NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper says COVID-19 numbers are rising in Nashville once again.
Only four of the eight metrics on the city's roadmap for 'reopening Nashville' are below the level the city says is needed to continue reopening; the transmission rate has risen to 1.07, higher than the target of 1.0, meaning that the virus is spreading faster than it is declining. ICU capacity has dropped to 10%, well below the 20% target.
"The increase shows this pandemic is far from over and we need everyone to refocus our efforts to keep from repeating what happened back in June and July," Dr. Michael Caldwell says. Caldwell says many cases are being tracked to extracurricular events in schools, including sports and events. Some of the clusters included a volleyball tournament, private birthday party, and two wedding outbreaks.
Much has been made over the course of the pandemic that those with preexisting conditions are more vulnerable to complications from the virus. Dr. Caldwell said Thursday that 40% of the population has an underlying condition.
Nashville moved into "Phase 3" of it's recovery on October 1st, increasing the number of people allowed in restaurants and at events. The Titans this week allowed about 8,600 fans into the stadium for the first time this season.
When asked last week, Mayor Cooper's administration said it was 'too soon' to discuss when Phase 4 would be possible.
As part of the Phase 3 restrictions, bars and restaurants can expand capacity to 100 patrons per-floor and an additional 100 in outside spaces, with proper social distancing in place. Large event gatherings can expand to 500 people (30% maximum capacity) -- with an approved plan from the Metro Public Health Department, and transpotainment vehicles can resume operation with a maximum of 15 people or 50% capacity.
When asked about the possibility of moving back a phase in Nashville's reopening plan because of rising numbers, a spokesperson for the Metro Public Health Department told NewsChannel 5, "There are no plans to move back at this time. We know more than we did this summer about what works against COVID-19: wearing masks, washing hands, and socially distancing."
However, medical experts said if metrics continued to rise in Nashville and throughout the state, all public health measures should be an option.