Friday, October 16

Tennessee’s revenues come above projections once again (AP) Tennessee officials say September revenues once again came in higher than state projections, but warned that possible declines could be on the horizon. The Tennessee Department Finance & Administration said last month’s revenues of $1.6 billion also was higher than the state’s September 2019 performance by about $23 million. LINK

State capitol to be illuminated purple for domestic violence awareness (WATE-TV Knoxville) The Tennessee state capitol building will be illuminated in purple in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Governor Bill Lee proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is in line with the national observance. A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime report states there were more than 71,000 domestic violence situations reported in Tennessee in 2019, with 85 resulting in the death of the victim. LINK

TN State Capitol to light up purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (WBIR-TV Knoxville) The Tennessee State Capitol will be highlighted in purple over the weekend, in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Governor Bill Lee proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in line with the national observation. The capitol in Nashville will be spotlighted in purple light Oct. 16-18, according to the Tennesse Department of Finance and Administration. LINK

Tennessee state capitol to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Winchester Herald-Chronicle) The Tennessee state capitol building will be highlighted in purple this weekend in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Gov. Bill Lee proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Tennessee’s state capitol building in Nashville will be spotlighted in purple lights at night from Friday through Sunday. LINK

October 15 COVID-19 update: Tennessee COVID-19 current hospitalizations nears all-time high (WTVF-TV Nashville) The Tennessee Department of Health reported a total of 222,827 as of October 15, 2020. 200,164 recovered. That number includes 2,864 deaths, 1,149 hospitalizations, which is just 12 short of the all-time record. A total of 200,164 have recovered. The positive percentage is up from Wednesday’s 8.73% to 9.55%. LINK

COVID-19 update: Hospitalizations up 34% in two weeks (Nashville Post) The Tennessee Department of Health has reported a total of 222,827 cases of COVID-19 across the state, up 2,289 cases since Wednesday on 24,653 new test results — a 9.6 percent positivity rate. Of the total number of cases, 9,416 people have been hospitalized and 2,864 have died — up 45 and 36, respectively, from the numbers 24 hours earlier. More than 3.2 million tests have now been administered in the state. LINK

Rural communities surrounding Chattanooga face COVID-19 spikes as virus moves beyond cities across the country (Times Free Press) Rural counties surrounding Chattanooga are experiencing their own spikes in COVID-19 cases in the past two months as the city reported a downward trend. While fewer people live in rural areas, the impact of the virus can be even larger in less densely populated places. Residents of rural communities typically skew older, experience higher rates of chronic disease and are less likely to have health insurance or access to quality medical care — factors that put them at higher risk for serious and fatal COVID-19 infection. LINK

Pastors, union leaders gather at governor’s mansion to pray for action to protect workers (WSMV-TV Nashville) After being exposed to COVID-19, Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order declaring October 15 as a day of prayer, humility and fasting in order to “acknowledge the pain and suffering of Tennesseans during this unprecedented time.” This comes after many Tennesseans have lost loved ones, employment and businesses at the hands of the virus. Many people have also run out of unemployment insurance, isolated inside nursing homes and health care facilities, preventing them from seeing family and friends. LINK

Tennessee spends millions on mask campaign, as governor ignores advice (WTVF-TV Nashville) Tennessee has spent more than $4 million on an advertising campaign to promote face masks even as, critics warn, Gov. Bill Lee has undercut that message with his behavior. “This is the face of a fighter,” the narrator in a TV public service announcement says as a man dons a face covering. The 30-second ad shows various individuals explaining why they are wearing masks in the battle against COVID-19. LINK

Over 10,000 new unemployment claims filed in Tennessee last week (WSMV-TV Nashville) A new report Thursday morning shows more than 10,000 new unemployment claims were filed in the state of Tennessee last week. These new claims bring the total number to 881,725 since March 15, 2020, according to the TN Department of Labor and Workforce. The state reports that 138,806 claims have been paid and the payments totaled to $43,524,178. Here’s how it’s broken down: LINK

Jobless rate drops to its lowest level in six months as Tennessee economy bounces back (Times Free Press) Unemployment fell across Tennessee last month to its lowest level in six months, but the number of working Tennesseans was still down by 131,500 from a year ago and initial jobless claims from newly laid-off workers rose again last week. In neighboring Georgia, where the jobless rate plunged in August to one of the lowest rates in the South, unemployment edged higher last month, rising 0.7 percentage points over August to 6.4% in September. Initial jobless claims in Georgia and across the country also rose last week, suggesting that the pace of the economic expansion may be slowing. LINK

