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    Shelby County Health Department officials said Wednesday that early analysis of coronavirus data shows many of the people who tested positive in the Memphis area are young.

    This may explain why the Memphis area has not yet seen a large wave of critically ill patients arriving at its hospitals — young people are less likely to have severe symptoms — but the concern now is that young people might spread the disease to more vulnerable populations.

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    “What we don’t want to have happened is that to be taken home to our seniors or to be taken to the nursing homes and the hospitals, and so it’s important that everyone of all ages take action,” said Alisa Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department.

    She emphasized the importance of basic steps such as handwashing, staying at home and avoiding crowds. Many new cases were resulting from workplace transmission, she said, and urged people to stay home if they feel unwell.

    As of Wednesday morning, the number of reported cases of Memphis News COVID-19 in Shelby County was 170, up from the 135 reported Tuesday, according to the city of Memphis.

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    David Sweat, chief of epidemiology for the health department, said that 74% of all reported COVID-19 cases in Shelby County were people 60 or under and that 38% of reported cases are people between 21 and 40 years old.

    “One of the narratives that have been widely spoken throughout this pandemic is the risk to elderly folks and that younger people are less at risk,” he said. “That may be true for the worst outcomes. For fatalities and hospitalizations, the younger population may not be experiencing those outcomes at a high rate. There’s definitely diagnoses, there’s definitely transmission occurring at younger age groups.”

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    He said analyzing data related to the virus was difficult as 120 new cases were reported in a three-day period and that the health department is still investigating those cases.

    “Although testing remains something that we would like to have more access to and a greater capacity to perform, in our health care systems locally, people are able to be tested,” he said at a press conference Wednesday.

    He said that in addition to the 170 people who tested positive, many more tested negative. However, he did not specify exactly how many people have been tested in Memphis Press Release Distribution Service Shelby County.

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    Officials also said that it was not clear exactly how many people with the coronavirus had been hospitalized, but they believed it was about 5% of all cases in the county — or roughly 10 cases. Some of those people have been released from the hospital.

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