Monday, June 29

Half of Tennessee coronavirus infections now come from an ‘unknown source’ (Tennessean) For the first time since the coronavirus came to Tennessee in early March, you are now equally as likely to contract the virus from a stranger as a relative, friend or coworker, demonstrating how the virus is increasingly circulating through communities, state officials announced last week. Previously, a large majority of new infections could be traced to household contacts or clusters at work places, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said. But now, as more Tennesseans leave their homes to eat or shop or socialize, half of infections come from an unknown source. LINK

Tennessee Department of Health unable to release COVID-19 case data because of system shutdown (Tennessean) The Tennessee Department of Health on Sunday announced it would not release the latest coronavirus statistics because of an “unplanned shutdown” of the system that houses statewide data. According to a news release from the department, the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System Base System encountered an overload of lab results, causing it to shut down at 2 a.m. Sunday. LINK

The next few weeks are crucial to the futures of rural farms impacted by COVID-19 (Tennessean) The novel coronavirus pandemic dried up G & G Family Dairy’s sales, taking with it the funds needed to pay for feed and processing costs. But the dairy’s 160 cows kept producing milk, so over the last three months, Cassie Groves and her husband Randall Groves watched more than $125,000 in raw milk go down the drain. “We never had any trouble up until COVID with selling our milk, because Nashville (restaurants) took most of it,” Cassie Groves said. “We never had to dump (milk). We never had to worry about how we were going to pay for feed for the cows.” LINK

Nearly 40 protesters taken into custody following protest at State Capitol (WSMV-TV Nashville) Nearly 40 demonstrators were taken into custody Sunday afternoon at the Tennessee State Capitol. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, about 38 people were arrested and taken to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. Two of the 38 people are juveniles and their parents/guardians have been notified. This comes after a “Back The Badge” protest showing support for law enforcement and Metro Nashville Police was held. LINK

‘Back the Badge’ demonstrators rally at State Capitol (WTVF-TV Nashville) Demonstrators gathered at Legislative Plaza for a “Back the Badge’ rally. The wore American flag clothing, held signs that read “Blue Lives Matter,” and chanted things like “law and order.” “We are here to show solidarity with all the public servants who sacrifice so much on a daily basis to make that we can live in a peaceful and amazing USA,” said organizer Chase Matheson. LINK

‘People’s Plaza’ activists arrested at State Capitol (WTVF-TV Nashville) Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers arrested more than a dozen protesters at the State Capitol. Members of the “People’s Plaza” demonstration have been at the Legislative Plaza and State Capitol for the past two weeks. On Sunday, their demands to have access to the Capitol were met with a line of state troopers. Troopers told the group of demonstrators they would be arrested if they crossed the barrier. NewsChannel 5 saw at least nine people being taken into custody. LINK

38 protesters, including 2 juveniles, arrested following protests at Legislative Plaza (WZTV-TV Nashville) A total of 38 protesters, including juveniles, were detained following rallies at Legislative Plaza on Sunday. The Tennessee Highway Patrol confirmed the arrest total to FOX 17 News on Sunday. Protesters were sitting on the wall and inside wall on the Capitol building side of Legislative Plaza, which troopers on scene allowed. However, several protesters were later arrested on the left side of the Capitol entrance. LINK

Metro Department of Health issues order mandating face masks in Nashville starting Monday (WKRN-TV Nashville) Metro Department of Health has issued an order to enforce the mandatory wearing of masks or face coverings in public in Nashville and Davidson County. Public Health Order 8 will take effect on Monday, June 29 at 12:01 a.m. “Face coverings help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Mayor John Cooper. “The health of our community requires every Nashvillian to do their part. While our testing capacity continues to grow, the coronavirus remains a largely invisible threat. So, it’s vital that all who live and work in Davidson County maintain healthy habits.” LINK

Mayor Strickland issues statement on masks as COVID-19 cases increase (WREG-TV Memphis) Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland issued a statement on Sunday, reminding Memphians on how serious the COVID-19 pandemic is in the Mid-South. In an email from the Mayor’s office, Strickland stated the area’s positivity rate and and hospitalizations are on the rise. On Sunday, the Shelby County health department reported 9,310 cases in the Memphis and Shelby County area. 181 of those cases resulted in deaths. Mayor Strickland encouraged citizens to wear facial coverings after Memphis City Council passed an ordinance requiring people to wear masks in public. LINK

Tennessee updates standards to protect patients with disabilities during COVID-19 (Times Free Press) Federal officials announced Friday they have reached an early-case resolution with Tennessee after state officials agreed to update their crisis medical standards of care to ensure they don’t discriminate against people based on disability or age by rationing their care. It’s the fourth such coronavirus-era agreement struck with a state following complaints filed by disability advocacy groups, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights said. LINK

Tennessee reaches agreement on rationing medical care (AP) Federal officials announced Friday they have reached a resolution with Tennessee over complaints filed by disability advocates who were concerned that people with disabilities could be denied life-saving treatment like ventilators because of the coronavirus crisis. Tennessee’s disability advocates and their national counterparts raised the issue here and at the federal level in March after discovering a 2016 state document called “Guidelines for the Ethical Allocation of Scarce Resources,” the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. LINK

Tennessee’s charter school commission widens search for leader (Daily Memphian) The new body created to oversee Tennessee’s growing charter school sector is extending its search for an executive director after several members said they were disappointed with the first round of candidates. The Tennessee Public Charter Schools Commission, created under a 2019 state law, had planned to hire a full-time leader this month as the body ramps up to assume its new role beginning in January. Those responsibilities, which will be handed off by the State Board of Education, include handling appeals from charter operators whose applications are denied by local school boards, as well as running a small but likely-to-grow crop of state-authorized charter schools. LINK

