Nashville, Tennessee officials concealed "extremely low" coronavirus cases coming from bars and restaurants in leaked emails, according to WZTV.
The leaked emails between a senior adviser to Nashville's mayor and a health department official reveal a "disturbing effort" to conceal the low number of coronavirus cases among people who patronize bars and restaurants without wearing masks or face coverings.
"On June 30th, contact tracing was giving a small view of coronavirus clusters. Construction and nursing homes causing problems more than a thousand cases traced to each category, but bars and restaurants reported just 22 cases," according to one leaked email obtained by WZTV.
In the same email chain, Leslie Waller from the health department asks "This isn't going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor's Office?"
"Correct, not for public consumption," writes senior advisor Benjamin Eagles.
In another email exchange, Tennessee reporter Nate Rai asked the health department to clarify the low number of COVID cases coming from bars and restaurants.
"If there have been over 20,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in Davidson and only 80 or so are traced to restaurants and bars, doesn't that mean restaurants and bars aren’t a very big problem?"
His query left health department official Brian Todd scrambling for a suitable response.
He asked five other health officials: "Please advise how you respond. BT."
The response from an official whose name was redacted from the leaked email:
"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.""
For months now, conservatives have accused health officials of over-exaggerating the coronavirus pandemic to keep Americans on lockdown until after the November elections.
Atlanta has fully reopened after a 3-month lockdown. Every bar and nightclub within the Atlanta city limits is packed with patrons who don't wear masks or social distance.
There has not been a spike in coronavirus cases coming from bars and restaurants in Atlanta.