The recent action by Governor Lee ending his declaration of a state-wide public health emergency, as well as the decision of the Shelby County Health Department to lift its own mask mandate, indicate that masking is no longer legally mandated. The City does not have stand-alone authority to mandate masks as a response to Covid-19. Beginning May 15, 2021, the City of Memphis will no longer enforce our mask ordinance.
City government will continue to follow CDC guidelines, which currently recommends that people indoors continue to wear a mask unless they are in their own homes around family who have been vaccinated. People entering City of Memphis facilities, with exception of our parks and other outdoor spaces, will still be required to wear a mask.
Private businesses and churches may continue to require their patrons and employees to wear masks. We strongly encourage everyone to continue masking up when in public, at least until we reach our goal of vaccinating 70% of the Shelby County population.
The Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance Program, a new program aimed at helping renters in Shelby County, will help thousands of households that are behind on rent and utilities or facing eviction as a result of Covid-19. The U.S. Department of Treasury has granted a total of $28.2 million to the City of Memphis and Shelby County (including $19.6 million to the City and $8.6 to the County) to administer the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program.
The program can pay up to 12 months of owed rent and utilities to those affected by Covid-19. Those facing eviction can also receive free legal assistance. The program is open to Shelby County renters and is being administered by the City of Memphis and Shelby County Government.
“The economic fallout from COVID has undermined housing security for many families,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. “That’s why we partnered with the City of Memphis to create this emergency relief program to distribute more than $28 million in assistance to Shelby County residents.”
“There are many in our community who are hurting,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. “The City of Memphis will, as we always have done, continue to work with County, State, and Federal officials, along with our community partners to address this critical issue.”
Applying is easy and the application is available on the web and can be accessed by smart phone in English or Spanish. In-person help to complete the application is available by appointment at various sites throughout the county. To make an appointment or to ask questions, please call 211.
Partners in this effort include the Shelby County Division of Community Services, City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development, Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., the University of Memphis Law School Legal Clinic, Memphis Area Legal Services, Metropolitan Interfaith Association (MIFA), United Housing, Inc., United Way of the Mid-South, Innovate Memphis, and United States Digital Response (USDR).
The City of Memphis is now operating public COVID-19 vaccination sites, Mondays – Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Appointment sign-up links will be released on Fridays at noon for the following week.
Only individuals who meet the eligibility criteria will be vaccinated, and appointments are required. Please do not arrive more than an hour before the scheduled appointment time. Individuals who do not have an appointment will be turned away.
To schedule an appointment, visit covid19.memphistn.gov. You can also call 901-222-7468(SHOT) between the hours of 9 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. seven days a week.
The minimum age to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is 16. Persons under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian in order to be vaccinated. Parent or guardian will be required to show ID and complete and sign a consent form on-site for their child to be vaccinated.
Ensuring equity and inclusion in all aspects of City government is a top priority. The vaccine process is no different. The City of Memphis is actively working to make sure everyone has equal access and the process is easy for everyone to use and understand.
The City of Memphis assumed responsibility for the vaccination process in Shelby County on February 23rd. Since then, we have vaccinated more than 70,000 people through fixed site and pop-up pods, decreased wait times to under 20 minutes, and started on the intentional path of improving the percentage of vaccinated African Americans (AA) and people of color from approximately 20 percent of the total to approximately 30 percent of the total, and we are working every day to reduce barriers to access. This small increase is a step in the right direction but there is much more to do.
The five fixed, mass vaccination sites were chosen for very specific reasons. From a logistical standpoint, we looked for locations where large numbers of people can be processed efficiently. Equally important, we had to ensure access was broadly available throughout Shelby County. The map below shows the location of each site, as well as half-mile, one-mile, three-mile and five-mile radius around each site.
To align with our equity goals, we calculated the demographics of people living within half-mile, one mile, three miles and five miles of each site. For the five sites across Shelby County, we find that the aggregate population living within three and five miles of the sites mirrors precisely the demographics of Shelby County, with 53 percent AA, 40 percent White, and 7 percent Latinx/Other races. When we calculate just for the sites located inside Memphis, we find that the populations living within half-mile and one-mile of the four Memphis sites, mirrors exactly the demographics of Memphis, with 63.5 percent AA, 32.5 percent White and 4 percent Latinx/Other living within those areas.
One very important fact to remember—our five sites are not the only points of delivery.
