NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bars will continue to be closed until the end of the month in Nashville after Tennessee’s capital city experienced its highest single-day increases in COVID-19 cases, Mayor John Cooper announced Tuesday.
“The numbers we’re seeing make it clear that we will not be able to leave our modified phase two,” Cooper said during the city’s public health briefing.
Cooper rolled back Nashville’s reopening nearly two weeks ago in response to the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. Since then, numbers have continued to climb.
The city reported more than 770 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a one-day record, according to public health officials. The day before, Tennessee’s Department of Health reported a record number of new virus cases statewide with 3,314.
While bars will be closed until July 31, event and entertainment venues also will be temporarily closed, and restaurants will revert from a 75% capacity limit to 50% capacity.
“We will be staying in this phase for the foreseeable future,” said Metro Coronavirus Task Force Chair Dr. Alex Jahangir.
“Masks can slow the spread of this virus. It can help protect you and your family. If those facts don’t convince you, then think about the economy. Failing to take precautions puts our economy at risk,” Jahangir said.
Nashville has recently hired 20 more contact tracers, bringing the region’s total to 150 — though Jahangir acknowledged that case volumes has made their work challenging to keep up.
Contact tracing — seen as one of the key strategies to stop the virus’s spread — involves reaching out to people who have tested positive for the virus and tracking down the people they have recently come into contact with. Those people are then advised to quarantine for 14 days.
Meanwhile, Shelby County on Tuesday also reported its highest single-day increase in cases, at 700. However, Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said during a news conference that the results are from several days of backlogged test results and do not represent tests from a single 24-hour period.
Yet she noted that hospitalizations continue to rise. County hospitals are using 85% of available intensive care beds and 89% of acute care beds, according to statistics released by the local health department.
As restrictions continue to be in place, news outlets reported 17 bars in Memphis and Shelby County have sued the county after officials closed them last week in response to rising cases and hospitalizations. Among those suing are establishments classified as limited service restaurants, which have a liquor license and bring in revenue from prepared food that is 50% of their revenue or lower.
The limited service restaurants are suing on claims that their constitutional rights to equal protection and freedom of assembly are being violated. In a statement, county Mayor Lee Harris said “bar businesses are social settings and social distance is one of our strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and even be fatal.
Correspondent Adrian Sainz contributed to this report from Memphis, Tennessee.
- Coronavirus Timeline: TN Dept. of Health reports over 108K total cases, while the state has performed over 1.5M tests
- CHART: Tennessee Department of Health’s count of coronavirus cases by day in state
- Second stimulus checks: Progress slow on virus relief bill with $1,200 payments
- Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Gov. Lee to call lawmakers into special session Aug. 10
- Knox County Mayor Jacobs: ‘The board has gone from being an advisory board to making policies”
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Sevier County extends mask mandate through Aug. 29
- Report: Tennessee COVID hospital stays up outside big metros
- Tennessee Coronavirus: Monday brings 1,009 new COVID-19 cases for total topping 110,000
- Casual Pint president defying bar closure order: ‘We’re going to come in every day at noon and unlock the doors’
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County Health Department explains reasoning behind bar closures, reports 12th death in 5 days
- Eagles coach Doug Pederson tests positive for COVID-19
- Fauci says he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ vaccine will be effective, available early 2021
- Staff member at Oak Ridge High School tests positive for COVID-19
- As a new week begins, here’s why you don’t have that second stimulus check