Tennessee at “extreme risk” of an outbreak (WSMV-TV Nashville) Covid Act Now, a volunteer driven non-profit says that Tennessee is at extreme risk of experiencing an outbreak. Their tracking shows that Tennessee is trending 27.5 cases for every 100 thousand people and is number 12 on their list. (1 is the worst, 53 is the best) Compare that to Kentucky at 19.9 cases per 100 thousand, and 19.6 for Alabama. Covid Act Now partners with universities like Stanford Medicine and Harvard Global Health, describing their operations as: LINK

Why Tennessee Hospital Administrators Are Less Worried About The Latest Rise In COVID Patients (WPLN Radio Nashville) Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on the rise again in Tennessee, but health officials are a little less worried about making room for all of the patients. In a change from the earliest days of the pandemic, they’ve found a way to shorten stays without jeopardizing patients. COVID patients can spend weeks or even months in the hospital, and that hasn’t always been because they’re so sick. Often, the problem is they have nowhere else to go. LINK

MTSU plans outdoor commencement ceremonies for 2020 grads (WKRN-TV Nashville) Middle Tennessee State University announced plans to hold modified, in-person commencement ceremonies for students wanting to participate in fall graduation. Ceremonies will take place Saturday, November 21 at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. to honor December graduates. Ceremonies will be held at Floyd Stadium. May and August graduates who were recognized with virtual ceremonies are also welcome to attend. An inclement weather date has been set for Sunday, November 22, at the same times. LINK

Medical debt on the rise for Tennesseans thanks to coronavirus pandemic (WZTV-TV Nashville) Tennesseans went into the pandemic with one of the largest medical debt loads in the country. Twenty percent of all Tennesseans had some type of medical debt, and 25 percent of people with color carried debt. With federal money drying up thanks to an impasse between President Trump and Congress, the state is running out of money to subsidize care for people that lost their insurance and need hospitalization for COVID-19. LINK

Are you prepared for an earthquake? Tennessee projected to experience major quake in coming years (WVLT-TV Knoxville) The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is warning Tennesseans to be prepared for an earthquake. “Earthquakes frequently occur in Tennessee because the state’s eastern and western areas sit along seismic zones where earthquake activity happens more frequently – the East Tennessee Seismic Zone and the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). In 2018, the United States Geological Survey reported 301 earthquakes occurred in Tennessee. LINK

Tennessee shatters record with early voting turnout (Tennessean) More than 270,000 residents voted early in Tennessee by Wednesday, according to the Secretary of State. Between voting in person and submitting mail ballots, the office confirmed a 91% increase of early voting compared to 2016 and a 120% increase from 2012. “I’m excited that Tennesseans are engaged and are making their voices heard at the polls,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said in a news release. “We are on pace to break our previous early voting turnout record, which was set in 2016.” LINK

Tennessee breaks record for first day of early voting (WTVF-TV Nashville) Tennesseans broke the record for the number of people who cast their ballot on the first day of early voting on Wednesday. A total of 273,325 people voted either in-person or by absentee by mail. It’s a 91% increase from the first day of early voting in 2016 and a 120% increase over 2012. In 2016, 143,141 voters cast their ballot on the first day a stark difference to Wednesday’s 273,325. LINK

Tennessee breaks early-voting record with 91% increase from 2016 election (WZTV-TV Nashville) A record-breaking 273,325 people cast their ballot by voting early or absentee by-mail on Wednesday, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett reports. This is a 91% increase from the first day of early voting in 2016 and a 120% increase over 2012. Despite rising coronavirus case numbers and many counties having no mask mandate, Tennessee election leaders report record turnouts on the first day of early voting. LINK

Lines continue into 2nd day of early voting as Tennessee voters shatter records (WMC-TV Memphis) Lines continued at early voting polling places across west Tennessee, as Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said the state’s voters are shattering prior early voting records. The Shelby County Election Commission reported lines at all 26 polling places to start the day, with lines fluctuating throughout the day at various locations. By 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, 43,802 Shelby Countians had voted since the start of the early voting period Wednesday morning. LINK

Tennessee secretary of state says early voting numbers ‘are strong’ (Johnson City Press) Tennessee’s top election official toured local early voting sites on Thursday, telling reporters that the turnout for the Nov. 3 election has already set a record. “We had a strong turnout Wednesday,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett, whose office oversees balloting in Tennessee’s 95 counties. “The first day of early voting always means big numbers, and that’s particularly true this year.” Hargett said a record-breaking 273,325 Tennesseans have already cast a ballot by voting early or absentee by-mail. LINK

State officials: Tennessee breaks first day of early voting record (WREG-TV Memphis) Tennessee state officials say Tennessee has broken the record for the first day of early voting in the state. According to a release from the office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, 273,325 people in Tennessee have voted early or by absentee ballot.The secretary’s office says it is a 91% increase from the first day of early voting in 2016 and a 120% increase from 2012. LINK

