MEMPHIS, Tenn., Dec. 29 - First responders Memphis and Shelby County police officers, firefighters and EMTs get COVID-19 vaccines Tuesday Dec. 29, 2020. The Shelby County Health Department is administering the shots in a process that will go on for several weeks. (© Karen Pulfer Focht)

Shelby County approves $1.5 million for COVID testing kits

BY: - January 20, 2022

During a special session Wednesday, Shelby County commissioners approved $1.5 million for the purchase of at-home COVID testing kits as cases continue to spread throughout the county.  Shelby County’s weekly test positivity rate has decreased since last week, but residents are still testing at a positive rate of 35.9%, continuing the county’s streak of the […]

Two Tennessee departments are being sued for not providing access to American Sign Language interpreters.(Getty Images.)

Lawsuit: Deaf people deprived of ASL interpreters in state-funded programs

BY: - January 20, 2022

UPDATE: This story has been updated with responses provided after publication from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.   Dontay Battle is profoundly deaf but lives in a state-funded Shelby County group home for adults with intellectual disabilities where neither the staff nor his […]

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Shelby County accepts opioid settlement

BY: - January 19, 2022

The Shelby County Commission voted to accept $20 million as a partial settlement as part of a statewide effort to crack down on the opioid epidemic.  In March 2021, Memphis city officials filed a federal lawsuit against a group of opioid manufacturers and distributors for their role in fueling the opioid influx that has significantly […]

Rep. Glen Casada, R- Franklin, photographed by John Partipilo on Jan. 12, 2021.

Registry embarks on long road to obtain testimony on Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC

BY: - January 19, 2022

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance could consider civil penalties dealing with fraud against Cade Cothren, ex-chief of staff to former House Speaker Glen Casada, as they dig into a shady political action committee he may have run secretly. Registry board members don’t expect him to be forthcoming, and they aren’t certain what types of […]

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)

Judge rules fired Tennessee vaccine official Dr. Michelle Fiscus cannot pursue monetary damages

BY: - January 19, 2022

A federal judge has ruled that former Tennessee vaccination chief Dr. Michelle Fiscus cannot pursue claims for monetary damages against the state’s top two Department of Health officials after her controversial firing last summer — but the remainder of her lawsuit seeking a ‘name-clearing hearing’ and a finding that the state violated her constitutional rights […]

Jimmie Garland of the NAACP Tennessee testifying. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Republican district maps move ahead amid claims of minority vote dilution

BY: - January 19, 2022

Republican-controlled panels approved legislative and congressional district maps Tuesday despite criticism they would dilute African-American and Latino votes. In spite of evidence that Black voters would lose their influence in elections, the Senate Judiciary and House State Government committees approved three redistricting plans for new state House, state Senate and congressional maps. New maps are […]

Odessa Kelly, Democratic candidate for Congress in District 5, speaks Monday at a protest of new congressional district maps. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Crowd protests GOP-drawn congressional maps on MLK Day

BY: and - January 18, 2022

Concerns over COVID-19 and lingering snow from a weekend storm halted several Middle Tennessee events traditionally held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to honor the late civil rights leader, but more than 100 people turned out in Nashville to protest new GOP-drawn congressional and legislative district maps. The Nashville Justice League, which is comprised […]

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Seven states to watch in the 2022 push to restrict voting rights

BY: - January 17, 2022

WASHINGTON — Republican state lawmakers across the country are ramping up their drive to enact voting and election-related laws in time for crucial 2022 midterm elections. As federal legislation that would limit state-level voting restrictions appears stymied in Washington, Republicans in the states are moving forward with new proposals and revisiting old ones that Democrats […]

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$400 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support those with disabilities 

BY: - January 17, 2022

Thanks to American Rescue Plan funds, more Tennesseans with disabilities will hopefully be getting services they need, aimed at supporting them in their homes and communities. One state program, Enabling Technology, introduces gadgets to lessen dependence on in-home helpers.  In November, TennCare, Medicaid for low-income Tennesseeans, and the state’s Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities […]

The World Health Organization classified the new COVID-19 variant as a “variant of concern” due to its high mutation and transmission rate. The new strain is called “omicron.” (Getty Images)

Online orders for free at-home COVID tests to begin Jan. 19

BY: - January 17, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Friday launched a new website for Americans to request up to four free COVID-19 tests per household. The administration is buying 1 billion at-home rapid COVID-19 tests, and Americans will be able to begin ordering the tests online on Jan. 19 at This is part of the administration’s effort […]

(Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor plans to put more money into K-12 amid funding formula push

BY: - January 15, 2022

In the midst of an initiative to change the state’s K-12 funding formula, Gov. Bill Lee said Friday he plans to boost spending for public schools next fiscal year. Tennessee is spending $6.9 billion on K-12 education this year, $5.6 billion in state funds and $1.14 billion from the federal government. The state has spent […]

Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee on September 15, 2021. Kingsbury Middle School in Berclair neighborhood of Memphis. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht)

Tennessee schools stressed by omicron variant

BY: - January 14, 2022

Collierville High School students had barely returned to class on Jan. 4 when a week later they were sent home as the COVID omicron variant spread rapidly though schools with limited staff and options.  On Monday, staff at the Shelby County school announced students and faculty would move to remote learning despite a state law […]