Nashville mayor John Cooper is in hot water over emails that show he and his administration kept secret data showing very low numbers of COVID-19 cases so that area businesses wouldn’t have a case for demanding their businesses be allowed to re-open.
With many Nashville businesses closing for good and declaring bankruptcy due to the forced closings at the hand of Mayor John Cooper, the backlash has been strong.
Nashville country music star Travis Trotter took to Twitter saying:
“It appears that Nashville’s mayor @JohnCooper4Nash has got some explaining to do. I wonder what other information is being hidden from the public in other cities around the country.”
A response to his Tweet echoed many others:
I just read the report. Shameful and so sad for our city. I can’t imagine the businesses crushed, jobs lost, homes lost, our city harmed. @JohnCooper4Nash needs to answer.
— Bobbi Greene (@Birdietweets16) September 17, 2020
The story was also discussed by Tucker Carlson:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — The coronavirus cases on lower Broadway may have been so low that the mayor’s office and the Metro Health Department decided to keep it secret.
Emails between the mayor’s senior advisor and the health department reveal only a partial picture. But what they reveal is disturbing.
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.
Glover says this is Metro Nashville orchestrating a cover up.
“They are fabricating information,” Glover said. “They’ve blown their entire credibility Dennis. Its gone, I don’t trust a thing they say going forward …nothing.”
Glover says he has been contacted by an endless stream of downtown bartenders, waitresses and restaurant owners asking why would officials not release these numbers?
“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 said.
Again, FOX 17 News wasn’t told by the mayor’s office this wasn’t true. We were told to file a freedom of information act request.
Which allows us now to ask the question, why are you keeping this from us? Why would you even want to? It’s just the real numbers and what could possibly be an honorable motive?