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Gov. Bill Lee is loosening Safer-at-Home this week. Why isn't Nashville doing the same?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- Gov. Bill Lee began loosening his COVID-19 Safer-at-Home restrictions on Monday in 89 of the state's 95 counties, allowing restaurants to once again serve in-house patrons with some restrictions. The governor will allow retail outlets to open on Wednesday.


However, Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Metro health authorities are taking a more cautious approach. The mayor and his team stress city-wide restrictions will not be loosened until certain milestones are reached in the battle against coronavirus.


So what are the criteria Mayor Cooper is using to make that decision?


The mayor says there are four benchmarks. First, there must be a sustained drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases.


Second, Cooper and health officials want to dramatically expand coronavirus testing. More testing will give health officials advance warning should infection rates begin to spike once again.


Third, the city is in the midst of hiring and training additional staff to conduct contact tracing around infected individuals. Finding and quarantining anyone exposed to an infected person will further slow the spread of the virus.


Fourth and finally, the city's medical facilities must have sufficient medical supplies and patient capacity. Health officials want to ensure Metro's hospitals won't be overwhelmed should the number of new infections suddenly rise once more.


This past week, Mayor Cooper unveiled a four step process for reducing Safer-at-Home restrictions and returning Music City to normal. But he insists that process will not be implemented until all four criteria have been met.


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