Tennessee felons face obstacles in getting back the right to vote: Report calls out Tennessee’s strict rules (WTVF-TV Nashville) A new report finds felons who live in Tennessee face more obstacles than those in other states when it comes to getting back their right to vote. The Sentencing Project just released a new report: Locked Out 2020. It found one in every thirteen people is disenfranchised in Tennessee. That’s eight-percent of the adult population. LINK

Report: More than 1 in 5 Black Tennesseans disenfranchised (AP) More than 20% of Tennessee’s Black adults cannot vote due to a felony conviction, while an estimated 8% of the state’s overall adult population is disenfranchised, according to a newly released report. The report, compiled by nonprofit The Sentencing Project, dropped earlier this week ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. Overall, the percentage of disenfranchised people in the U.S. has dropped in recent years. But disenfranchisement rates vary wildly state to state – particularly among racial and ethnic minorities. In Alabama and Mississippi, more than 8% of each state’s overall adult population is disenfranchised. LINK

Trial date set for Tenn. death row inmate who sued to die by firing squad (WVLT-TV Knoxville) A trial date has been set for one of four Tennessee death row inmates who filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Department of Corrections to demand death by firing squad rather than the electric chair. David Earl Miller, Nicholas Todd Sutton, Stephen Michael West, and Terry Lynn King filed the suit, but three of the four have since been put to death. Nicholas Todd Sutton was executed by electric chair in February 2020, Stephen Michael West was executed by electric chair in August 2019, and David Earl Miller was executed by electric chair in December 2018. LINK

Tennessee executions delayed and reset (WKRN-TV Nashville) The COVID-19 Pandemic brought an abrupt halt to Tennessee executions this year. However, one was rescheduled for December while two others are reset for early 2021. Governor Bill Lee gave one death row inmate a reprieve from this year, but only until the end of this year. Tennessee last executed a death row inmate when the state had barely noticed COVID-19. A man convicted of four murders named Nicholas Sutton died in Tennessee’s electric chair February 20th. LINK

MICAH, Tennessee government leaders discuss criminal justice reform in town hall meeting (WMC-TV Memphis) From “Ban the Box” to voting rights restoration, criminal justice reforms have been a big talker this year. However, figuring out how to go from talk to action was the purpose of a town hall meeting. Thursday people in position to make change also listened to the people they’re trying to help, such as Jessie Tharpe. Tharpe is the owner of Gold Mouth Affordable Moving Company. LINK

Video: Sen. Gardenhire criticizes Chattanooga PD in long and at times confusing interview (WTVC-TV Chattanooga) This week, we interviewed the candidates in the Tennessee State Senate race in District 10 and we planned to do a story on the race, but during our interview with Senator Todd Gardenhire, he said some things we thought you need to hear. A recent advertisement from the Todd Gardenhire campaign is all about addressing food deserts by helping grocery stores get started in Chattanooga’s poorest neighborhoods. During our conversation about why it’s important to have a store with healthy options he said this: LINK

District 90 race heats up as John DeBerry faces newcomer Torrey Harris (WREG-TV Memphis) The race for District 90 is heating up in a case of old school meets new. Incumbent Representative John DeBerry is trying to hold his position from newcomer Torrey Harris. Both candidates tell WREG their priority is to their voters that they have their values at heart. However, both are taking very different approaches. “My strategy is to basically remind them who I am, what I stand for, and that I’m on the ballot,” DeBerry said. LINK

Rep. Kustoff discusses stimulus negotiations, Judge Amy Coney Barrett (WBBJ-TV Jackson) WBBJ Reporter Ali Mason sat down with the Rep. David Kustoff to discuss Judge Amy Coney Barrett, COVID-19 negotiations in Washington D.C., and a new initiative. “The American Bar Association says that she’s the most qualified, the highest ranking, and the fact of the matter is that’s why President Trump nominated her to the Supreme Court,” Kustoff said. Kustoff says Barrett is highly qualified for the open position on the Supreme Court, which became available after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. LINK

Bradshaw raises $915K since surprise win in Democratic Senate primary (TN Journal) Memphis environmental activist Marquita Bradshaw, the surprise winner of the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate despite spending just $22,300 on her primary campaign, raised $915,421 in the third quarter. Bradshaw is the first African-American woman to win a statewide primary in Tennessee. Her campaign said she received more than 23,000 contributions in the period, averaging $24.12. LINK

