UPDATE: Nashville Fox 17 has retracted the story reported below. "We don't have evidence of a cover-up and apologize for the error," a news anchor said on air Monday.
Emails have been leaked between the mayor’s office and the local Department of Health in the city of Nashville revealing that they wanted to conceal the number of coronavirus cases from bars and restaurants. They considered the numbers to be “too low.”
These emails happened on June 30th after they could only come up with a mere 22 cases that had anything to do with bars and restaurants. At the same time, they found over 1000 cases tied to construction sites and anther over 1000 cases tied to nursing homes.
According to WZTV, a local Fox affiliate, an official from the Department of Health emailed an advisor in the mayor’s office, asking for confirmation that they were not to release the data:
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.
By July 30th, with numbers rising across the board, there were still only 80 or so cases tied to the city’s numerous bars and restaurants.
Brian Todd, another official in the Department of Health, wrote his superiors, and got the following back in an email:
"My two cents: We have certainly refused to give counts per bar (i.e. # of cases per bar cluster) because those numbers are low per site, and there are data release standards prohibiting the release of a total count that is less than 10 per small geographic area. We do have 2 bars now where the counts are over 10, but then that would single out those two and not the others. 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.'"
Currently, restaurants in Nashville are only allowed to operate at 50% of capacity. Bars are only allowed 25 patrons indoors and another 25 outdoors. Both must close to the public at 10:30pm.
Similar orders are in place all over the world.