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.

Tuesday, Oct. 27

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems (SVCHS) is encouraging everyone to get their flu vaccination this year to protect against this virus and help prevent the spread of the seasonal flu to others.Ā This year, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, flu shots are being advised by top health officials toĀ avoid a situation in which both influenza and COVID-19 spread and sicken the public.Ā SVCHS has health centers in Saltville, Va., Meadowview, Va., Bristol, Va., and Tazewell, Va. For more information, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Starting today, AAA -- The Auto Club Group is opening the applicationĀ period for unique grant opportunitiesĀ to serve educators and students -- the 2020 Academic Enrichment Grants.Ā AAA will provide up to tenĀ $5,000 grants to K-12 schools in Tennessee to provide funding directly to educatorsĀ to support learning during COVID-19, whether that's in the classroom, at home, or somewhere in between.Ā For more information and to apply for the grant,Ā click here.

šŸ”¹Ā All areas of Tennessee have seen a resurgence in hospitalized COVID-19 patients since early October, but hospitals that draw patients from counties without masking requirements are experiencing much sharper increases, according to a new analysis from researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.Ā The analysis updates a previous report and comes as hospitalizations and new cases of COVID-19 have reached their highest points to date. The analysis, led by the Vanderbilt Center for Health Economic Modeling, also updates analyses done earlier this year on consumer mobility to specific types of business and consumer spending in specific industries.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Health Districts are asking people to consider celebrating Halloween differently.Ā ā€œThis Halloween season, remember that the more people you are around, the more air that you share and the more items that you touch, all increase the risk of COVID-19,ā€ said Eleanor Cantrell, M.D., director of the LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Health Districts. ā€œCOVID-19 can be spread when people talk, or simply breathe. Shouting, laughing and screaming just spread it further. And indoors is always more risky than outside. That is why gatherings with people who do not live with you - and particularly indoor haunted houses - are especially dangerous this year.ā€Ā For more information about COVID-19 and holiday safety, visitĀ www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/schools-workplaces-community-locations/social-gatherings/Ā andĀ www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/halloween.html.

šŸ”¹Ā Gov. Bill Leeā€™s Unified Command Group will open drive through COVID-19 testing sites in each of Tennesseeā€™s grand divisions Saturday, Oct. 31 in an ongoing effort to curb rising case rates in Tennesseeā€™s rural areas.Ā Saturdayā€™s COVID-19 testing is free to those who want to receive a test. Testing sites will be open from 9 a.m. to noon, local time, and will stay open until all individuals in the vehicle line have received tests. Locally, there will be a site at Johnson County High School.

🔹 Tennessee farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to help make up for losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic according to a statement released Tuesday by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Sullivan/Carter County Farm Service Agency. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin Sept. 21 and run through Dec. 11, 2020, at the Sullivan/Carter Farm Service Agency. For more information visit farmers.gov/cfap or contact your local Farm Service Agency (423) 323-7431 extension 2.

šŸ”¹Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced a new allocation of more than $116 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to support Virginiaā€™s institutions of higher education. Consistent with the General Assemblyā€™s recently advanced budget, the funding will be distributed to public universities and medical centers to support telework and distance learning infrastructure, personal protective equipment, sanitization and cleaning, and testing for students, staff, and faculty.Ā Information on the amount of funding allocated to each institution can be foundĀ here.

šŸ”¹Ā The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will be conducting routine maintenance to the VDH external website (www.vdh.virginia.gov) on Saturday, October 31, 2020, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 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 that may increase system downtime.

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Six new COVID-19 deaths in Northeast Tennessee, including two each in Sullivan and Washington counties

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region adds 32 new cases, passes 1,500 cases

COVID-19 numbers will determine if Mount Carmelā€™s Christmas Parade is canceled

Monday, Oct. 26

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is sending 2,050,000 state-of-the-art Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 point of care antigen tests to the state of Tennessee. The rapid point of care tests,Ā which can diagnose coronavirus infection in as little as fifteen minutes, will be distributed at the discretion of Gov. Bill Lee to support testing K-12 students, teachers, nursing home patients and staff, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders, and other priorities as he deems fit.Ā The Trump administration has shipped over 375,000 COVID-19 rapid tests directly to congregate care settings such as Tennessee nursing homes, assisted living facilities and to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the state. As of Oct. 26, 864,000 BinaxNOW tests have been shipped to Tennessee.

🔹 The Jonesborough Genealogical Society will host a Virtual Genealogy Help Night via Zoom from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov 12. With the Washington County-Jonesborough Library still closed, access to the Genealogy and History Center is not available. Instead, we will be asking those who wish to participate to submit questions related to their struggles in genealogy as well as beginning. These questions must meet two criteria. 1. Ask a valid question and not just asking for look ups or request genealogy be done for you and 2. The questions can be broad about topics, but please keep them in the scope of family heritages of Jonesborough, Washington County (TN), or Northeast Tennessee and related topics. Those wishing to participate should register via https://jgstn.org/virtual-genealogy-help-night/. A link to zoom will be sent to you. Registration and questions must be submitted by Nov. 5. We cannot guarantee that every question will be answered. Some similar questions may be grouped together.

