Emails between the mayor’s senior advisor and the health department reveal only a partial picture. But what they reveal is disturbing.
The discussion involves the low number of coronavirus cases emerging from bars and restaurants and how to handle that.
And most disturbingly, how to keep it from the public.
On June 30th, contact tracing was given a small view of coronavirus clusters. Construction and nursing homes were found to be causing problems with more than a thousand cases traced to each category, but bars and restaurants reported just 22 cases.
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.
A month later, the health department was asked point blank about the rumor there are only 80 cases traced to bars and restaurants.
Reporter Nate Rau asks, “The figure you gave of ‘more than 80’ does lead to a natural question: 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?”
Health department official Brian Todd asked five health department officials, “Please advise how you recommend I respond. ”
The name at the top of the response is clipped off but you may find the answer unacceptable.
“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.”