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Public Health Directive


Pursuant to the Declarations of a State of Emergency and the Necessity of Communicable Disease Control Measures by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and the Shelby County Health Department

TO: Residents, Visitors, and Owners/Operators of Services, Facilities, and/or Businesses in Shelby County, Tennessee

FROM: Shelby County Government and the Shelby County Health Department

Lee Harris, Shelby County Mayor

Bruce Randolph, M.D., M.P.H, Shelby County Health Officer

Michelle A. Taylor, M.D., Dr.P.H, M.P.A, Health Director

RE: Public Health Announcement on COVID-19 Response

Health Order No. 29: Summary of Changes

Health Order No. 29 renews much of December’s order with a few changes reflecting new CDC guidance on isolation and quarantine measures. Additionally, it includes the following:

1) Recommends that alternative work solutions be considered where feasible to permit increased social distancing and to facilitate appropriate quarantine and isolation measures.

2) Requires masks in schools that have instituted a face covering requirement pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 14-2-104.

3) Continues to require masks in schools covered by the ADA.

4) Continues to require rental assistance notices to tenants facing eviction.

Health Order No. 29 is effective January 1 and expires on January 31, 2022 unless superseded or renewed.  

Public Health Directive

Printable Version of Health Order No. 29 December 29, 2021

The omicron variant is now the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, and it is the most contagious of any COVID-19 variant yet, causing new infections to rise to levels that surpass any prior surge that we have experienced thus far. According to the CDC, this massive surge may reach its peak in January or April of 2022. The symptoms associated with omicron are similar to an upper respiratory infection. Testing is a critical tool for identifying the disease. Masking, isolating, and quarantining are also critical tools for stopping the spread of the disease. Out of an abundance of caution, the December order is being renewed for the month of January with a few changes reflecting new CDC guidance. Further updates to align future health order(s) with the evolving legal landscape are under advisement.

Overall, Health Order 29 contains almost no required measures, except for a notice requirement about rental assistance to tenants facing eviction and a mask requirement for schools that are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, the Shelby County Health Department remains present and available to provide public health guidance on any matter related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the many other public health challenges existing now or that arise in the future.

As in previous Health Orders, the Department highly recommends that businesses continue to require masks in indoor, public settings and continue to require quarantine and isolation measures pursuant to CDC guidance. Masks and isolation protocols are required in schools that are covered by the ADA as a result of a recent federal court order issued by the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Masks and isolation protocols are highly recommended in schools that are not covered by the ADA. That a school is not legally required by court order to require masks in indoor spaces does not mean that it should not do so, especially during the rise of the most infectious variant, omicron, that we have faced yet. The Department considers in-person learning a vital component of education and pediatric health, and taking these simple measures makes our schools safe for children, teachers, employees, and visitors.

Anyone anywhere in Shelby County who tests positive for COVID-19 or who is a close-contact with a person who has tested positive should follow CDC guidance on how to isolate or quarantine. Please see below for the most up-to-date and complete guidance.

Quarantine and Isolation:

CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

Get vaccinated. Wear a mask in public, indoor environments. Get tested if you have symptoms. Stay home if you are sick. Vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death.

This Order supersedes Health Order No. 28. It will expire on January 31, 2022, unless superseded or renewed. It provides guidance on:

A. Vaccinations and Testing

B. Wearing Face Masks/Face Coverings;

C. Preventive Measures for Individuals; and

D. Preventive Measures for all Businesses and Schools.

All persons age 5 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

All persons age 18 and older are eligible to receive the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.

Everyone should get vaccinated as soon as possible and get tested if you have symptoms or are a close contact..

For current eligibility and locations for getting vaccinated and tested, check here:

Everyone who is eligible for a booster shot ("third dose) of vaccine should get one.

Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

A. Vaccinations and Testing

Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

1. Employers who have the authority to do so are strongly encouraged to require a COVID-19 vaccination and/or regular COVID-19 testing for all unvaccinated employees, including those who are asymptomatic. Such testing should be compliant with all applicable laws.

2. Children 5 to 17 years old, if eligible, should receive an age-appropriate dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens

3. Individuals who are 18 years or older, if eligible, should receive a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccination.

Your COVID-19 Vaccination

4. Individuals who are 18 years or older, who have received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should receive a booster shot at 6 months or more after your initial series.

5. Individuals who have received a Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine are eligible for a booster 2 months after the initial shot if you are 18 years or older.