UT releases special license plate design to fund student scholarships (News Sentinel) Now, you can ride and represent the Vols in style. The University of Tennessee’s Office of Alumni Affairs released a specialty license plate design for alumni and fans that will directly fund student scholarships, according to a release. “The new license plate offers anyone in the state of Tennessee the chance to not only show his or her pride for UT but also to be invested in the lives of our students by giving to student scholarships,” Chip Bryant, Vice Chancellor for Advancement, said in the release. LINK

Tennessee state parks holding Independence Day virtual races (WCYB-TV Bristol) After the success of a virtual 5K race for World Bee Day in May, Tennessee State Parks are now hosting two more virtual races for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The parks will host the Red, White and Raptors 5K and the Firecracker Glow Run 5k virtually from Friday, July 3 through Monday, July 6. “We have been pleased to see so many Tennesseans interested in staying active, and the virtual races are a great way for Tennessee State Parks to keep people engaged,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of Tennessee State Parks, said. “As we continue to pay attention to guidelines for COVID-19, we hope people will participate in this way.” LINK

Weather attracts visitors to local state park (WBBJ-TV Jackson) People were enjoying the great outdoors while visiting Chickasaw State Park in Chester County. The weather was perfect with sunny skies and warm temperatures. “We actually came camping this weekend. We were fishing. We came down yesterday and swam in the area for a while, and then we just decided this morning to try all our fussing here in this lake,” said park goer, Lee Reicher. People spent their time swimming at the lake, paddle boarding, kayaking and some were just taking a stroll through the park. LINK

Sen. Alexander: ‘Millions who admire President Trump would follow his lead if he wore a mask when appropriate’ (WJHL-TV Johnson City) U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) Sunday told Manu Raju on CNN’s Inside Politics that “millions of Americans who admire President Trump would follow his lead if he wore a mask when it’s appropriate.” Sen. Alexander, chairman of the Senate health committee, said that “it also would help to get rid of this political debate that if you’re for President Trump, you don’t wear a mask, and if you’re against President Trump, you do wear a mask.” LINK

Alexander: ‘Millions who love Trump would follow his lead’ on masks (Oneida Independent-Herald) U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on Sunday said that “millions who admire President Trump would follow his lead if he wore a mask when appropriate.” The Maryville Republican, Tennessee’s senior — and outgoing — representative in the U.S. Senate, made the comments on CNN’s “Inside Politics,” as he joined Manu Raju for a discussion about the United States’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Alexander, who earlier in the week criticized rioters who are targeting statues and memorials across the nation, added: “It also would help to get rid of this political debate that if you’re for President Trump, you don’t wear a mask, and if you’re against President Trump, you do wear a mask.” LINK

Cohen pushes for Barr impeachment, sees partisan divide in police reform calls (Daily Memphian) Ahead of a return to Washington last week, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis was already looking past a vote on police reforms in the House. He was looking instead to a possible appearance before the House Judiciary committee next month by U.S. Attorney General William Barr. “I think we should stand up against evil, and I think what Barr has done is evil,” Cohen told Memphis reporters in a Zoom press conference in calling for the impeachment of Barr, the day before he would make the call in Washington.  LINK

Hixson Republican says ‘systemic racism’ retweet was part of a bet with a liberal (Times Free Press) State Rep. Robin Smith is drawing fire on Twitter after the Hixson Republican retweeted and commented on a photo from a conservative internet activist’s Twitter account that shows looped hand straps on a bus, an allusion to the controversy over a noose-like pull rope found in the garage of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. In his original tweet on Wednesday, Wojciech Pawelczyk, whose bio says he is a video editor for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s “War Room 2020,” sarcastically described the photo of the transit hand straps as “Proof of systemic racism.” LINK

Sethi on tearing down monuments: ‘I think this is about a group of people who hate this country’ (Kingsport Times-News) Tennessee GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Manny Sethi was critical of efforts to tear down statues and monuments while opening up his Tri-Cities campaign office on Saturday. Sethi said, “I believe like what (former U.S. Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice said: ‘When we try to erase history, we are doomed to try to repeat it.’ If people start erasing things they are uncomfortable with, where does that leave us? I frankly don’t think this is about statues any more. People are tearing down statues of Lincoln and Jefferson. I think this is about a group of people who hate this country. We can’t let them do this. Folks are trying to rip us apart. America is the greatest nation on Earth because we come together.” LINK

Trump taps Haslam as Wilson Center chair (TN Journal) President Donald Trump is appointing former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as the chairwoman of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Center was founded in 1968 and describes itself as “the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community.” Haslam served as governor from 2011 to 2019. LINK

Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam tapped for think tank post (AP) Former Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has been recommended to join a nonpartisan think tank at the Smithsonian Institution, the White House announced. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars advises Congress and the executive branch on global issues, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The center was chartered in 1968 to conduct independent research and bring experts and scholars together to shape policy decisions. Haslam served as governor from 2011 to 2019. He also was Knoxville’s mayor from 2003 to 2011. Before that he was president of Pilot Co. and a top executive with Saks Fifth Avenue. LINK

Extension of DACA program by Supreme Court doesn’t remove all obstacles in Tennessee (Times Free Press) On June 19, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration and upheld the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but those who fall under the program still face many barriers in Tennessee. The program, an administrative action by former President Barack Obama, allows young immigrants living in the country without authorization who were brought here as children to remain in the U.S. The program does not convey legal status but gives temporary protection from deportation and permission to legally work. LINK

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