Blake Farmer

Blake Farmer/WPLN

One anti-abortion proposal appears to be on the way toward becoming law this year in Tennessee.

It’s based on an Indiana law that’s already been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, requiring aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated.

The teachers at New Hope Academy in Franklin, Tenn., were chatting the other day. The private Christian school has met in person throughout much of the coronavirus pandemic — requiring masks and trying to keep kids apart, to the degree it is possible with young children. And Nicole Grayson, who teaches fourth grade, says they realized something peculiar.

"We don't know anybody that has gotten the flu," she says. "I don't know of a student that has gotten strep throat."

As the speed of COVID vaccinations picks up, so do the reports of doses going to waste. And it's more than just a handful at the end of the day because of a few appointment cancellations. Health officials are trying to address the problems that lead to waste, but without slowing down the roll out of the lifesaving vaccinations.

Blake Farmer / WPLN News


COVID vaccines are beginning to flow into Tennessee at a much faster pace, and the state has decided to accelerate its distribution plan, opening up to anyone 16 or older whose health puts them at risk.

Shelby County is following the state's lead and will begin innoculating individuals in phase 1C on Monday. 

In December, all states began vaccinating only health care workers and residents and staffers of nursing homes in phase 1A, but since the new year began some states have also started giving shots to — or booking appointments for — certain categories of seniors and essential workers.

Blake Farmer / WPLN News (File)

On its way out, the Trump administration is approving Tennessee’s request to completely reshape how it provides health insurance to 1.4 million low-income residents. The so-called block grant takes effect immediately and lasts 10 years, making it more difficult for the incoming Biden administration to undo it.

Courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Health


While many frontline health care workers have been eager to get vaccinated, some in Tennessee are opting out. State officials are seeing signs of more hesitancy than they expected in hospitals.

The state originally figured only about 70% of hospital staff would take the COVID-19 vaccine. Some might not want to because they’re pregnant. Others may have broader concerns about the safety of the vaccine.

A snafu with Operation Warp Speed leaves at least 14 states short of the vaccine doses they were promised. NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with WPLN's Blake Farmer about what that means in Tennessee.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit


Hospitals in much of the country are trying to cope with unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 patients. As of Sunday, 93,238 were hospitalized, an alarming record that far exceeds the two previous peaks in April and July, of just under 60,000 inpatients.

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.