COVID-19 Nurses at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in protective gear. (Photo: John Partipilo)

‘Going in the wrong direction’: positivity rates surge in 10 rural Tennessee counties

BY: - July 26, 2021

In 10 rural Tennessee counties, a key indicator of COVID-19 spread — the testing positivity rate — is surging to levels not seen since the spring. Positivity rates measure the number of positive tests among all those testing for COVID-19.  In June, Tennessee was seeing a positively rate, also known as “attack rate,” under 3% […]

The State of Tennessee spent $11 million on messaging before firing Dr. Michelle Fiscus for spreading the message approved by Gov. Lee's office. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Fired immunization director never saw letter recommending termination

BY: - July 15, 2021

The Department of Health fired its director of the immunization program for several reasons, including failure to consult superiors on the state’s vaccine program, according to a letter placed in her personnel file. But Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who was terminated Monday, says she didn’t know about the letter written by Dr. Tim Jones on July […]

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 […]

A transgender woman hold a transgender pride flag at a rally for LGBTQ rights in New York. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images.)

A South African sportswriter’s influence on anti-transgender legislation

BY: - June 23, 2021

In the last six years, Tennessee has passed more than 70 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation. This year the state surpassed nearly every other in the country, becoming the first to require businesses and government buildings to post a sign if they let transgender people use bathrooms. Previous Lookout reporting covered the far-right and conservative groups […]

A treatment room at the Mental Health Cooperative's Crisis Treatment Center, bare of decorations that could be used in a suicide attempt. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Crisis center partners with Metro Nashville cops on de-escalation training

BY: - June 18, 2021

The disheveled, middle-aged man struggled against the Metro Nashville Police officer hauling him into the Crisis Treatment Center for a psychiatric evaluation, his loud mumbling muffled by the glass in the treatment room.  From an enclosed glass room in the center of the facility, mental healthcare workers watched calmly as the man was processed and […]

An analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that Black Tennesseans and essential workers are disproportionately affected by the legislature's failure to take federal funds to Medicaid. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Report: Essential workers, parents lose out on state’s refusal to expand TennCare

BY: - June 11, 2021

Of the 119,000 Tennesseans who would qualify for state-funded healthcare insurance under a state Medicaid expansion, 28,000 are essential workers and 11,000 are parents with children at home, a new analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found. Tennessee is one of 12 states that has refused to expand its Medicaid program under […]

California voters at a protest against Medicaid cuts. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Commentary: Medicaid expansion has never been about money. 

BY: - May 24, 2021

As our legislators adjourn, they keep in place for the seventh year their law preventing their fellow Tennesseans from receiving federal health insurance. Legislators also keep in place the health coverage that they and their families enjoy, subsidized by the taxes of their fellow Tennesseans.  In 2015, Republican Gov.  Bill Haslam proposed to expand Medicaid […]

(Anne-Marie Miller/Getty Images)

Tennessee’s anti-LGBTQ bills supported by national conservative groups

BY: - May 20, 2021

With dozens of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this legislative season around the U.S., human rights groups and nonprofits have been busy fighting discrimination—perhaps only surpassed in productivity by the vast and well-funded networks of nonprofits that lobbied for, and helped write, discriminatory bills in the first place. Three of the heaviest hitters have been the Heritage […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

Tennessee lags in tracking COVID-19 variants

BY: - May 17, 2021

Tennessee is behind all but five states when it comes to tracking the variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a key metric collected by the Center for Disease Control.

a shower hosted at Nashville's Cathedral of Praise by Meharry Medical College.

Housing may be key to high infant mortality numbers in Tennessee

BY: - May 4, 2021

For decades, the Bordeaux community has been home to many of Nashville’s working and middle-class Black families, but the neighborhood’s quiet exterior hides efforts by the Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) to reduce infant mortality.  The latest maternal mortality report published by the Tennessee Department of Health revealed racial inequities when addressing why Black children […]

Gov. Bill Lee ending his third State of the State address. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor sees end of COVID-19 state of emergency coming soon

BY: - April 27, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee partially lifted a 13-month-long state of emergency Tuesday, announcing the end of public health orders and signing an executive order dealing with economic and regulatory functions. The governor all but declared the end of the COVID-19 pandemic as a health threat. He removed the ability of mayors in 89 of 95 counties […]

Gov. Bill Lee addresses Tennesseans from the Governor's Residence. Lee issued an executive order limiting public gatherings to no more than 10 people. (Photo: YouTube)

Legislative control over governor’s emergency powers in limbo

BY: - April 27, 2021

Legislation stopping the governor from issuing a state of emergency for more than 60 days is meeting different fates in the Senate and House this year. On one hand, bills shifting authority to county mayors and school boards away from public health boards, mainly in Tennessee’s six largest counties with independent health departments, have drawn […]