COVID-19

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, center, and Sen. Kerry Roberts, right, chair the Joint Government Operations Committee. (Photo: John Partipilo)

State lawmakers urge against push to vaccinate children

BY: - July 21, 2021

Two Tennessee lawmakers who chair the Joint Government Operations Committee warned schools Wednesday not to “bully,” “cajole” or “coerce” students to be vaccinated. In a rare crowded gathering for the panel, Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, co-chairman of the committee, sought to head off upheaval over the recent firing of the state’s chief immunization officer Dr. […]

Members of the House and Senate Democratic Caucus, including Sen. Jeff Yarbro, left, and Sen. Raumesh Akbari, next to him, slammed Gov. Bill Lee for the political firing of a leading health official. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Democrats slam governor over firing of immunology chief

BY: - July 14, 2021

Two days after Tennessee’s chief immunologist was fired under pressure from anti-vax lawmakers, Democratic leaders blasted the governor for failing to take responsibility for the state’s vaccination policy. “I think it’s an abdication of leadership,” state Sen. Raumesh Akbari said during an online press conference. Democrats expressed shock that the Department of Health and Lee […]

Gov. Bill Lee at a plant dedication Humboldt, Tennessee in March, pictured with plant workers. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Critical care doctors want DOJ investigation into Lee following Fiscus firing

BY: - July 14, 2021

COVID-19 deaths are now preventable, and Gov. Bill Lee should be held accountable for politicizing the pandemic, said a coalition of physicians battling the virus on the frontlines.  On Wednesday, Dr. Jason Martin, a  critical care pulmonologist, and other health professionals called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Lee after recent political moves […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor’s administration made state medical director scapegoat for anti-vaxxers

BY: - July 13, 2021

One of Tennessee’s leading medical experts was fired this week, taking the fall for Gov. Bill Lee, when his administration caved in to ultra-conservative lawmakers upset with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine messaging toward teens. The department fired Dr. Shelley Fiscus, state director for vaccine-preventable and infectious diseases, even though she had been working at the […]

COMMENTARY
Metro Public Healthy Molly Shine preps a vaccine while sister Maya and Sara Gana wait at a recent Nashville mobile vaccine clinic. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: The vax of life

BY: - July 7, 2021

Bringing her vaxo-enthusiasm tour of the south to a Nashville distillery last month, Jill Biden told the assembled dozens that the COVID-19 vaccine “offers almost perfect protection,” plus “it’s just absolutely free so why not?” It’s a fair question, Madame First Spousal Unit, if you assume your intended audience of the unvaccinated can rationally evaluate […]

Arnoldo Garcia gets help from medical assistant, Jasmin Garcia at the Neighborhood Health clinic in Madison. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Unemployed Tennesseans may now qualify for free heath insurance

BY: - July 2, 2021

Tennesseans who collected as little as one week in unemployment insurance in 2021 can now qualify for free — or nearly free — health insurance through the federal healthcare marketplace. As part of the American Rescue Plan COVID relief package signed into law by President Joe Biden, individuals who received — or are approved to […]

Faith Klein of the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center advocates for a client to keep their home during a General Sessions Court session in February. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Distribution of funds to keep people in homes lags, and nonprofits blame Metro Action Commission

BY: - June 30, 2021

When rent relief became available in 2020 to Nashvillians at risk of losing housing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Davidson County nonprofit organizations rushed to meet the deadline and distributed $10 million.  Since then just a fraction of the current rent relief funds have been distributed, and nonprofits are blaming Metro Action Commission’s technology. In […]

A woman winces as she gets her COVID-19 vaccine during a pop-up clinic at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in South Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Inside Nashville’s pop-up vaccination efforts; what’s worked and what has failed

BY: - June 28, 2021

At a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic outside of Von Elrod’s Beer Hall & Kitchen on June 12, Metro Health Department workers found themselves hurrying to pack up their supplies as hecklers formed a half-circle around them. Metro Health strike team coordinator Emily Gibson recalled a group of about 10 people surrounding them while shouting insults […]

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly on the floor of the House of Representatives. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Republican lawmakers threaten to dissolve Health Department over child vaccines

BY: - June 17, 2021

GOP legislators came close Wednesday to dumping the Tennessee Department of Health after accusing it of targeting minors for mass vaccinations without parental consent. Instead, the Government Operations Committee ordered Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey to soften the state’s efforts to vaccinate children, mainly by bringing parents into the fold, and report back in July. Republican […]

A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C. The cards will be sent out as part of vaccination kits from Operation Warp Speed, which is an effort by several U.S. government components and public partnerships to facilitate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

Piercey to face raft of childhood immunization questions

BY: - June 16, 2021

The chairman of the House Government Operations Committee appears ready to grill Tennessee’s Health Department commissioner over childhood immunization policy, potentially to overturn the state’s mature minor doctrine. Rep. John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, sent a list of questions June 12 to the Department of Health requesting that Commissioner Lisa Piercey be prepared to […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

Massive federal funding to locals could put burden on banks

BY: - June 15, 2021

Local governments are slated to receive $2.28 billion in federal funds through the American Recovery Plan, but banks could be running into a problem handling the amount of money slated to go straight to counties and cities. Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, Comptroller Jason Mumpower and […]

From left, Cecilia Prado with Workers Dignity waits with Mosaic apartment tenant Nicolas Alvarado and son Nery, 7, who wait to speak to management about eviction threats. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Eviction moratorium nears end and oustings have started

BY: - June 14, 2021

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention federal eviction moratorium doesn’t end until June 30, but evictions are already starting to rise across the state. Eviction notices at Mosaic Apartments in South Nashville made headlines over the past two weeks, prompting local community leaders and officials to intervene and prevent nearly 90 families from being […]