šŸ”¹Ā U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that in the first month of the application period, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) approved more than $7 billion in payments to producers in the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. CFAP 2 provides agricultural producers with financial assistance to help absorb some of the increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā To find the latest information on CFAP 2, visitĀ farmers.gov/CFAPĀ or call 877-508-8364.

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One new COVID-19 death, 259 new cases in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region adds 48 new cases, approaches 1,500 cases

Shay's Bucs back in quarantine

Haunts & Happenings a bit different this year

Sunday, Oct. 25

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Three new COVID-19 deaths, 346 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

SW Va. adds 43 COVID-19 cases, pushes past 1,400 total

Saturday, Oct. 24

Read more

Sullivan has 20 active clusters; new COVID-19 deaths in Hawkins, Washington

ā€œHeavy liftā€: Area business, government, education leaders share challenges of pandemic with Northam

COVID-19 in SWVA: Regionā€™s daily cases spike to 50

Friday, Oct. 23

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Ballad Health has identified a cluster of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases at Johnson City Medical Center.Ā As of Friday, Oct. 23, 22 team members and six patients have tested positive for COVID-19. Positive team members are in isolation at their homes, and the affected patients have been isolated in a designated, closed COVID-19 unit within the facility. To date, the cases have been contained to a single progressive care unit at the hospital.Ā Ballad Health is working closely with the Tennessee Department of Health to track the exposures and limit further community spread. The health system has also conducted COVID-19 testing on potentially exposed team members, and it is following federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance regarding further testing.

šŸ”¹Ā In fulfilling the commitment to promote good health, mental stimulation, and social engagement for its residents during the pandemic, Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community and its sister facilities across the Southeast have teamed up with Lee University to enroll 250 seniors in a virtual arts learning program hosted by Artist-in-Residence Maestro Bob Bernhardt.Ā In weekly webinars streamed every Friday in October, Maestro Bernhardt, artist-in-residence at Lee University and Principal Pops Conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, explores and discusses pieces of music from the middle ages to the modern-day and dives into how they can ignite emotions in listeners.

🔹 The McKinney Center will present their annual Holiday Fundraiser in a different way this year. In the spirit of safety, the “Soup and Songs” event has been transformed into “Holidays Around the World - A Soup and Songs Drive-Thru.” Tickets may be purchase online at Jonesborough.com/tickets or by calling the Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010.

šŸ”¹Ā The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COVID-19 data website now includes anĀ outbreaks in educational settingsĀ dashboard which shows a line list of outbreaks in Kindergarten-12th Grade Schools by school name with associated case numbers and deaths. It shows current and previous outbreaks of COVID-19 in specific schools in Virginia. The dashboard will help schools measure the extent to which the COVID-19 virus is spreading in their localities and guide possible responses to mitigate that spread.Ā Outbreaks on this dashboard represent discrete outbreaks occurring at schools. Only cases associated with outbreaks are displayed and not the total number of cases that are students or staff but unrelated to the outbreak. The dashboard lists public and private schools. Only the outbreaks where transmission occurred at the school or school-sponsored events are included.

šŸ”¹Ā The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees celebrated new enrollment records as well as the safety of its campuses during discussions of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 during its meetings Thursday and Friday.Ā UT Board of Trustees Chair John Compton praised the work by the system and campuses for the strong enrollment across the system, the Universityā€™s financial strength despite economic impacts due to COVID-19 and the efforts of the campuses to keep their faculty, staff and students safe.

šŸ”¹Ā The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it has authorized $500 million for a fourth round of purchases for theĀ USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA is issuing solicitations for the fourth round to existing Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) holders and expects to award contracts by Oct. 30 for deliveries of food boxes from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020.Ā Updates to the number of food boxes verified as delivered will continue to be displayed on the USDAā€™sĀ Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website, with breakdowns by performance period on theĀ Farmers to Families Food Box Program page.

šŸ”¹Ā Cases of COVID-19 have been increasing steadily over the last four weeks in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and Norton City. The LENOWISCO Health District, which includes the three counties and Norton City, surpassed a cumulative 1,300 cases this week. The district also has seen 27 COVID outbreaks, 103 COVID-related hospitalizations and 23 COVID-related deaths.Ā For more information on COVID-19, visitĀ https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā In the final week before Halloween, the city of Bristol, Tennessee reminds residents to exercise caution in planning their holiday activities to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses like the flu. As has always been the case, the city does not officially regulate trick-or-treating activities, and ultimately leaves the decision of how to celebrate this and other holidays up to individual households and neighborhoods. Nevertheless, families are strongly encouraged to adhere to the following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help protect the Bristol community from COVID-19.Ā For links to additional resources and ideas for how to safely celebrate Halloween this year, visit www.bristoltn.org/covid19.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced $22 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding will be used to create a statewide program to distribute COVID-19 vaccines when such vaccines are approved for public use. Virginiaā€™sĀ draft vaccination planĀ was submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month.Ā The $22 million allocation of CARES Act dollars will support the Virginia Department of Healthā€™s vaccination preparation and planning through the end of 2020. The Commonwealth will identify additional sources of funding to continue to support the vaccination program in 2021. The Virginia Department of Healthā€™s estimates the vaccination program will cost approximately $120 million.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that the Commonwealth will use $3 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to reimburse members of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (VAFCC) for clinicsā€™ COVID-19 expenses, including personal protective equipment, sanitation measures, telehealth, and hiring new staff.