6. All individuals who are eligible for a booster may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. The CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Booster Shots

B. Wearing Face Masks/Coverings:

Guidance for Wearing Masks (Including Exemptions)

1. Masks are required in Shelby County in the following circumstances (unless a valid CDC exemption applies):

a. You are awaiting, boarding, disembarking, or traveling on public conveyances, such as airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares, except when you are outdoors on the premises of a transportation hub. Please consult the CDC for current guidance on public transportation.

Order: Wearing of face masks while on conveyances and at transportation hubs

b. You are entering property on which a private entity or public authority has a propriety interest, and that entity or authority requires you to wear a mask while in the property, and has posted “mask required” notice signs at frequently used entrances. Such requirements shall be in compliance with state and/or federal law.

c. You are entering a school that requires masks pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 14-2-104

d. You are entering any indoor area of a K–12 grade school, Pre-K school, or daycare facility that is covered by the ADA unless:

i. You are a child under the age of 2 years.

ii. You are seated and eating/drinking.

iii. You are in an indoor setting that is not open to the public.

iv. You are a person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, for reasons related to the disability.

v. You are a person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by a workplace risk assessment.

vi. You are a teacher who is 6-feet distanced from others, and you are temporarily removing your mask for educational purposes only, such as to demonstrate the proper articulation and pronunciation of words.

[note: School officials must ensure that teachers are fully vaccinated and/or have a negative COVID-19 test result on a weekly basis for this exception to apply]

2. If not required above, masks are highly recommended in any of the following circumstances:

a. You are aged 2 or older and in an indoor setting that is open to the public.

b. You are in an outdoor setting that involves close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.

c. You have a medical condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system in such a manner that you may not be protected even if you are fully vaccinated (unless your healthcare provider advises you to not wear a mask). 

C) Preventive Measures for Individuals:

Individuals should follow CDC guidance on protective measures that can be taken to prevent themselves and others from becoming infected with COVID-19.

CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

Isolate if You are Sick

When to Quarantine

Individuals must cooperate with the Tennessee Commissioner of Health on contact tracing, case investigation, and isolation/quarantine protocols:

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Releasing Cases and Contacts from Isolation and Quarantine

An isolation and quarantine calculator can be found here:

D) Preventive Measures for all Businesses and Schools

The following preventive measures are required:

1. Cooperate with the Tennessee Commissioner of Health and the Department of Health in their efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.

2. Report to the Tennessee Commissioner of Health, if required by the Commissioner, any employee, student, worker, or contractor who has tested positive or who had contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19.

3. Comply with all federal and state business COVID-19 safety requirements, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements (OSHA and TOSHA) by providing employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

4. Follow guidance from the Commissioner of Health regarding workers who have COVID-19 or are suspected to have COVID-19 pursuant to the following CDC guidance.

How to Protect Yourself and Others

What to Do if You are Sick

Isolation and Quarantine
CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

Toolkit for Worker Safety and Support

CDC Guidance on Workplaces and Businesses

OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

The following preventive measures are highly recommended:

Workplaces and Businesses: Plan, Prepare, and Respond

1. Place prominent signs at entrances and high-traffic areas stating that workers, customers, and visitors should not enter if they are sick or currently have signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

2. Ensure proper ventilation in all indoor areas of any business location:

Ventilation in Buildings

3. Continue promoting frequent and thorough handwashing by providing workers, customers, and visitors a place to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer at or near entrances to a facility and other high-traffic areas. It is strongly encouraged that CDC handwashing guides be placed in all bathrooms and near any handwashing sink.

Wash Your Hands! (sign)

4. Have a plan on how to communicate with workers/customers/visitors if they are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

5. As determined by the employer and where feasible, allow employees to work from home or permit flexible worksites and hours (including staggered shifts) to increase physical distancing among and between employees and/or to provide for appropriate quarantine and isolation measures.

6. Encourage the use of outdoor space for the provision of services, where practical. Restaurants in particular are encouraged to provide an outdoor dining option.

Shelby County Buildings that house individuals, including the Walter Bailey Criminal Justice Complex, the Shelby County Division of Corrections and Detention Facilities, shall follow all safety precautions as stated in any executive order by Mayor Lee Harris.

Lessors of Residential Properties

HUD and its PHA and private landlord partners have been taking steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 as each state reopens its economies. Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. The best option for all is for renters to pay (or be able to pay) their rent.

Tenants and landlords may submit applications for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental & Utility Assistance Program:

The displacement of COVID-19 positive citizens from their homes pursuant to a writ of possession, upon the filing of eviction proceedings, without notice of available assistance by the local health department is precluded.

