COVID-19 Closures and Updates

The Times News staff is working to provide the latest updates on schedule changes, local decisions and news related to COVID-19 (caused by the novel coronavirus) in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. If your church, business or agency has community announcements related to coronavirus concerns and prevention, please email us at news@timesnews.net.

Wednesday, March 3

Read more

'Every person we lost was somebody's family': Church Hill hosts COVID Memorial Day

Tuesday, March 2

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health has completed a process review of state COVID-19 vaccine administration to minimize possible waste and support providers receiving greater supplies of vaccine ahead of opening eligibility to Phase 1c. As TDH reported last week, TDH has embedded personnel at the Shelby County Health Department for technical assistance, monitoring of their pharmacy operation and improvement in efficiency of their COVID-19 vaccination sites, following reports of COVID-19 vaccine wastage. The TDH immunization program is working with the state’s five other metropolitan health departments to perform quality assurance visits this week, and will perform quality assurance checks with all 89 rural health departments over the next two-three weeks. Tennesseans can visit Vaccinate.tn.gov to book their appointment when they are eligible to receive vaccine. As of today, more than 200,000 appointments are available in the system for COVID-19 vaccination across the state.

🔹 The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously extended its Declaration of Judicial Emergency through March 28, 2021. The period of Judicial Emergency now extends from March 16, 2020, through March 28, 2021. The Declaration of Judicial Emergency may be extended for additional periods.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Northwest Virginia who had no history of travel during the exposure period. The B.1.351 variant, which first emerged in South Africa in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that infections with this variant cause more severe disease. To date, the B.1.351 variant has been identified in 15 other U.S. states or jurisdictions.

Read more

State to receive 54k doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine tomorrow; moving to Phase 1c next week

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily case below 10, one death

TWRA to hold virtual class on bow fishing basics

Photo gallery: Kingsport Public Library reopens

Monday, March 1

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily case below five, deaths at five

New COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths fell to multi-month lows in NETN last month

Sunday, Feb. 28

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today that a new single-dose COVID-19 vaccine will begin being offered in Virginia next week following federal approval of a third vaccination that has been proven to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from the disease. On Saturday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a new vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. The EUA allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for those 18 and older. Virginia is expected to receive 69,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week, which will be prioritized for mass vaccination clinics across the state.

🔹 Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced yesterday that the first cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 have been identified in samples from three adult residents of Southwest Virginia who had no history of travel during their exposure periods. VDH investigated all three cases and their close contacts and managed them appropriately. The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. Preliminary reports from experts in the United Kingdom indicate that this variant causes more severe illness than other variants, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. To date, the B.1.1.7 variant has been identified in 44 other U.S. states or jurisdictions.

Read more

Zero new COVID-19 deaths in Northeast Tennessee, region surpasses 50,000 cases

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily case at 5

Need COVID-19 rent relief? THDA can help

Saturday, Feb. 27

Read more

Zero new COVID-19 deaths, 92 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: VDH schedules mass vaccination event for region

House passes $1.9T pandemic bill on near party-line vote

First Presbyterian clothes closet reopens, accepts donations

Sullivan schools seeking more than $9.1 million in COVID-19 grant money

There's a lot you need to know before starting a backyard chicken and egg operation

Friday, Feb. 26

News updates

🔹 Mount Rogers Health District, Cumberland Plateau Health District, Lenowisco Health District, and community partners will begin vaccinating individuals age 16-64 with underlying medical conditions March 1, 2021. Those 65 and older will still be prioritized for vaccine, as will eligible frontline essential workers. Health department clinics and many community partners are working off the pre-registration list to contact eligible individuals for appointments. To pre-register, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov/ or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682) for assistance with registration.

🔹 Ballad Health is extending is efforts to assist regional health departments and health districts with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccinations, launching an online tool for eligible residents to schedule their inoculations. Online scheduling is now available at Ballad Health’s community vaccination centers (CVCs) in Virginia and Tennessee. People eligible to receive the vaccine in Virginia include Commonwealth residents over the age of 65; healthcare workers; and, as of March 1, residents between the ages of 16-64 with chronic health conditions. Tennessee residents eligible to receive the vaccine include everyone over the age of 65 and healthcare workers. The scheduling tool is available on the health system’s main webpage at www.balladhealth.org and its COVID-19 page at www.balladhealth.org/COVID19, as well as the Ballad Health mobile app on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.

🔹 The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has planned five socially distanced spring commencement ceremonies for May 7-9 in Neyland Stadium. Any 2020 graduates who have not yet taken part in an in-person ceremony are also invited to participate. Ceremonies are scheduled by academic college. Details are still being finalized, but the university plans to have 1,000 graduates in each ceremony with a limited number of guests for each graduate. Everyone will be required to wear a face covering, stay socially distanced, and follow additional safety precautions. For more information on this year’s ceremonies, visit the commencement website.

🔹 Today, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee released the following statement to accompany his signing of Executive Orders 77, 78 and 79: “Our state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to improve thanks to efficient vaccine distribution and efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Gov. Lee. “I have authorized continuation of a limited state of emergency through April 28th in order to keep critical healthcare deregulation in place and ensure continued federal funding compliance, and to lift state visitation restrictions on nursing home and long-term care facilities. To be very clear, my orders do not include any restriction on business. We will continue to focus on delivering vaccines to every corner of the state, ensuring kids get back in the classroom and building on our strong economic recovery.” Gov. Lee also signed Executive Order Nos. 78 and 79, which extend through April 28th, provisions that allow for remote government meetings and shareholder meetings and permit remote notarization and witnessing of documents, all while implementing transparency safeguards.

🔹 Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP released the following statement on the reported storage error and disposal of COVID-19 vaccine by Rutherford County Schools: “We are aware of the COVID-19 vaccine storage error reported by Rutherford County Schools this afternoon. We have a team on the way to Rutherford County now to look into this unfortunate loss of vaccine. Our Rutherford County Health Department is now partnering with Rutherford County Schools to provide resources to support the school system's planned vaccination event for school employees tomorrow. We will share additional details about this situation when they are available.”

Read more

Sullivan extends mask order through March

Governor extends state of emergency

LENOWISCO, Ballad open vaccinations to ages 16-64 with health conditions

Church Hill hosting March 1 memorial for COVID victims

Thursday, Feb. 25

News updates

🔹 The University of Tennessee remains strong, despite the COVID-19 storm, the UT Board of Trustees heard during daylong meetings Thursday. In the first month of classes during the fall 2020, UT had over 900 positive COVID-19 cases. One month into the spring 2021 semester, the University has 124 cases – an 86 percent decrease in active cases for the same point in time in the fall. In addition, the University faced a $150 million financial hit due to the virus, but was able to absorb the financial impact while minimizing any impact to University employees.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Feb. 20. Statewide, there were 12,077 new claims and 48,015 continued claims.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases stay above 20

COVID-19: New, active cases increase Thursday

Kingsport's Parks and Rec facilities are starting to reopen

Hulsey bill prohibiting forced COVID-19 vaccinations advances

Virginia set to ease limitations on gatherings starting March 1

Wednesday, Feb. 24

News updates

🔹 Symphony of the Mountains announced Saturday's livestream of the Mountain Strings COVID-19 performance will now broadcast live at 4 p.m. (Feb. 27). The live or recorded performance will be available here: https://bit.ly/2ZL2nMs.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Central Virginia who had no history of travel during the exposure period. The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. A preliminary report from experts in the United Kingdom indicates that this variant causes more severe illness than other variants, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. To date, the B.1.1.7 variant has been identified in 44 other U.S. states. Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

🔹 Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP released the following statement regarding the ongoing investigation of reported wastage of COVID-19 vaccine in Shelby County: “With today’s confirmation of stockpiling the vaccine, the mayor‘s statements have alerted us to yet another significant violation with the Shelby County Health Department’s vaccine management. These statements reflect that vaccines were inappropriately withheld from an in-phase population over the course of several weeks. Stockpiling for a later phase is not authorized, and this action unnecessarily prohibited high-risk elderly individuals from receiving their fair share of this limited and life-saving resource.”

🔹 Today the Tennessee Department of Health announced state-specific visitation restrictions for long-term care facilities will end effective Feb. 28, 2021. Facilities should use the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance for safe operation and visitation with limited visitation restrictions no longer in place at the state level.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today that additional pharmacy networks are beginning to administer COVID-19 vaccines to those age 65 and older as part of a federal partnership that will bring an additional 52,000 vaccines into Virginia this week. In addition to CVS Pharmacy Inc., which began receiving approximately 26,000 vaccine doses last week through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, the newly added pharmacies include Walgreens, Walmart Inc., The Kroger Co., Albertsons Companies Inc. (Safeway), Retail Business Services LLC (Food Lion, Giant Food), Topco Associates LLC (Food City), and CPESN LLC, a network of multiple independent community pharmacies. These pharmacy networks will share the additional 26,000 doses. Similar doses are expected in the following weeks. To pre-register, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (TTY users dial 7-1-1). To register for an appointment at a CVS pharmacy, visit https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine.

🔹 After much consideration, the city of Kingsport has made the decision to begin a rolling reopening of its leisure services facilities beginning on Monday, March 1. Many of Kingsport’s facilities have been open throughout the last year, providing programs and recreation to citizens in safe ways. As more facilities reopen or expand programming at a reduced capacity, all COVID-19 safety protocols—including social distancing and mask-wearing—will remain in place.

🔹 Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that as COVID-19 hospitalizations and infection rates continue to decline and vaccinations rise in Virginia, certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate at increased capacity starting Monday, March 1. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus. The Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued strict health and safety protocols including physical distancing, mask-wearing requirements, gathering limits, and business capacity restrictions. The current modified Stay at Home order will expire on Feb. 28, 2021.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases pass 20

COVID-19 in Virginia: Gathering limitations lessen March 1

Fauci: NIH to study 'long-haul' virus symptoms

2,400 virus doses went to waste in Shelby County

Tuesday, Feb. 23

News updates

🔹 Since late December, the Tennessee National Guard has been transitioning from primarily supporting COVID-19 testing to supporting vaccine administration throughout Tennessee. Since vaccinations began, the Tennessee National Guard has helped administer over 223,000 vaccinations across Tennessee. They are also continuing to support COVID-19 testing which began on March 23 when Gov. Bill Lee initially requested 250 soldiers and airmen of the Tennessee National Guard to assist Tennessee’s response to the pandemic. Currently, 680 guardsmen are activated and working alongside the health department and local agencies providing support during the ongoing pandemic. Over the last year, more than 1,600 guardsmen have assisted with COVID-19 testing. 

🔹 Frontier Health, a leading provider in behavioral health throughout East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, has been awarded a two-year, 4-million-dollar grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The annual grant is funded from the $4.5 billion allocated to SAMHSA from the COVID-19 relief package passed in December 2020. Frontier Health is 1 of 134 clinics across the country to receive this grant to improve individuals' health and welfare throughout our region.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health today provided information on the investigation of reported wastage of COVID-19 vaccine by the Shelby County Health Department. On Friday, Feb. 19, the Shelby County Health Department reported more than 1,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were discarded due to expiration. The governor's Unified Command Group immediately deployed state health personnel to provide support, review handling procedures and assess the Shelby County Health Department's inventory of vaccines. The Tennessee Department of Health has embedded personnel at SCHD for technical assistance and monitoring of their pharmacy operation, and has formally requested additional on-site assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine distribution and administration will continue as scheduled, and Shelby County will continue to receive the full population-based allocation of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Read more

Tennessee to end nursing home visitation restrictions next week

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases climb above 20

Editorial: Kingsport is coming back from pandemic

Hawkins schools back to five-day in-classroom schedule beginning March 1

Venable announces 5% raises for Sullivan EMS, one-time bonuses for health department employees

Monday, Feb. 22

Schedule changes

🔹 The 2021 Symphony Gala is canceled. The Symphony of the Mountains hopes to resume the annual event in April 2022.

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that Walgreens has added seven additional stores to its partnership with VDH to provide Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing at selected Walgreens locations across the Commonwealth. This arrangement increases the number of Walgreens locations that will operate drive-thru COVID-19 testing at no cost to the public from 19 to 26 stores. Included are locations in Clintwood (5451 Dickenson Hwy) and Gate City (119 East Jackson Street). COVID-19 testing will be available by appointment to adults and children age 3 and older who meet screening criteria to receive a test. Appointments can be made by following the steps at Walgreens.com/COVID19Testing.

🔹 The Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency will begin a Commodity Distribution in Kingsport on March 10 at Gravely Baptist Church at 647 Gravely Road. Items will be distributed through a drive-thru option on a first come, first served basis, to income eligible households until all commodities are gone. This will provide for the safety of recipients as well as the volunteers and staff. Recipients must be residents of Tennessee. This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Each recipient must have an orange colored commodity ID card in order to pick up their commodities. The distribution will begin at 10 a.m. and will end at noon, or earlier if food is no longer available.

🔹 The Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency will begin a Commodity Distribution on March 16 at the Persia Baptist Church at 141 Old State Highway 66 in Rogersville. Items will be distributed through a drive-thru option on a first come, first served basis, to income eligible households until all commodities are gone. This will provide for the safety of recipients as well as the volunteers and staff. Recipients must be residents of Tennessee. This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennesse Department of Agriculture. Each recipient must have an orange colored commodity ID card in order to pick up their commodities. The distribution will begin at 10 a.m. and will end at noon (or earlier if food is no longer available).

🔹 U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $179,010,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Virginia. This funding, awarded through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, will be overseen and distributed by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). It can be used to support efforts to store, transport, secure, handle, announce, and administer the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the Commonwealth.

🔹 On Friday, Feb. 19, the Shelby County Health Department reported more than 1,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were discarded due to expiration. The governor's Unified-Command Group immediately deployed state health personnel to provide support, review handling procedures and assess the Shelby County Health Department's inventory of vaccines. TDH is expected to release more information tomorrow afternoon during the 2 p.m. media briefing with Commissioner Piercey.

Read more

ETSU men's basketball game at VMI canceled

COVID-19: Statewide seven-day new case rate at lowest point since June

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases below 10; free testing at Gate City Walgreens

Sunday, Feb. 21

Read more

65 new COVID-19 cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases at 4

Saturday, Feb. 20

Read more

Carter, Unicoi and Washington county mayors to lift face mask requirement

Pastor returns home after 11-week COVID-19 battle

Visit Kingsport to host Virtual Songwriters Week Feb. 21-27

Friday, Feb. 19

Read more

Ballad reports fewest hospitalizations since September

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district sees 13 new cases

Editorial: We're almost there. Keep your mask on

Thursday, Feb. 18

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Southwest Virginia who recently returned to Virginia after international travel. All contacts of the case have been identified and appropriately managed. The B.1.351 variant, which first emerged in South Africa in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that infections with this variant cause more severe disease. To date, the B.1.351 variant has been identified in nine other U.S. states.

🔹 The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect Sullivan County Schools, which are responding with "surgical" decisions to make learning all virtual. All eighth graders at Sullivan East Middle School near Bluff City will be virtual until face-to-face students return to in-person learning March 2, and Sullivan Gardens K-8 grades 6-8 face-to-face students are the same until they return to school Feb. 25. As previously reported all face-to-face Holston Elementary, Holston Middle and Innovation Academy students will be learning online through Feb. 22 because of the potential exposure of cafeteria staff to COVID-19.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Corrections has administered a COVID-19 vaccine to more than 50% of its inmates, far outpacing the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations seen elsewhere. More than half of DOC staff have also received the vaccine. More than 13,000 inmates and more than 6,000 staff have received the first of two Moderna COVID-19 shots. All inmates who receive the first shot are scheduled to receive the second shot four weeks later.  Second doses are being administered now as well; approximately 3,000 individuals have received their 2nd dose of the vaccine. The average daily inmate population in January was 23,811.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Feb. 13. Statewide, there were 8,116 new claims and 49,964 continued claims.

Read more

Ad hoc committee will determine how Hawkins spends $936K emergency COVID funding

Northeast Tennessee adds nine virus deaths, 103 new infections

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district sees 11 new cases

Virginia vaccination registration website, call center operational

Wednesday, Feb. 17

News updates

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today invited Virginians to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine online at vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA. The Commonwealth’s new, centralized system allows individuals to easily pre-register for the free vaccine, confirm that they are on the wait list, and learn more about Virginia’s vaccination program. For the latest information on COVID-19 vaccinations in Virginia, visit vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine.

