Uncovered emails between Democrat Nashville Mayor John Cooper and the city’s health department reveal that officials tried to hide the fact that the number of coronavirus cases popping up in bars and restaurants was extremely low.
A contact-tracing study the city had conducted on June 30 found that construction and nursing homes were the leading source of coronavirus outbreaks in Nashville, while bars and restaurants reported just 22 cases.
In one of the emails, Leslie Waller from the health department asked Cooper’s senior adviser, Benjamin Eagles, if the study was going to be kept from the public.
“This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor’s Office?” she wrote, according to Fox-17.
“Correct, not for public consumption,” replied senior adviser Benjamin Eagles.
Several weeks later, a local reporter asked the health department about the seemingly low numbers among bars and asked why, if there wasn’t a significant outbreak in restaurants, the city was still preventing them from reopening.
Brian Todd, who works in the department, asked five officials how he should respond.
“My two cents. We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site,” answered one official whose name was obscured in the email.
“We could still release the total though,” the person continued, “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 mayor’s office nor the health department would confirm the authenticity of the emails, but Nashville City Council member Steve Glover said both offices admitted to him that the emails were real.
“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.”