Belmont Announces Intent To Start A Medical School With HCA’s Help (WPLN Radio Nashville) Belmont University has been mulling whether to start a medical school for years, after launching a law school and a college of pharmacy. And with Thursday’s announcement that hospital giant HCA is supporting the effort, Belmont says it intends to move forward with seeking accreditation. “It’s not an easy step, but it’s characteristic of Belmont University to take on challenges and do big things, and do those things well,” president Bob Fisher says in a statement, noting the university’s hosting of its second presidential debate next week. LINK


Dr. Andrea Willis: The flu vaccine is an essential preventive step for our children (Tennessean) Parents have spent the majority of 2020 taking steps to protect themselves and their children from COVID-19, all while balancing work, life and education, many from home. With a complicated start to the school year and a pandemic that is persistently lingering, many families are simply exhausted. With flu season upon us, vigilance is more important than ever. The flu severely impacts children every year, and the flu vaccine is a necessary preventive step. LINK

State Rep. Vincent Dixie: Low community college enrollment rate among Black Tennesseans exposes need for intervention (News Sentinel/USA Today Tennessee Network) As a teenager at Hunters Lane High School in Nashville, college was the last thing on my mind. Luckily, my friend’s mother was the principal, and she encouraged me to dress to impress when college recruiters from Morehouse College and Dillard University visited my school. I was raised by a single mother, and while school was important to us, we struggled with navigating my college options on our own. My college journey as a Black man is why I’m such a proponent of our community colleges. I was lucky that my village of support helped me go on to Dillard and graduate from Tennessee State University, but luck alone is not a plan. LINK

Keel Hunt: Who owns downtown Nashville and what should its future be? (USA Today Tennessee Network) Downtown Nashville, our fraught front door that welcomes the world, is currently in the crossfire of a struggle for the soul of the city. We love those aerial TV shots on “Monday Night Football” but currently the street-level views are not so dazzling. Does anyone go anymore to historic Lower Broadway, between First Avenue and Fifth, who isn’t a bachelorette from out of town or an essential worker? With COVID-19 still at large and so many tourists rejecting simple face masks, is our downtown a safe place for Nashville families? I think not. LINK

Clint Cooper: Todd Gardenhire deserves third term in Tennessee state Senate (Times Free Press) If we could clone a citizen-legislator running for the Tennessee state Senate in this election year, it would be Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, who is vying for a third term. The Lookout Valley lawmaker, who is retired from a career as a financial consultant, spends his time locally and in Nashville trying to solve conundrums for his constituents and his fellow Tennesseans. “I like to fix problems,” Gardenhire says. LINK

Clint Cooper: Reps. Robin Smith, Esther Helton favored for re-election to Tennessee House (Times Free Press) Facing voters every two years is a daunting, expensive and time-consuming task for Tennessee state representatives, but it forces them to be responsive to their constituents. In the Hamilton County delegation this year, two of the five House members — both serving their first term — have opposition. In District 26, Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, faces Joan Farrell. In District 30, Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, takes on Joseph Udeaja. Reps. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, and Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, are running unopposed. LINK

Pam Sohn: Make Glenn Scruggs our new state senator (Times Free Press) Chattanooga Assistant Police Chief Glenn Scruggs is taking on eight-year incumbent legislator Todd Gardenhire, whose District 10 state Senate seat represents about 192,306 residents from south Chattanooga to Red Bank to East Brainerd and nearby Bradley County. And though this was a hard decision for us (Gardenhire is very personable and generally a straight shooter — traits we value), we’re endorsing Scruggs. We like Scruggs not just because he is a Democrat, but also because he is about fixing problems with common-sense solutions and troubleshooting the ramifications of a vote before he takes it. LINK

Pam Sohn: Vote new Democratic faces into Tennessee’s House (Times Free Press) Local voters have a choice to put new and Democratic faces in two statehouse seats or to keep two first-term Republican incumbents there. In District 26, which generally represents Hixson, freshman Robin Smith faces a challenge from Joan Farrell, a political newcomer who has worked as a bank examiner, accounting manager, food stamp counselor, teacher and census field representative. LINK

Jackson Baker: Dumping on DeBerry (Memphis Flyer) Are we to believe that state Representative John DeBerry, who is having to run for re-election as an independent in House District 90 because he was removed from the Democratic party ballot, is now campaigning with large yard signs boasting his picture alongside that of Donald Trump? Or that DeBerry legitimately belongs to something called “The Republican Club,” the heading of a handout flyer that includes his picture, along with those of bona fide GOP candidates, under this description: “Eliminate Public School Funding; Remove Woman’s Choices; No Masks Needed; Pro-Life; remove Voice of Protestors; Limit Healthcare; No Unions; Easy Access fo Guns; Voter Restrictions”? LINK

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