Update: WZTV’s news director Bryan McGruder told CNN that “we incorrectly asserted that Mayor Cooper’s office withheld COVID-19 data from the public, which implied that there had been a coverup. We want to clarify that we do not believe there was any coverup, and we apologize for the error and oversight in our reporting."
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Donald Trump Jr. has weighed in over Nashville officials concealing the low number of COVID-19 cases in bars and restaurants.
In a Thursday tweet, the president's son said "The Dem Mayor of Nashville KNOWINGLY LIED ABOUT COVID DATA to justify shutting down bars & restaurants, killing countless jobs & small businesses in the process," adding "Everyone involved should face jail time. How many other Dem run cities is this happening in?"
The Dem Mayor of Nashville KNOWINGLY LIED ABOUT COVID DATA to justify shutting down bars & restaurants, killing countless jobs & small businesses in the process.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 17, 2020
Everyone involved should face jail time. How many other Dem run cities is this happening in?https://t.co/8anzs5Jgba
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Leaked emails between the senior adviser to Nashville's Mayor and a health department official reveal a disturbing effort to conceal extremely low coronavirus cases emanating from bars and restaurants, while the lion's share of infections occurred in nursing homes and construction workers, according to WZTV Nashville.
On June 30th, contact tracing was giving a small view of coronavirus clusters. Construction and nursing homes causing problems more than a thousand cases traced to each category, but bars and restaurants reported just 22 cases.
Leslie Waller from the health department asks “This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor’s Office?"
“Correct, not for public consumption.” Writes senior advisor Benjamin Eagles. -WZTV
Four weeks 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?"
To which health department official Brian Todd scrambled for an answer - asking five health department officials: "Please advise how you respond. BT."
The response - from an official whose name was omitted from the leaked email: "My two cents. We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site," adding "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.""
According to a metro staff attorney asked by city councilmember Steve Glover to verify the authenticity of the emails, "I was able to get verification from the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Health that these emails are real."
Glover told WZTV: "They are fabricating information. They’ve blown there entire credibility Dennis. Its gone i don’t trust a thing they say going forward ...nothing."
Glover says he has been contacted by an endless stream of downtown bartenders, waitresses, and restaurant owners. Why would they not release these numbers?
"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 etcetera and we did it on bogus data. That should be illegal!" he says.
Again, we weren’t told by the mayor’s office this wasn’t true. We were told to file a freedom of information act request. -WZTV