Nashville could begin easing stay-at-home orders as early as the first week of May, officials said. This means re-opening retail and commercial businesses, with proper social distancing protocols.
“A balanced approach is essential,” Mayor John Cooper said at a daily press conference, one day after expressing concerns about the state’s to restart the economy in May.
The requirements for the first phase of re-opening the city hinge on a 14-day downward trend in new cases and a transmission rate of less than 1, meaning each infected person is passing the virus on to less than one person. Nashville is already maintaining this rate of transmission, according to a new study by Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of Metro’s board of health, said there must also be adequate testing and contact tracing. The city plans to hire more than three dozen new contact tracers, he said. And more than 12,000 people have been swabbed at the city’s three sites, he said, with the samples taking around 10 minutes per person.
Clustering In Southeast Davidson County
Many of the new cases of COVID-19 are clustering along the I-24 corridor in Antioch and South Nashville — neighborhoods with a high number of essential workers and immigrants, according to city officials. Leslie Waller, a Metro epidemiologist, said the city is partnering with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition to hire outreach workers to help connect with these communities.
“Many of our immigrant and refugee neighbors have been putting themselves on the front lines of the COVID response, while many of us have had the advantage to work from home,” she said.
Nashville now has 1,936 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 33 over the past day. Two people died Monday, bringing the total death toll to 22 in Davidson County.