In a concerning revelation first reported by FOX 17, newly discovered emails show that officials in Nashville, Tennessee may have covered up the low number of coronavirus positive cases that were traced back to bars and restaurants.
Now, some are alleging that this was done to keep lockdowns and restrictions on small businesses in place. If the startlingly low number of cases traced back to bars and restaurants had been known, the need for restrictions may have been undermined.
As of June 30, construction sites and nursing homes had more than 1,000 positive COVID-19 traced back to each of those areas, while just 22 were from restaurants or bars in Nashville.
As FOX 17 writes, emails between Nashville’s Democrat Mayor John Cooper’s senior advisor Benjamin Eagles and the health department’s Leslie Waller reveal a discussion between the two on whether the numbers would be released for the public.
“This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for mayor’s office?” Waller wrote in an email to Eagles.
“Correct, not for public consumption,” Eagles responded.
One month later, the number of cases connected to bars or restaurants had increased, but only to 80.
Tennessee Lookout reporter Nate Rau then asked the health department, “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?”
According to FOX 17, health department official Brian Todd then asked other officials for help on how to respond to the inquiry.
One response, which so far remains from an unnamed person, appears particularly concerning:
“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.”
FOX 17 said they were able to get official confirmation that the emails were real.
Nashville Councilmember Steve Glover is now alleging a coverup. “They are fabricating information,” Glover told FOX 17. “They’ve blown their entire credibility… It’s 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,” Glover added.
FOX 17 concluded its article noting the mayor’s office didn’t deny the story, and that it was told to “file a freedom of information act request.”
The emails raise concerns that in Nashville, a city of nearly 700,000 people, the surprisingly low number of coronavirus cases traced back to bars and restaurants may have been withheld to keep lockdowns and restaurant restrictions in place. If true, restaurant owners, waiters, waitresses and bartenders may have been unnecessarily financially harmed as a result.
However, the emails raise another concern. If a coverup happened in Nashville, how can the American people be sure it didn’t happen elsewhere?
As of September 17, Tennessee had officially reported 178,140 total positive coronavirus cases with 2,164 deaths and 823 people currently hospitalized with the disease.
Nationwide, total positive COVID-19 cases have been decreasing for nearly two months. The 7-day moving average reached a high of 66,960 new cases per day on July 24. On September 16, that number stood at 38,538 new cases per day, about 42% lower than the high reached at the end of July.
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