Blake Farmer

It was either put food on the table or drop their health insurance, says Oscar Anchia of Miami. His wife's coverage was costing $700 a month, and his hours had been cut back because of the coronavirus pandemic. So Anchia made the difficult decision to drop his spouse from his policy, because they needed the money.

Then in October, his love for 40 years fell ill with COVID-19.

Rutherford County Government via Facebook


The federal government is shipping Tennessee 2 million rapid COVID tests in which the results can be known on-the-spot. The state is trying to get them into schools, but administrators are hesitant to take on yet another responsibility.

“We don’t need to put another burden on schools right now, but they do need the benefit of [rapid tests],” says Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee’s health commissioner.

Blake Farmer / WPLN News


When a vaccine for COVID-19 is approved for use, it will be the state government who determines who gets it first. All states were required to submit their draft plans to federal authorities by this week. Tennessee will distribute its allotment based mostly on population, not severity of recent outbreaks.

TN Photo Services


Gov. Bill Lee will stay in quarantine for another week after close contact with a coronavirus case in his security detail and will miss the presidential debate at Belmont University later this week, as well as a Nashville fundraiser for President Donald Trump.

Courtesy Williamson County Schools / via Facebook


There will be no negative consequences for schools and teachers related to standardized testing this school year, so long as the Tennessee General Assembly agrees. Gov. Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn are calling for the tests to be administered as usual but that the results not be used to judge the education system.

“We can’t fill in the gaps with reading or math or learning loss without understanding where they are,” Lee says. But he adds testing “will have to look different this year.”

Chas Sisk / WPLN News (File)


Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting period for people to get abortions has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

Judge Bernard Friedman found that the state could not prove that the waiting period benefits the person’s mental health, which is the purported goal.

In his opinion, he cites evidence presented during the four-day trial that most pregnant people are already certain of their decision and that post-abortion regret is uncommon.

Blake Farmer/WPLN News


Tennessee has deposited nearly $200 million into the accounts of small businesses. But the state still has more stimulus money, so it’s broadening the program and focusing more on diversity.

Starting this week, any business that has less than $10 million in annual revenue and can show losses from the pandemic or costs related to safety measures can apply for as much as $30,000 in help. That comes on the heels of a state program that helped about 25,000 small businesses see their way through the first six months of the pandemic.

COVID-19 has caused widespread damage to the economy — so wide that it can be easy to overlook how unevenly households are suffering. But new polling data out this month reveal households that either have had someone with COVID-19 or include someone who has a disability or special needs are much more likely to also be hurting financially.

Master Sgt. Jeremy Corneliusvia DVIDS


Thirty-two new deaths from the coronavirus in Tennessee would have been every headline for days in March. But six months later, the rising death toll jumped on Friday with almost no attention from the public. The first confirmed death in Tennessee was a Davidson County man, March 20. He was 73 with underlying conditions — like many who’ve been claimed by COVID-19. More than 2,216 people in Tennessee have died since then, with no end in sight.

Blake Farmer / WPLN News


Earlier this month, a half-dozen patients gathered in a cramped conference room on campus. They snacked on turkey sandwiches and potato chips and listened to the pitch from their physician, Dr. Vladimir Berthaud.

“What’s the best hope to get rid of this virus?” he asked them.

“Vaccination,” they replied.

Then Berthaud followed up: “So raise your hand if you would like to take the vaccine?”

Some hands shot up, but not all.