests positive
  • Strickland closes restaurants
  • Memphis City Council to hold virtual meeting
  • Tennessee cases continue climb
  • Shelby County DA warns about fake sign
  • Shelby Farms closes facilities, remains open
  • Memphis Film Prize suspended
  • Lowe’s Memphis employee positive for virus
  • Memphis purchases respirators
  • LeMoyne-Owen moves to remote learning, postpones commencement
  • Mid-South Fairgrounds to be used for drive-thru coronavirus testing
  • Blues Foundation cancels awards show, Hall of Fame ceremony
  • For more than 100,000 uninsured in Shelby County, Medicaid expansion may cover ‘some’
  • Shelby County COVID-19 case count jumps to 10
  • Pink Palace to close
  • The Fresh Market to adjust hours

Wednesday updates

Click here to read all the updates from Wednesday

  • Tennessee State Parks cancel guided hikes
  • USL extends season suspension
  • City employees to self-isolate after some domestic, all international travel
  • Memphis Zoo to close
  • Mid-South YMCA locations closing
  • City, county, local nonprofits launch COVID-19 response fund
  • Wolfchase Galleria to temporarily close
  • COVID-19 reported case total for Tennessee now at 98
  • Nike donating to Memphis charities
  • SCS employees paid two days early due to coronavirus
  • Germantown city buildings close to the public
  • Members of the Memphis City Council warned about possible exposure to coronavirus
  • Health Department reports fourth coronavirus case in Shelby County
  • Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare to suspend elective surgeries, adjusts visitor policies
  • Hernando city employee tests positive
  • Memphis Greek Festival Postponed
  • Target to close early, offer senior hours

Tuesday’s updates

Click here to read all the updates from Tuesday

  • Southland Casino Racing closed
  • Dollar General sets dedicated hour for senior shoppers
  • April ACTs, May SATs canceled
  • Graceland ‘Twin Peaks’ convention postponed
  • Memphis mosques suspend daily, Friday prayers amid coronavirus concerns
  • Memphis Rox to Temporarily Close
  • Spanish-language coronavirus resources available
  • New case reported in Shelby County 
  • Strickland declares emergency in Memphis
  • Edible Memphis launches emergency GoFundMe for service industry employees
  • City of Lakeland closes senior center, City Hall
  • Town of Collierville closes library, suspends some services
  • Memphis small businesses, employees face challenge of declining sales
  • Pink Palace Family of Museums to close to the public
  • Malco to close movie theaters
  • Councilwoman, commissioner call for prisoner release, eviction moratorium
  • Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum to close temporarily
  • Southwest postpones commencement, cancels campus events

Monday updates:

Click here to read all the updates from Monday.

  • Visitation suspended for juvenile detainees, children of detained parents
  • Food safety and assistance
  • Shelby County Schools to return no earlier than April 6
  • Public defender demands release of pre-trial detainees after county isolates two inmates
  • Mississippi casinos closing
  • Local festivals, symphony performances canceled, postponed
  • Germantown closes public facilities 
  • VA: Veteran discharged after testing negative for COVID-19
  • What updated numbers show
  • Strickland urges local events to heed CDC, postpone events of 50 or more
  • Children’s Museum of Memphis temporarily closes
  • Stax Museum temporarily closes
  • University of Memphis considers postponing graduation 
  • Germantown municipal court cancels sessions 
  • Shelby County Schools moves to “hybrid approach” for learning 
  • Indie Memphis cancels events
  • April 4th MLK commemoration, public events cancelled as National Civil Rights Museum temporarily closes 
  • Frayser Exchange upcoming meetings cancelled
  • Chick-fil-A closing dining rooms

Headlines from last week

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