🔹 Given the promise of multiple vaccines and the opportunity to realize widespread vaccinations across the region this summer, ETSU has begun planning for an increased on-ground campus presence for fall 2021 with the majority of academic instruction occurring in-person. It is also preparing for increased occupancy in residence halls. Additionally, ETSU plans to restore in-person activities and events that will allow students to enjoy experiential learning, campus life, and community engagement opportunities while keeping safety at the forefront. The Bucs Are Back website will continue to serve as the primary information portal regarding the university's COVID-19 response, as well as any details regarding vaccine distribution as it becomes available. The website also includes an updated schedule for Drop-in COVID-19 testing.

🔹 BLOUNTVILLE — All face-to-face Holston Elementary, Holston Middle and Innovation Academy students will be learning online through Feb. 22 because of the potential exposure of cafeteria staff to COVID-19. As a precaution, pre-packaged lunches were served to students at the Sullivan County campus near Tri-Cities Airport Wednesday, the school system announced on its website. Any student who attends the three co-located schools who needs breakfast or lunch meals during this period of online learning may pick up meals at any other Sullivan County School by calling that school and arranging a pick up time.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases top 20

State reports first back-to-back days with fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in almost 5 months

Black History Month events include soul food drive-thru, Riverview cleanup

Tuesday, Feb. 16

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Supreme Court today ordered that the July 2021 bar exam be held as a remote, computer-based test because of continued concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. The February 2021 bar exam is also being held remotely. The July 2020 exam was originally canceled and moved to October, and then was held remotely in October. Registration for the July 2021 bar exam will open on March 1, 2021. Passage rates for the October 2020 remote exam were similar to those of previous July bar exams.

🔹 Tennessee will begin registering Tennesseans aged 65 and older and those in Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan COVID-19 for vaccinations on Feb. 22. Phase 1b includes staff members of kindergarten through 12th grade schools and child care facilities.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health today launched a new, centralized website that allows Virginians to easily pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine. This ‘one-stop-shop’ website allows individuals to pre-register online, check that they are pre-registered, and access additional information on Virginia’s vaccination roll-out. Virginians who have previously pre-registered through their local health district have been automatically imported into the new system and do not need to pre-register again. Data migration is continuing throughout the week and it may take several days for your name to appear in the centralized system. Everyone who has previously registered is still on the list, and their status will not be affected. Recognizing that many Virginians are uncomfortable or unable to pre-register online, the Virginia Department of Health will also launch an accompanying hotline number on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Due to technological limits with CVS Pharmacy’s national appointment system, Virginians must continue to register for CVS appointments through the CVS Pharmacy website.

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced $524 million in new federal funding to help keep Virginia families in their homes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) is funded through the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program included in the recent federal stimulus package and will assist households and landlords with rent payments to avoid eviction.

Read more

Tennessee to begin vaccinating those 65 and older next week

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases below five

How are experts tracking variants of the coronavirus?

Vaccine delays leave grocery workers feeling expendable

Need a ride to get a COVID shot? KATS can help

Tennessee trying to 'ramp up' COVID-19 vaccination

Monday, Feb. 15

News updates

🔹 KATS will be accepting appointment requests for residents who live in Kingsport city limits and are in need of transportation to COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Kingsport. When making a reservation, customers will call KATS at 423-224-2613 (option #4). Trip availability will be determined upon scheduling. Trip fares are depending on your zone location and begin at $6 round trip. Check with the KATS dispatcher prior to your trip for exact fare.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases below 10 for second day

First Broad Street UMC to hold mostly virtual Missions Celebration

Sunday, Feb. 14

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases below 10

One new COVID-19 death, 99 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Saturday, Feb. 13

Read more

Two new COVID-19 deaths, 159 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district's new cases at 22

Kingsport Carousel reopens today on limited basis

Friday, Feb. 12

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that a case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Eastern Virginia with no history of travel outside of Virginia. The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. A preliminary report from experts in the United Kingdom indicates that this variant causes more severe illness than other variants, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. In addition, a second case of the B.1.351 COVID-19 variant was also identified in an adult resident of Eastern Virginia. The B.1.351 variant was first identified in South Africa. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that this variant has any impact on disease severity.

🔹 The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order that will ease the current restrictions on in-person proceedings starting in March. This is the ninth order the court has issued related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The court’s Dec. 22, 2020, and Jan. 15, 2021 orders, issued during the height of the surge in COVID-19 cases across the state, suspended most in-person hearings, with exceptions, until March 31, 2021. Because of the recent and continuing decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state, the Supreme Court is lifting restrictions on non-jury in-person proceedings earlier than expected. Today's order is available on the TNCourts.gov coronavirus webpage: https://www.tncourts.gov/Coronavirus.

🔹 The Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council (ARCD) will hold its annual CSA Fair virtually this year in the interest of public safety. In years past, these CSA Fairs have featured farmers from across the region who sell Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares of their harvest, and have drawn the public to meet their local farmers, learn about production methods, and become more engaged in the local food system. The virtual CSA Fair will be live during the last week of February, National CSA Week. During that week and the days leading up to it, ARCD will feature interviews and filmed farm-tours on Facebook and Instagram. All the details can be found at https://arcd.org/csa/.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases near 30

COVID-19: Active cases continue decline as Ballad sees slight increase in hospitalizations

Walmart, Sam's Club begin giving COVID-19 vaccines

Thursday, Feb. 11

News updates

🔹 The Kingsport Carousel will reopen to the public on Saturday, Feb. 13, with limited hours and limited capacity. In February, the carousel will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. The carousel will close between 2:30 and 3 p.m. for cleaning to help ensure the health and safety of all guests and staff. Guests are asked to wear a mask or face covering and follow social distancing guidelines. For updates about the Kingsport Carousel, please visit arts.kingsporttn.gov or follow the Kingsport Carousel Facebook page.

🔹 Tennessee will see expanding access to COVID-19 vaccination with the launch of a new federal retail pharmacy program. The first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination will launch in Tennessee Feb. 12, with select pharmacies offering vaccinations in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. These vaccinations will be provided at no cost to patients and will be available by appointment only. As of Feb. 11, TDH has been notified of 121 Walmart pharmacy locations across Tennessee that will offer COVID-19 vaccination through this program. These pharmacies will follow the vaccination plan phasing of the counties in which they are located. For details on participating locations and to schedule an appointment online, visit www.walmart.com/covidvaccine. More information is available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/retail-pharmacy-program/index.html.

🔹 In partnership with Beyond Engagement, a social media solutions company, KOSBE is releasing a new webinar series to help business owners come out on top in this pandemic. The webinar series addresses three distinct areas: how to sell products on Instagram; how to reach more customers with video and live stream; and how to use social media data and analytics to grow. The lineup of webinars is as follows: Wednesday, March 17, 12 p.m. Eastern —Part I - How to Sell your Products on Instagram (https://clients.tsbdc.org/workshop.aspx?ekey=10410007); Thursday, May 6, 12 p.m. Eastern—Part II - Reach More Customers with Video and Live Stream (https://clients.tsbdc.org/workshop.aspx?ekey=10410008); Tuesday, July 13, 12 p.m. Eastern—Part III - Learn and Grow your Business from Social Media Intelligence (https://clients.tsbdc.org/workshop.aspx?ekey=10410009).

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Feb. 6. Statewide, there were 9,498 new claims, along with 51,660 continued claims.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases near 20

COVID-19: New cases rise for second straight day, rate down from week ago

COVID-defying nun toasts 117th birthday with wine and prayer

Wednesday, Feb. 10

News updates

🔹 Students who attend a University of Tennessee campus can expect to have a traditional college experience in the fall as UT campuses across the state expand their in-person course offerings.  Plans for more in-person classes coincide with increased COVID-19 vaccine availability and improving pandemic conditions in Tennessee. Operational details for each campus will be announced at a later date.

🔹 More than 1,000 outpatients have received antibody infusions since the COVID Infusion Clinic opened on Nov. 18 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The clinic offers an antibody treatment given as an intravenous infusion that can reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 complications requiring hospital care. Clinic officials estimated that the infusions have prevented about 70 patients from developing severe COVID-19 illness requiring hospitalization or emergency department evaluation. So far, there have been no serious allergic reactions to the infusions, and most patients have felt significantly better within 24 to 48 hours after the infusion.

🔹 Last week, the Virginia Department of Health launched COVIDWISE Express, a new app-less exposure notifications technology for iPhone users in Virginia who do not already have the COVIDWISE app installed. Anonymously sending and receiving exposure notifications has never been easier. Since launching, COVIDWISE Express already has more than 504,000 users in Virginia. To learn more about COVIDWISE options, or to download the app, visit www.covidwise.org.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases drop to 10

COVID-19 case adjustments swing Washington, Carter counts

Government investigating massive counterfeit N95 mask scam

AP-NORC poll: A third of US adults skeptical of COVID shots

Which COVID-19 tests are required for international travel?

Outdoor dining enhancement mini grants awarded to 11 Kingsport restaurants

Tuesday, Feb. 9

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health reminds adults aged 70 and older they are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination. TDH estimates there are about 300,000 Tennesseans in the 70-74 year age group, and only about one in three Tennesseans in this group have been vaccinated to date. Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan prioritizes those at highest risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19. People aged 70 to 74 have a 70 percent higher rate of death and a 40 percent higher rate of hospitalization from COVID-19 as compared to those aged 65 to 69.

🔹 CVS Pharmacy has begun registering Virginians age 65 and older who are within the Phase 1b eligibility guidelines for vaccinations as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. As of today, eligible individuals can register at https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine. CVS will begin administering vaccinations on Friday, Feb. 12. CVS is the first of Virginia’s pharmacy partners in the federal pharmacy partnership to move forward with vaccinations. More pharmacies and more locations are expected to start vaccinating patients in the future.

🔹 The city of Kingsport has made the decision to reopen the Kingsport Senior Center on March 1, 2021. The facility will operate at 50% capacity and continue following all COVID-19 safety protocols, such as social distancing and mask-wearing. Refer to seniors.kingsporttn.gov or the Kingsport Senior Center’s Facebook page for additional updates.

🔹 As part of Eclipse Senior Living’s efforts to do its part to help end this global pandemic and get our communities back to normal, Elmcroft of Kingsport is vaccinating its residents and associates on Feb. 11, 2021. Each Elmcroft community will host three vaccination clinics to help everyone get the required second dose of the vaccine and to offer flexibility to those who may miss a clinic date. The clinics are hosted in conjunction with nationwide pharmacies, CVS and Walgreens, and reputable local pharmacies approved to administer the vaccine by state governments. 

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases climb over 20

TDH urges vaccinations for Tennesseans 70 and up; region's new cases continue decline

WHO team: Coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from China lab

Friends in Need accepts new patients, offers free COVID-19 testing

Virginia’s U.S. Senate delegation to Biden: Get SWVA in federal pharmacy program for COVID-19 vaccines

Monday, Feb. 8

Schedule changes

🔹 Organizers of the Johnson City Jazz Festival announced today that they have made the decision to cancel this year’s Festival scheduled for the last weekend in March. Organizers noted that while they are disappointed that this is the best route to take for this year’s event, they wanted to make sure fans knew they are already diligently working on the 2022 festival. For more festival news, visit JohnsonCityJazzFestival.com.

News updates

🔹 The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously extended its declaration of judicial emergency through March 7. The declaration may be extended for additional periods.

🔹 While the number of COVID-19 cases across the country is decreasing, pediatricians at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are beginning to see a new post-surge trend: an increase in cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). The cause of the rare illness is unknown but is believed to be connected to COVID-19, appearing about four weeks after a COVID-19 infection or exposure. In children with MIS-C, different parts of the body can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. Children’s Hospital has treated approximately 30 children for MIS-C since mid-July 2020, with 10 of those in the last month. Tennessee has seen more than 51 cases of MIS-C, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Meanwhile, the state has had more than 126,977 cases of COVID-19 among patients 20 years and younger, according to a recent American Academy of Pediatrics report.

🔹 Business leaders across Tennessee continue to be more optimistic about the state’s economic outlook than the nation’s, according to the most recent survey conducted by the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The Tennessee Business Leaders Survey “shows us that Tennessee business leaders are optimistic that the worst economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are behind us,” said Bill Fox, director of the Boyd Center. “There’s even more optimism about the Tennessee economy, and an appreciation for how quickly many businesses were able to adapt to the new normal of the past year.”

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases hit single digit

COVID-19: Northeast Tennessee adds 52 new cases, seven deaths

Hawkins students tell BOE about challenges of senior year during a pandemic

Sunday, Feb. 7

Read more

A daily COVID-19 report with no new deaths in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases drop below 20

What type of Fun Fest will we have in 2021?

Saturday, Feb. 6

Read more

Six new COVID-19 deaths, 163 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases near 50

Local superintendents say schools ready for Northam's call to return to in-person classes

School system employees in Sullivan get access to COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 12-13, March 5-6

Friday, Feb. 5

News updates

🔹 Bristol, Kingsport, and Sullivan County schools announced that, barring any unforeseen vaccine supply issues, all staff working in Sullivan County school districts will have the opportunity to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Feb. 12, and Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. This event is being offered by the Sullivan County Regional Health Department and is exclusive to the employees of school districts in Sullivan County.  It is anticipated that the second dose will be administered on Friday, March 5, and Saturday, March 6, 2021. In order to make these vaccination events possible for all our staff, in-person student learning will not take place on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, and Friday, March 5, 2021.  Each district will communicate district-specific procedures and student expectations for those days

🔹 The George L. Carter Railroad Museum has announced it will reopen on Saturday, Feb. 6. The museum, which is located in the Campus Center Building at East Tennessee State University, was temporarily closed to the public during the month of January due to the regional spike in positive COVID-19 cases. Beginning Saturday, Feb. 6, the museum will resume its normal operating hours on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome. All recommended university, state, and CDC guidelines relative to COVID-19 health and safety will be observed and enforced, including temperature checks, wearing masks and social distancing.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Eastern Virginia. VDH is currently investigating this case and assessing the person’s travel history. The B.1.351 variant, which first emerged in South Africa in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that infections with this variant cause more severe disease. To date, the B.1.351 variant has been identified in only two other U.S. states, South Carolina and Maryland.

🔹 Treatment with convalescent plasma vastly improved the survival rate of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 who also had hematologic malignances that compromise the immune system, according to new data released by the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19). Patients who received convalescent plasma from donors who had recovered from COVID-19 had a death rate of 13.3% compared to 24.8% for those who did not receive it. The difference was more striking with patients admitted to intensive care units, where patients treated with convalescent plasma had a death rate of 15.8% compared to 46.9% for those who weren’t.

🔹 The Greene County Health Department will change the COVID-19 testing  location effective Monday, Feb. 8. COVID-19 testing will be provided at the Greene County Health Department beginning Monday, Feb. 8. The Greene County Health Department is located at 810 West Church St., Greeneville, TN 37745. Testing is available Monday-Friday from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Self-kit tests will be available for adults on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

🔹 East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health is hosting a second installment of its popular “Coronavirus: Separating Fact from Fiction” webinar. This installment will focus solely on issues and questions related to the COVID-19 vaccines. The webinar, which is part of the college’s Leading Voices in Public Health lecture series, will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 23, from 6-7:30 p.m. It will feature a presentation and question and answer session featuring three experts on infectious diseases and public health. It is free and open to the public. Questions can be submitted at registration (Free Registration Link) or in advance to Janet Stork at storkj@etsu.edu.

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today called on all K-12 school divisions in the Commonwealth to make in-person learning options available by March 15, 2021, in accordance with the health guidance the Northam administration put forward in January and new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recognizing significant learning losses over the past year, Northam also encouraged school divisions to offer classroom instruction during the summer months for those who choose.

Read more

Northam says vaccine supplies still tight, but upgraded registration system in works

SW Va. reports 28 new COVID-19 cases

Senate OKs fast-track of COVID aid, Harris casts tie-breaker

Health Wagon director to Virginia: Reallocate vaccine supplies to poorer areas

COVID-19 pushes back major Kingsport projects

Does wearing two masks provide more protection?

