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Local-news
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Harshbarger opposes using 25th Amendment to oust Trump

U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger announced Tuesday she strongly opposes invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump.

“After the atrocities on Jan. 6, President Trump announced his full support for a peaceful transition of power,” Harshbarger, R-1st, said in a news release. “The calls for impeachment are at odds with (President-elect) Joe Biden’s call for unity and will only further the divide. Congressional Democrats have even floated the idea to wait until after Biden’s first 100 days in office to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, showing this is nothing more than a way to score political points with their base.

“These political debates are distracting from the many more pressing issues facing millions of Americans each day to which Congress should devote this time to solving, such as relief from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, skyrocketing prescription drug prices, and the opioid epidemic, to name a few. We should start focusing on solutions to the important issues affecting Americans. I sincerely wish that (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi exercised the same amount of urgency when Congress was trying to pass COVID relief measures.”

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that if the president becomes unable to do his job, the vice president becomes the president or acting president.


Matthew Lane — mlane@timesnews.net

Tracy Dayton, right, demonstrates a COVID-19 vaccination on Kim Austin. The two registered nurses were at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, giving vaccinations to the 200 people who registered to receive the medication earlier this month.


Health-care
Sullivan vaccine clinic at Bristol on hold until Thursday

By J.H. OSBORNE

The Sullivan County Regional Health Department announced on Tuesday afternoon that it will not conduct its COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Bristol Dragway on Wednesday, but it expects to reopen there on Thursday.

That clinic continues to operate under phase 1a1 and phase 1a2 eligibility guidelines, for people who live or work in Sullivan County, as well as being open to any Tennessee resident age 75 and older. No appointment is needed.

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health’s daily report for Tuesday:

Statewide

• 150 new deaths (146 net) and 3,478 new cases.

• Pandemic totals are 8,011 deaths and 660,874 cases.

• 88% of case totals were listed as “inactive/recovered.”

• New deaths by age: 55 in the 81-plus group; 39 in the 71-80 group; 38 in the 61-70 group; 12 in the 51-60 group; four in the 41-50 group; and two in the 31-40 group. The state adjusted deaths in the 21-30 group down by three, from 42 reported Monday to 39 on Tuesday, and adjusted total deaths in the 11-20 group down by one, from four reported on Monday to three on Tuesday.

Northeast Tennessee

• Nine new deaths and 268 new cases for the eight-county region.

• New deaths by county: two in Hawkins; two in Unicoi; two in Greene; one in Sullivan; one in Washington; and one in Carter.

• New cases by county: 69 in Greene; 62 in Sullivan; 52 in Washington; 33 in Hawkins; 26 in Carter; 15 in Unicoi; seven in Johnson; and four in Hancock.

• Active cases by county: 1,254 in Washington; 1,144 in Sullivan; 836 in Greene; 653 in Hawkins; 497 in Carter; 171 in Unicoi; 144 in Johnson; and 61 in Hancock.

Positive rates

Statewide: 17.17% of the 14,953 new test results reported on Monday by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Ballad Health: 30.6% over the past seven days, for the health system’s 21-county service area, including Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.


News
COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases reach 60

By MIKE STILL

The LENOWISCO Health District’s number of new COVID-19 cases more than doubled since Monday with two additional deaths, according to Tuesday’s state data report.

The Virginia Department of Health (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) said the LENOWISCO district reported 60 COVID-19-related cases for totals of 5,755 and 140 deaths during the pandemic.

Lee County saw 27 cases for totals of 1,790 and 32 deaths. Wise County had 23 cases and one death for 2,406 and 67 deaths.

Scott County had eight cases for 1,350 and 39 deaths. Norton had two cases and its second death for totals of 209 and two deaths.

The VDH reported 4,561 new cases and 84 deaths statewide in the prior 24 hours for 407,946 cases and 5,477 deaths.

The statewide testing rate for people with nasal swab and antigen tests in Tuesday’s VDH report was 5,629,946 of 8.63 million residents, or 65.23%. For nasal swab testing only, 4,640,967 people have been tested to date, or 53.78%. In the LENOWISCO district, 35,035 of the region’s 86,471 residents have been tested via nasal swab sample for COVID-19, or 40.52%.

