Back to mask mandates in Memphis area? Maybe


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Earlier this week the Memphis City Council urged the county health department to issue a new mask mandate and now, Shelby County commissioners could do the same.

But some commissioners are concerned about the optics of changing the guidelines so soon.

Right now, masks are required in buses, planes and government buildings. But you may have to wear them in many other places soon.

The issue came up Wednesday during a county committee meeting, and it’s expected to be on the agenda for Monday’s full commission meeting.

This could be the first major test for the county’s new health director, Dr. Michelle Taylor.

Taylor, in her first public appearance as health department director Thursday, said the county was watching the data and consulting with local school districts, but at this point, Shelby County is not planning to establish a mask mandate.

“I do believe that being in masks is the right thing to do, particularly as we look to the school year starting and having a large population of people in our county who cannot be vaccinated yet because the vaccination is not approved for them,” Taylor said.

Taylor warned that without more cooperation from residents, Shelby County could see new variants.

The Shelby County Health Department is under mounting pressure to issue a new mask mandate.

The news comes amid growing concerns about the upcoming school year, and COVID’s impact on local children.

Tuesday, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital confirmed that two kids died from the virus last weekend. And Monday, Jordyn Franklin, an 11-year-old from West Memphis, died of COVID complications.

Her family says she had type-2 diabetes, and that her health started failing in just a matter of hours.

There are nearly 4,400 active cases in Shelby County. More than 1,000 of them, or nearly one in four, are among children under the age of 18.

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