The coronavirus cases on lower Broadway may have been so low that the mayor’s office and the metro health department decided to keep it secret.
Emails between the mayor’s senior advisor and the health department reveal only a partial picture. But what they reveal is disturbing.
The discussion involves the low number of coronavirus cases emerging from bars and restaurants and how to handle that.and most disturbingly how to keep it from the public.
On June 30th, contact tracing was giving a small view of coronavirus clusters. Construction and nursing homes causing problems more than a thousand cases traced to each category, but bars and restaurants reported just 22 cases.
Leslie Waller from the health department asks “This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor’s Office?
“Correct, not for public consumption.” Writes senior advisor Benjamin Eagles
A month later the health department is asked point blank about the rumor there are only 80 cases traced to bars and restaurants.
Tennessean reporter Nate Rau asks “the figure you gave of “more than 80” does lead to a natural question: If there have been over 20,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in Davidson and only 80 or so are traced to restaurants and bars, doesn’t that mean restaurants and bars aren’t a very big problem?
Health department official Brian Todd asks 5 health department officials: Please advise how you recommend I respond. BT
The name at the top of the response is clipped off but you may find the answer unacceptable.
“My two cents. We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site.”
We could still release the total though, and then a response to the over 80 could be “because that number is increasing all the time and we don’t want to say a specific number.
Neither the health department or the mayor’s office would confirm the authenticity of the emails but councilmember Steve Glover had a metro staff attorney inquire. Here’s the official answer:
“I was able to get verification from the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Health that these emails are real” answered the staff attorney.
Glover says this is Metro Nashville orchestrating a cover up. “They are fabricating information. They’ve blown there entire credibility Dennis. Its gone i don’t trust a thing they say going forward …nothing.”
Glover says he has been contacted by an endless stream of downtown bartenders, waitresses, and restaurant owners. Why would they not release these numbers?
“We raised taxes 34 percent and put hundreds literally thousands of people out of work that are now worried about losing their homes their apartments etcetera and we did it on bogus data. That should be illegal!” he says.
Again, we weren’t told by the mayor’s office this wasn’t true. We were told to file a freedom of information act request.
Which allows us now to ask the question.why are you keeping this from us? Why would you even want to? Its just the real numbers and what could possibly be an honorable motive?
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.