NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The chairman of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force says he was “concerned” when he learned of a large gathering held outside of the Metro Courthouse in downtown Nashville over the weekend.
The videos, which circulated on social media, showed thousands of people crammed together with no social distancing and few masks in sight. Sean Feucht, the organizer of the event called “Let Us Worship,” posted to Twitter that a police officer he spoke with estimated 9,000 to 10,000 worshippers attended the gathering.
“It’s officially a protest, so it’s legal,” Feucht said in a video posted to his social media.
Dr. Alex Jahangir, the head of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force, described the event as another example of people “who are maybe letting their guard down” and holding large gatherings and parties.
“I think statistics would tell you that there probably some people in that crowd that had the disease and I suspect some others in that crowd probably contracted the disease in a unmasked close quarters scenario,” Dr. Jahangir said.
The doctor said Metro health officials will keep an eye on any cases that may result from the gathering
“It depends on who these people are that attended this event,” he explained. “Were they all from out of state or out of city? If they were, then it is the city of residence that counts the numbers toward their count. So if none of those people were Nashvillians, then the Nashville numbers won’t necessarily be impacted by it, per se, unless these people left that event and went and had meals in our restaurants and went to our retail stores and took part in our community.”
The doctor added, “that is why it’s so critical for us. Even if you don’t live in this region, we need to take care of our own, and we don’t want people to come and spread the virus to each other and the residents of Nashville, because of not being careful and not wearing masking or social distancing.”
In a statement released Monday morning, Brian Todd, the spokesperson for the Metro Public Health Department said the department was working with other Metro agencies to investigate and would “pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer.”
Todd added the event organizer did not submit an application to the health department or a permit application to any Metro department.
Metro Interim Police Chief John Drake issued a statement Monday afternoon and said, in part, “I am greatly disappointed that the organizer of Sunday’s event and those in attendance did not better prioritize their health and the health of others through social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.”
He added, “personal responsibility is a necessity regardless of the purpose for a public event.”
“Going forward, the police department will work with its Metro government partners, including the Health Department, to more effectively facilitate proactive contact with any future event organizers to explain Nashville’s public health and safety expectations,” the chief explained.
Chief Drake said the organizer of Sunday’s gathering did not contact the police department ahead of time and officers were not present at the event.