The seven-day average rate of positive PCR test results in the LENOWISCO district in Tuesday’s report decreased from 22.9% to 21.9%. The statewide seven-day positivity rate dropped from 16.7% to 16.4%.

Red Onion State Prison added a case for 28 inmate cases and dropped two cases to six active staff/contractor cases Tuesday, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap remained at one inmate case and six active staff/contractor cases. Wise Correctional Center near Coeburn remained at 24 inmate cases and no active staff/contractor case.

According to Tuesday’s VDH pandemic measures dashboard, daily case incidence in the far southwest region of Virginia — including the LENOWISCO Health District — was ranked as fluctuating after a five-day rise in daily case rates. The far southwest region ranking for percent positivity of COVID-19 testing results was classed as fluctuating based on an overall 12-day decrease in that measure.

All four school systems in the LENOWISCO district were ranked as highest-risk based on the 14-day case incidence rate in the district. For seven-day case incidence, Lee, Wise and Scott counties and Norton City schools were ranked highest-risk with Wise County schools moderate-risk.

Where to be tested

Do you think you might have COVID-19? Local health departments provide free testing.

The LENOWISCO Health Department, which covers Norton and Lee, Wise and Scott counties, posts regular updates on testing sites across the district and offers free COVID-19 tests at its county offices. Those seeking a test must call in advance for an appointment. Contact numbers for the county offices are:

• Lee County (Jonesville) — (276) 346-2011.

• Scott County (Gate City) — (276) 386-1312.

• Wise County and Norton (Wise) — (276) 328-8000.

Additional testing and COVID-19 precaution information can be found at the LENOWISCO Health District’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Lenowisco.

In Southwest Virginia, online resources are available to help evaluate whether residents might be infected and where to get a COVID-19 test. The Virginia Department of Health’s COVIDCHECK (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck/) can walk users through symptoms they may be experiencing and help direct them to their local health department office or other available testing sites.


Crime
featured
12-year-old Hawkins girl who took stolen Jeep to Myrtle Beach 'just needed a break'

SURGOINSVILLE — A 12-year-old Surgoinsville girl who allegedly stole her grandmother’s Jeep and took a road trip to Myrtle Beach with two teenage cousins reportedly made the statement that she “just needed a break.”

The grandmother discovered the child was missing, along with her 2017 Jeep Patriot, around 6:30 a.m. Monday, although Surgoinsville Police Department Chief James Hammonds told the Times News on Tuesday he believes the granddaughter stole the Jeep sometime around midnight.

“I got the granddaughter’s phone number and pinged her phone, and around 9:30 a.m. it showed that they were near the Tanger Outlet in Myrtle Beach,” Hammonds said.

“As I’m doing this, two other reports come in of missing kids from the county, and we determined that those girls were all together. We sent Myrtle Beach Police Department by that area where her phone pinged, and they were able to locate the vehicle and the kids.”

Hammonds said he believes the cousins were 15 and 16 years of age. Their parents went to Myrtle Beach on Monday and brought them back home.

There was no information available about whether the cousins will face any county charges in Juvenile Court, but Hammonds said he won’t be charging the cousins in connection with the Jeep theft.

The 12-year-old spent Monday night in custody in Myrtle Beach and was being returned Tuesday by the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office.

Hammonds said he will be citing her into Hawkins County Juvenile Court for theft over $10,000.

“The 12-year-old actually took the vehicle from here (at her grandmother’s home),” Hammonds noted. “I don’t know yet who actually drove to the beach. We got the report at 6:30 a.m., and we had them in custody by 9:30 a.m.”

Hammonds added, “I’m assuming they probably left around midnight to 1 a.m., so they didn’t have much free time at Myrtle Beach.

“It was a short beach trip. She told her grandmother she just needed a break.”

This is the second time in less than a month that the 12-year-old has run away, but the first time Hammonds caught her walking before she got out of town.

“This time she definitely put some distance between us, and she thought she had it made,” he added.

“But with technology, they don’t think about turning that cell phone off because we can ping them and be right near where they’re at.”


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