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MEMPHIS (WXIA) – Nearly 500 police officers reported out sick on Monday as part of a "Blue Flu" in Memphis.

According to Memphis NBC station WMC-TV, the sickout, which has gone on for several days, forced the city to call in Shelby County Sheriff's Deputies to help man the popular Beale Street entertainment district on Saturday.

On Sunday, WMC said, 308 officers had called out sick. As a result, Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton and Police Director Toney Armstrong held a news conference, admitting that some sort of demonstration was underway.

The number of officers calling out as of Monday afternoon -- 498 -- totals nearly 22 percent of the 2,280 member strong police force.

The Associated Press says the sickout is occurring as a protest to cuts in health care policies. The city is looking at diverting funds toward bailing out the city's pensions. The mayor says the city has no choice, pointing to a state law that requires municipalities fully fund their pension plans within five years.

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