Read more

Editorial: What places should we be avoiding?

COVID-19 in SWVA: State health officials warn of case surge in region

Four new COVID-19 deaths in region, Sullivan ranks sixth in state in active cases

Thursday, Oct. 22

News updates

🔹 The Virginia Department of Health will be conducting routine maintenance to the VDH external website (www.vdh.virginia.gov) on Saturday, Oct. 31, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 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 that may increase system downtime. For more information on COVID-19 during VDH website routine maintenance, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

šŸ”¹Ā The Kingsport Aquatic Center will begin offering swim lessons again this November. The KAC has developed new measures and will limit class sizes to ensure that participants are as safe as possible while in the water.Ā For a detailed class descriptions and registration information, please visitĀ swimkingsport.comĀ or call the Aquatic Center at 423-343-9758.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Oct. 17, 2020. Statewide, 9,873 new claims were filed, along with 77,740 continued claims.

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Gate City middle, high schools to move back to remote learning next week

Sullivan County ranks 7th in state for active COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 in SWVA: 28 new cases

Halloween also means last day for early voting in Virginia

Sullivan County, Tennessee on trend for record voter turnout

In response to COVID-19, Holston Valley to cut overnight stay elective procedures 25 percent

Wednesday, Oct. 21

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā Due to tightened safety restrictions, Symphony of the Mountains has made the decision to postpone its November Woodwind Quintet and Jazz Quartet concerts until later this season.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Department of Health today announcedĀ the stateā€™s infrastructure plan for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines once they become available. TDH in coordination with other state and local agencies submitted an initial draft of theĀ COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for TennesseeĀ to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 16, 2020.Ā TDH has developed a preliminary structure for the allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines:Ā 5% of Tennesseeā€™s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed equitably among all 95 counties;Ā 10% of Tennesseeā€™s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines will be reserved by the state for use in targeted areas with high vulnerability to illness and death from the virus; andĀ 85% of Tennesseeā€™s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed among all 95 counties based on their populations.

šŸ”¹Ā East Tennessee State Universityā€™s College of Public Health is hostingĀ ā€œCoronavirus: Separating Fact from Fiction,ā€Ā a presentation and question and answer session featuring three local experts on infectious diseases and public health.Ā The event, which is part of the collegeā€™s Leading Voices in Public Health lecture series, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom. It is free and open to the public.Ā To register for the event, visitĀ http://bit.ly/lvph1020.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam today announced $65.8 million in new funding to increase access to child care and support child care providers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This new investment is supported by $58.3 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars as well as a reallocation of $7.5 million in Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.Ā Parents who are in need of child care services should visit Child Care Aware atĀ VAchildcare.orgĀ or call 1-866-KIDS-TLC for an up-to-date list of child care options in their area.

šŸ”¹Ā Visit Johnson City (VJC) will partner with The Down Home to host two drive-in concerts in an effort to support the hospitality and entertainment industry. Since mid-March, the Down Home has not hosted any live concerts in their intimate listening room due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These drive-in concerts are aimed at giving the community a safe, socially distanced space to enjoy live music after months of no live performances.Ā A donation is suggested to reserve your space. Call Down Home atĀ (423) 929-9822Ā for more information.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced he has signed 16 new laws and proposed changes to five bills that will support the Commonwealthā€™s ongoing COVID-19 response and advance criminal justice reform.Ā A full list of legislation signed by the governor from the Special Session can be foundĀ here.

šŸ”¹ TennesseeĀ Gov. Bill Leeā€™s Unified Command Group will open drive through COVID-19 testing sites in three counties Saturday, Oct. 24, to address rising case rates in Tennesseeā€™s rural areas.Ā The testing events Saturday in Grundy, Fentress, and Dyer counties will begin an ongoing effort, through the fall, to bring weekend, drive through COVID-19 testing opportunities to rural Tennesseans.

Read more

ETSUā€™s ā€˜springā€™ football schedule revealed

Rogersville's free Thanksgiving dinner moving forward with COVID precautions

Pandemic slows SWVA Halloween events

Walters State December commencement to be online

One new COVID-19 death, 168 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: More than 30 new cases

'Sesame Street' launches podcast offering screen-free educational fun

Tuesday, Oct. 20

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee’s Unified Command Group today announced the launch of a new website to provide COVID-19 data, additional health information and relevant updates to Tennesseans. The site is now available at COVID19.tn.gov. The new COVID19.tn.gov website is designed to streamline and simplify some of the most frequently requested COVID-19 data for both desktop and mobile users. The site offers dashboards and daily reports with state and county-level information including case counts, hospitalizations and tests conducted. The site offers a screening tool for individuals to assess their risk of COVID-19 and practical tips on how to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Tennessee communities. A comprehensive map of testing sites across the state is also included. Information is tailored for groups such as individuals, families, educators and business owners.

