Health officials placed in tough spot as COVID-19 cases rise
JACKSON, Tenn. — COVID-19 cases in Madison County are nearing a thousand, and health officials say they’re in a tough spot.
As of Wednesday, there are 36 more confirmed coronavirus cases in Madison County, putting the total at 939 positive cases.
“We’re looking, right now, at about 225 active cases, plus 54 that are unknown,” said Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department Director Kim Tedford.
The question came up on how many more residents would test positive for the virus before local officials put on more restrictions.
Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris and Jackson Mayor Scott Conger agreed: More restrictions aren’t as impactful if surrounding counties don’t take action.
“Madison County is on an island right now. We are the only ones with a mask mandate right now — outside of Dyer and Lauderdale Counties — in West Tennessee. We’re the only ones with any restrictions in place right now,” Mayor Conger said.
“We can’t really say how effective the mask mandate has been because we have so many people in this community every day that don’t live here,” Mayor Harris said.
West Tennessee Healthcare Chief Compliance and Communications Officer Amy Garner confirmed Jackson-Madison County General Hospital is operating at surge capacity, and they have 99 positive patients hospitalized. She says 24 are on ventilators.
“We’ve had patients go up in counties like Gibson County, Haywood County, Henderson County, Madison County,” Garner said.
Tedford mentioned that the state’s positivity rate is 10 percent right now, but it is likely being undercounted.
“We’re doing a lot more testing,” Tedford said. “But the rate of positive tests results are going up also. Meaning, we are seeing a lot more disease.”
This rise means the county is attempting to ramp up their tracing efforts. They will be reaching out to residents in hopes of keeping the spread down.
Local businesses can help with the effort if their employees test positive.
“They know their employees better than we do, as far as who has been in close contact,” Tedford said. “And when we talk about close contact, that’s within less than 6 feet for 10 minutes or more.”