Mayor calls for Nashville bars to close as confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Davidson Co. rise to 17

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Posted at 9:01 AM, Mar 15, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the new coronavirus, in Davidson County has risen to 17 on Sunday.

The number is up four cases from Saturday. Metro Public Health Department officials said the patients range in age from 11 years old to 73 years old.

One patient is being treated at the hospital, but all others are self-isolating at home with mild and manageable symptoms.

Mayor Cooper announced Sunday afternoon the Health Department will hold a special meeting tonight to discuss a possible declaration of public health emergency in Davidson County.

In his statement, Cooper also called for bars on Lower Broadway and throughout the county to close until further notice. He also asked restaurants to limit seating to 50 percent of capacity, with a cap of 100 people, and restaurant bars to not allow standing.

Cooper said these actions come from practices exhibited in Chicago, Washington D.C., New Orleans, and other major cities.

"We are asking for these short-term actions based on recommendations of public health officials and health professionals and to protect the health of every person in our county and every visitor to our city. As a community we must come together and take care of one another, and that includes practicing social distancing that inhibits the spread of the virus."

Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. President and CEO Butch Spyridon expressed full support of the mayor's decision.

"Any short-term mitigation to slow the spread of this virus is invaluable to our long-term recovery...We understand the hardship this may cause the thousands of frontline employees and hundreds of businesses, and we are working with local, state, and federal officials in an effort to provide direct relief as soon as possible."

Some bar owners have disagreed. In a response, Steve Smith, owner of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and other downtown establishments called Mayor Cooper's request "unconstitutional." Smith said while he appreciates the mayor's efforts to combat the virus, his properties will "remain open to serve the public until such statewide mandate is issued from the Governor of Tennessee."

Our team will carry the Health Department's meeting live on air and on Facebook at 5 p.m.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.