NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper says beginning Monday, the city is modifying its public health order to limit public and private gatherings from 25 people to eight people amid the surge of COVID-19 cases.
Cooper announced the update Thursday during Metro’s weekly COVID-19 briefing, citing record hospitalizations across the state. Additionally, all indoor extracurricular activities for Metro Nashville Public Schools are on pause until further notice.
Limit public and private gatherings to 8 people. Record COVID hospitalizations are straining hospitals. Restricting social contacts is critical to stopping the spread of COVID. Please reconsider any plans to gather with people outside of your household, including Thanksgiving. pic.twitter.com/FmGklCf8FU— Mayor John Cooper (@JohnCooper4Nash) November 19, 2020
"The rule of eight needs to be our guide as we enter the holiday season," Cooper said. "It should prompt everyone to think with caution when inviting friends over for dinner or going to a baby shower or hosting a game night."
Additionally, Cooper said the "rule of eight" will limit the chances of super spreading.
"With the virus surging, now is simply not the time for large social events that could lead to any contact between clusters," he said.
Cooper said if you absolutely have to gather with people outside your household, limit your gathering to eight people, maintain social distancing and wear your mask when you're with people outside your household.
He said masks and restrictions on clustering are the "best tools we have" to mitigate the spread until there's a vaccine available.
In the meantime, restaurants, bars, live sports and pre-approved large events will allowed to continue. Mayor Cooper says those are acceptable with the current limitations because, at least in theory, people have to stay in their assigned seats or area and can only take of their mask around close friends and family.
As for enforcing the "rule of eight" -- Dr. Michael Caldwell, Metro-Nashville's Director of Health, says they will follow up on complaints, but can only do so much.
"Certainly, we need everyone’s cooperation. We can’t be everywhere all the time and we do not intend to be everywhere all the time. It takes all of us," said Dr. Caldwell.
Currently, there are 362 COVID-19 patients in Nashville hospitals, and one-third of those are from outside Davidson County. Cooper said there are now more COVID-19 patients in Nashville hospitals than at any point this year -- a 50% increase of current patients since Nov. 1.
The mayor said he thinks hospitalizations will increase by at least 10% in the next week, alone.
Metro reported 451 new cases of the virus on Thursday. The number of available ICU beds in Middle Tennessee is currently at 9%, down from the previous day when it was at 12%.
Overnight, the Tennessee Department of Health reported a record 2,003 hospitalizations across the state. This is the first time the state has surpassed the 2,000 mark, which is up more than a third since the beginning of the month.
During Thursday's update, Cooper again called for a statewide mask mandate, in addition to size restrictions on gatherings, saying we need a unified state response.
Watch Metro's COVID-19 briefing below:
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