Democrat Mayor Accused of Faking COVID Data to Shift Blame to Bars, Restaurants
Nashville mayor's office & health department 'concealed data showing low infection rates'
Nashville's Democrat mayor's office has been accused of faking COVID-19 infection rate data in an apparent attempt to shift blame onto bars and restaurants while enforcing crippling shutdowns, leaked emails have revealed.
Emails between Mayor John Cooper's advisors and the Nashville health department reveal disturbing discussions about keeping the real figures for coronavirus cases hidden from the public.
The emails, obtained by local news outlet WZTV, appear to show Mayor Cooper's senior adviser and officials in the Metro Nashville Health Department (MNHD) discussing how much information they should withhold while pushing the city's lockdown order on residents.
The officials converse about whether they should release publicly about the surprisingly low number of cases linked to bars and restaurants on lower Broadway - the heart of the city's nightlife scene.
In at least two instances in June and July, the officials chose not to release the specific numbers which showed that relatively few cases had been linked to bars and restaurants.
Meanwhile, bars and restaurants around Davidson County, which includes Nashville, were struggling to stay afloat with limited capacity after being forced to close down for two months from March to May.
“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,” FOX 17 News Nashville reported Wednesday.
On June 30th, contact tracing was giving 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.
Health department official Leslie Waller asked senior adviser Benjamin Eagles: “This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor’s Office?"
Eagles responded: “Correct, not for public consumption.”
A month later, Tennessean reporter Nate Rau 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?”
Health department official Brian Todd allegedly forwarded the email to five other officials and asked for help answering how he should respond.
“My two cents: We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site," one official responded.
"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 mayor’s office nor the health department would confirm the authenticity of the emails, but one city council member did, according to FOX 17.
Councilmember Steve Glover reportedly asked a government attorney to inquire about the emails.
The attorney responded: “I was able to get verification from the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Health that these emails are real.”
“They are fabricating information,” Glover claimed.
"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, etc, and we did it on bogus data,” Glover blasted.
“That should be illegal!” he added.
"Again, we weren’t told by the mayor’s office this wasn’t true,” the local station concluded.
"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?”