šŸ”¹Ā The Scott County School Board will hold a special called meetingĀ on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 at 4 p.m. at the Scott County Career & Technical Center.Ā The topic of the special called meeting is a discussion/approval of an alternate school schedule due to COVID-19 related illnesses.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Dobyns-Bennett High School Alumni Association BoardĀ will recognizeĀ theĀ Dobyns-BennettĀ  Alumni Hall of Fame Class of 2020Ā inductees at theĀ Dobyns-Bennett home baseballĀ gameĀ onĀ Friday, March 19, 2021 located at J. Fred Johnson StadiumĀ and during theĀ inductionĀ ceremonyĀ scheduledĀ forĀ Saturday, March 20, 2021Ā atĀ 11 a.m.Ā located at theĀ MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort and Convention Center - Cattails Ballroom. The recognition and ceremony originally scheduled for October 2020 were postponed until the SpringĀ ofĀ 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.Ā Tickets can beĀ purchasedĀ onlineĀ here. The reservation deadline isĀ March 1, 2021.

šŸ”¹ VirginiaĀ Gov. Ralph Northam today released the inauguralĀ Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger, which establishes a unified set of goals and strategies to prioritize food security during the current public health emergency and beyond. The roadmap was produced by Gov. Northamā€™sĀ Childrenā€™s Cabinet.Ā In Virginia and across the country, food insecurity rates are increasing, with an estimated 445,000 additional Virginians experiencing food insecurity because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.Ā Prior to the onset of this public health crisis, approximately 850,000 Virginians were food insecure, including 250,000 children.

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee today announced a new ad campaign, ā€œChoicesā€, to promote responsible decision-making by Tennesseans as the state continues to fight the spread of COVID-19. The ad will air across the state on broadcast, cable and digital media.Ā The PSA launches in tandem with aĀ new COVID-19 websiteĀ from the Tennessee Department of Health that provides Tennesseans with improved tools to make informed decisions for their health. The website can be found atĀ https://covid19.tn.gov/.

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Rogersville City School going mostly virtual due to spike in COVID cases

Six new COVID-19 deaths, 148 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: 26 new cases

Outdoor WiFi hotspots provided for students at all Kingsport public schools

Monday, Oct. 19

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā St. Paulā€™s Episcopal Church in Kingsport will host a new online store for its 2020 Christmas Bazaar, making holiday shopping safe and easy.Ā BrowseĀ andĀ buy atĀ www.stpaulsbazaar.comĀ from Nov. 6-20Ā for artisan crafts, holiday gifts and gourmet goods. Shoppers can purchase and pay online, then choose curbside pick-upĀ on Saturday, Nov. 21,Ā or have their order shipped. This year marks St. Paulā€™s 12thĀ annual Christmas Bazaar; proceeds support the shared church ministries of the Kingsport Community Ministry Center (KCMC) and Laundry Love, as well as St. Paulā€™s Day School & Kindergarten. For more information about St. Paulā€™s Episcopal Church, visitĀ www.stpaulskingsportdioet.org/.

šŸ”¹Ā The Supreme Court of Virginia has extendedĀ the Declaration of Judicial Emergency through Nov. 22, 2020, and ordered that the provisions of the Eleventh Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency In Response To Covid-19 Emergency, entered Sept. 28, 2020 (Eleventh Order), shall continue to apply in all courts of the Commonwealth for the duration of this Order unless amended by future order.Ā This order shall be in effect from Nov. 2, 2020, through Nov. 22, 2020. Accordingly, the Period of Judicial Emergency now extends from March 16, 2020, through Nov. 22, 2020.

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Kingsport schools go partial hybrid; Sullivan makes 6th grade of one middle school all virtual

One new COVID-19 death, 318 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: 14 cases

What do we know about superspreader events in the pandemic?

Sullivan readying for COVID vaccine distribution

Sunday, Oct. 18

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Two new COVID-19 deaths, 168 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: Cases spike by 34

Saturday, Oct. 17

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Volunteer High School Key Club will host a trunk-or-treat community event from 6 to 8 p.m., Oct. 28 in the Volunteer High School parking lot in Church Hill. Social distancing guidelines will be in place to ensure a safe and fun trick-or-treating opportunity for local children.

