NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Thursday Mayor John Cooper’s press secretary, Chris Song, issued a statement regarding the release of COVID-19 data and transparency of data reporting.
In the statement, Song said a recent report from a Nashville television station was, “published with limited information and without context.”
He said the report used Metro email screenshots to falsely accuse the Mayor’s office and the Metro Public Health Department of withholding public health data that had previously been shared with and published by another local news outlet last month.
Song states emails from the same thread that emphasized the need to publicly release as much COVID-19 data as possible were omitted from the station’s report. Those emails can be seen below.
The rest of the statement can be read in its entirety below:
“On June 29th, following a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases, the Mayor’s office emailed Metro Public Health asking its staff to share the results of its contact tracing investigations to help identify the sources and spread of COVID-19 in Davidson County to help guide an appropriate policy response. Up to that point, Metro Public Health had typically tracked infections to broader categories of sources – such as workplace, community, household, and travel – but the Mayor’s office requested more specific sourcing, including bars, large gatherings, and weddings, as examples based on national trends.
“Two days prior to these emails, the weekend before the July 4th holiday, the MPHD epidemiology team had contacted Dr. Alex Jahangir, Chair of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force, to alert him that, for the first time, clusters of cases had been linked to bars in Nashville. On July 3rd, Modified Phase Two of the “Roadmap for Reopening Nashville” took effect, temporarily closing bars and other businesses and venues with a high risk of COVID-19 spread. Four weeks after this public health decision was made, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, visited Nashville to warn the entire state of Tennessee that bars in hotspots should be immediately closed because of their potential to facilitate the spread the coronavirus. Thankfully, Nashville had already taken this step.
“Nashville has made significant progress with our COVID-19 response as a result of these timely, data-driven public health decisions taken earlier this summer. Nashville’s 7-day percent positive rate peaked at 17.1 percent on July 9th. It is 5.1 percent today. Our 7-day rate of new cases peaked at 64.7 per 100,000 residents on July 13th, which is now 15.6 per 100,000 residents as of this morning. These metrics have allowed for incremental, important adjustments to our local economy that are helping more Nashvillians quickly and safely get back to work.
“The Mayor’s office and the Metro Public Health Department remain committed as always to providing timely and transparent information that helps inform our local media and all Nashvillians in the fight against COVID-19. And we’re grateful to all the residents and businesses owners in Davidson County for their hard work and dedication to our ongoing COVID-19 response.”