As The Tennessee Star reported on Monday, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced at a July 2 press conference he was turning the city back to Phase Two from Phase Three, shutting all bars down for 14 days, temporarily shutting down all entertainment and event venues, and reducing restaurant capacity from to 75 percent to 50 percent due to “record numbers” of COVID-19 cases traceable back to bars and restaurants.
Mayor Cooper did not provide any specific details to substantiate his assertion of “record numbers.”
He did however add at the press conference that “Our public health investigators have found a record number of clusters originating from bars within the past week.” At the time, about 20,000 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Davidson County.
The mayor clearly stated the “record number of clusters originating from bars” were discovered “within the past week.”
Later in that press conference, WPLN’s Blake Farmer asked for details about the mayor’s claim of “record clusters” around bars.
Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of the Metro Nashville and Davidson County Government Coronavirus Task Force, responded to that question. The full transcript of that question and response is as follows:
Blake Farmer: Thank you. This decision to move back to phase two, it feels like the primary issue is the bars. You talked about record clusters around bars. When did you start seeing this? And can you give us a little more detail on what kinds of clustering you’ve been seeing and over what time period? (emphasis added)
Alex Jahangir: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you, Blake. So what I will tell you is Saturday afternoon [June 27] I got a call from one of our leaders of our epidemiologists. And this is not something that typically happens that I get a call. They were like hey, we are starting to see something .
And very quickly this is right at the beginning. They recognized that there was some trend they saw out there they were starting to see that was not typical. They reached out to me. Reached out to the mayor. And all the teams really started working together all weekend to get into the details here.
What we’re seeing is there are about at least 10 locations around the city that have had at least a total of 30 people confirmed that have tested positive. And these are Davidson County residents. And there may be others at these locations that live outside of Davidson County they may have been infected.
So this was atypical, right? (emphasis added)
So we are also starting to see a decrease in the age of the individuals infected.
We are starting to see a difference again in zip codes of where people have been infected.
So these are the variables that alerted our very astute public health investigators to say hey, something different is happening here. And so that’s kind of how we started becoming aware of this and started really quickly addressing this. So thank you.
You can watch the full video of the July 2, 2020 Mayor John Cooper press conference here below. The exchange between Farmer and Jahangir begins at the 30:15 mark and extends to the 32:15 mark.