Thursday, Feb. 4

News updates

🔹 This morning, James H. Quillen VA Medical Center reopened its First-Dose COVID-19 Veteran Vaccination Clinic to veterans over 65 and those with specific high-risk medical conditions. The COVID-19 First-Dose Clinic soon reached capacity and was temporarily suspended. Due to significant veteran interest in the vaccine, a COVID-19 Veteran Vaccination phone line has been established and will be updated daily, Monday through Friday. Veterans can get the latest information by calling 423.926.1171 ext. 8 or by visiting the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center Facebook page.

🔹 East Tennessee State University is providing free drop-in COVID-19 testing at various campus locations for students, faculty and staff two days a week through the end of April. No appointment is necessary and testing locations include Sherrod Library, D.P. Culp Student Center, Governors Hall and Basler Center for Physical Activity (CPA). Free drop-in testing is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Locations, dates and times are subject to change. An up-to-date schedule is available at etsu.edu/covidtesting.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Jan. 30. Statewide, there were 11,497 new claims and 54,280 continued claims.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases down to 10

Ballad's hospitalizations fall to 100; state, region see uptick in new case average

Emory & Henry 'opts out' of wrestling season

Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians to offer online ordering for Girl Scout cookies

Eastman presents virtual Black History Month lecture

Wednesday, Feb. 3

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that a case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Northwest Virginia who recently returned to Virginia after international travel. The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. A preliminary report from experts in the United Kingdom indicates that this variant causes more severe illness than other variants, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. In addition to this case in the Northwest Region, Virginia has now identified three cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the Northern Region, for a total of four cases with the B.1.1.7 variant in the Commonwealth.

🔹 Students in East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing have had the opportunity to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations during their clinical rotations in partnership with Ballad Health. Currently, approximately 30% of the fourth-semester students in the ETSU College of Nursing have served a primary or alternate role rotating through COVID-19 vaccination PODs (point of distribution) at Holston Valley Medical Center and Bristol Regional Medical Center (BRMC).

Read more

Tennessee reports its 10,000th COVID-19 death

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district reports two deaths, 21 new cases

Study finds COVID-19 vaccine may reduce virus transmission

Tuesday, Feb. 2

News updates

🔹 Friends in Need Health Center Inc. will provide free coronavirus (COVID-19) testing to all community members beginning Thursday, Feb. 4. Made possible by grant funding from the Tennessee Department of Health, free, drive-through testing will be available by appointment only, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tests will be conducted in the parking area of Friends In Need offices at 1105 W. Stone Drive, Kingsport. Those in need of testing should call 423-429-5518 to schedule an appointment.

🔹 The drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites at the Carter, Greene, Johnson and Unicoi County health departments are closed today (2/2) due to inclement weather.

Read more

COVID-19: Region's death toll continues to rise, surpasses 900

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases below 15

East Tennessee State offering virtual pharmacy program open house Feb. 23, 27

Monday, Feb. 1

News updates

🔹 Tennessee will begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations to Tennesseans aged 70 and older this week as the state has begun receiving increased allocations of COVID-19 vaccines. Tennesseans aged 70 and up may begin registering for COVID-19 vaccination tomorrow, Feb. 2. Tennesseans can find information on the phases eligible for vaccination in their county and, when eligible, register for vaccination through their county health department at https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/county-vaccine-information/. Due to their independent operations and larger populations, Tennessee’s metropolitan counties may have different instructions, so residents in these areas should check with local authorities about their plans.

🔹 East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy is offering two free virtual Open House events for students interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy: Pre-Pharmacy Virtual Open House, Feb. 23, 4:30-6 p.m. for high school students; and PharmD Virtual Open House, Feb. 27, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for students ready to begin classes in the fall. The events will offer a welcome from Dean Debbie Byrd, an overview of the college’s nationally recognized program, a chance to talk with student pharmacists, admissions information, and details on the many unique careers in pharmacy, including traditional community settings, internal medicine, pediatrics, oncology and more. Register for the free open house events at etsu.edu/pharmacy. Zoom details will be sent to those registered closer to time.

Read more

COVID-19: Region adds 13 deaths, fewest new cases since Nov. 1

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases below 20

Rural broadband availability comes into sharper relief with pandemic

Symphony of the Mountains to create video concert for local hospitals, nursing homes

Sunday, Jan. 31

News updates

🔹 During its next conference call meeting, the Kingsport Diabetes Association will welcome Danielle Puckett and her staff at the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA to discuss a complimentary six-week virtual challenge to reset, restore and refresh our spirit, mind and body in a safe, socially distanced way. The meeting will be held Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. The program is free to all participants. Call toll free 1-978-990-5184 with access code 2693346# to join.

Read more

 

Ten new COVID-19 deaths, 143 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district daily cases stay below 30

Saturday, Jan. 30

Read more

Nine new COVID-19 deaths, 142 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO district cases drop below 30

Governor tours Robinson Middle as KCS plans return to in-person learning

Friday, Jan. 29

News updates

🔹 Kingsport City Schools will be making an operational status change, effective Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. At that time, all KCS face-to-face students will return to in-person instruction at school five days a week. To view a video from Dr. Moorhouse explaining this change, please click here and select "January 29, 2021 - KCS Superintendent Message 2021 - "Operating Status Change for F2F Students."

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: State vaccination coordinator says first increase in federal vaccine supplies expected next week; LENOWISCO daily cases below 40

Mountain 7 cancels district basketball tournaments

Editorial: Return of Appalachian Fair is great news

Nick's Restaurant gets help from Barstool Sports

Eastman weathered COVID-19 storm, global economy slowdown in 2020

Kingsport public schools may move to more in-person instruction

Thursday, Jan. 28

News updates

🔹 LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Health Districts’ residents can now complete an online survey that will place them on a waiting list for COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The survey can be found at LENOWISCO: https://redcap.link/LHDwaitlist and Cumberland Plateau: https://redcap.link/CPwaitlist. Everyone who wants to get a vaccine through a LENOWISCO or Cumberland Plateau Health District clinic should complete this online survey for the district they live in. Completing the survey is not scheduling an appointment or a guarantee of an appointment. Health district staff will use the list generated by this survey to contact eligible individuals to schedule an appointment as vaccines become available.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health is expanding access to COVID-19 vaccination with a particular focus on rural and underserved areas. TDH is partnering with pharmacies and community health clinics to add more than 100 new vaccination sites across the state. Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan remains focused on equity to ensure those with limited access to health care resources will be able to receive vaccinations when they meet eligibility criteria outlined in the plan. Find lists of these new locations at http://bit.ly/3oq6bMT.

🔹 Today, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee released the following statement in coordination with his video announcement: “Tennessee's COVID-19 numbers continue to rapidly improve with almost a 60% decline in cases and nearly a 40% decline in hospitalizations because of the efforts of Tennesseans to wear masks, wash hands and limit gatherings. When case counts were at their highest, we placed temporary, targeted restrictions on indoor school sporting events. The data now reflects rapidly falling numbers and because of that data, we are ending the recent additional restrictions around who can participate in or attend indoor school sporting events. The guidance and rules of local education agencies and the TSSAA remain in place, but Executive Order 74 will be suspended effective Monday, February 1. I encourage Tennesseans to keep up their responsible personal choices as we work towards a COVID-free Tennessee.”

🔹 Virginia is making the process easier for people to be notified of positive COVID-19 test results — and anonymously share those results with others who may have been exposed. Starting on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, VDH will begin sending a series of text messages to people who receive a positive COVID-19 viral test result in Virginia. These texts, which are automatically triggered when VDH receives any positive COVID-19 lab result registered with a valid mobile phone number, will provide rapid notification and encourage anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to stay home and away from other people. The texts will come from 804-336-3915 and will only be sent between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The messaging, which is also available in Spanish, will then provide a link to the new COVIDWISE Verification Code Portal. This online portal allows individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to obtain a self-verification code, which will let them anonymously submit their test result through COVIDWISE, Virginia’s free COVID-19 Exposure Notifications app. These verification codes ensure that only valid positive COVID-19 tests are reported in COVIDWISE.

🔹 This February, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is open to visitors (with health and safety guidelines in place), and asking for a little help from volunteers to welcome guests and for work behind the scenes. Virtual Museum Volunteer Training will take place on Monday, Feb. 1, from 3:30-5 p.m. EST via Zoom. Those interested are urged to check out the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org for more information. To sign up for the session, send an email to volunteercoordinator@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Jan. 23. Statewide, there were 12,050 new claims and 48,996 continued claims.

Read more

Region adds 76 new COVID-19 cases, fewest since Nov. 1

LENOWISCO Health District opens new online COVID-19 vaccination waitlist survey

Virus variant from South Africa detected in US for 1st time

Northam: Tight national COVID-19 vaccine supply driving new state transparency, logistics efforts

Dobyns-Bennett freshman grades suffer during pandemic

Ballad to resume elective surgeries as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to fall

Wednesday, Jan. 27

News updates

🔹 Virginia’s permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules take effect today, after Gov. Northam approved the standard adopted by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board last week. The standards mandate appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across the Commonwealth. The final permanent standard can be found here.

🔹 The Hawkins County Health Departments in Church Hill and Rogersville announce they have vaccine available for people in the age-based criteria of Hawkins County residents 75 years or older. The online portal via https://www.signupgenius.com/go/nerhawkins_prioritylist is the fastest way to register for a COVID-19 vaccination, but anyone who does not have internet access may contact the Northeast Region Vaccine Registration Line at 423-979-4689 for registration assistance. The registration line is available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. eastern time.

🔹 BrightRidge Directors voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to extend a $1.2 million BrightRidge Pandemic Relief Credit to all residential and small commercial power customers. The one-time credit will appear for most customers on February power bills. Residential and small commercial customers can expect estimated savings of 6-9% on their February bills depending on actual usage.

Read more

Companies unlikely to require COVID-19 vaccine, Walmart CEO says

COVID-19: Tennessee sets new monthly death record

COVID-19 in SW Va: LENOWISCO below 30 new cases; 370 new vaccinations

ETSU's men's, women's schedules have changes

CDC: US may reach 514,000 deaths by Feb. 20

Tuesday, Jan. 26

News updates

🔹 The Northeast Region County Health Department COVID-19 testing sites will be offering testing from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. daily beginning Wednesday, Jan. 27, to allow staff members to transition to vaccination events for the designated phase groups in the community. The Northeast Region includes Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins-Church Hill, Hawkins-Rogersville, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties. Self-kit tests will be available for adults on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Standard nasal swab testing will be available on Tuesday and Thursday. Local county health departments will continue to offer COVID-19 testing at no charge for anyone who wishes to be tested.

🔹 Symphony of the Mountains will postpone its February and April orchestra programs until later in the year, but will continue to explore venues for smaller group live and live-streamed concerts until outdoor performances can be offered once again.

Read more

Tennessee reports record number of new COVID-19 deaths; region adds 21

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO sees 23 new cases, four deaths; 316 new vaccinations

Monday, Jan. 25

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Northern Virginia with no reported recent travel history. The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. DCLS confirmed the case using next-generation sequencing that provides a genetic blueprint of the virus that causes COVID-19. DCLS has informed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the case. In the U.S., nearly 200 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been detected in 23 states as of Jan. 22, 2021. While scientists are working to better understand its impact on vaccine efficacy, early data suggests currently authorized vaccines are effective against the new variant. According to the CDC, multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and around the world. The B.1.1.7 variant contains an unusually large number of mutations.

Read more

Northeast Tennessee's COVID-19 numbers continue decline; Ballad reports three-month low in hospitalizations

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases near 40; 264 new vaccinations

ETSU-Chattanooga game postponed

Editorial: Delaying care poses serious risks to patient health

Sunday, Jan. 24

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases drop below 15; 162 new vaccinations

TDH: vaccine available across Northeast Tennessee, eligibility varies

Saturday, Jan. 23

News updates

🔹 The Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO Health Districts will begin vaccinating those ages 65 and older starting Monday, Jan. 25. However, vaccine supply continues to be very limited. The Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO Health Districts each have one percent of the state’s population, and will each receive one percent of the state's available vaccine doses. This allocation includes vaccine for health systems, local health departments, and community partners. It is a substantial reduction in vaccine compared to what has been allocated previously to the health district. Second doses are not part of this allocation, and are shipped separately. Second doses will be available, in time, for everyone who has received a first dose.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has updated the VDH hotline to make the process easier for non-English speaking callers to get COVID-19 information and other community health related information. The ASK-VDH-3 hotline recording includes a greeting in Spanish that helps callers connect with COVID-19 and other public health resources. The VDH call center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Information discussed with representatives is confidential and protected.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO Health District starts vaccinations Monday for persons 65 and older, but supplies tight

Sullivan continues vaccine clinics in Kingsport and Bristol

Grants available to help Kingsport restaurants affected by COVID-19

Survey: 'Regional hunger' to get COVID-19 vaccine exists

Friday, Jan. 22

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health has updated Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan as the state continues to prioritize Tennesseans most at risk of illness and death from COVID-19. Tennessee has added people living in households with medically fragile children to Phase 1c of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. Vaccination of their parents, caregivers and other household residents will help protect these children, as at this time no COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in children under age 16. Phase 1c also includes people age 16 and older who have medical conditions that put them at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. This group is further defined in the updated plan, and occurs earlier in Tennessee’s plan than in federal vaccination recommendations. Tennessee correctional officers and jailers have been added to Phase 1a1 of Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. These Tennesseans work in settings and roles that require frequent direct public exposure through close contact in confined spaces, placing them at high risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Age-based criteria run concurrently to the phases in age brackets beginning with those aged 75 and above.

🔹 Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. McNally, Speaker Sexton and members of the General Assembly closed a historic special session to address learning loss and the negative effects on student proficiency in reading and math marked by time away from the classroom due to COVID-19. In addition to interventions for Tennessee students, the passed legislation increases the salary component of the education funding formula by 4%. Gov. Lee’s slate of education priorities included learning loss, phonics-based reading instruction and accountability measures to inform student progress.

Read more

Tennessee tops 700,000 COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 in SWVA: State vaccination coordinator says federal vaccine allocations below demand

Thursday, Jan. 21

News updates

🔹 Due to changes in policy related to allocation and distribution of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines by the Tennessee Department of Health, Ballad Health is winding down its Tennessee-based community vaccination centers (CVCs) in Kingsport and Bristol. The CVCs in Kingsport and Bristol will cease giving first doses of the vaccine on Saturday, Jan. 23, while its center in Johnson City will provide its final first dose on Friday, Jan. 22. All three Tennessee centers will still provide second-dose vaccines to everyone who received their first shot. After the second-dose administration is complete, the Kingsport and Bristol CVCs will cease operation. The future of the Johnson City CVC will be evaluated, pending future first-dose vaccine allocations from the Tennessee Department of Health. The Virginia-based community vaccination centers, located in Abingdon and Norton, will continue operations as normal, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health and the Mount Rogers, Cumberland Plateau and Lenowisco Health Districts.

🔹 Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and colleagues have identified genetic factors that increase the risk for developing pneumonia and its severe, life-threatening consequences. Their findings, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, may aid efforts to identify patients with COVID-19 at greatest risk for pneumonia, and enable earlier interventions to prevent severe illness and death. Despite the increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines, it will take months to inoculate enough people to bring the pandemic under control, experts predict. In the meantime, thousands of Americans are hospitalized and die from COVID-19 each day.

🔹 The latest Vanderbilt Child Health Poll release found that many Tennessee parents are worried about the mental health of their children during the COVID-19 pandemic, and over 80% of parents had concerns about their children attending school remotely. The Poll also revealed that schooling practices and mental health concerns have varied widely among Tennessee families of different racial and economic groups. More than half (52%) of parents were worried about their child’s lack of social interaction with peers of the same age when school is held remotely. Nearly half (48%) are concerned about the lack of one-on-one attention from their child’s teacher. The most recent poll of more than 1,000 Tennessee parents was conducted in fall 2020. 

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Jan. 16. Statewide, there were 18,237 new claims and 49,270 continued claims.

