Emails Indicate Nashville Mayor’s Office Colluded to Conceal Covid Information from Public

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Officials in the Nashville health department and mayor John Cooper’s office are being accused of colluding to conceal the low amount of people whose positive coronavirus cases were traced to bars and restaurants, as Fox 17 revealed leaked emails.

One leaked email exchange, between mayor Cooper’s senior advisor Benjamin Eagles and health department official Leslie Waller, revealed that as of June 30th just 22 cases had been linked to bars and restaurants. After that data was disclosed, the exchange went as follows:

Waller: “This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor’s Office?”

Cooper: “Correct, not for public consumption.”

Fox 17 also uncovered an email from an unnamed Nashville health department official, in response to an inquiry about how to handle a question from Tennessean reporter Nate Rau. In late July, Rau asked the health department about intel that just 80 cases of the 20,000 in Davidson County were attributable to exposure at bars and restaurants.

Brian Todd, the health department official who sent the email asking how the department should respond, got the following answer from an unnamed official: “My two cents. We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site. We could still release the total though, and then a response to the over 80 could be because that number is increasing all the time and we don’t want to say a specific number.”

The mayor’s office declined to confirm or deny the emails to Fox 17; city council-member Steve Glover said he had an attorney reveal the authenticity of the emails and accused Metro Nashville of “fabricating information” in an orchestrated cover-up.

It should of course be considered good news that so few cases wound up being tied to bars and restaurants. The hospitality industry, which already operated on razor-thin margins in normal times, is in dire straits in big cities across the country and as a result many beloved institutions are shuttering. Here’s a list of places that have permanently closed in Nashville during the pandemic.

The implication of a deliberate plot to conceal information about low spreads from bars and restaurants is a desire to maintain strict restrictions. Thus, these emails represent an agreement between officials, who work to serve taxpayers, to prop up unpopular governing decisions.

In Nashville, bars and restaurants have faced capacity restrictions, 10-person maximum tables, limitations on live music and early closing time. Mayor Cooper extended bar closing time until 30 minutes after the Titans game ended this past Monday; if he could do it for the Titans, why not make it that late forever?

Today, perhaps not coincidentally a day after Fox 17’s bombshell reporting, Mayor Cooper announced that capacity restrictions will be raised to 50 percent — capped at 50 patrons inside and 50 patrons outside — and closing time will now be 11:00 pm.

It may be awhile, but the FOIA requests that come out of all this, not just in Nashville, but all over the country, are going to reveal some wild communications.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.


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  1. “It may be awhile, but the FOIA requests that come out of all this, not just in Nashville, but all over the country, are going to reveal some wild communications.”

    I hope you’re right, but I suspect what this will lead to is moving these kinds of communications over to private email accounts, along the lines of a former Secretary of State/failed presidential candidate. Wish I were in the “private servers for government officials” business right about now…

  2. I really hope there is some level of legal recourse for the honest business folks that have been horribly impacted by the incompetent or more likely corrupt decisions forced on them. Politicians are supposed to work on behalf of their constituents not against them.

    • You’d hope so. Dozens of local restaurants are just gone now, and no telling how many employees lost jobs at those places because Cooper was using fake data to justify overreaching lockdowns on our community. This is infuriating.

  3. I cannot begin to imagine how many people have lost investments, jobs, businesses, and dreams in Davidson County because of this idiot’s lying and poor decision making. There needs to be accountability for this. It’s not over. We went from one mayor scandal with Megan Barry to Coverup Cooper. Business owners in Nashville should be furious.

  4. Governor Lee reported that Nashville has the slowest recovering metropolitan economy in the country……….yes, the country!!! For a state whose tax revenue exceeded the previous year, even with COVID, this is inexcusable and the dirty lies will start to surface. I’d bet my last dollar that this is an attempt for a money grab from the state and feds. Not to mention, if businesses fail, new regulations for new businesses replacing the failed will generate enormous amounts of money which go directly to Metro Government. And you can blame it on a virus…. Slick but predictable from a spend happy city that just raised taxes on property owners over 30%; disgusting.

    • I’m pretty sure people like Cooper and socialist minded city councilmen are being elected primarily by the influx of moon bats coming from liberal hotbeds. We have had a skinny-jeaned, beard-oiled, Whole Foods shopping, avocado-eating, ride your bike in the middle of the street, Bernie bro, coronabro, invasion in Nashville over last 10 years. Nashville is apparently their latest create your own hell hole project now that Austin and Seattle are complete.

      Nashville needs Clay Travis for mayor…seriously.

  5. If I’m an attorney in Nashville, I’m advertising to bars and restaurant owners that lost revenue / went under because of the Mayor’s decision. I’m not sure what the governmental immunity situation is in TN, but in FL you can sue municipalities for $100k.

    I’ve heard countless times about cities, states, and schools being worried about “liability” if someone gets sick and sues. That’s a stretch based on assumption of the risk. The real liability they need to be worried about is the financial loss that individuals, students, and businesses lost based on authorities like this Mayor for unreasonably (and here potentially fraudulently) shutting places down.

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