Covid-19

Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, exits the Tennessee House Chambers on a mortised scooter after being sworn in. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Byrd takes oath of office after long COVID battle, brush with death

BY: - July 30, 2021

Emerging from a fight for his life against COVID-19, state Rep. David Byrd took the oath of office Friday, urging Tennesseans to take the disease seriously and strongly consider getting vaccinated. Sworn in to represent Hardin, Lewis, Wayne and part of Lawrence counties in House District 71, the former basketball coach and principal entered and […]

Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, has called Gov. Bill Lee's cancellation of unemployment benefits while giving money to businesses an "immoral double standard."(Photo: John Partipilo)

Senator renews questions about failed state COVID testing contract

BY: - July 29, 2021

State Sen. Heidi Campbell is urging state auditors to complete an investigation into no-bid contracts awarded by Gov. Bill Lee’s administration since the COVID-19 pandemic started, pinpointing a botched contract with Nomi Health last year that cost the state nearly $6 million. A member of the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee, Campbell raised questions Wednesday about […]

Hundreds of people from the Mosaic apartments showed up to question management about evictions notices on Wednesday. (Photo: John Partipilo)

‘There was no concern for my life’: Families losing homes despite federal eviction moratorium

BY: - July 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — The national moratorium on evictions, as well as rental assistance programs, weren’t enough protection to keep Katrina Chism and her family in their suburban Atlanta home when money got tight.  Chism was laid off twice during the COVID-19 pandemic, and when she fell behind on rent, she faced an initial eviction notice. She was […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

CDC says the vaccinated should wear masks indoors in areas with high infection rates

BY: - July 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials on Tuesday urged Americans in areas of the country with the highest surges in COVID-19 infections to once again wear masks when they are in public, indoor settings — even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The updated recommendations marked a sharp shift from the agency’s guidance in May that […]

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

Griffey stance conflicts with Senate leadership

BY: - July 27, 2021

Rep. Bruce Griffey says he’s not “anti-vax,” yet he is one of a growing number of legislators leery of masks and vaccination campaigns and gaining a bigger voice in the General Assembly. In fact, the Paris Republican believes only a small group of people should take the shots, those over 60 with co-morbidities. That outlook […]

Maya Gana, 13, was pleased to become vaccinated during a pop-up clinic at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Department of Children’s Services not tracking vaccines for kids in custody

BY: - July 27, 2021

The Department of Children’s Services has stripped its references to the “critical importance” of the COVID vaccine from guidance given to foster parents and removed from its website complete data on the number of kids who have gotten sick. The agency has also failed to respond to questions since last week about whether it is […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Katrina Green of Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: State leaders own responsibility for low vaccination rates

BY: - July 26, 2021

Working in the hospital on the front lines of the pandemic caused by the SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) virus last winter was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do as a physician. We were experiencing a massive surge of sick COVID-19 positive patients in the emergency department, many of whom were so ill they required high […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle Fiscus prepares for an interview in her Williamson County home. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Republican lawmakers split over Fiscus firing

BY: - July 23, 2021

The group of anti-vax legislators whose complaints about the Department of Health vaccine campaign led to the firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus won’t say much about her termination. But there is a clear break between that group and others who think the state made the wrong move. The topic is so sensitive that most lawmakers […]

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. […]

COMMENTARY
Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: State spent millions on vaccine campaign that helped cost Fiscus her job

BY: - July 16, 2021

Tennessee spent $11.4 million on public service campaigns designed to battle COVID-19. The only thing it cost the state to fire its chief immunologist was a lot of embarrassment. Using coronavirus relief funds, the state paid Designsensory $8.9 million for messaging to encourage mask wearing and social distancing early in the pandemic. Once vaccines were […]

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 […]

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 […]