🔹 Virginia Department of Corrections inmates who get their COVID-19 vaccine will receive free email stamps and telephone credits as well as a care package filled with commissary items, including snacks. The Department began Phase 1a vaccinations, covering medical staff, about two weeks ago. Last week, VADOC began Phase 1b vaccinations, which involves a system-wide effort to vaccinate as many staff and inmates as possible. As of Friday, January 15, 1,177 staff and 648 inmates had received vaccinations. Vaccination numbers for staff and inmates will be updated on the VADOC website every Friday. For those inmates choosing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, which includes two doses approximately 28 days apart, VADOC will begin distributing incentive packs in early March.

Read more

Biden signs burst of virus orders, requires masks for travel

Can COVID-19 vaccines be mixed and matched?

On Day One, Biden targets Trump policies on climate, virus

Wednesday, Jan. 20

Read more

No vaccine at Bristol Dragway Thursday, Kingsport clinic is for second dose Moderna only

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases near 60

Almost 12% of Kingsport, Sullivan students remain all virtual

Wadlow Gap Ruritan donates snack bags to Holston Valley COVID-19 unit

Lee pitches plan to help education get past COVID-19

Tuesday, Jan. 19

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has launched a COVID-19 Outbreaks in Virginia Higher Education dashboard. This dashboard includes confirmed outbreaks reported to VDH among public and private colleges and universities since August 1, 2020. This dashboard helps to provide awareness of the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in colleges and universities statewide. Only distinct confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks investigated by VDH local health departments, and the associated cases and deaths related to an outbreak are included. A confirmed COVID-19 outbreak means that there were two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with a particular setting.

🔹 The Small Business Association in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently announced the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for new borrowers and certain existing PPP bowers. On Thursday, Jan. 21, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) at East Tennessee State University will hold a free webinar from 4-5 p.m. providing an overview of the re-launch. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. Webinar presenters are Aundrea Wilcox, director of the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship (KOSBE) and TSBDC senior business counselor, and Mark Bays, director of the TSBDC at ETSU. To register, visit tsbdc.org/etsu. For more information, email mbays@tsbdc.org or call 423-392-8825.

🔹 The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously extended its Declaration of Judicial Emergency through Feb. 14 in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Accordingly, the Period of Judicial Emergency now extends from March 16, 2020, through Feb. 14, 2021. The Declaration of Judicial Emergency may be extended for additional periods.

Read more

Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine beginning

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases drop below 10

Tennessee governor faces criticism for approach to virus

'Virtual' parade in Kingsport honors Dr. King

Sullivan, Kingsport public schools return to in-person learning Tuesday

Monday, Jan. 18

Read more

No new COVID-19 deaths, 119 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases above 20

Demolitions continue in Kingsport despite pandemic

Sunday, Jan. 17

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases spike to 90

Sullivan expands vaccine eligibility to age 70 and over beginning Tuesday at Bristol

Virginia General Assembly to tackle marijuana, COVID-19, ex-convicts’ rights

Saturday, Jan. 16

Read more

Virginia health officials say COVID-19 vaccine limited until March or April

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases near 30

Two new COVID-19 deaths, 253 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Tennessee extends order for no jury trials or in-person court proceedings through March 31

UVA Wise to host virtual Martin Luther King Jr. program Monday

MLK Day events in Kingsport to be virtual, drive-thru

Friday, Jan. 15

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee’s Unified Command Group have added new features to the COVID19.tn.gov website to make it easier for users to find county-specific information and request an appointment for COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID19.tn.gov website provides a simple tool for Tennesseans to find their phase in Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. Updates to this tool make it easier for eligible users to request a vaccination appointment with their county health department. Find the tool at https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/eligibility/.

🔹 The Northeast Tennessee public health region serving Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties will be closed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 18. All county health departments, as well as the Regional COVID-19 Vaccination Registration Line, will be closed. Individuals in the community who are within Phase 1a, 1b or who are age 75+ and have not yet registered for their COVID-19 vaccine can still register online at https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/ throughout the holiday. TDH employees will be making case notification calls on Monday, Jan. 18. Local health departments within the Northeast Tennessee public health region will be open on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

🔹 Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems (SVCHS) will begin vaccinating community members who are 75 and older for COVID-19 next week on a first-come, first-served basis (limited doses) by appointment only. The vaccine will not be given to those who have tested positive within the last 90 days or are currently in quarantine. The vaccine will be given out on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 at Twin City Medical Center, 2195 Euclid Ave., Suite 6 Bristol, VA and Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 at Meadowview Health Clinic, 13168 Meadowview Square, Meadowview, VA. Updates will be posted on its Facebook page, Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems, Inc., and website, www.svchs.com, as more doses become available. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

Read more

Eight more COVID-19 deaths, 405 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SW VA: LENOWISCO tallies 53 more cases

'This is not a game': Global virus death toll hits 2 million

Governor, Department of Education encourage Virginia public schools to plan for reopening

Vaccination for priority groups in Virginia now includes ages 65 and older

Hawkins students back in school Jan. 25, RCS reopening classrooms beginning Feb. 1

Thursday, Jan. 14

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today that it has expanded its partnership with Walgreens to provide Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing at selected Walgreens locations across the Commonwealth. This arrangement increases the number of Walgreens locations that will operate drive-thru COVID-19 testing at no cost to the public from four to fifteen stores. COVID-19 testing will be available by appointment to adults and children age 3 and older who meet screening criteria to receive a test. Appointments can be made by following the steps at Walgreens.com/COVID19Testing.

🔹 Today, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced special session legislation addressing K-12 student learning loss and the adverse effects on Tennessee students’ proficiency in reading and math after extended time away from the classroom due to COVID-19. In addition to learning loss interventions and accountability hold harmless measures, Gov. Lee will propose adding funding for teacher salaries.

🔹 The Northeast Region County Health Departments are now booking appointments for individuals in Phases 1a1, 1a2, and 1b of the Tennessee COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and those aged 75 and up who wish to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Residents of Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington Counties can find out if they’re eligible for these phase(s) of the vaccination plan by visiting https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/eligibility/. Those in Phases 1a1, 1a2, and 1b and those aged 75 and over who wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccination may register online at https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/ for an appointment. Click your county on the map and then click “Make an Appointment” to register. Users will be asked to enter their name and contact information to be notified of their appointment date, time and location. If you have already registered for the vaccine by calling your local health department or through the Eventbrite registration system, there is no need to re-register.  Please do not repeat the registration process utilizing the online registration platform.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Jan. 9. Statewide, there were 21,954 new claims and 58,945 continued claims.

Read more

Nine new COVID-19 deaths, 236 new cases in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases over 50, six new deaths

Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I've had the virus?

Vaccine registration open for phases 1a1, 1a2, 1b, ages 75 and older in Northeast Public Health Region

COVID vaccinations continue in Hawkins by appointment only

Lee County Schools delay in-person classes another week

Wednesday, Jan. 13

Read more

Sullivan continues vaccine clinics in Bristol, Kingsport

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases pass 70

RCS director not yet ready to OK student return to the classroom next week

Kingsport public schools switching up hybrid days

Photo gallery: Vaccinations underway at the Civic Auditorium

Technology, vaccines among COVID-19 discussion at Wise County School Board

Tuesday, Jan. 12

News updates

🔹 East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy has assisted in recent weeks giving the region’s first COVID-19 vaccines at hospitals across the region in collaboration with Ballad Health and ETSU Health. The events marked a historic moment for a region that has battled the pandemic since March and continues to set new records for COVID-19 case counts. Over 50 ETSU student pharmacists and faculty have served more than 300 hours so far, distributing over 6,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at locations including Johnson City Medical Center, Holston Valley Medical Center, Bristol Regional Medical Center, and Johnston Memorial Hospital, in Abingdon, Virginia.

🔹 Tennessee is making great progress in rapidly vaccinating those at highest-risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. Within four weeks of Tennessee receiving its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, more than 221,000 people in the state have received vaccinations, and the Tennessee Department of Health is distributing COVID-19 vaccinations as rapidly as supplies are received from the federal government. Tennessee is one of the most successful states in the U.S. at quickly administering vaccine, having administered more than 50 percent of the vaccines received by the state. Tennesseans can learn what phase they will be in for receiving vaccine at https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/.

Read more

Sullivan vaccine clinic at Bristol on hold until Thursday

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases reach 60

Gas prices rising to pre-pandemic levels despite plummeting demand

Monday, Jan. 11

News updates

🔹 Tennessee county health departments are now booking appointments for people in Phase 1 populations of the Tennessee COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and those aged 75 and up who wish to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Tennesseans can follow a simple, three-step process to learn when they’re eligible for vaccination and register for a vaccination appointment: 1. Find your phase -- Tennesseans can find out what phase of the vaccination plan they’re in by visiting https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/eligibility/. 2. Find the phase your county is vaccinating. -- To learn what phase your county is vaccinating, visit https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/. 3. Register for a vaccination appointment. -- People who are in a phase currently being vaccinated in their county can register online at https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/ for an appointment time to receive a vaccination through their county health department.

🔹 In order to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to local residents who are 75 years of age and older, the Virginia Department of Health’s local health districts will conduct vaccination sites at large community facilities, beginning Jan. 13, 2021. These clinic locations are centrally located across the health districts, and will replace the schedule of clinics previously announced at local health departments. Appointments will be required. Individuals must call to register in advance and must qualify to receive vaccine under the approved phases -- currently Phase 1a or 1b -- as defined at www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine

Read more

Three new COVID-19 deaths, 205 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases drop below 25

If I've already had the coronavirus, can I get it again?

D-B basketball pauses team activities

Records set at Tennessee State Parks in 2020 amid pandemic

Sunday, Jan. 10

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has been working throughout the weekend with its system vendor to implement the federal unemployment program extensions outlined in H.R. 133. Claimants who exhausted their federal pandemic unemployment benefits prior to Dec. 26, 2020, should have new benefit balances added to their PUA and PEUC claims. If the claimant exhausted benefits on, or prior to December 26, they can attempt to complete a certification. If the claimant is unable to certify and the system prompts them to file a claim, they should proceed and complete the refiling process. Claimants can go back and certify for missed weeks. They are required to provide work searches for each of the weeks they certify to receive unemployment benefits.

Read more

Sullivan vaccine clinics scheduled all week

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases near 60

Trustee suggests safe alternatives for paying your Hawkins County property taxes

Sullivan, Kingsport schools still plan return to in-person learning Jan. 19

Saturday, Jan. 9

Read more

Five new COVID-19 deaths, 374 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases pass 150

Fauci: Trust the science and get your COVID-19 vaccine

Local school officials explain snow days policy for virtual school

Friday, Jan. 8

News updates

🔹 The LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Health Districts continue to conduct closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics throughout January, and will begin to vaccinate the first subgroups of Phase 1B essential workers priority groups. The first 1B subgroups to be vaccinated over the next two weeks will include law enforcement, firefighters and hazmat workers, corrections and homeless shelter workers, K-12 school employees and childcare providers. The districts will work closely with employers to plan and provide COVID-19 vaccine for employees in the Phase 1B subgroups. These individuals will be required to bring a personal form of identification such as a driver’s license, as well as a work I.D., in order to verify eligibility.

🔹 In line with Gov. Northam’s directive this week to increase flexibility and speed up vaccine distribution in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced the select health districts that will begin Phase 1b vaccinations the week of Jan. 11. This information will also be available on the VDH COVID-19 Vaccine webpage. To determine your local health department and to check your health district’s website for additional information, visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts/.

🔹 COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care in the early months of the pandemic were subject to a significantly higher burden of delirium and coma than is typically found in patients with acute respiratory failure. Choice of sedative medications and curbs on family visitation played a role in increasing acute brain dysfunction for these patients. That’s according to an international study published Jan. 8 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, led by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in coordination with researchers in Spain. The study, which is far the largest of its kind to date, tracks the incidence of delirium and coma in 2,088 COVID-19 patients admitted before April 28, 2020, to 69 adult intensive care units across 14 countries.

🔹 The Sullivan County Regional Health Department will be vaccinating today, Jan. 8, at Bristol Motor Speedway Dragway beginning at 9 am. Health department workers will be vaccinating Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. until further notice. No appointments are required. These vaccinations are for Phase 1a1 and Phase 1a2 individuals, as well as those who are 75 and older. Those in Phase 1a1 or Phase 1a2 should bring their work ID; those who are 75 and older bring their driver’s license to assist with vaccine paperwork.

🔹 In a letter published in the December issue of the American Heart Association’s medical journal Circulation a group of researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) dispute the most recent findings of the incidence of myocarditis in athletes with a history of COVID-19. The Vanderbilt study, COVID-19 Myocardial Pathology Evaluation in AthleTEs with Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (COMPETE CMR), found a much lower degree of myocarditis in athletes than what was previously reported in other studies. 

Read more

Vaccinations for Group 1B SW Va. residents to begin Monday

Nine new COVID-19 deaths, 557 new cases reported in NET

COVID-19 in SWVA: Second group of priority vaccinations start Monday; LENOWISCO daily cases top 100

Editorial: Recovered from COVID? Please donate plasma

Demand continues to outpace supply for COVID-19 vaccine in Sullivan County

Thursday, Jan. 7

News updates

🔹 The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia will premiere a free Virtual Speaker Series this month, and the first installment of the series will feature Paula Johnson, Food History Curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (NMAH) on Tuesday, January 12 at 7:00 p.m. EST. Dr. Rene Rodgers, Head Curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, will facilitate the online discussion, and the public is invited to attend. For more information and to register, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Jan. 2. Statewide, there were 10,554 new claims, along with 51,816 continued claims.

Read more

Six new COVID-19 deaths, 470 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases near 70

Lee County Schools delay system-wide return to in-person classes

Wednesday, Jan. 6

News updates

🔹 All Kingsport City Schools will remain with virtual instruction through Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. KCS will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, Jan. 19. All Pre-K-fifth grade students will return to in-person learning at school. Sixth-12th grade students will return to in-person learning utilizing a hybrid schedule.

🔹 Historic Bristol Dragway will serve as one of the Sullivan County COVID-19 vaccination locations for the next two months it was announced today by officials from the track and Sullivan County Health Department. Vaccinations for Phase 1a1 and 1a2, for individuals who are 75 years of age and older, will be distributed at the Dragway starting Thursday, Jan. 7, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The daily schedule is subject to change pending vaccine availability; please check the Sullivan County Regional Health Department website www.sullivanhealth.org for the latest information. No appointments are required. The vaccinations will be given via a drive-thru system.

🔹 The University of Tennessee system announced updated plans for in-person learning for the spring semester at campuses across the state today. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville will continue with plans to start on Jan. 20 with a mix of in-person, online and hybrid classes. Dorm move-in will begin on Jan. 16. The campus will conduct weekly sentinel testing, and begin the semester with restrictions to maintain social distancing in and out of the classroom for the safety of the campus community. Visit https://www.utk.edu/coronavirus/ for details. Classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will begin on Jan. 19; however, the campus will delay the start of most in-person classes until Feb. 1. Dorm move-in will begin Jan. 14. Each campus will be sending out specific communications to their faculty, students and staff regarding the impact to its respective campuses.

Read more

16 new COVID-19 deaths, 494 new cases in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases reach 65

“Use it or lose it”: Northam tells Virginia hospitals, health care providers to start giving COVID-19 vaccinations

Tennessee announces COVID-19 vaccine eligibility tool

What is Region AHEAD's next move to fight COVID-19?

Sullivan vaccine clinics: drive-through at Bristol; inside by appointment in Kingsport

Tuesday, Jan. 5

News updates

🔹 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced a new digital tool to help inform Tennesseans when they will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The eligibility tool allows users to opt-in to receive updates and notifications about their vaccine phase and provides risk-based and age-based phase information at the county level. Vaccine phases and the current estimated vaccine timeline can be found here. The eligibility tool and COVID-19 information can be accessed at https://covid19.tn.gov/.

Read more

COVID-19 vaccine coming to Bristol and Kingsport for 1a1, 1a2, over age 75

12 new COVID-19 deaths, 384 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases reach 75

Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus variant?

