NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s a roadmap to recovery of sorts and the first-of-its-kind in the nation. Nashville is said to be the first U.S city to conduct an in-depth report on its coronavirus response.

News 2, reviewed that report Wednesday, which highlights what the city learned and how Nashville can better prepare for a pandemic in the future.

One of the biggest lessons throughout the pandemic, Dr. Alex Jahangir, Chair of Nashville COVID-19 Taskforce said, is that public health is not a “political hot potato.”

“It’s easy to point out what’s wrong. It’s easy to point out what’s right, but what you can do moving forward is the hard part,” said Kristi Mitchell, CEO & Founder of Health Equity Outcomes and Consultant for Avalere Health.

The nearly 60-page report, “Strategies for Future Preparedness: Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on Nashville,” outlines both the good and the bad, with short, medium and long-term recommendations for Metro government, hospitals, businesses and community leaders.

The main recommendations are as follows:

  • Emphasize and prioritize regular investments in our public health infrastructure and crisis readiness.
  • Elevate supports for Nashville’s most vulnerable populations based on unique needs.
  • Align protocols and best practices across Nashville’s thriving business and tourism community.
  • Elevate leaders of Nashville’s minority faith communities as key influencers and trusted representatives for information sharing and emergency response.
  • Develop improved and standardized data sharing among health providers for better care coordination and outcomes.
  • Create easy-to-use and mobile-friendly online portals and dashboards for residents and businesses to use for testing, vaccinations, and applying for economic relief, as well as following progress on pandemic preparedness metrics.

“I think at this point, COVID as we know it is going to be with us for a while,” Dr. Jahangir said. “Let’s use the lessons we’re learning to continue to improve how we’re moving forward.”

After months of interviews and extensive research, Avalere Health found that Nashville has chronic inadequate funding, a workforce shortage and outdated infrastructure that has limited our public health sector’s response.

Mitchell said Nashville needs to invest more in public health infrastructure, crisis readiness, data sharing and its collection.

Tracking COVID in Tennessee
📊 COVID-19 cases among TN school-age children
📊 Tennessee’s Current COVID-19 hospitalizations
📊 New COVID-19 cases and deaths reported by month

She added the lack of sufficient resources and staffing to effectively support the demand for contact tracing, testing and other public health capabilities placed a significant burden on vulnerable populations, which the report shows were disproportionally impacted — both physically and economically.

Research also uncovered that small business owners had challenges accessing and applying for certain loans.

“It’s going to come down to funding from state federal and local level and it comes down to really investing in leadership and workforce. You can’t move a vehicle if you don’t have an engine,” Mitchell said.

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As we continue to maneuver COVID-19, leaders hope the data-driven roadmap of pandemic do’s and don’ts helps us in a future health crisis.