Metro health dept. declares public health emergency in Davidson County due to COVID-19

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 14:22:33-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Metro board of health has declared a public health emergency due to COVID-19. The move allows the Metro director of health to use additional measures to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19.

Initial steps discussed during a special meeting held Sunday by the Metro board of health could include the closing of bars in Metro Nashville, and reducing restaurant occupancy to 50% or 100 seats, whichever is less. That could come within 24-48 hours of Sunday night's meeting.

California, Illinois, and Ohio closed bars and restaurants statewide on Sunday.

"Nashville faces a new challenge that once again requires all of us to pull together and respond for the good of our entire community," Nashville Mayor John Cooper said following the decision. "A part of our path forward is clear. We must do everything we can to flatten the curve of the coronavirus disease."

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Davidson County rose to 17 on Sunday.

In a statement earlier Sunday afternoon, Cooper 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.

Some bars are sayting they'll fight an order to close. The owner of Tootsie's, Honkey Tonk Central, and others, are saying they'll remain open until it's mandated from the Governor.

One concern of some members of the board of health are for the workers at these establishments, who would in all likelihood be out of a job during the closure.

“We understand these changes create a hardship, especially for businesses and their employees, and we hope it will be short lived,’’ Cooper said. "As a priority, Metro Government will be focused on how to provide relief for local workers and address the inevitable hardship that these social distancing measures will have on local businesses. We are gathering information from state and federal officials on aid for businesses and workers. We will continue to communicate regularly and follow the recommendations of the Board of Health as this emergency evolves.”


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.