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COVID-19 in SWVA: 28 new cases

129 new COVID-19 cases push Sullivan past 3,000 mark

Friday, Oct. 16

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn today called for removing negative consequences for schools and educators associated with student assessments for the 2020-2021 school year. Student assessments will be conducted as planned. ā€œGiven the unprecedented disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic and extended time away from the classroom has had on Tennesseeā€™s students, my Administration will work with the General Assembly to bring forward a solution for this school year that alleviates any burdens associated with educator evaluations and school accountability metrics,ā€ said Gov. Lee. ā€œAccountability remains incredibly important for the education of Tennesseeā€™s students, and we will keep this yearā€™s assessments in place to ensure an accurate picture of where our students are and what supports are needed to regain learning loss and get them back on the path to success.ā€Ā 

🔹 Catholic Charities of East Tennessee (CCETN) has joined the national USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program, where the USDA partners with national, regional and local farmers whose buyers have been severely impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses. Housed under the Coronavirus Food Assistance program, the Farmers to Families Food Box program will purchase up to $4 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products from American producers of all sizes. CCETN is the recipient of up to 1,800 boxes, all which contain family size portions of fresh dairy, meat, produce and fruit products. Local sites aim to serve Washington, Sevier, Unicoi and Sullivan counties. All individuals and families are welcome to come and receive a box until supplies last. In Kingsport, pickup will begin at 9 a.m., Oct. 24, at St. Dominic Catholic Church, 2517 John B. Dennis Hwy. In Johnson City, pickup will begin at 10:30 a.m., Oct. 24, at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 2211 E. Lakeview Drive. For additional information, members of the public can contact the individual churches or CCETN at development@ccetn.org or call (865) 524-9896.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that the Department of the Treasuryā€™s Unclaimed Property Program returned more than $67.8 million in unclaimed property to Virginians in fiscal year 2020, representing over 111,000 asset accounts. New virtual outreach has been implemented this year to assist individuals with filing their claims amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.Ā Virginians can easily search the Commonwealthā€™s unclaimed property database by visitingĀ VaMoneySearch.org.

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Local health official: COVID-19 spike is due to community spread, not identifiable cluster

COVID-19 in SWVA: 23-case spike in region

Home Craft Days Festival goes virtual Friday and Saturday

Shoney's in Kingsport to close Sunday

Lee calls for teachers, schools to be held harmless from accountability measures because of COVID-19

Thursday, Oct. 15

News updates

🔹 Emory & Henry Athletics announced all non-essential athletic activities including practices have been temporarily suspended as of today. The Washington County Health Department will be on site next week to offer rapid tests for athletes and students as well as faculty and staff. "We currently have 13 confirmed cases and 16 students in quarantine. You can continue to track on the COVID dashboard, www.ehc.edu/covid19," the release said. None of the active cases have been tied to any specific team. Athletics is making every effort to adhere to campus policies and the recommendations of the NCAA. In an abundance of caution, we feel it is in the best interest of our athletes and staff to temporarily suspend our activities so that our students can return to good health and return to activities as soon as possible. The academic programming of the campus is still operating normally. Athletes who are commuters are encouraged to come to classes and access academics services as needed.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced $73 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to provide hazard pay to home health personal care attendants who served high-risk populations during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā A one-time, pre-tax payment of $1,500 will be available to an estimated 43,500 home health care workers who provide personal care and who served Medicaid members between March 12 and June 30, 2020.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Oct. 10, 2020. Statewide, 10,145 new claims were filed, along with 90,507 continued claims.

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Two new COVID-19 deaths, 84 new cases reported in Sullivan County

Shay's Bucs, back on practice court, are 'coming along'

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region total rises by 13 cases

Wednesday, Oct. 14

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 700 Cumberland St., announces that due to COVID-19, for the first time since 1981, will be unable to host the Annual Community Christmas Dinner.Ā For additional information please contact Emmanuel Episcopal Church at 276-669-9488 orĀ emmanuelbristol@gmail.com.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is working with local schools to give eligible families who missed the deadline to apply for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program another chance to receive food assistance. The department is sending a P-EBT card to the last school those qualifying students attended in the spring for their parents to pick up.Ā P-EBT provides parents with $5.70 in benefits per student for each day that child qualifies. These benefits can be used to purchase food at any establishment that accepts EBT or online with Amazon and Walmart.Ā Qualifying families will need to provide a valid ID to the school to pick up the cards. Any cards that arenā€™t picked up after thirty days will be returned to TDHS for disposal.

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee are quarantining at home ā€œout of an abundance of cautionā€ after a member of the governorā€™s security detail tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19. The governor has tested negative for COVID-19 and said he is feeling well. The first lady was to be tested Wednesday afternoon. No staff is believed to be positive. The security team member has not been identified, and the source of the infection is not known. Lee told reporters on a news briefing call Wednesday afternoon the protocols for contact tracing will be followed, as with any other case.

šŸ”¹Ā East Tennessee State University will host its 11thĀ Annual Health Professions Recruitment Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET.Ā Registration is now open for the free event, which will be held for the first time in a virtual format on Zoom due to COVID-19 precautions.Ā Registration is required atĀ www.etsu.edu/cas/case/mpa.

šŸ”¹Ā Through the Ignite Program, United Way of Southwest Virginia continues to connect the regionā€™s youth with the skills, experiences, and support needed for good-paying jobs and lifelong careers - despite the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Careers Expo for Youth is one component of the Ignite program, which works to connect students to regional employers.Ā To visit the 2020 Careers Expo for Youth website, visit https://unitedwayswva.org/virtual-expo/.

