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Statement from the Office of Nashville Mayor John Cooper on Transparency, Timely Release of Community COVID-19 Data

9/17/2020

Mayor John Cooper’s press secretary, Chris Song, today issued the following statement regarding the administration’s timely release of community COVID-19 data and ongoing commitment to public health transparency:

“A recent news story by FOX17 Nashville was published with limited information and without context, using screenshots of Metro emails to falsely accuse the Mayor’s office and the Metro Public Health Department of withholding public health data that had previously been shared with and published by another local news outlet, the Tennessee Lookout, on August 4, 2020. Emails from the same thread emphasizing the need to publicly release as much COVID-19 data as possible, which were omitted from the FOX17 story, are attached.

“On June 29, following a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases, the Mayor’s office emailed Metro Public Health asking its staff to share the results of its contact tracing investigations to help identify the sources and spread of COVID-19 in Davidson County to help guide an appropriate policy response. Up to that point, Metro Public Health had typically tracked infections to broader categories of sources – such as workplace, community, household, and travel – but the Mayor’s office requested more specific sourcing, including bars, large gatherings, and weddings, as examples based on national trends.

“Two days prior to these emails, the weekend before the July 4 holiday, the MPHD epidemiology team had contacted Dr. Alex Jahangir, Chair of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force, to alert him that, for the first time, clusters of cases had been linked to bars in Nashville. On July 3, Modified Phase Two of the “Roadmap for Reopening Nashville” took effect, temporarily closing bars and other businesses and venues with a high risk of COVID-19 spread. Four weeks after this public health decision was made, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, visited Nashville to warn the entire state of Tennessee that bars in hotspots should be immediately closed because of their potential to facilitate the spread the coronavirus. Thankfully, Nashville had already taken this step.

“Nashville has made significant progress with our COVID-19 response as a result of these timely, data-driven public health decisions taken earlier this summer. Nashville’s 7-day percent positive rate peaked at 17.1 percent on July 9. It is 5.1 percent today. Our 7-day rate of new cases peaked at 64.7 per 100,000 residents on July 13, which is now 15.6 per 100,000 residents as of this morning. These metrics have allowed for incremental, important adjustments to our local economy that are helping more Nashvillians quickly and safely get back to work.

“The Mayor’s office and the Metro Public Health Department remain committed as always to providing timely and transparent information that helps inform our local media and all Nashvillians in the fight against COVID-19. And we’re grateful to all the residents and businesses owners in Davidson County for their hard work and dedication to our ongoing COVID-19 response.”