Gas prices hold steady after decrease in holiday travel

Former Kingsport vice-mayor Richard Watterson passes away

Monday, Jan. 4

News updates

🔹 Tennessee continues efforts to administer COVID-19 vaccinations as described in the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. Tennessee county health department staff members administered more than 25,000 COVID-19 vaccinations during the New Year weekend, and more than 157,000 total vaccinations have been administered statewide to date. COVID-19 vaccine supplies remain limited at this time, and availability of vaccines varies by county. Tennessee is currently working to vaccinate Phase 1a populations and individuals aged 75 and up as vaccine supplies are available. To learn what phase your county is in, visit https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) has started paying unemployment benefits that are part of the CARES Act Extension HR 133 which President Donald Trump signed into law one week ago. Monday, Jan. 4, TDLWD began issuing FPUC payments to eligible claimants. FPUC provides an additional $300 to a claimant’s weekly benefit payment from another unemployment program. FPUC can provide up to 11 weeks of benefits between Dec. 27, 2020, and March 13, 2021. Claimants should see the new benefit in this week’s payment.

🔹 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food for nationwide distribution through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. In total, USDA has distributed more than 132 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

🔹 The town of Gate City has been awarded COVID-19 Municipal Utility Relief Program funding provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) via the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. This funding will support municipal utility relief efforts during the pandemic and will directly assist customers that have fallen behind on their water and sewer bills as a result of an economic hardship due to COVID-19. This program has been extended and the new due date for applications must be completed and turned in by Feb. 19, 2021. Applications are available online at MyGateCity.com or at the Gate City Town Hall. For more information on the COVID-19 Municipal Utility Relief Program, call 276-386-3831.

Read more

Demand outpaces supply in Sullivan for COVID-19 vaccine

20 new COVID-19 deaths, 265 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO daily cases near 50

Gate City's Municipal Utility Relief Program extended

Northeast students complete workforce training with COVID-19 grant

Sunday, Jan. 3

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: over 50 cases in LENOWISCO

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases pass 460

Teen volunteers deliver food to frontline workers

A breakdown of Kingsport's COVID-19 relief funding

Saturday, Jan. 2

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) has new information regarding weekly certifications for claimants receiving federal pandemic unemployment benefits impacted by the CARES Act Extension H.R. 133. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claimants with a remaining benefit balance, or who have exhausted their benefits, but certified for the week ending Dec. 26, can start certifying Sunday for the week ending Jan. 2. If a claimant is unable to certify, they should not try to refile their claim. TDLWD will provide further instructions on when they should refile their claim after the Department receives final federal guidance on the implementation of the CARES Act Extension H.R. 133.

Read more

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases average over 500 for Friday-Saturday

COVID-19 in SWVA: over 100 cases in LENOWISCO

Scott schools set for a week of virtual learning

Sullivan school board meetings to go virtual, in part

Friday, Jan. 1

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region nears 5,000 cases in 2020

COVID-19 trial participants who got placebo to get real vaccine

COVID-19 year in pictures

Thursday, Dec. 31

News updates

🔹 All seven rural county health departments in the Northeast Region will begin registering residents age 75 and above on Jan. 2, 2021, to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as supplies become available. Northeast Region county health departments will take calls between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2, to register individuals aged 75 and up to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Those wishing to receive a COVID-19 vaccination should call their local health department to register. Callers will be asked to provide their name, date of birth and a phone number to be notified of the appointment date and time. Some locations will begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Jan. 2 for those who register that day. Vaccinations will also be offered on future dates as vaccine supplies allow. Tennessee counties may progress through COVID-19 vaccination phases at different times, depending on supply of COVID-19 vaccines and demand for them. To learn what phase your county is in, visit www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/CountyPhaseStatus.pdf.

🔹 On Monday, Jan. 4, COVID-19 testing will be offered between 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. five days a week at no charge to those wishing to be tested at TDH locations in Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties. TDH testing sites employ self-testing kits for adults Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and drive through testing on Tuesday and Thursday. These updated hours allow staff members to transition to COVID-19 vaccination priority populations. Find testing hours and contact information for TDH health department testing sites online at https://covid19.tn.gov/testing-sites/.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 26. Statewide, there were 10,198 new claims and 45,226 continued claims.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Daily cases near 100

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases near 350

Medical admissions to resume at Hawkins County Memorial Hospital

Ballad issues renewed call for blood plasma as demand outstrips supply

COVID-19 vaccines available for residents 75 and older

Tenn. teachers, other education workers to get COVID-19 vaccine sooner

Kingsport Public Library to continue curbside service only; Senior Center extends closure

Wednesday, Dec. 30

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health has updated the Tennessee COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and its phased approach to administering COVID-19 vaccines to Tennesseans. Tennessee’s updated plan includes three allocation phases, based on risk and informed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine. Tennessee is now in Phase 1a, which is subdivided into two phases: Phase 1a1 for in-patient health care providers, first responders with direct exposure to the public and staff members and residents of long-term care facilities, and Phase 1a2 for those primarily working in outpatient health care settings. Later Phase 1 groups consist of Phase 1b, which includes teachers and staff members of child care centers and kindergarten through 12th grade schools and other first responders not covered under Phase 1a1; and Phase 1c, which includes people aged 16 or older who have high-risk health conditions.

🔹 The city of Kingsport has extended the closure of the Kingsport Public Library building through January. Materials will be available for curbside pickup and staff are available to answer questions. The status of the building closure will be evaluated at the end of the month. Watch kingsportlibrary.org and the library’s social media channels for updates.

🔹 Due to the locally rising case numbers of COVID-19, and in its best effort to prevent further spread of the virus, the United Way of Greater Kingsport offices will be closed to the public through Monday, Jan. 18. During this time, staff will be working remotely and can be reached by phone or email. Please mask up to prevent community spread.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Daily cases fall below 50

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases near 800

Sullivan mask order extended

Teachers move up in Tennessee vaccination rollout plan

China clamps down in hidden hunt for coronavirus origins

Trump's $2,000 checks all but dead as GOP Senate refuses aid

No travel history in 1st reported US case of virus variant

Editorial: Don't let down your guard against COVID

COVID-19 vaccine trial members: Immune responses vary from none to flu-like

Many local participants in Pfizer COVID-19 trial still double blinded

William King Museum of Art to close in January, reopen Feb. 1

Tuesday, Dec. 29

News updates

🔹 The city of Kingsport has extended the closure of the Kingsport Senior Center facility, including all branch sites, until further notice. For updates about the Kingsport Senior Center, visit seniors.kingsporttn.gov or follow along on the Kingsport Senior Center Facebook page.

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today allocated an additional $20 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund to meet demand for the program and fulfill pending grant applications. This new funding will bring the program total to $120 million and will enable more than 300 small business and nonprofit organizations that applied before the last round of funding was exhausted in early December to receive grants. Eligible applicants that are still in the pipeline have been notified via email that their applications have been re-opened. For additional information on Rebuild VA, visit governor.virginia.gov/RebuildVA.

🔹 The Tusculum University athletic department has announced that fans will not be permitted at home sporting events held on the Greeneville campus until Jan. 19, 2021. This announcement is made in accordance with the Tennessee governor’s executive order issued on Dec. 20, 2020, limiting attendance at indoor events to 10 persons. No fans will be allowed for Tusculum’s home basketball doubleheaders against Carson-Newman (Jan. 6), Mars Hill (Jan. 13) and Coker (Jan. 16). Tusculum will provide live video and live stats of all home basketball games. The Pioneer Sports Network will also have the radio call of all TU basketball games online as well as on WSMG (95.5 FM & 1450 AM).

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Daily cases near 60

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases reach 394

Rogersville, Hawkins schools anticipate holiday spike in COVID cases

House approves Trump's $2K checks, sending to GOP-led Senate

SoCon notes: Limited number of fans allowed back in Freedom Hall

Monday, Dec. 28

News updates

🔹 Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a steady rise in cases in the area, the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency will not be able to have its January Commodity distribution. Neighbors in need of emergency food assistance may contact their local Neighborhood Service Center.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO Health District reports 40% of state’s daily death toll

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases reach 215

Can I stop wearing a mask after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Appalachian Sustainable Development packs more than 1,000 food boxes for needy families

Sunday, Dec. 27

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases top 70

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases reach 228

Saturday, Dec. 26

Read more

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases reach 451

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases near 50

Friday, Dec. 25

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases near 70

Ballad hopeful community will stay home for Christmas as state's top health official warns of holiday surge

Thursday, Dec. 24

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 19. Statewide, there were 7,411 new claims, along with 43,482 continued claims.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases near 100

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases below 300

Editorial: COVID-19 vaccines should not be held back

Wednesday, Dec. 23

News updates

🔹 The LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Health Districts began conducting closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics today specifically for “Phase 1a” priority groups. These are the first who are eligible to receive the vaccine, and include health system personnel with direct contact or a high risk of contact with COVID-positive patients. Phase 1a includes emergency medical services, front-facing staff in primary care medical offices, dentists’ offices and others who provide direct health services in various settings. Additional PODs for Phase 1a are scheduled on Dec. 26 and Dec. 28 through 31. These PODs are specifically for Phase 1a; COVID-19 vaccine is not available to the general public and these are not public events. Phase 1a also includes long-term care residents and staff that are being vaccinated through a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreen’s.

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam are inviting Virginians to experience the holiday decorations at the Executive Mansion virtually this year. In a new video released today, the First Lady and floral designer David Pippin take viewers on a virtual tour of the residence as it is decorated for the holiday season.

🔹 Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) added COVID-19 vaccine data to the COVID-19 Daily Dashboard on two new tabs, Vaccine Summary and Vaccine Demographics.  This new information will keep the public informed about the numbers of COVID-19 vaccines distributed and administered in Virginia. It will be updated daily. For more information about COVID-19 vaccination in Virginia, visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine.

🔹 Each of Tennessee’s 95 counties experienced decreased unemployment in November 2020, according to new data released Thursday by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD). Unemployment rates in 41 counties are now less than 5%. Fifty-four counties recorded rates of 5% or higher during the month. A complete analysis of November’s unemployment data for each county, including labor force estimates for areas across the state, is available here.

🔹 The Hawkins County Health Departments in Church Hill and Rogersville today announced it has received its first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Health Department staff members will administer the Moderna vaccine to first responders, home health care providers, student health care providers and group homes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in partnership with these organizations and local community emergency management agencies.

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced two allocations of Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grants, totaling more than $6 million. The first allocation will support two statewide projects and six regional projects. The second allocation was awarded to three projects through the Economic Resilience and Recovery Program that was created by the GO Virginia Board in April to quickly deploy resources that will help communities mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases spike over 500

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases top 50 with one death

Tennessee expects to receive 90K COVID-19 vaccines a week

Tennessee stops most in-person court hearings until Jan. 29

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to hold drive-thru Christmas dinner

COVID-19 exposure closes Appalachia Dollar General temporarily

Tuesday, Dec. 22

News updates

🔹 The newest approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is being delivered to health districts and health care facilities across the Commonwealth of Virginia this week. Both the previously approved Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccines are being distributed to 96 sites this week at geographically diverse locations. In anticipation of the Moderna vaccine’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Virginia had placed an order for about 140,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine last week, and it is expected to all be delivered by tomorrow, December 23.  Additionally, Virginia was allocated about 50,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine this week. Based on planning estimates provided by Operation Warp Speed, Virginia is planning for a weekly allocation of a total of 100,000 doses of vaccine (about 50,000 doses of each type of vaccine) for the next few weeks. The actual amount of vaccine received in Virginia is a moving target and is dependent on when and how quickly vaccination doses are manufactured.

🔹 James H. Quillen VA Medical Center will begin COVID-19 vaccination with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine today following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization for this vaccine. Even after receiving COVID-19 vaccination, employees and Veterans should continue wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing and washing hands often. Veterans can get up-to-date information on VA’s VA COVID-19 vaccine webpage, which launched on Dec. 11, 2020, and sign up to receive regular updates on the vaccine on the VA’s Stay Informed page.

🔹 The Bristol community will have numerous opportunities to come together to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A virtual gathering will be streamed live on Monday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. featuring prayer, readings, music and inspiration from community and faith leaders. In early January, YWCA Northeast TN and Southwest VA will post a regional calendar of events on its website, ywcatnva.org, which will be updated regularly. 

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced temporary changes to the Commonwealth’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) program that will support Virginia workers and businesses whose livelihoods have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Executive Order Seventy-Four requires the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) to mitigate a potential rise in the UI experience rating tax for businesses by holding them harmless for lay-offs that occurred during the pandemic. The temporary change will protect Virginia businesses from having to pay an additional $200 million to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The governor is also directing the VEC to begin automatically distributing UI benefits to unemployed Virginians who have been held in the agency’s determination process.

Read more

25 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases under 50, but five deaths

Hawkins schools will remain mostly virtual until Jan. 19

Monday, Dec. 21

News updates

🔹 In fall 2020, 9% of Tennessee children were uninsured, more than twice the level at the same time in 2019, according to a new poll conducted by the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy. Just 4% of children were uninsured in fall 2019, the poll found. The sharp increase is mostly due to record unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between the fall of 2019 and 2020, the number of children with private insurance decreased from 56% to 47%, while the number of children covered by TennCare or CoverKids increased from 43% to 46%.

Read more

No new COVID-19 deaths, 549 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths reported in Far Southwest Virginia

Congress' rescue aid: A dose of support, but is it enough?

Sunday, Dec. 20

News updates

🔹 Following Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s address to the people of Tennessee, Ballad Health issued a statement applauding the governor for communicating the gravity of the situation for Tennessee families and for taking steps that have been shown to help mitigate the spread of what is a deadly and harmful virus. "The people of the Appalachian Highlands are lovers of liberty, and they are fiercely committed to principles of individual rights. With those blessings also come responsibilities. Our nurses and doctors roll up their sleeves each day, fighting for the lives of their patients suffering from this disease. And these brave, courageous heroes call on our friends and neighbors to continue to stand by our side as we all take responsibility for the lives and well-being of our neighbors and friends," the end of the statement reads. On Friday, Dec. 18, Ballad Health recorded its highest-yet number of COVID-19 hospital inpatients, at 328, and on Sunday, Dec. 20, it saw its highest seven-day count of total deaths, with 114 patients losing their lives to the virus in the past week.

🔹 In remarks delivered Sunday evening, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced that he is signing an order that will limit indoor public gatherings to 10 people. He also asked business owners to let employees work from home for the next 30 days. He said Tennesseans have two weapons that they must use in the next 30 days: only gather with your household and wear a mask.

Read more

Tennessee governor limits gatherings

Congress seals agreement on $900 billion COVID relief bill

One new COVID-19 death in Scott, new cases top 90 for Southwest Va.

Four new COVID-19 deaths, 1,265 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee over two days

Dobyns-Bennett bands present virtual 'Christmas Spectacular'

As Sullivan numbers rise, mayor considers additional public health guidelines in new year

Saturday, Dec. 19

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health COVID-19 testing sites across the state will begin offering self-testing kits to adults three days a week Dec. 21, to allow staff members to transition to vaccination of frontline health care providers and first responders. Local county health departments will continue to offer COVID-19 testing five days a week at no charge for anyone who wishes to be tested. The new COVID-19 self-tests will be offered to adults on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning Dec. 21. On these days, public health staff members at each TDH COVID-19 testing site will provide self-testing kits to adults who wish to be tested. Individuals will remain in their vehicles while completing paperwork and collecting their samples. Health departments will submit the samples for testing.

🔹 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee released the following statement: “Maria began exhibiting mild symptoms of COVID-19 and it was confirmed this afternoon that she has tested positive. I am feeling well with no symptoms and have tested negative for COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, I will be quarantining at the Governor’s Residence and still plan to address Tennesseans about the COVID-19 surge tomorrow at 7 p.m. CDT.” – Gov. Lee. Gov. Lee will deliver a statewide address to Tennesseans regarding the COVID-19 surge on Sunday, December 20 at 7:00 p.m. CDT. Gov. Lee’s remarks will be broadcast on Facebook and YouTube

Read more

79 new COVID-19 cases reported in far Southwest Virginia

No daily COVID-19 report Saturday from Tennessee Department of Health

Private Wreaths Across America ceremony held at Mountain Home

Kingsport public school nurse from Roosevelt Elementary receives COVID-19 vaccine, first nurse to do so in KCS

Friday, Dec. 18

News updates

🔹 The Supreme Court of Virginia extended its declaration of judicial emergency through Jan. 24, 2021. The declaration may be extended for additional periods.

