Shelby County hospitals brace for post-Christmas surge

Health leaders brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - With the Christmas holiday over, hospitals are bracing for what they expect to be a post-Christmas surge in coronavirus cases.

Despite repeated warnings from health experts, millions of people still decided to travel during the holidays.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says 1.2 million passengers traveled through their checkpoints on Sunday, the highest number since the pandemic started.

As for the roads, AAA estimates holiday travel will be down nearly 30% this year, but they still expect more than 84 million people to travel between Christmas and New Year’s.

Dr. Steven Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial says if you traveled over Christmas, there are things you should do when returning.

“You should be very careful as to the onset of symptoms and frankly should probably be tested several days after that trip,” said Threlkeld. “Three to five [days], somewhere in that range out to seven [days] to see if you possibly could have contracted the infection and might be a risk to someone else, even if you are asymptomatic.”

Hospitals are bracing for a post-Christmas surge in COVID-19 cases.

The most recent data shows 91% of acute care beds are occupied in Shelby County, along with 95% of ICU beds.

Healthcare Resource Tracking System
Healthcare Resource Tracking System (Source: SCHD)

Anticipating a surge in cases, the Shelby County Health Department issued a new health directive, tightening restrictions on restaurant and retail stores.

But Threlkeld says people are still traveling during the holidays.

He says it comes down to people getting bad advice from others.

“You need to be careful where you’re getting advice,” said Threlkeld. “An eloquent, even charming person on the internet or your brother-in-law may not be the place to get the information if they really have no idea about the topic at hand.”

Threlkeld says New Year’s will also be a concern.

He and other health experts are urging people to celebrate at home.

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