Staff for Nashville Mayor John Cooper would not say why he wore a COVID-19 face mask Tuesday that had an image of the Kurdistan flag on it.
Cooper generated buzz on Facebook and Twitter after he appeared at a press conference Tuesday and approached a microphone to update Nashville residents about COVID-19. Cooper did not wear the mask as he spoke. He lowered the mask so he could speak clearly into the microphone.
But, as of Wednesday night, Cooper’s reasons for wearing the Kurdistan mask remain unclear. Cooper’s staff did not return The Tennessee Star’s request for comment on the matter.
Cooper attracted worldwide attention for wearing the Kurdish mask.
A Kurdish journalist who said on YouTube that he works in Afghanistan played the clip of Cooper wearing the mask. Meanwhile, The Tennessee Kurdish Community Council and the Kurdish Cultural Center of Illinois, among other Kurdish-oriented Facebook pages, recognized Cooper for the same reason.
The author of another Kurdish-oriented Facebook page said that “because of the enormity of the Kurdish community in Nashville, it is known as Little Kurdistan.”
As The Star reported last week, Nashville’s southeastern area, where many immigrants live, has a large cluster of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The entire county remains closed for business because of the virus.
Chris Song, spokesman for Nashville Mayor John Cooper, said last week that Davidson County officials will still impose restrictions upon all of the county, and not just parts of it.
“Every Nashvillian feels an urge to return to business as normal, and many livelihoods depend on it,” Song said in an email.
“But in order to get our economy back up and running, we must stay the course and reduce the rate of coronavirus infections across all communities here in Nashville.”
Leslie Waller, an epidemiologist with the Metro Nashville Public Health Department, said at a press conference last week that members of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition have partnered with the county to devise strategies to fight COVID-19 in that one area.
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