🔹 Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a COVID-19 outbreak dashboard in response to the requirements of HB5048 of the 2020 Virginia General Assembly Special Session. The dashboard includes outbreaks that occurred in medical care facilities, residential or day programs licensed by VDH, Department of Social Services (DSS) or Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), summer camps, and kindergarten (K)-12th grade schools.  Currently, outbreaks in long-term care facilities and K-12 schools are displayed in separate public dashboards by VDH. As of December 18, 2020, they will be incorporated into this dashboard. The dashboard will be available on the VDH website at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-insights/.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health will provide data on COVID-19 vaccines administered in the state via a new dashboard to be provided online at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/covid-19-vaccine-information.html. This dashboard will launch Dec. 18 and will be updated each Tuesday and Friday. Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Reporting dashboard will include data on total vaccinations reported, vaccinations reported in the last day and within the last week. The dashboard will also display the percentage of each county’s population that has been vaccinated. The first reports shared via this dashboard will reflect Tennesseans who have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Future versions will also provide data on Tennesseans who have been fully vaccinated with both their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) was informed late yesterday by Operation Warp Speed that, like other states, Virginia’s estimated allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses will be less than initially planned for the next few weeks. Virginia is now planning to receive 370,650 doses of vaccine in December 2020 from two manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna. This is down from the previously expected 480,000 doses. 

🔹 Due to the spread of the pandemic, Allandale has elected to adjust Christmas plans to ensure a safe holiday for all. Allandale, along with Friends of Allandale and a collection of sponsors, will be offering a free Allandale campus drive-thru tour this year. The drive-thru tour will take visitors through the 25-acre Allandale campus, fully decorated and decked out in Christmas cheer. As you go through the drive-thru, you will see lighting on the mansion, barns, and in the garden, as well as various standalone lawn decorations. The drive-thru tour will run nightly from dusk to 11 p.m.  Visitors should enter through the main mansion entrance, dim car lights, drive behind the mansion, by the barns and ponds, and finally exit past the barn. For their safety, all visitors will be asked to remain in their cars.

Read more

67 more COVID-19 cases, no new deaths reported in Southwest Virginia

18 new COVID-19 deaths, 662 additional cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Mount Carmel OKs sweet treats for Saturday's Santa Run

Kingsport school officials: Expected surge in COVID-19 cases drove virtual decision

Thursday, Dec. 17

News updates

🔹 The Health Wagon recently hosted the first Post COVID-19 Clinic in the Central Appalachian region. The service area of the Health Wagon is ensnared in a race to save individuals from the deadly effects of COVID-19, in a three-prong approach: mass testing, treatment of those that test positive, and management of lingering and life-threatening symptoms after surviving the deadly disease through this innovative and specialized clinic. For more information about being a patient in the clinic or for more information on how you can help, contact the Health Wagon at 276-328-8850.

🔹 In this year’s economic report to the governor, researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture detail the extent of COVID-19 impacts on Tennessee’s agricultural sectors; examine the struggle of thousands of Tennesseans to feed their families during the pandemic; and summarize the impact of governmental assistance programs in mitigating the damage. Total U.S. agricultural and related exports fell 1% from fiscal years 2019 to 2020. The decrease can be attributed to depressed global demand for U.S. exports tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and continued trade tensions with China and the European Union. According to the report, Tennessee’s agricultural sectors suffered relatively greater declines in exports than the nation as a whole. The state’s agricultural and related exports were $1.9 billion in 2020, down $143 million or 7% from 2019. In fact, Tennessee experienced declines in all major categories in 2020. Exports of bulk agricultural commodities, which include cotton, tobacco and soybeans, were down $54 million or 7%. Related product exports, which include forest products and distilled spirts, were down $50 million or 8%. Consumer-oriented exports, which include meat and dairy products as well as processed food products, were down $27 million or 6%. Also, exports of intermediate products such as soybean meal and oil and other feeds were down $12 million or 6%.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health today announced the state expects to receive its first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on or around Dec. 21. Tennessee expects to receive an initial allocation of a total of 115,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine over the next two weeks, following Emergency Use Authorization issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendations released by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should be shipped for delivery Dec. 21 to all 95 Tennessee county health departments. Smaller hospitals that are not receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are expected to receive Moderna vaccine the week of Dec. 28.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 12. Statewide, there were 7,476 new claims, along with 44,215 continued claims.

Read more

Six more COVID-19 deaths, 657 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

62 new COVID-19 cases, one new death reported in Southwest Virginia

More Americans plan to stay home for the holidays this year, AAA reports

Gate City offers utility relief for customers impacted by pandemic

Kingsport City Schools will go all virtual after holiday break

Wednesday, Dec. 16

News updates

🔹 Starting Dec. 23, the Kingsport Carousel will be closed for the holidays. The carousel is usually closed for certain days in the holiday season, but this year it will be closed for the week of Christmas and New Year’s out of an abundance of caution for both patrons and staff. City staff will reevaluate opening the facilities after Jan. 3, taking into consideration the current viral spread of COVID-19 in the Kingsport community. For updates about the Kingsport Carousel, please visit arts.kingsporttn.gov or follow the Kingsport Carousel Facebook page.

🔹 Positive economic growth is expected over the next year for Tennessee, although it may be rocky and somewhat sporadic as the state digs out of the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s economic forecast is explored in a report released today by the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but the cautiously optimistic outlook comes with a caveat. “There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the economy and economic recovery, especially with regard to the trajectory of the virus and whether the current surge will lead consumers to grow more cautious again,” said Larry Kessler, research associate professor in the Boyd Center and project director for the 2021 Economic Report to the Governor of the State of Tennessee. 

Read more

11 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Lee County

Three new COVID-19 deaths, 643 new cases in Northeast Tennessee

Wallace of Kingsport gives back to community while weathering pandemic

Tuesday, Dec. 15

News updates

🔹 The Virginia National Guard will be conducting mass COVID-19 testing events in the Lenowisco Health District Dec. 18 and19 as a result of high regional positivity rates. These events are free, open to the public, and do not require an appointment or advance registration. Testing will be at all sites from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Virginia National Guard is only able to test those 16 and older. Testing site information: Friday, 12/18, Central High School, 5000 Warrior Drive, Norton; and Saturday, 12/19, Gate City Flea Market, 213 E. Water Street, Gate City.

🔹 The Virginia National Guard will be conducting mass COVID-19 testing events in the Cumberland Plateau District Dec. 15-17 as a result of high regional positivity rates. These events are free, open to the public, and do not require an appointment or advance registration. Testing will be at all sites from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Virginia National Guard is only able to test those 16 and older. Testing site information: Tuesday, 12/15, Riverview Elementary School, 27382 Riverside Dr, Grundy; Wednesday, 12/16, Lebanon High School, 105 Charles C Long Dr, Lebanon; and Thursday, 12/17, Tazewell County Fairgrounds, 515 Fairground Rd, Tazewell.

Read more

Four more deaths, 29 new COVID-19 cases in SW Va.

14 new COVID-19 deaths, 622 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Sullivan BOE asked why sports, concerts continue while classes are virtual

FDA allows use of over-the-counter home test for COVID-19

Hawkins schools now 100 percent virtual through Jan. 8

Monday, Dec. 14

News updates

🔹 The Health Wagon and the Virginia Department of Health are collaborating to offer free COVID-19 testing throughout the rural areas of Southwest Virginia. These will be drive-through testing sites. Call (276) 328-8850 for your appointment time or for more information. Anyone can be tested at these sites. No insurance is required and this service will be offered free of charge. This is PCR testing, and no rapid or antibody testing is available. 

🔹 Tennessee Department of Health COVID-19 testing sites across the state will begin offering self-testing kits to adults three days a week Dec. 21, to allow staff members to transition to vaccination of frontline health care providers and first responders. Local county health departments will continue to offer COVID-19 testing five days a week at no charge for anyone who wishes to be tested. The new COVID-19 self-tests will be offered to adults on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning Dec. 21. Test results may be available within 72 hours of arrival at the lab, depending on the volume of tests the testing lab receives.

🔹 WCQR’s Speak Life program has collected letters and cards to send to the front-line workers at area Ballad hospitals to show appreciation and remind them that they’re not alone. WCQR listeners and everyone in the community were encouraged to support those who are caring for others this holiday season by simply writing a note, letter, or Christmas card. Over 2,000 cards and letters were collected from individuals, families, churches and classrooms. WCQR will deliver the letters to Ballad Health Volunteer Services located at 1 Professional Park Drive #16 in Johnson City on Monday, Dec. 14, at 1:30 p.m., where they will be distributed to health care workers in hospitals across our region.

🔹 The ETSU Health COVID-19 community collection site that delivers PCR molecular test results in 24 hours is moving to a new location at the East Tennessee State University Parking Garage, located at the corner of State of Franklin Road and Jack Vest Drive. Beginning Monday, Dec. 14, the COVID-19 collection site will become a drive-through testing site, operating on the second floor of the parking garage. Pre-registration through the ETSU Health website (www.etsuhealth.org) is required for tests.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health today announced the state has received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine ahead of statewide shipment on Thursday. The state obtained an early shipment of 975 doses to hold as an emergency backup supply should any receiving hospital’s supply be damaged. Vaccines should be shipped on Wednesday for delivery to 28 sites covering 74 Tennessee hospitals on Thursday, Dec. 17. Tennessee expects a second shipment of 56,500 doses of this vaccine approximately three weeks later.

🔹 To celebrate and remember Martin Luther King Jr. this year, the McKinney Center invites the community to join in a month-long service project and a virtual event on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. Donate food to the JAMA Food Pantry, then view an online stream on the McKinney Center’s Facebook page to see live readings from MLK’s speech, local Black history and singing. Visit the McKinney Center’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/mckinneycenter, to join the program from wherever you are.

Read more

Both Hawkins high schools now virtual as county's daily new COVID cases soar

Thirteen new COVID-19 deaths, 736 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases at 56

Scientists focus on bats for clues to prevent next pandemic

PETWORKS reopens today by appointment only

Masks not mandatory at VHSL games

Sunday, Dec. 13

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases at 51

11,352 new COVID-19 cases reported statewide, 891 in Northeast Tennessee

Saturday, Dec. 12

News updates

🔹 East Tennessee State University conferred more than 1,400 degrees today during its Virtual Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. A link to view each college ceremony is available at www.etsu.edu/classof2020.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases spike above 80

Five new COVID-19 deaths, 395 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Kingsport Public Library returns to curbside service only

D-B football mom's COVID-19 allegations prompt school system communications, future training

Friday, Dec. 11

News updates

🔹 East Tennessee State University’s Language and Culture Resource Center (LCRC) has devised a way to help students experiencing financial difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the same time, lay the foundation for a specialized library of books about language and culture that students can use in years to come. The program, “Reading Through the Pandemic,” takes LCRC funds generated by interpretations and translations to buy books about language and culture for qualifying students. For more information on the LCRC or the “Reading Through the Pandemic” program, or to apply, visit etsu.edu/cas/lcrc/ or email lcrc@etsu.edu.   

🔹 On Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, One Acre Cafe will serve lunch from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The Christmas meal will be served as take-out only this year. This meal is free to any community member who is present to receive the meal. Donations are not required but are always appreciated if you are able help. You must be present at the café to receive a free meal. The menu includes herb encrusted pork loin, hashbrown casserole, corn pudding, roasted vegetables, roll and dessert.

🔹 Due to the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases in the Kingsport community, the Kingsport Public Library building will be closed to the public, effective Monday, Dec. 14. The status of the building closure will be evaluated again at the end of the month. For up-to-date information about Kingsport Public Library, visit www.kingsportlibrary.org or follow the library’s social media channels.

🔹 Virginia’s first-in-the-nation COVID-exposure notification app will now work across DC and all 15 states that have such an app. More than one in ten Virginians have downloaded and are using COVIDWISE, which notifies people if they have been physically close to someone who tested positive. COVIDWISE, Virginia’s free COVID-19 Exposure Notifications app, is now participating with the Association of Public Health Laboratories’ (APHL) National Key Server, allowing COVIDWISE interoperability with Washington, D.C. and other states’ apps that also use the server. Now COVIDWISE can communicate with other state notification apps to share anonymous bits of information or “exposure notification keys” using a national server that will enable users to find out when they may have been exposed by users from other states. To learn more about COVIDWISE and download the app, visit www.covidwise.org.

Read more

U.S. allows emergency COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases at 40

Nine new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Thursday, Dec. 10

News updates

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced new, targeted measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 as new cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in all areas of the Commonwealth. Executive Order Seventy-Two directs Virginians to stay at home between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., implements a universal mask requirement, and lowers the limit on social gatherings from 25 people to 10 people. The order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 14, and remain in place through Jan. 31, 2021, unless rescinded or amended.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 5, 2020. Statewide, there were 6,886 new claims and 46,404 continued claims.

Read more

New VHSL guidelines require athletes to wear masks

Six new COVID-19 deaths, 521 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases climbs near 90

“Hard realities” - Northam modifies mask-wearing order in wake of COVID-19 case spikes

Parents tell Rogersville City School leaders they want their kids back in the classroom

COVID vaccine could be here next week, but priority workers get it first

Wednesday, Dec. 9

News updates

🔹 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Jeff McCord today announced a new campaign, “Let’s Get to Work Tennessee,” to help Tennesseans find and obtain meaningful employment. As COVID-19 has caused significant disruptions to employment and the economy across the state, and with federal unemployment programs expiring soon, the new campaign encourages Tennesseans to join the workforce and secure one of the thousands of jobs currently available. The ad is airing across the state on broadcast TV, cable, radio, outdoor and digital media. Jobs4TN.gov currently has more than 240,000 active job postings of all skill levels.

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that the $100 million Rebuild VA economic recovery fund has awarded grants to 2,500 Virginia businesses and nonprofits whose normal operations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately $50 million was awarded to women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses. More than 45 percent of the funding was awarded to 997 small businesses and nonprofits located in low-income and economically disadvantaged communities, and businesses with less than $2 million in annual revenue received 91 percent of the program’s funding. To date, Rebuild VA has received 15,700 applications and the average grant award was $35,636. For additional information on the Rebuild VA program and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit governor.virginia.gov/RebuildVA.

🔹 All branches of the Sullivan County Public Library System will be returning to curbside service only on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. It will remain closed to the public until at least Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, but may be required to stay closed longer based on local cases of COVID-19 and upon guidance from local officials.

Read more

Nine new COVID-19 deaths, 658 new cases in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases over 50 for third straight day

Defending state champion Lady Blue Devils quarantined

AP-NORC poll: Only half in US want shots as vaccine nears

D-B winter, spring sports tickets going virtual only

Christmas for the Children serving more Hawkins children than ever with 'modified' parties

Tuesday, Dec. 8

News updates

🔹 Effective Wednesday, Dec. 9, the Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO Health Districts, Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will begin to prioritize COVID-19 case investigations and contact tracing, due to substantial levels of community transmission of COVID-19. Prioritizing enables the health department to focus available resources on investigations that are most likely to slow the spread of COVID-19. Local health department staff will prioritize their case investigations and contact tracing efforts to identify outbreaks and those cases with the highest risk of spreading the disease. With prioritization, not all cases and not all close contacts will be contacted by VDH. People who develop symptoms should get tested early, self-isolate and advise those with whom they have been in contact to quarantine.

🔹 Santa Claus has a scheduled appearance at the Pinnacle Speedway in Lights on Wednesday, Dec. 9, to help spread some Christmas cheer. This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Claus’ visits to the tradition-rich holiday light show have been very limited. Tomorrow night from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Santa will make a special socially-distanced visit at BMS and sit high atop the motorized Food City Shopping Cart just inside of the pit gate. Guests will be able to wave to Santa as they drive into the infield of the historic oval where the Christmas Village awaits.

