Delta variant blamed for rise in local COVID cases; Shelby County urges vaccination

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases reported per day in Shelby County has more than doubled over the past few days, and local health officials blame the Delta variant of the virus.

That’s why they’re urging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. All the available vaccines provide a high level of protection against the new form of the virus, officials said.

“The unvaccinated are the most at-risk for serious illness from the Delta variant,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph with the Shelby County Health Department.

The Health Department released this data showing the increase in cases.

  • The 7-day COVID-19 case average has more than doubled in the last six days, increasing from 26 on July 1, 2021 to 59 on July 6, 2021. That number was 65 on Thursday.
  • The reproductive rate of the virus (Rt) is currently 1.22, the highest it has been since June 25, 2020.
  • The 7-day average positivity rate is now 4.5%, increasing from 2.9% on July 1st.
  • A total of 58 Delta variant cases have been identified in Shelby County as of July 7, 2021, while another 26 cases are suspected to be Delta variant cases. SCHD has projected that the Delta variant could become the dominant strain in Shelby County by the end of July.

Of the cases known or suspected to be Delta variant, the department said less than 10% are breakthrough cases, meaning they occur in a person who has been fully vaccinated. And in most of those cases, the person only suffers mild symptoms that don’t require hospitalization.

The Delta variant is 50 to 60% more transmissible than the original strain of COVID-19, the department said.

COVID-19 vaccination is free and widely available at pharmacies, clinics, and public vaccination sites. The full list of vaccination sites is available at https://covid19.memphistn.gov/. The Health Department will also offer COVID-19 vaccinations to adults and children 12 and older at 814 Jefferson Avenue on Saturday, July 10 and Saturday, July 17, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

More than 391,000 people in Shelby County had received COVID-19 vaccinations as of Thursday, almost 56% of the way to the county’s goal of having 700,000 people vaccinated. An average of 791 people a day receive vaccines.

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