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Walmart to spread out deals to avoid Black Friday crowds

East Tennessee Foundation awards Neighbor to Neighbor grant to Salvation Army

Sullivan has most COVID-19 active cases and total cases among Northeast Tennessee counties

COVID-19 in SWVA: 18 cases in region

Tuesday, Oct. 13

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹ OnĀ Tuesday, Oct. 20, chromebooks will be available for checkout at your local branch of Lonesome Pine Regional Library. These laptops only use Google Chrome as their browser and operating system; they are fast, secure and simple to use. Funding for this project is allocatedĀ from the COVID CARES Act through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the Library of Virginia. For more information, call Jennifer Hall at 276-328-8325, contact your nearest LPRL branch, or visit us at www.lprlibrary.org.

šŸ”¹Ā East Tennessee State University announced in-person campus visits at East Tennessee State University campus have resumed and the experience is better than ever. Multiple campus walking tours are offered weekdays for groups of 12 or fewer, each led by an Expedition Leader. These diverse undergraduate students guide prospective students and guests on a journey to discover the educational and co-curricular opportunities available among stunning campus scenery. More information about virtual, self-guided and in-person campus tours, as well as current schedule and registration is available at etsu.edu/visit.

šŸ”¹Ā The University of Tennessee System, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Tennessee Manufacturers Association, and Alliance for Better Nonprofits have partnered to create a series of webinars for businesses and nonprofits geared toward tackling common issues faced during the global coronavirus pandemic.Ā The webinar series runs Oct. 27 through Nov. 19, with most sessions occurring on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. The webinar sessions are free, but registration is required in advance. Each webinar lasts between 60-90 minutes.Ā To learn more about the series and register for sessions, please visitĀ webinars.tennessee.edu.

šŸ”¹Ā AstraZeneca is advancing into phase 3 clinical trials with an investigational COVID-19 therapy of two long-acting antibodies discovered by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and optimized by AstraZeneca.Ā AZD7442 is among several antibody treatments being tested clinically for their ability to prevent or treat infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.Ā AstraZeneca optimized the antibodies in AZD7442 using its proprietary half-life extension technology to extend the antibodies' duration of action (the amount of time that the antibodies remain in the body).Ā The goal is to provide protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection lasting for six to 12 months following a single administration, AstraZenecaĀ announced. The company plans to evaluate the long-acting antibody combination in different settings, including prophylaxis, outpatient treatment and hospitalization.

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Two new COVID-19 deaths reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region total jumps by 29 cases

2020 FL3TCH3R Exhibit offers gallery, virtual options

Monday, Oct. 12

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Cloudsplitter 100 race moving forward with COVID-19 guidelines

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region sees 10 cases

Kingsport Alliance for Continued Learning releases fall schedule

Five new COVID-19 deaths, 189 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Sunday, Oct. 11

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160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Northeast Tennessee, including 62 in Sullivan County

The "So-say-shun" is headed back to Ohio, and we hope to go

COVID-19 in SWVA: Regionā€™s cases spike to 22, one new death

Pumpkin decorating, scary stories and more on tap at Kingsport library

Hawkins County EMS: The pandemic made one of the most stressful jobs in the world even harder

Saturday, Oct. 10

Read more

Two new COVID-19 deaths, 154 more cases reported in NET

Lee schools, Ballad Health get more than $1M in telelearning, telemedicine grants

Lee, Norton schools report total of three COVID-19 infections

Friday, Oct. 9

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of AgricultureĀ (USDA)Ā is extending flexibilities to allow free meals to continue to be available to all children throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year. This unprecedented move is part of USDAā€™s commitment to ensuring all children across America have access to nutritious food as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant of $313,361 will be awarded to Ballad Health to fund a school-based telemedicine virtual health clinic for eight counties across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.Ā In addition to this grant, Ballad Health is contributing $55,299 of the project cost. This project will benefit 46,765 people. A list of participating schools can be foundĀ here.

šŸ”¹Ā Since March, the Tennessee National Guard has been working diligently alongside Tennesseeā€™s Department of Health, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and various other state and local agencies to successfully administer COVID-19 tests to fellow Tennesseans. By Oct. 8, Tennessee guardsmen have successfully tested over 400,000 of their fellow citizens.Ā Of the 400,000 Tennesseans guardsmen have tested, they administered over 57,000 to the most vulnerable populations.

šŸ”¹Ā Vanderbilt University Medical Center has performed the worldā€™s first dual heart-lung transplant of a COVID-19 patient.Ā The complex procedure, completed on Sept. 24, is the first heart-lung transplant VUMC has performed since 2006.Ā The transplant patient, a young man, had cardiomyopathy before contracting COVID-19 in June, said Ashish Shah, MD, professor and chair of Cardiac Surgery, who performed the surgery along with Matthew Bacchetta, MD, MBA, associate professor of Thoracic Surgery.Ā Shah said the bout with COVID-19 seriously damaged the manā€™s lungs and may have also further damaged his heart. By September, he was critically ill with advanced heart and lung disease and was referred to VUMC from the University of Mississippi Medical Center by a former Vanderbilt trainee.

