Public Affairs Strategist Clint Brewer Reacts to Mayor Cooper’s Reopen Plan

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Public affairs strategist and all-star panelist Clint Brewer joined The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Friday morning on the newsmakers line.

During the second hour, Brewer weighed in on Mayor Cooper’s recent press conference where he revealed his plan to reopen Nashville. He urged people to follow the guidelines and recommendations because the economy would be unable to handle a start and stop due to a relapse in coronavirus cases.

Leahy: We are talking with our good friend and all-star panelist Clint Brewer. Clint, you said something very important at the end of the last segment related to the introduction to Mayor Cooper’s plan to reopen Nashville. You said that it did a good job of debunking shall we say a false narrative out there about how we’re going to come back. Elaborate on that a little bit.

Brewer: It said, living with COVID-19 and I’m paraphrasing, but living with COVID-19 and society is also going to mean going to work while it’s still out there. No one said it specifically but the way some of the coverage most of the coverage nationally at every level has been written is that it’s like this thing has a beginning, middle, and an end. It’s a pandemic.

The end is going to be getting a vaccine and getting the infection rate worldwide to a certain acceptable level of control. We’ve never eradicated the flu and new flu’s come online periodically. Seasonal flu. And we have to modulate our vaccine to those seasonal flus.

We’re going to have to change the way we do things. What this country, this world really has a long way to go with this virus and some of the steps and the way people are going to be using things like face masks and gloves in your favorite restaurant is going to be new and a little unsettling. You’re not going to be used to it. The alternative is to stay home.

Leahy: That’s driving people nuts! People have cabin fever. I told you Clint that I have studio fever here. Here I am wearing my face mask, not during the program but I come into the building with my face mask. Got my gloves here and I’m isolated in the studio! I see in the far distance a big glass window with our producer Katie over there.

I wave to her every day but we’re socially distant. And I have to talk to you over the phone Clint. I don’t have the pleasure of your company in person. That’s going to change hopefully in the first week of May when we have studio freedom day here. I got your hazmat suit already up in the corner. I’m looking forward to having you here in person. (Chuckles)

Brewer: Great.

Leahy: With regards to the reopening here in Tennessee, I see Governor Lee said that a week from today restaurants will be able to open at half capacity I guess. Maybe even some places even earlier than that.

Brewer: Yeah, I think it’s earlier in the week.

Leahy: Maybe its Monday yeah.

Brewer: Yes, I think its Monday. And it doesn’t apply to the larger cities in the state because they’ve got their own versions of safer at home. But yes, it will be restaurants early in the week. I think retail stores later in the week at some point. I think that’s progress.

The state has been very vigilant about its testing. We’ve got mass testing rolling out that happened last weekend and is happening this weekend. I think he’s taken a similar approach to what you saw in the Cooper plan which the reality is we have to go back to some part of our lives at some point.

Leahy: Yes. What I couldn’t figure out in Mayor Cooper’s plan is when that phase one is going to kick in where restaurants can go to 50% occupancy. It’s in phase one but you have to have like 14 days of declining numbers. I couldn’t tell exactly when that’s going to happen. Do we have a sense of when that part of the city’s phase one will begin? We’re you able to figure that out?

Brewer: The mayor used a great phrase and that was that the decision should be data-driven and not dates driven. I think people have gotten, and I say people I mean everybody has got hung up on when these stay-at-home orders begin and end. I think they are assigning meaning to the end of those orders as if oh well it’s going to be fine by then.

Leahy: Yeah.

Brewer: Again, people are expecting a nice clean beginning and end to all this. And that’s not necessarily the case. I think we’ve got to watch the numbers. People in Nashville have to work to flatten the curve a lot as people across the state have. And when that’s happened and there’s an acceptable decline they’ll allow some re-openings.

Leahy: One part of that that I’ve got to look into a little bit more is the number of new cases in Davidson County. I can track that. I’m sure they have that on a daily basis. They’re tracking it. We want to start tracking that a little bit more closely. We are tracking of course here in Tennessee. You are quite right that the state has increased its testing.

There are 8,200 new tests in the past 24 hours. I think that’s the highest ever in a 24 hour period in the state. A total of 380 new positive cases. That’s a little bit less than five percent of those that tested positive. It’s still got a pretty low prevalence in Tennessee.

The number of deaths here in Tennessee, 170. That was an increase of four in a 24-hour period. Again, statewide it does appear to be moving in a downward trajectory. We’ll see how that works in Davidson County.

Brewer: Yeah, we will. It’s good to see the sort of aggressive way the state is testing. Certainly, it’s a differentiator from some of our peers in the southeast. The southern states and getting beaten on their response to this.

Leahy: The mainstream media, I lovingly call them the Manchurian Media. You know, based in New York City and Washington and that area. They still think the south is filled with a bunch of ignorant hillbillies in many regards.

Brewer: And they can’t beat us in college football either so…

Leahy: No. They cannot!

Brewer: There’s that as well. I think there’s a differentiating factor there. I think that the language is similar to what we’ve seen. We’ve taken a very data-driven approach here in the state. And Mayor Cooper has taken a data-driven approach. This is not something you go by on feel. You need to use the science that’s available. I think the leaders in our state are doing a really good job at this.

Leahy: What’s interesting about this Clint is that we’re going to see as these social distancing governmental rules are relaxed, I think everybody’s going to be watching every day if the number of cases has increased. Has the number of hospitalizations increased? Hospitalizations in Tennessee been very very low.

The net hospitalizations, that are those that are currently hospitalized I think is on the decline. Although I can’t tell exactly because this is one of the states that doesn’t release current hospitalization data. But I think that’s all moving down.

This whole thing was driven by hospital capacity that doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem even if there’s an uptick in the number of new cases. I’m guessing with the relaxation of these social distancing rules, I’m guessing that we’re probably not going to run into a hospital capacity problem. That’s how I see it. What’s your best projection at this moment on that?

Brewer: It doesn’t appear that way either. There’s been some coverage of this. There’s a pretty good plan in place in case there is a surge in the state to have some facilities in some of our large cities that can take an overflow of patients.

Hospital beds can be put there. There’s a plan in place. I think what really is what people need to focus on is following these guidelines and recommendations so that we don’t have to start and stop the economy in certain sectors because we’re relapsing.

Leahy: The old start and stop ploy! The old start and stop ploy. We don’t want that.

Brewer: Yeah. But it’s going to be difficult for businesses. It’s hard to ramp up and then ramp back down and ramp up and ramp back down. People need to listen.

Leahy: Clint Brewer, thanks so much for joining us this morning. We’ll talk to you again Monday at 6:00 a.m. I hope you have a great weekend Clint.

Brewer: You too! Thanks so much.

Listen to the second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “John Cooper” by John Cooper.








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