Did Leaked Nashville Emails Reveal a City Cover-up Over Low Covid Numbers?
Leaked Nashville emails appeared to show that the number of Covid cases for bars and restaurants in the city were so low that officials decided not to tell the public, at least at first. So much for transparency.
WZTV’s Dennis Ferrier reported the discussion inside the Nashville leaked emails:
“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 given a small view of coronavirus clusters. Construction and nursing homes were found to be causing problems with 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 was asked point blank about the rumor there are only 80 cases traced to bars and restaurants.
Tennessee Lookout 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 asked five health department officials, “Please advise how you recommend I respond. “
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 nor the mayor’s office would confirm the authenticity of the emails but council member 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,” the staff attorney answered.”
Steve Glover, the council representative mentioned in Ferrier’s article stated:
“They are fabricating information. They’ve blown their entire credibility Dennis. Its gone, I don’t trust a thing they say going forward …nothing… 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…and we did it on bogus data. That should be illegal.” Steve Glover
Reporter Dennis Ferrier confronted the Democrat Mayor of Nashville about the leaked emails and was told to file an FOIA request. Why? When the news about lower cases at bars and restaurants was GOOD news, the city could have jumped at the chance to let the public know. And they reportedly did…two days later. Sort of.
The Tennessean News paper claimed that Dennis Ferrier’s story was “demonstrably false.”
Fox17 bases its claim on two partial email exchanges. The first exchange, on June 30, is between an epidemiologist and a member of the mayor’s staff. The staffer asked for information on the number of infections linked to bars, then the epidemiologist asks if the information was for going to be released publicly. The mayor’s staffer says no.
While that particular conversation may not have been public, city officials disclosed the low number of infections tied to bars – 30 infections at 10 locations at the time – two days later. Officials announced the statistic at a weekly press conference led by Cooper. The press conference was streamed online by the city, and The Tennessean published the statistic in a front-page article that led web traffic for the day.
Note the discrepancy: The Tennessean reported the number at 30, but the number of cases reported by Fox 17 was listed at 22. It is statistically irrelevant – but the fact is that the number of Covid cases at bars and restaurants in Nashville is low. They are not “super-spreading” Covid-19.
Featured photo: Nashville Mayor John Cooper (D) responded to leaked Nashville emails story