COVID-19 case at Nashville comedy club raises concern about Phase 3 of reopening


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Davidson County will enter Phase Three of reopening Monday, meaning restaurants and retail shops can open at 75 percent and small venues can reopen, but with recent COVID-19 cases on the rise in Tennessee, and an episode at a local comedy club, some say it’s too soon.

It was a frightening moment at Zanies Comedy Night Club Friday as famous actor and comedian D.L. Hughley passed out during a show from exhaustion and dehydration, later finding out at the hospital that he had COVID-19 and was asymptomatic.

However, he had already potentially exposed hundreds of others in two days worth of shows at the club.

“If you know anything about comedy clubs its intimate, very intimate. And you have people right in front of him, and he’s screaming or speaking and it’s easy to spray it in a small facility like that,” John Smith told News 2.

Smith was seated on the balcony in the club and caught the whole thing on Facebook Live. The video showed the room packed and social distancing is not clearly seen.

Smith said, “it was sold out, 100 percent capacity, not an empty seat in the building.”

This is concerning to Metro Council members who’ve spoken out against Metro Nashville’s COVID-19 Task Force moving the city into Phase Three Monday.

“Things like bars opening, look I’m really looking forward to being able to get back into my favorite bars and see all my friends, I just don’t think it’s time, I don’t think it’s safe to be in those environments right now,” said District 5 Councilman Sean Parker.

Friday, the number of positive cases in Tennessee spiked— the highest since May 1.

While testing is more available and widespread now, the ratio of tests given to positive cases shows a slight steady increase, now back at 10 percent positive cases in Davidson County.

“If we’re going to start doing these shows and whatnot, they’re gonna have to be done very very carefully, I don’t think it’s time to even be having that conversation now,” Parker said, “I’m just not seeing even half compliance levels with social distancing and mask-wearing, and without that culture in place, I really think we’re moving too quickly here.”

“I think Zanies should test their comedians before they do another show,” Smith said, adding that he will get tested this week.

Hughley is okay and quarantining in his hotel room for 14 days. He did perform at Zanies both Thursday and Friday and they are recommending anyone who attended and feels they were exposed get tested.

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