I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
September 19, 2020
I think this goes without saying, but all opinions expressed here are my own personal opinions and represent no one but myself.
When Dennis’s story about leaked emails between the Nashville mayor’s office and the health department went viral a few nights ago, I realized immediately he was in for a battle. The national media had taken the story and run with it, turning it into a partisan issue, and I knew all too well that if one side championed the story, the other side would immediately set about discrediting it. I mean, that’s how this works now, right? The morning after his story aired and I began seeing some national headlines that didn’t exactly match up with what Dennis had actually reported, I wrote this on Facebook:
As Dennis Ferrier’s story blows up and goes national and ever more hyperbolic headlines are being used to describe it, I’d encourage you to watch the story Dennis himself wrote and reported, and then make up your own minds. Click on the link below and watch the video — That’s his actual story about the emails. Everything else you’re seeing is a report on his report along with that author’s spin, and it may or may not be accurate. I also encourage you to read the emails for yourselves.
I’ve seen Dennis’s story on the news twice now and in it, he asked all the same questions I had after reading the emails. I was disappointed the mayor’s office was unable or unwilling to answer any of those questions at the press conference this morning and I hope Mayor Cooper really is willing to ‘get to the bottom of this’ in an interview.
This post is true today more than ever.
I can’t speak for everything you’ve read and heard on the issue and how accurate or truthful it all is. But I can say Dennis’s reports were carefully written, verified, and triple-checked. And no matter what you think or whom you believe, here’s the bottom line, straight from the leaked emails themselves: Until his story aired, you were almost certainly unaware that by the end of July, of the more than 21,700 COVID-positive Nashvillians who’d been contact traced, only ‘more than 80’ total cases were linked to bars, bar-tainment, and restaurants in all of Davidson County. And on June 30th, 2 days before Mayor Cooper announced he was shutting down all bars, only 19 cases had been contact traced back to bars and bar-tainment and 3 in restaurants SINCE MARCH. By comparison, between March and June, 251 cases had been traced back to the construction industry — 13 times the number of infections seen in bars — yet construction was NOT shut down.
Bars and restaurants have permanently closed in Nashville because of the shutdown. Service industry workers have left the city forever. Our local economy, so dependent on this industry, is in absolute ruins. All this because of around 80 cases out of 21,700 in a five-month period?
Now, the mayor’s office is claiming it did make this information known, but I’ve been following all of the local news and mayor’s press conferences on COVID for months — and believing them — and I’d sure never heard this 80 in 21,700 number before. As Dennis reported, former Tennessean reporter Nate Rau was able to get this number from Metro after multiple emails requesting it — and after initially being denied. But since Rau writes now for a brand-new website I didn’t even know existed until I read the leaked emails, like the vast majority of you, his report never even crossed my radar when it came out.
As a Nashville resident, I’m angry. I believe that I was misled by my city and given a biased version of the truth, one designed to fill me with terror, anxiety, and dread. Based on what I was reading and hearing from the local ‘experts’ and the mainstream media outlets reporting on them, I was under the impression Nashville’s restaurants were hotbeds of infection and I needed to avoid them. But in light of these emails, I now believe Nashville’s restaurant and bar industry was shut down and restricted for no good reason. The city could have simply stepped up its enforcement of COVID regulations at bars when cases rose to 19, and allowed them to remain open. The city could have trumpeted the news in August that only around 80 cases in 21,700 were linked to bars and restaurants, so that we wouldn’t feel quite so anxious about going to them — and a whole lot more Nashvillians out there might still have jobs today.
Learning this new information now is a problem for me, because it makes me question everything Mayor Cooper has been telling us. I wonder what else doesn’t fit into his agenda for the city and is being omitted from the narrative we’re getting. I wonder how much more economic battering our city can take. I wonder how many more people are going to lose their jobs. I wonder how we’re all going to pay for this 34% property tax increase.
As I did after Dennis’s first story aired, I strongly encourage you to watch his reports, as well as everything out there on this issue, pro and con — and then decide for yourself what to think. I fully realize some of you will agree with me and some won’t. But educate yourselves. Read those leaked emails. Watch the mayor’s press conferences from July, especially this one which directly followed the numbers released in the leaked emails, as well as the media reports that resulted from them. Keep these facts I’ve put in bold in mind as you’re taking all this in. Make up your own mind about whether you’ve been getting the full story from our local government.