The report that Nashville city officials downplayed and hid data which indicate that few of the city’s coronavirus cases could be traced to bars and restaurants, for fears the data would undermine public belief that the restrictions were necessary, represents the equivalent of acid eating away at public trust.
As our Brittney Bernstein covers on the home page, contract tracing determined “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” at the end of June. The data indicated that Davidson County, which includes Nashville, had 20,000 positive cases at that time.
Nashville began its phased opening in May, and on May 25, restaurants were allowed to open at three-quarters capacity, with bar areas closed. In late June, bars were allowed to reopen at half capacity.
But in early July, citing an increase in the number of cases, the mayor closed bars again and reduced restaurants to fifty percent capacity. What is particularly galling is that the numbers in these emails don’t align with the public statements from local officials: