MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The UT Health Science Center projects that the number of new COVID cases in Shelby County could reach an all-time high in as soon as two weeks.
No data was reported over the holiday weekend, but the latest numbers from Friday show we’re on a path to break a pandemic record. The most recently reported number shows 1,288 new cases reported in one day with Health Department Director Dr. Michelle Taylor confirming at least 31 cases of the Omicron variant.
Today, hundreds of people waited for hours to get a COVID test. A sea of cars surrounded the Poplar Healthcare COVID testing site, spilling into Hacks Cross Road on Monday.
Parts of the country are already breaking records. The omicron variant is to blame.
In Shelby County, only 61 percent of the those eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated. That leaves hundreds of thousands vulnerable.
Consa Freeman said she’s vaccinated and boosted but developed a headache after the holiday weekend.
“I’d rather know than not to know,” she said. “So please get tested if you’ve been out to large gatherings. Get tested. It’s worth it.”
About 150 COVID patients are currently hospitalized in Shelby County, but since most hospitalizations happen a week or two after infection, it’s expected that number will rise.
Dr. Stephen Threlkeld of Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis says the current antibody therapy used to treat the delta variant doesn’t work as well on omicron and cases will only continue to surge.
“It’s a saying that it’s going around now, is a lot more was being passed around than turkey and gravy at the holiday family gathering,” he said. “And we hope people can find test and home test trying to minimize risk.”
The good news is that two new anti-viral pills do work against omicron. Pfizer began shipping its new pill from its Memphis distribution center last week.