MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Murfreesboro’s city manager is responding to a controversial post about coronavirus he authored on the city’s web site. The post on murfreesborotn.gov came Thursday, hours after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Murfreesboro City Manager Craig Tindall suggested the virus would quickly pass, while being critical of the media: “Like other viruses that have widely spread, this health alert can be adequately addressed by our healthcare system and, like other virus outbreaks, will quickly pass.” The post went on to read “Unfortunately, today’s media know that negative or overtly controversial stories receive more attention and thereby generate traffic to their publications, broadcasts, and websites.” The post went on to mention resources such as the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health.
The post was shared on Facebook and Twitter accounts managed by the city of Murfreesboro and drew considerable criticism regarding the message the virus would “quickly pass” and the statement about the media.
One Facebook commenter said, “…you guys are just trying to minimize it? Why? What’s your motivation here?” and another adding “This is not like other viruses and everybody knows it.” One response on Twitter read: “What a shameful statement. The local media that this statement villainizes are directly working with the health organizations like the TDH and the CDC. This is blatantly irresponsible and needs to be retracted.”
The post was changed later Thursday afternoon, removing the reference to the virus quickly passing and the references to media coverage.
Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland says he addressed the situation Thursday night and met with staff Friday morning. He said the statements were not reflective of how the city feels and that is a time for facts, not opinions. McFarland said Tindall was regretful of the post.
Tindall responded by email Friday afternoon, saying:
The City appreciates the seriousness of the current situation involving COVID-19. We are dedicating significant resources to assuring the well-being of our residents and visitors, as well as our employees. With respect to the statement, I authored it. The intent was to convey information consistent with direct sources of health-related information, including those agencies tasked with addressing this issue. Of course, no one knows how long a epidemic will last. Consequently, it is important to continue cautious, appropriate measures throughout an outbreak. In fact, most of the basic recommended measures are good habits to retain on a consistent basis. That said, reports of the rate of infection from other countries, coupled with the measures currently being taken, and based on the history of viral outbreaks that have occurred over the last few years, all suggest that the spread of the disease will decrease in a relatively short time. That in no way diminishes the need for everyone to be vigilant in responding to health recommendations that prevent further spread of the virus regardless of how long it persists.
The City appreciates the work that you and other local media do to keep us informed.
Most patients with COVID-19 have a mild respiratory illness including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Tennessee Department of Health strongly encourages Tennesseans to wash your hands often with soap and water and to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
The CDC recommends that organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 10 people or more throughout the United States.
High-risk individuals are defined as adults over 60 years old or people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions such as: Heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.
The Tennessee Department of Health offers a COVID-19 Public Information Line at 877-857-2945, with information available daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Time.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.