Metro Coronavirus Task Force Chair Alex Jahangir scolded members of the White House Thursday for saying — falsely — that Nashville had a sudden 129 percent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases earlier this month.
Jahangir said a spike at a prison in nearby Trousdale County had a lot to do with the White House reporting false data about Nashville. This, even though, as The Tennessee Star reported, Jahangir earlier this month made misleading claims about Trousdale County numbers and how they relate to Nashville.
“There have been some national stories about Nashville and how we are one of the cities that is having a spike in the country. I want to emphasize something. These stories are misleading, and they are not accurate. The reports are based on an unreleased May 7 White House Coronavirus Task Force report that showed that Nashville had an increase of 129 percent in a single week. That’s just not accurate,” Jahangir said at a press conference Thursday.
“The number actually included data from 13 surrounding counties. The so-called Nashville numbers also included Trousdale County in the week in which they had one of the worst prison outbreaks in the country. And it also included Rutherford County. During that one week there was an increase of 200 cases in Rutherford County. The facts are this. During this time Nashville and Davidson County had a 17 percent increase in cases during the one week reported. That is the accurate number, 17 percent. Not 129 percent.”
But at a May 1 press conference, Jahangir said that counties surrounding Davidson now had a higher number of COVID-19 cases than Davidson County itself had — but that claim was highly misleading. Jahangir said at the time that Davidson had 2,832 confirmed cases, an increase of 163 cases in 24 hours. He also said there were an additional 3,227 cases in the surrounding counties — an increase of 955 in one day.
A spokesman for the Metro Nashville Health Department later admitted to The Star that Jahangir’s claim included cases in Trousdale County, which does not border Davidson County. Trousdale County suddenly reported 1,344 reported cases of coronavirus. That number includes more than 1,300 cases of inmates and staff at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility – almost all of whom were asymptomatic, as The Star reported.
The Tennessee Department of Health provided The Star with raw data to demonstrate how Nashville officials mischaracterized the situation earlier this month.
Jahangir said Thursday that he had not spoken with White House officials about their report.
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