All inhabitants, present and/or readily available, of the dwelling which is the subject of eviction proceedings must be provided informational resources for rental assistance, food and housing instability, employment, and general health from the Shelby County Health Department and Shelby County Division of Community Services to further mitigate the secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Property owners, landlords, or their hired agents must distribute the following notice concurrently with the service of process of a Forcible Entry and Detainer Action (or Summons and Complaint) to any individual against whom an FED or other eviction action is filed. The notice must be provided in English and in Spanish

Emergency Utility, Rental/Mortgage, Medical/Prescriptions, and Family Support Assistance is available.

• If you or anyone in your household are currently quarantined or are in isolation due to COVID-19 and are unable to secure housing at this time, please notify the Shelby County Health Department by calling 901-222-MASK (which is 901-222-6275) or by faxing the information to 901-222-8249. Temporary housing support may be available.

• If you are behind on your rent or utilities, you may be eligible for relief for up to 12 months of your payments, made directly to your landlord or MLGW.

• Eligibility is determined by income, and residents must also be able to demonstrate that they had an income loss due to COVID-19.

• Legal assistance may be available for eviction/FED cases in court.

• To apply, visit or or text “home901” or “casa” to 21000.


COVID-19 Asystencia Urgente para pagar su renta o servicios públicos (Emergency Rent Assistance).

• Si usted o una persona en su hogar está en cuarentena o aislado debido a COVID-19 y no sea posible obtener una vivienda en este momento, por favor notifica al Departamento de Salud de Shelby County por llamada a 901-222-MASK (901-222-6275) o por fax a 901-222-8249. Asistencia temporal de vivienda puede ser disponible.

• Si debe en alquiler o servicios públicos, puede ser elegible para asistencia de emergencia hasta 12 meses de pagos, pagado directamente a su dueño o MLGW.

• Elegibilidad esta basada en sus ingresos, y es necesario demonstrar que haya perdidio ingresos debido a COVID-19.

• Asistencia legal puede ser disponible por desalojos/FED en la corte

• Para aplicar, visita a o o mandar por text “casa901” a 21000.

For purposes of ensuring the public health safety of all residents and visitors in Shelby County, executions of any writs of possession cannot occur unless:

1) This notice has been provided to the tenant(s) or resident(s) of the subject premises either with the service of process of the eviction notice or at least two weeks before execution of a writ of possession, whichever is shorter. An example of proof of notice that can be used can be found here:; and

2) Proof of this notice is provided to the Department via email to or fax to 901-222-8249.

In those cases when the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) provides service of notices of writs of execution or assists in executing such writs, SCSO has previously implemented a process for providing this notice before executing all writs of possession. Private process servers should also implement a procedure for providing the notice. Courts and clerks who assist in FED action may also provide information about the notice requirement to private process servers. The failure to provide this notice may result in temporarily halting a private process server’s authority to participate in executions of writs of possession for impeding the Health Department’s obligation to protect public health. 

Requirement to Collect Demographic Data

Any health care provider located in Shelby County, Tennessee that provides COVID-19 testing or clinical care shall provide to the Department, as requested by the Department, demographic data regarding individuals tested or cared for by the provider. Such data shall be in such forms, formats and/or schedules that the Department will reasonably specify to the provider by written guidelines, including by way of example and without limitation the following data: gender, race, ethnicity, date of birth or other indicia of age, and such other demographic-based clinical information that the Department deems relevant and necessary to respond to and serve the needs of Shelby County related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Your Right of Review

If you feel this Directive has been issued in error, you may request a review by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tim Jones, for the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), or his designee, at (615) 741-3111. Dr. Jones, or a designee, will review your request within five (5) business days of its receipt, and you will receive a decision in writing. You may also request that the TDH obtain a court order containing the provisions of this Directive. If you request this option, the TDH will take the matter to an available and appropriate court of record. Please be aware you are still required to abide by all of the provisions contained in this Health Directive during any review process. A copy of the rules setting forth the Health Directive procedure and related rights is available on the Shelby County Health Department website.  


Pursuant to the emergency management authority vested in Shelby County, Tennessee, for coordination of relief efforts in the event of a countywide emergency that may result in substantial injury or harm to the population, and the necessity to respond to public health emergencies vested in the Shelby County Public Health Department (“the Department”), this Health Order is being issued to protect the public health for all citizens and businesses in Shelby County, Tennessee. 

Approved and adopted by:







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