In the American South, a Perfect Storm Is Gathering

On March 22, when Nashville’s mayor John Cooper closed nonessential businesses here, it was a terrible blow to companies and shops still reeling from the tornado that tore through Middle Tennessee on Super Tuesday. Small businesses struggle in the best of times, and a one-two punch like that — a natural disaster followed by a lethal pandemic — will almost certainly force some of them to close for good.

But it had to be done. Nashville’s courts and schools were already closed, but the crowds on Lower Broadway, the heart of Nashville’s tourist district, showed no sign of dissipating. “Downtown Nashville is undefeated,” tweeted a visitor posting a video of music fans crowded onto a dance floor. Even after the Nashville Board of Health voted unanimously to shut the honky-tonks down, several bar owners said they would not comply unless ordered to do so by the governor of Tennessee.

The New York Times