šŸ”¹Ā Local Climate Reality Leaders Dr. Audrey Depelteau, director of the East Tennessee State University Innovation Lab, and ETSU student Irene Pulton will join former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project for ā€œ24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Futureā€ on Saturday, Oct. 10.Ā For audiences across the planet, ā€œ24 Hours of Realityā€ will be an opportunity to learn how climate change, COVID-19 and structural racism intersect and shape the present moment. It will also demonstrate actionable solutions for solving the climate and justice crises together to create a truly equitable and sustainable future for all.Ā Click hereĀ to join the Zoom meeting to access the presentation. The Zoom Meeting ID is 822 6217 0541 and the Passcode is 282482.

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Northeast Tennessee COVID-19 cases top 10,000

COVID-19 in SWVA: Nine new cases

Second Harvest named one of top four food banks in America

COVID course change: Sullivan school board extends virtual Wednesdays

Hawkins BOE approves continuing 4-day week until Christmas break

Thursday, Oct. 8

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Dobyns-Bennett High School Alumni Association BoardĀ has postponed theĀ Dobyns-Bennett AlumniĀ HallĀ ofĀ Fame football game recognitionĀ andĀ ceremonyĀ scheduledĀ forĀ Friday, Oct. 16, andĀ Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. The decision was made due to COVID-19 concerns. The recognition and ceremony has been postponed until the spring of 2021; a date has not yet been selected.

šŸ”¹Ā The Jonesborough Senior Center will be reopening its doors after Gov. Lee authorized that senior centers across Tennessee can reopen. On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the senior center will be open to members for the first time since closing in March. In an effort to keep all members and staff safe, they will be social distancing, increasing sanitation efforts, operating at a reduced capacity and requiring masks.

šŸ”¹ The Exchange Place will offer its popular Witches Wynd as a virtual event, beginning Oct. 23 and available through Oct. 31. See five noted storytellers weave their tales. A recommended donation of $7 can be made at the time of viewing. To learn more, call (423) 288-6071.

News updates

šŸ”¹ VirginiaĀ Gov. Ralph Northam today announced a new allocation of more than $220 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to help K-12 public schools in Virginia. The funding will support COVID-19 preparedness and response measures for the 2020ā€“2021 school year, including testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitization, and technology for distance learning. Funding will be distributed to all 132 public school districts using an allocation formula of $175 per pupil based on fall enrollment, with a minimum of $100,000 for each school division.Ā More information on the amount of funding allocated to each school division can be foundĀ here.

šŸ”¹Ā The popular annual play A Spot on the Hill, written by Heritage Alliance director Anne Gā€™Fellers-Mason, usually performs before sold-out crowds at the historic cemetery in Jonesborough, and features stories about the people buried there. This year, due to COVID-19, the cast was unable to perform as usual. However, the Heritage Alliance is partnering with the StoryTown Radio Show this month to present a combined production: A Spot on the Hill: On the Air!Ā The livestream event will take place virtually on Monday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. The audio version will air on WETS 89.5 FM Johnson City on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 8 p.m., and the podcast will be available starting Friday, Oct. 30, on the StoryTown podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts.

šŸ”¹Ā Middle Tennessee State UniversityĀ normally drives hundreds of miles across Tennessee and major cities in three states to recruit several thousand prospective students and court their counselors on its annualĀ True Blue Tour. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Campus leaders will be meeting and greeting and interacting with high school and transfer students virtually this fall.Ā The university has scheduled fourĀ Virtual True Blue TourĀ events ā€” forĀ East,Ā MiddleĀ andĀ West TennesseeĀ and the finale for anyĀ out-of-stateĀ students.Ā RegistrationĀ is required.Ā For more information, visitĀ https://www.mtsu.edu/schedule-a-visit/, email admissions atĀ admissions@mtsu.eduĀ or call 615-898-2233.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Oct. 3, 2020. Statewide, 9,839 new claims were filed, along with 125,238 continued claims.

Read more

COVID-19 in SWVA: 17 cases in two days

Two new COVID-19 deaths, 85 new cases in Northeast Tennessee

Healthy Kingsport ā€” During flu season, begin with a strong defense

Dobyns-Bennett Alumni Board postpones 2020 Alumni Hall of Fame ceremony

Am I immune to the coronavirus if I've already had it?

VP debate takeaways: Pandemic looms over a more civil fight

Next presidential debate to be virtual; Trump vows not to participate

Wednesday, Oct. 7

News updates

🔹 Main Street Jonesborough and the Jonesborough Area Merchants & Service Association (JAMSA) recently awarded over $10,000 to local small businesses as part of Jonesborough’s Small Business Recovery fund. The recovery fund was created in an effort to help with the devastating economic impacts that the coronavirus pandemic has had on local businesses within Jonesborough’s community. If you would like to give to Jonesborough’s small businesses you can do so at Jonesborough.com/recoveryfund.