🔹 Dr. Kate Beatty and Michael Meit, faculty in the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health’s Center for Rural Health Research, have co-authored an article in the Journal of Appalachian Health. The article, “Rural Appalachia Battling the Intersection of Two Crises: COVID-19 and Substance Use Disorders,” discusses rural Appalachia’s great risk of unforeseen side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased mortality from substance use disorders.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is announcing an extension to its summer program to provide meals to children. With the recent approval from the USDA, sponsors of Tennessee’s Summer Food Service Program now have the ability to offer meals to their communities throughout the entire 2020/2021 school year. This USDA extension allows sponsors who were approved for the program in 2020 to continue receiving funding to serve meals through the end of June 2021. Additionally, sponsors will have new flexibility to provide “grab and go” meals to children along with meal bags containing more than one day’s worth of food. This flexibility will also allow sponsors, including schools that serve as sponsors, to serve meals when schools are closed to meet the needs of their communities. Parents interested in finding a Summer Food Service Program feeding location close to them are encouraged contact the TDHS Summer Food Service Program main line at 615-313-4749 or contact their local school.

🔹 Many Tennessee parents are not wearing masks consistently to control community spread of COVID-19, despite recommendations from public health officials, according to a new poll conducted by the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy. Only 57% of 1,066 parents polled in Tennessee report wearing a mask every time they were in stores, businesses or outside the home in the past month, the survey found. Parents were also hesitant about the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine, with just over half (53%) reporting they would vaccinate their child when an FDA-approved vaccine is made available. The poll is the first to target Tennessee parents since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents were also surveyed on their beliefs about mask effectiveness, the likelihood they would wear masks if there were a state or national mandate, and the flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more

13 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Northeast Tennessee, 100 statewide

COVID-19 in SWVA: Daily cases top 50

PETWORKS closed due to COVID-19 concerns

Bucs' game in Asheville postponed

Northeast nurses pinned amid pandemic

Public service campaigns asking one thing of Southwest Virginians: Wear a mask

Monday, Dec. 7

News updates

🔹 Discover Bristol and Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) are teaming up for a virtual concert experience with one of the region's most beloved acts. Spread Love, Not Covid Virtual Holiday Concert with Folk Soul Revival is a free online experience taking place Friday, December 11 at 7:00 p.m. EST on Discover Bristol's Facebook page. For more information about Spread Love, Not Covid Virtual Holiday Concert with Folk Soul Revival, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

🔹 Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced because of substantial levels of COVID-19 community transmission, local health departments may need to prioritize  contact tracing efforts for key elements of the population.  During this time of significantly high case volume,  traditional methods of contact tracing are less effective. This means that some local health departments, as necessary, may not be contacting everyone with COVID-19 infection or close contacts to someone with COVID-19 infection.

🔹 Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency (UETHDA) is offering a financial literacy class designed to give people the skills and knowledge needed to make informed and effective financial decisions during this pandemic. The class will also help connect people to agencies that can help them. There are programs to help provide assistance with things such as power bills, rent assistance, and more. This course is provided at no cost to the student, but seats are limited and advanced registration is required. To register for this financial literacy class, call (423) 530-2515.

🔹 As part of the ongoing bicycle and pedestrian plan for the Kingsport Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO), a virtual workshop is being held to collect feedback from the community. Typically, these meetings would be held in-person, but because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MTPO has decided to host this round of outreach virtually.  A live virtual workshop will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 6-7:30 p.m. A link to the meeting may be accessed on the Metro Transportation Planning’s Meetings & Notices page on the city website. The workshop will consist of a live presentation followed by a question-and-answer period. An asynchronous virtual workshop is also being provided. Residents are encouraged to visit the MTPO’s website to provide their feedback via an online survey and interactive map. A recorded presentation providing an overview of the project and progress to date is also included.

🔹 The Heritage Alliance is hosting an online cooking class with local foodie and blogger Margie Kendall on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m. Margie hosted a cooking class for the Alliance in August and she’s back this December with a unique, holiday dish. For just $25, you can Zoom with Margie and make butternut squash ravioli. The pasta will be made from scratch with no special equipment required. You can purchase tickets for this class online through the Town of Jonesborough’s ticketing system at https://townofjonesborough.thundertix.com.

Read more

Five new COVID-19 deaths, 675 new cases in NET

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases near 50

Tennessee lawmaker hospitalized with COVID-19

Sunday, Dec. 6

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases top 70

Six more COVID-19 deaths in NET as state tops 400,000 cases

St. Paul theater group gets in spirit with Christmas spoof of holiday movies

Allandale Mansion offering drive-thru Christmas event

Christmas at Netherland Inn canceled

Saturday, Dec. 5

News updates

🔹 As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Virginia, implementing a successful vaccination program is critical to flattening the curve and stopping the spread of this virus. Based on new information provided on December 3 by the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed, Virginia is now preparing to receive an estimated total of 480,000 doses of vaccine from two manufacturers (Pfizer and Moderna) by the end of December 2020. This initial distribution will ensure 480,000 health care personnel (HCP) and long-term care facility (LTCF) residents receive a first dose of the vaccine, beginning the inoculation process for nearly all members of Virginia’s two top-priority groups, if we receive this expected allotment. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) estimates that there are up to 500,000 HCP and LTCF residents in Virginia.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: daily cases spike over 60

Two new COVID-19 deaths in Sullivan, 411 new cases in NET region

Hawkins Elementary's virtual Christmas concert for BOE featured new mountain dulcimers

Hawkins schools will be on four-day schedule through January

Friday, Dec. 4

Schedule changes

🔹 Starting Dec. 7, the Kingsport Senior Center, including all branch sites, will be closed. The sites will be closed in order to deep clean the facilities and evaluate the virus spread in the Kingsport community. City staff will reevaluate opening the facilities after the end of next week. For those who take part in the congregate meals, individuals can find instructions on how continue receiving meals while the facility is closed on the website or by calling 423-392-8400. For updates about the Kingsport Senior Center, please visit seniors.kingsporttn.gov or follow the Kingsport Senior Center Facebook page.

News updates

🔹 A free COVID-19 testing event will be held Saturday, Dec. 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sullivan County Health Department's Kingsport location (1041 E. Sullivan St.). The event is open to the public, and no appointment is required. No symptoms are necessary to get tested. Attendees should remain in their vehicles.

🔹 East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies (BLUE) program will celebrate the end of the fall semester with a free virtual concert on Facebook Live. This event will feature videos submitted by students and faculty within the program, which is part of the ETSU Department of Appalachian Studies. It will be held Thursday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. at facebook.com/etsubluegrass/live.

🔹 East Tennessee State University will host a virtual Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020 on Saturday, Dec. 12. This ceremony honoring the university’s August and December graduates will be streamed live beginning at 10 a.m. at etsu.edu/classof2020. For a more personalized experience, graduates and their families and friends will select and stream a specific ceremony for their college or academic program. Viewers may also stream the ceremony and arrange a watch party on the ETSU Facebook page (facebook.com/easttennesseestateuniversity). In addition, WCYB-TV 5 will broadcast the virtual Commencement Ceremony at 12:30 p.m. For more information, visit etsu.edu/classof2020.

🔹 The Town of Greeneville has announced its Virtual Ball Drop to celebrate New Year’s Eve in 2020. The switch to a virtual event follows the cancellation of the seventh annual Midnight On Main celebration, due to concerns related to COVID-19. Normally held downtown at the intersection of Main and Depot streets, the New Year’s Eve 2020 ball drop will be held in at an undisclosed location to prevent a large crowd from attending. The Virtual Ball Drop will be live streamed beginning at 11:45 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, on the Town of Greeneville Facebook page. For more information on the ball drop, visit www.greenevilletn.gov, www.facebook.com/TownofGreeneville, or search for the Facebook event “Greeneville’s Virtual Ball Drop.”

🔹 Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers have discovered individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes infected with COVID-19 are three times more likely to have a severe illness or require hospitalization compared with people without diabetes. Because of this amplified impact, they are urging policymakers to prioritize these individuals for COVID-19 vaccination. Their findings were published in Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Association.  

Read more

COVID-19 in SW Va: 46 cases in region

NET tallies 10 more COVID-19 deaths, 323 new cases

Kingsport schools adopt virtual Wednesdays for pre-K through fifth grade

Among first acts, Biden to call for 100 days of mask-wearing

Rogersville City School affected as Hawkins hits all-time high number of COVID-19 cases for single day

Thursday, Dec. 3

News updates

🔹 The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously extended its declaration of judicial emergency through Jan. 3, 2021, and orders that the provisions of the previous order shall continue to apply in all courts of the Commonwealth. The declaration may be extended for additional periods.

🔹 Camping in the last two months reached historic highs in Tennessee State Parks. The parks saw 62,124 nights camping in October, a one-month record for camping stays in the system, topping the mark of 57,472 nights set in June 2020. November saw over 36,000 camping nights sold, the highest number for November ever and exceeding November 2019 by 15,000 nights. Four of the top 10 camping months ever in the state parks have occurred in 2020, driven by visitors seeking the outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has released unemployment data for the week ending Nov. 28, 2020. Statewide, 5,789 new claims were filed, along with 46,665 continued claims.

Read more

With pandemic at 'critical point,' Sullivan County schools to go all virtual next week

COVID-19 in SWVA: 43 cases in region

14 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Northeast Tennessee

Pence to visit Tennessee, talk virus vaccines

US virus deaths top 3,100 in a single day for the first time

Family of Colonial Heights Middle School counselor receives community support following COVID-19 death, hospitalization

Tennessee’s lax mask policy helping to fuel case spike in SW Va., Northam says

Ballad Health again to cease all elective non-emergency surgeries

Wednesday, Dec. 2

News updates

🔹 The Sullivan County Board of Education will hold a called emergency meeting on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, at 4:30 in the Little Theater at Sullivan Central High School. The purpose of this called emergency meeting is to discuss the operating schedule for Sullivan County Schools. One or more board members may join the meeting virtually as allowed by Gov. Lee's Executive Order. Because this is a called emergency meeting, public comment is not allowed (per Policy 1.404). The meeting can be viewed on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRS3AWETa80Q48kJADtcqhQ.

🔹 Dr. Jonathan Moorman of East Tennessee State University was recently awarded a $330,000 Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Merit Review Award by the Department of Veterans Affairs to study immune responses to COVID-19. The project, “Characterizing trained immune responses to COVID-19,” was one of 18 funded studies awarded from a pool of 104 applications received from VA Medical Centers across the country. If you are at least 14 days recovered from COVID-19 and would like to donate to the biorepository to assist with current and future coronavirus research, visit www.etsu.edu/com/ciidi/ for more information.

Read more

Arby’s Classic, other events canceled

Five new COVID-19 deaths in Washington County, three in Sullivan

COVID-19 in SWVA: Daily cases climb near 60

Tuesday, Dec. 1

News updates

🔹 Barter Theatre is announcing the release of a new Christmas video, "From Our Homes for the Holidays." Featuring members of Barter’s Resident Acting Company, the program will offer songs, stories, and memories celebrating the holiday season. “We wanted to do something to show our gratitude to all of Barter’s friends and family who have been so supportive through this very challenging year,” said Nick Piper, Barter’s associate artistic director. “We hope this program will provide some holiday cheer to our patrons.” The video will be released Thursday, December 17th at 7:30pm on Facebook Live and will be available for viewing on Barter’s website and Facebook page through December 20th. For more information patrons can visit bartertheatre.com.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Corrections has delivered more than 1 million units of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to its institutions and offices since March 2020, when the department first began monitoring PPE inventory and distribution. The milestone comes as the VADOC continues to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and works to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus among inmates, probationers, parolees, and VADOC staff.

🔹 James E. Crowe Jr., MD, a physician-scientist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) who has pioneered development of human monoclonal antibodies as potential treatments for viral diseases, has won a 2020 “Golden Goose” Award. The ninth annual Golden Goose Award ceremony on Dec. 1 will recognize Crowe and two other federally funded research teams for their scientific responses to COVID-19. Led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Golden Goose Award committee includes a bipartisan group of Congressional supporters and several science and higher education organizations. In October the global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced it was advancing into phase 3 clinical trials an investigational COVID-19 therapy consisting of two long-acting antibodies discovered in the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center (VVC), which Crowe directs, and optimized by AstraZeneca.

Read more

Six more deaths, 384 new COVID-19 cases in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SW VA: Daily cases climb near 40

Ten Sullivan schools doing virtual learning for face-to-face students

Town of Abingdon receives Virginia Tourism Corporation Recovery Marketing Leverage grant

Kingsport's Johnson Elementary goes virtual in grades 3-6

Is shopping in stores safe during the pandemic?

Celebrate special Christmas tours at Rocky Mount this month

Do remote students dream of virtual snow days? SWVA school systems make plans for bad weather, virtual instruction

MECC nursing program deals with pandemic

Monday, Nov. 30

News updates

🔹 The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary will host its annual Toys from Cops event on Saturday, Dec. 12. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be conducted differently than in years past. The event will be held in the parking lot of Central High School, 131 Shipley Ferry Road, Blountville. Children receiving an invitation will receive their gifts between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. In order to receive gifts, the adult(s) bringing the child must have the invitation with them and have identification showing their residence to be Sullivan County. Any gifts remaining after those have been distributed to those receiving an invitation will be distributed in the same manner beginning at 1:30 p.m. A valid identification showing a Sullivan County residence is required for gift distribution. Those coming through the line must wear a mask and stay inside the vehicle as the gifts are distributed. Those bringing children to receive gifts are asked to have the trunks of their vehicles empty.

🔹 Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee will participate in Giving Tuesday, #GivingTuesday. Giving Tuesday is a day when people around the globe will come together in unity to show kindness and generosity in all its forms by giving their voice, time, money, goods and advocacy to support communities and causes. On Giving Tuesday, the community will be able to go directly to https://netfoodbank.org to donate. Second Harvest and community pantry/soup kitchen partner agencies continue to operate normal hours. For more information, contact Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee at (423) 279-0430 or visit netfoodbank.org to make a donation. Recovery efforts will be ongoing in the communities devastated by COVID-19. 

🔹 The Rocky Mount State Historic Site's Christmas tours will begin the first week of December with limited ticket availability this year. To attend, tickets must be purchased in advance online or over the phone. Candlelight Christmas tours will be held Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12. The daytime tours will be available during the weekdays of December. In light of the global coronavirus pandemic, Rocky Mount has enacted the following safety protocols. Due to limited group sizes, tickets must be purchased in advance online or by phone. Social distancing will be practiced, and face coverings will be required for entry, in accordance with the Sullivan County mask mandate.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 28 cases

Sullivan mask order extended through end of year as region hits record 746 new cases

Several Hawkins schools remain virtual only through Dec. 4

Food City pharmacy to offer free COVID-19 vaccine

Northeast State virtual open house set Dec. 8

Where’s there’s a will … SWVA localities finds ways to open Christmas season in pandemic

Bloomingdale Christmas Parade still a go

Sunday, Nov. 29

News updates

🔹 The Town of Unicoi is mixing up a different type of Christmas magic this year with its new “Christmas at the Caboose,” which will be held Saturday, Dec. 12, from 6-9 p.m. at the Tourist Information Center (106 Unicoi Village Place). This COVID-friendly event will take the place of the town’s typical annual events, including the Unicoi Christmas Parade, Christmas at the Cabin and the “Taste of Unicoi” Christmas Open House, all of which were canceled in light of the pandemic. “Christmas at the Caboose” will include a free drive-thru light display, created by professional designer Gabriel’s Christmas in Jonesborough, around the Mountain Harvest Kitchen and a Christmas Village where guests can enjoy Christmas cakes, treats and hot chocolate while favorite Christmas characters frolic to the sounds of the season. Santa and Mrs. Clause will be flying into the valley for a special visit and children will be allowed to place their “Letters to Santa” in his mailbox before catching their very own stocking! Santa will use a slide to deliver presents down to the children from atop the historic Clinchfield CRR 1111 caboose to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure. For more information, visit UnicoiTN.net or follow the town on Facebook at facebook.com/townofunicoitn.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 31 cases

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases dip below 220

Saturday, Nov. 28

Read more

Local authors tackle COVID-19 misinformation

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 32 cases, one death

COVID-19 in NET: Region has 522 new cases

What was Kingsport's Black Friday like in a pandemic?

Friday, Nov. 27

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees seven more deaths, 23 new cases

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases reach 295

What does emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine mean?

Thursday, Nov. 26

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Nov. 21. Statewide, there were 6,873 new claims and 51,624 continued claims.

