MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County is at an important crossroad in the fight against COVID as we head into another holiday season.

Health leaders say our daily average number of COVID cases and the transmission and positivity rate all point to good signs, but we have to stay the course if we want to keep it that way.

Dr. Michelle Taylor, leader of the Shelby County health department, says she’s ‘cautiously optimistic’ about what current COVID numbers reveal, but don’t expect any immediate changes to the country’s current mask mandate.

“I am cautiously optimistic heading into the holiday season,” she said. “We know that if we let our foot off the gas, to use an analogy, too soon there’s a good chance that those rates instead of continuing to go down could go back up.”

During Dr. Taylor’s update to county commissioners, she cautioned about pediatric cases and doing what we can to protect vulnerable populations like children under age 12 not eligible to be vaccinated.

“Right now, we still have about one in four people in our county that could possibly get ill due to COVID and as we know the outcome could be very different depending on what population you’re talking about,” Dr. Taylor said.

She’s hopeful for a favorable result from an upcoming meeting with Pfizer and the FDA about emergency use authorization for a vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

“I believe we’re going to see an even sharper increase in our vaccination rate for those parents just waiting to take that opportunity to get their kids vaccinated,” she said.

Dr. Taylor says with children back to in-person learning and more people at work this year, it will still be very important to get your flu shot.