School-age children have become a big driver in Nashville’s increasing coronavirus infection rate, with the number of cases among kids and teenagers nearly doubling in recent weeks.
But Dr. Michael Caldwell, director of the Metro Public Health Department, says transmission doesn’t seem to be happening in classrooms. Instead, it’s at parties, bonfires and sleepovers. City epidemiologists also believe they’re seeing an increase in cases among parents of school-age children.
Since the beginning of September, MPHD has identified 36 case clusters. Half of them were social activities related to schools and universities, Caldwell says.
- 13 cases from a 7th grade party among private school students
- 32 confirmed infections among student athletes and staff from a volleyball tournament
- Several sports teams with outbreaks
Aside from student-driven outbreaks, social gatherings are accounting for other clusters.
- 4 cases associated with wedding Sept. 26
- 4 cases from a wedding Oct. 3
- At least 12 cases tied to a local karaoke bar
- 10 confirmed cases from a religious service (not the service held outside the Metro Courthouse on Sunday)
The transmission rate in Nashville has climbed back to where it was in early July. And the rate of new cases per day is at 22 per 100,000 people, up from 15 just last week. The goal is to get below 10.
“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,” Caldwell says.
Despite the reversal in the city’s progress, Mayor John Cooper says he does not expect to revert to previous restrictions on businesses and gatherings.
As cases have been rising in Nashville, the city has seen an even bigger surge in testing. But that’s mostly explained by Vanderbilt University’s routine testing for students, Caldwell says. Vanderbilt students accounted for 20% of all testing in Davidson County since early September.