Read more

COVID-19 in SW Va: Region adds 52 cases, one death

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases reach 264

Girl Scouts, churches partner to provide Thanksgiving meals

Black Friday bargain hunters change strategy because of pandemic

Mayors urge caution during upcoming holiday season

Wednesday, Nov. 25

News updates

🔹 Barter Theatre has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP), designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of the state grants funds. Barter Theatre will use the VTC Recovery Marketing Leverage grant funds to facilitate digital marketing efforts and website optimization targeted at bringing new visitors to the Abingdon and Tri-Cities area. 

🔹 Many Tennessee counties experienced changes in their unemployment rates during October 2020, according to newly released data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD). Unemployment in 93 of Tennessee’s 95 counties increased in October. Davidson and Sevier counties saw their rates decrease during the month. TDLWD has produced a report with a complete analysis of Tennessee’s October 2020 county unemployment data. You can find information for each county and statistical area here. Tennessee employers are ready to help the state’s economy rebound by hiring individuals to meet their business needs. Jobs4TN.gov, Tennessee’s workforce development website, currently has over 240,000 open positions for workers of varying skill levels.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 80-plus spike in cases

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases climb over 250

Natural Tunnel cancels Christmas Lighting of the Tunnel

Region A.H.E.A.D. moves forward with effort to support health care heroes

Tuesday, Nov. 24

News updates

🔹 The Northeast Tennessee public health region will be closed over the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Nov. 26, and Friday, Nov. 27. This includes health departments in Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins/Church Hill, Hawkins/Rogersville, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties, as well as the regional office in Johnson City. Health department services and COVID-19 drive-through testing will resume on Monday, Nov. 30. There will be extended COVID-19 testing between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. in Carter, Greene, Hawkins (Rogersville) and Washington counties on Nov. 30. All other health departments will follow regular weekday testing hours.

🔹 Even though economic activity is still below pre-pandemic peak levels, a report from Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office shows signs of economic recovery. The Tennessee Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators report for the third quarter of 2020 showed 16,470 new entity filings, representing a strong 42.2 percent increase over the same quarter in 2019. Initial filings have now seen positive year-over-year growth for 35 consecutive quarters. “The pandemic made a significant impact on our economy, but Tennessee’s entrepreneurial spirit and business-friendly environment has seen some Tennesseans start their own businesses,” said Secretary Hargett.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 19 cases

COVID-19 in NET: Daily cases drop below 100

Ballad Health identifies cluster of positive COVID-19 cases at Wexford House

Editorial: Don't believe the misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines

Gas prices push cheaper ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

Birthplace of Country Music announces plans for 2021 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

Monday, Nov. 23

Read more

COVID-10 in SWVA: Region sees 75 cases

COVID-19 in NET: Region pushed past 360 daily cases

3rd major COVID-19 vaccine shown to be effective and cheaper

Be an angel for a shelter pet this Christmas season

Mount Carmel approves 'Santa Run' despite sticky issue of throwing candy

Sunday, Nov. 22

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 24 cases

COVID-19 in NET: Region pushed past 350 daily cases

Salvation Army will serve traditional Thanksgiving dinner

Reimagined Santa Train distributes gifts in Weber City

Junior League's Jingle & Gingerbread gets a holiday makeover

Sunday Scrapbook: A Poetic Plea

Saturday, Nov. 21

Read more

COVID-19 in NET: Region sees fewer than 300 cases for second day

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 44 cases

LENOWISCO Health Department director recommends school divisions stop in-person classes until after holidays

Kingsport Chamber still strong even in midst of pandemic

SW Virginia schools preparing for small crowds at basketball games

Friday, Nov. 20

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will be conducting routine maintenance to the VDH external website (www.vdh.virginia.gov) on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. During this time, the website as well as the COVID-19 data dashboards will be unavailable. VDH will continue to keep you updated throughout the scheduled maintenance on the expected recovery time or any issues which may increase system downtime. For more information on COVID-19 during VDH website routine maintenance visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

🔹 East Tennessee State University’s Office of Professional Development will offer a virtual Holiday Cooking series with Chef Sheridan Nice Dec. 3 and 10.  The course will meet two hours each Thursday and cover several recipes appropriate for holiday meals. The cost of the course is $100.00 for the series, or $55.00 for an individual class. To learn more or sign up, visit etsu.edu/professionaldevelopment and click “registration” or call the ETSU Office of Professional Development at 800-222-3878.

Read more

COVID-19 in SW Va: 27 cases in LENOWISCO Health District

COVID-19 in NET: Region sees six deaths, 274 cases

Hawkins school system performs 'reset,' moves to virtual instruction until Nov. 30

Editorial: Tennessee needs a statewide mask mandate

United Way hits 87% of fundraising target despite challenging year

Thursday, Nov. 19

News updates

🔹 The Organization of Student Representatives (OSR) at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine is hosting a virtual 5K fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 28, to benefit the Willow Unit at Woodridge Hospital. Registration for the virtual 5K is $5 per person, and registration is currently open at https://www.etsu.edu/com/sa/default.php. The registration deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 5 p.m.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Nov. 14, 2020. Statewide, there were 6,182 new claims, along with 53,976 continued claims.

🔹 As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Tennessee continue to rise at a concerning rate, the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA) and hospitals across the state are stressing the importance of wearing masks in public with the launch of the “Masking Makes a Difference” campaign. To further support this message, chief medical officers and chief nursing officers from hospitals across the state have signed a letter urging Tennesseans to continue to take COVID-19 precautions like wearing a mask in public.

Read more

Santa Train gift distributions scheduled for Saturday

Northeast Tennessee reports record number of COVID-19 deaths

Nine COVID-19 deaths reported in Wise County

CDC warns Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving

Ahead of holidays, Tennessee one of 14 states without mask mandate

Scott County, Gate City receive tourism grants

'They'll remember this the rest of their lives': Youth football league defies pandemic

Hawkins cancels parades, but there's still Christmas fun to be had

Wednesday, Nov. 18

News updates

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today signed House Bill 5005, Virginia’s revised biennial budget. The governor called the General Assembly into special session on Aug. 18 and has worked with legislative leaders to enact a spending plan that protects key priorities, preserves the Commonwealth’s financial options, and addresses critical challenges that Virginians are facing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A full list of legislation signed by the Governor during the special session can be found here.

🔹 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee today announced a new ad as part of the continued “Face It, Masks Fight COVID-19” campaign. The new ad promotes responsible decision-making by Tennesseans as the state continues to fight the spread of COVID-19 and is airing across the state on broadcast, cable, radio, outdoor and digital media. The PSA launches in addition to a COVID-19 website from the Tennessee Department of Health that provides Tennesseans with improved tools to make informed decisions for their health. The website can be found at https://covid19.tn.gov/. Watch the ad here.

🔹 The Northeast Tennessee public health region will be providing free drive through flu vaccinations on Thursday, Nov. 19. Drive through COVID-19 testing will not be available on this day at health departments in Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins/Church Hill, Hawkins/Rogersville, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties. Health department COVID-19 drive-through testing will resume on Friday, Nov. 20.

🔹 Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site will present “VISIONS OF CHRISTMAS: 1859” on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 2-6 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children 12 and under. Admission for groups of 10 or more will be $4 for adults and $1.50 for children 12 and under. Please call 423-926-3631 or email tiptonhaynes@outlook.com to make a reservation for the 1859 Christmas candlelight tour or for more information. Masks will be required while inside the visitor center and on the tour.

Read more

Fatal outbreaks at Wise, Scott nursing homes not listed on state website

COVID-19 in NET: Region's daily cases push past 360

Dolly Parton adds pandemic hero to list of accomplishments

Pfizer: COVID-19 shot 95% effective, seeking clearance soon

Editorial: Are we doing enough to stop the spread?

St. Paul's Christmas Bazaar moves online

Three Hawkins schools go virtual due to spike in COVID cases

Two grades at Rock Springs Elementary to be virtual until Nov. 30

Tuesday, Nov. 17

News updates

🔹 Tennessee has been selected as one of four states to participate in a pilot program for delivery of the Pfizer Inc. COVID-19 vaccine now under development. This program is designed to address distribution challenges posed by requirements for ultra-cold storage of the vaccine. Tennessee will participate in the pilot along with New Mexico, Rhode Island and Texas, states chosen based on their differences in size, population diversity and immunization infrastructure. Lessons learned through this program will help support all states in development of effective immunization programs for this COVID-19 vaccine. Providers who wish to administer COVID-19 vaccine may find more information online at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/covid-19-vaccine-information.html.

🔹 The Salvation Army will be providing Thanksgiving dinner to those in Kingsport who may not have food of their own. This annual event will be held at 11:30 a.m. at The Salvation Army, located at 505 Dale St. in Kingsport. There will be safe distancing protocols in place therefore there will be limited seating for those who choose to dine in. Take-away meals will be available for those who do mot want to dine in.

🔹 Holston Electric and Holston Connect announced it will close all branches to walk-in traffic beginning Wednesday, Nov. 18, due to continued surges in COVID cases in the community. Customer service representatives can be reached by calling (423) 272-8821 during normal business hours. Bill payment options are available through the mobile app, kiosks and by calling (423) 272-8821 and using the interactive voice payment option.

🔹 The Symphony of the Mountains Brass Quintet and Mountain Strings performed live concerts in September and October for delighted masked and safely distanced audiences. With rising pandemic cases and a request from community leaders to pause live events, the orchestra management has chosen to present the annual Holiday Concert in a virtual live-stream. The free concert will be streamed on YouTube Saturday, Dec. 5, at 4 p.m. The YouTube link for the concert will be provided on the symphony web site approximately one week before the concert. For more information visit www.symphonyofthemountains.org or call the Symphony office at 423-392-8423.

🔹 “Cameras On versus Cameras Off: Virtual Resilience in the Appalachian Highlands” is the focus of the inaugural Town Hall sponsored by the ETSU Ballad Health Strong BRAIN Institute (SBI). The SBI facilitates the development and dissemination of evidence-based practices that prevent, reduce and mitigate the negative effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on health and health disparities. It also strives to inform the citizens and workforce of the Appalachian Highlands region on the importance of being resilience-informed. This free public discussion will be held Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 11 a.m. via Zoom. Those wishing to participate may visit https://bit.ly/3f5cTVz to register and obtain the Zoom link.

Read more

NET daily case levels ease, but five more deaths reported

Lee care facility dealing with COVID-19 outbreak as SW Va. adds four deaths, 43 cases

Lee County Schools move to all-remote classes until end of November

Let's pray for all those working to bring us vaccine

Monday, Nov. 16

News updates

🔹 One Acre Cafe will serve its traditional Thanksgiving lunch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Nov. 25. The meal will be served as takeout only this year. This meal is free to any community member who is present to receive the meal. Donations are not required but are always appreciated if you are able help. You must be present at the café to receive a free meal. Everyone is asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

🔹 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group is making more COVID-19 testing options available for Tennesseans statewide leading up to and just after Thanksgiving. The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee National Guard will extend operating hours at 35 county health departments, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., local time, on Mon., Nov. 23, and Mon., Nov. 30. A complete, statewide list of all COVID-19 testing sites is available at https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/health/cedep/ncov/remote-assessment-sites.html.

🔹 Several student organizations at East Tennessee State University are sponsoring a collection drive for personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene products now through Friday, Nov. 20. Students are collecting hand sanitizer, masks, face shield, gloves, and other PPE/hygiene products in donation bins on campus. The bins are located on the first floor of Sherrod Library and the D.P. Culp Student Center in the Starbucks common area and near the elevators on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The donations will benefit Hermitage Health and Rehabilitation Center.

🔹 Throughout the pandemic, East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health has mobilized its expertise and resources, posting almost 100 COVID-19 educational videos, updates, and public service announcements, which have surpassed 25,000 views. To view the College of Public Health’s video resources, visit www.etsu.edu/cph/covid19.php.

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced more than $1.9 million in matching grants will be awarded to 161 local tourism initiatives as part of Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP). VTC revised its traditional Marketing Leverage Program to create the RMLP in an effort to support tourism initiatives in responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. A full list of Recovery Marketing Leverage Program grant recipients can be found here.

🔹 Younger parents were much less likely than older parents to say they planned to vaccinate their children and themselves against COVID-19, according to a research letter published online in medRxiv by authors at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Only 52% of parents age 18-35 were likely to vaccinate their children against COVID-19, compared with 67% of parents 36-45 and 69 percent of parents 46 and older. Overall, 63% of parents are willing to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 and about 60% are likely to get the vaccine themselves.

🔹 The Virginia Department of Corrections continues to aggressively test inmates and staff for COVID-19 and has taken steps toward soon being able to acquire test results in minutes as opposed to days. The department recently began weekly testing of infirmary staff to better ensure the safety of inmates and staff in this vulnerable setting. The entire staff at facilities with infirmaries can be tested weekly if necessary.

Read more

NET sets record for daily COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees slowdown in daily cases

Sunday, Nov. 15

Read more

194 new COVID-19 cases reported in Sullivan County among 464 in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 48 cases

Rogersville's free Thanksgiving dinner will be delivery only

Saturday, Nov. 14

News updates

🔹 Symphony of the Mountains will replace its annual live-audience holiday concert with a free virtual concert. On Saturday Dec. 5 at 4 p.m., the Symphony of the Mountains Strings will live-stream a concert on YouTube. The program will include holiday favorites and traditional carols. Featured soloists are Sean Claire, SOTM's concertmaster, and Matthew Wilkinson, SOTM's principal cellist.

🔹 The Sullivan Central basketball team is under quarantine. The Cougars' Hall of Champions games against Unaka and Hampton have been canceled. The team is scheduled to return to practice Sunday, Nov. 22 and start play in the Food City Thanksgiving Classic at Sullivan East the following day.

🔹 The Tusculum University athletic department has announced its policy for spectators for the upcoming 2020-2021 basketball season. The TU season will tip off next Saturday (Nov. 21) when Tusculum hosts Wingate University for a South Atlantic Conference doubleheader at Pioneer Arena. The policies below affect only Tusculum home basketball games for the 2020-2021 season. Fans wishing to attend an away game during this basketball season should verify the fan policies on each school’s website before traveling. Tusculum has established a seating capacity of 250 fans (10% capacity) for its home basketball games during the 2020-2021 season. Masks and face coverings are required and fans should observe physical distancing at all times. Fans may sit in groups only if members reside in the same household. Groups must sit at a minimum of six-feet apart. Anyone who does not abide by these policies will be asked to leave the facility.

Read more

SW Va. posts 49 new COVID-19 cases

Three new COVID-19 deaths, 323 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 pandemic has made nursing shortage even worse

Central basketball on hold after coach tests positive

Annual 'Night of Smiles' kicks off Christmas light show at BMS

McKinney Center brings world to Jonesborough for annual fundraiser

Friday, Nov. 13

News updates

🔹 Symphony of the Mountains reminds audiences its November concerts featuring the Woodwind Quintet have been postponed until next year. There will be no concert Friday night in Bristol or tomorrow in Wise (as originally planned).

🔹 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced new statewide measures Friday to contain COVID-19, including limit of 25 individuals for in-person gatherings, an expanded mask mandate, on-site alcohol curfew and increased enforcement. The reduction in public and private gatherings, now limited to 25 individuals, is down from the current cap of 250 and includes both indoor and outdoor settings. The expanded mask mandate now applies to everyone age 5 and older in indoor public spaces. All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. Violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor. The full texts of amended Executive Order Sixty-Three and Order of Public Health Emergency Five and sixth amended Executive Order Sixty-Seven and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven can be seen here.

🔹 Virginia High School League (VHSL) Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun responded to Governor Ralph Northam’s new statewide measures to contain COVID-19, including a limit from 250 to 25 spectators for in-person gatherings. “We want to make it very clear that the Governor’s order for reduction in public and private gatherings to 25 individuals applies to 'spectators' and not participants at those events,” said Haun said. “Nothing in the order prevents VHSL member schools from holding contests.” The VHSL said it would provide a more detailed release on Monday.

Read more

Editorial: Businesses should take the lead in COVID fight

Tennessee tops 300,000 COVID-19 cases, reports 64 new deaths

Northam tightens statewide restrictions as SW Va. has two more deaths

McMinn County at D-B playoff game called off due to coronavirus situation

Previous updates

🔹 To view the Times News COVID-19 blog for July 8-Nov. 12, click here.

🔹 To view the Times News COVID-19 blog for May 7-July 7, click here.

🔹 To view the Times News COVID-19 blog for March 11-May 6, click here.