More than 100 agencies and organizations are now qualified to receive and administer vaccinations in Shelby County, and that number is growing each week. There are 12 Walmart and 13 Walgreens’ pharmacies in Shelby County that are now administering vaccinations. Hospitals and community clinics also administer vaccinations. For example, Christ Community Health Services is administering vaccinations at South Third Street, Frayser, Raleigh, Hickory Hill, and Broad Avenue. Tri-State Community Health is doing the same at its locations in Parkway Village, Memphis Health Center at its Crump Ave location, and others are coming online each day.
Additionally, to ensure that seniors who use the Shelby County Food Stabilization program receive access to the vaccine, approximately 400 vaccinations are delivered each week to the Shelby County Health Department’s Commodities site in South Memphis.
Moving forward, the City of Memphis will continue to support up to three “pop-up” sites each week in addition to our already established locations. Dozens of organizations and agencies have applied to host a pop-up community POD. These sites are chosen by analyzing vaccination rate data that shows us where vaccination rates are below average. To-date, we have had successful pop-up PODs at Cane Creek Church and Anointed Temple of Praise where nearly 1,000 vaccinations were administered. This week, we know that zip codes 38127, 38141, 38118 and 38115 have some of the lowest vaccination rates, and so we will deliver pop ups to serve those areas: on the 12th and 13th of March, a POD will be held at the Fire Training Academy in 38127 to serve residents of that area, and on Saturday, March 13th, a POD will be held at the Greater Community Temple located at 5151 Winchester to serve residents of 38118, 38141 and 38115.
Early in the pandemic, the COVID-19 Joint Task Force organized a program using MATA services to provide transportation to testing sites to residents in need. We are currently in the process of shifting that same service to our vaccination sites. In the interim, Pipkin, Whitehaven, and Raleigh are all on public transit routes and walk-up service is available.
As not all residents have access to the internet, the 222- SHOT hotline is available to call and set up an appointment. Next week, we anticipate transitioning to the Tennessee Department of Health’s appointment system that includes both online and telephonic appointment support. With more than 700 agents working 24-hours a day, this new system will significantly improve access and reduce call waiting times.
The City also is aware that we have many homebound citizens throughout our community. We are working with our Healthcare Navigator program to send EMT’s out to administer vaccines as needed.
Recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield awarded the City of Memphis a very generous grant that will help enable us to reach our black and brown residents more effectively. Thanks to this funding, a marketing campaign will be starting soon focused on African American and Hispanic communities that will help increase awareness and demonstrate the importance of getting vaccinated.
As we continue to move through this process, the City of Memphis is not only committed to providing an efficient vaccination service, but also an equitable process that serves all of Shelby County.
In alignment with the Tennessee Health Department, the Shelby County Health Department has moved into Phase 1C of the Tennessee COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. This phase includes residents who are 16 years old or older with health conditions that put them at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. For all other individuals, the age eligibility remains age 65 and older. For a detailed list of the high-risk health conditions covered under phase 1C, please refer to Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan posted here: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/COVID-19_Vaccination_Plan.pdf.
Appointment availabilities at City of Memphis and Shelby County vaccination locations will be posted at https://covid19.memphistn.gov/ each Friday for the following week.
Other Vaccination Providers
Other providers are also vaccinating persons in the priority groups, including:
Veteran’s Administration: Now vaccinating all veterans age 65 and older at the VA Medical Center at 1030 Jefferson Avenue. Veterans must be enrolled with the VA at www.va.gov to receive vaccination.
The Shelby County Health Department is offering free COVID-19 testing for the LatinX community. For more information and to register, visit https://www.shelby.community/covid-19-testing/ or call the Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline at 901-222-MASK (6275).
Health Department Hotline
The Health Department is committed to providing as much information as possible to the public as the COVID-19 situation continues to develop. The Health Department’s hotline number 901-222-MASK (6275), was activated March 12, 2020. Since that date, it has fielded thousands of calls from the general public about COVID-19.
Below are statistics about calls into the hotline since March 12, 2020, and a daily number of hotline calls fielded yesterday.
Health Department Call Center Statistics
Total Calls Received since 3/12/20
Total Calls Answered 3/9/21
The COVID-19 hotline is answered each day, including Saturday and Sunday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After-hours calls are returned as soon as possible on the next business day.
COVID-19 Joint Task Force Press Conference
The Health Department is also providing a live bi-weekly update for media partners each Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 12:00 pm via GoToMeeting through the COVID-19 Joint Task Force. Interpretation services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities are available.