MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is tracking hospitalizations in Shelby County with the latest data released Wednesday evening showing more than 600 Covid patients being treated at local hospitals.
That’s about the same as during the height of the pandemic in January and hospitalizations are expected to double over the next two weeks. The problem is that hospitals are already at capacity in Shelby County and there are not enough health care workers to staff an overflow hospital.
On Wednesday, the head of every emergency department in Shelby County signed a letter warning that things are about to get very bad. In that letter, addressed to local city and county mayors, the doctors said they may have to begin triaging care to patients in the next few days.
They said they may have to choose who gets care based on the patient’s probability of survival.
To make matters worse, the city has no surge capacity to accommodate any additional disaster.
In their letter to local leaders, doctors urged local leaders to help mitigate the spread of the virus by issuing a new mask mandate. That’s exactly what the county did.
The new health directive will go into effect Friday at 7 a.m. and all Shelby County residents over the age of two will be required to wear a mask indoors while in public settings.