šŸ”¹ VirginiaĀ Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia is allocating $30 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to improve broadband access in underserved localities.Ā Localities must apply for the funding, and eligible projects are those able to be completed within the time constraints on spending federal dollars, which means more Virginians could get connected to high-speed, broadband internet by the end of the year.Ā Detailed program and application information will be made available atĀ commonwealthconnect.virginia.gov.

🔹 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group (FSAG) today announced an initial $50 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds for the new Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant (SERG) program to provide additional relief to small businesses suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new wave of funding includes specific support for minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses, as well as businesses owned by disabled persons. To apply and learn more about what is eligible for reimbursement, visit https://tncaresact.tn.gov/SERG. For application assistance, call 1-833-740-1438 or email support@TNCARESACT.com.

Read more

Editorial: Limit hazard pay to those who encounter hazards

318 new COVID-19 cases reported in NET; Sullivan death total drops by one

COVID-19 in SWVA: No new cases

Despite local COVID-19 spike, Rogersville Heritage Days still on for this weekend

Trump doctor: President symptom-free 24 hours

Airport director: Without CARES Act, 'I'm not so sure we would be operating now'

Cherokee leads Hawkins schools in COVID cases, quarantines by wide margin

Tuesday, Oct. 6

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā The Conference Carolinas Board of Directors unanimously agreed to officially start the conference basketball season in January of 2021.Ā The decision was made in the best interest of Conference Carolinas student-athletes, coaches and administrators due to the continued challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā Conference Carolinas menā€™s and womenā€™s basketball teams will officially return to campus for practice for the start of league play on Dec. 28, 2020.Ā In addition, the conceptual start date of conference play is to be no earlier than Jan. 13, 2021. The Conference Carolinas Directors of Athletics are scheduled to meet in the near future to continue working on designing an updated conference basketball schedule for the spring of 2021.

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Northeast Branch, will be hosting a virtual community educational forum onĀ Thursday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m.Ā Many local political candidates will participate. This event is designed to give candidates the opportunity to share their goals, objectives and positions on issues with members of our organization, ETSU students and faculty and members of the community. Each participant will be allotted a time period to speak and answer questions. The event is free and open to the public and will be held on Zoom with Meeting ID: 983 3566 9397.Ā Social workers will be able to obtain 1 CEU for attendance; information for obtaining the certificate will be available during the meeting.Ā 

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COVID-19 in SWVA: LENOWISCO Health District passes 1,000-case mark

Three new COVID-19 deaths, 132 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Mount Carmel BMA candidates invited to virtual meet and greet

How do I politely ask someone to wear a mask?

FDA discloses vaccine guidelines blocked by White House

Trump, back at White House, compares COVID to seasonal flu

Monday, Oct. 5

Read more

Trump, still infectious, back at White House ā€” without mask

No new COVID-19 deaths, 121 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

How long could I be contagious before a positive virus test?

COVID-19 in SWVA: Nine new cases in LENOWISCO district

Mountain Strings back in swing with twin concerts

Doctor to deliver update on Trump's condition

Sunday, Oct. 4

Read more

Kingsport Senior Center ready to reopen its doors

Two new COVID-19 deaths reported in Sullivan County

COVID-19 in SWVA: Two school districts, one government office confirm new cases

Saturday, Oct. 3

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Three new COVID-19 deaths, 62 new cases in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19: Southwest Virginia cases rise by 10

Three new teacher COVID cases force Cherokee to keep all students home next week

Friday, Oct. 2

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The annual ā€œFL3TCH3R Exhibit: Social and Politically Engaged Artā€ at East Tennessee State Universityā€™s Reece MuseumĀ will be a hybrid, part in-person and part virtual for 2020.Ā For more information about the exhibit, visitĀ www.FL3TCH3Rexhibit.com.

šŸ”¹Ā The Kingsport Senior Center main site, located on the first floor of the Renaissance Center, will reopen on Monday, Oct. 5. The centerā€™s hours of operation will be Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All branch sites will remain closed until further notice.Ā For questions or more information, call 423-392-8400. Visit the Kingsport Senior Center on Facebook for the most up-to-date information regarding reopening.

šŸ”¹Ā In accordance with the current scientific understanding of COVID-19, Tennesseeā€™s Economic Recovery Group issued updated guidance today for businesses and other activities under theĀ Tennessee Pledge. The updates follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and maintain emphasis on key preventative measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and frequent disinfection. The update followsĀ executive ordersĀ signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee earlier this week.Ā The updated and streamlined guidance aligns with recent amendments to state-issued Executive Orders and enable Tennessee businesses to operate with more flexibility where social distancing protocols remain in place. Full guidelines can be found atĀ TNpledge.com.

šŸ”¹ TennesseeĀ Gov. Bill Lee and TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe were in LebanonĀ Tuesday to announce Moldex-Metric's new Tennessee facility. The California-basedĀ N95 mask manufacturerĀ will invest $25 million and create 220 jobs in Wilson County.Ā Moldex is the second largest manufacturer of N95 respirators in North America. The companyĀ is expanding its N95 respirator capacity to meet the surge in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as future market demand.

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Craft has announced its inaugural virtual fair, Oct. 9-31, 2020. Fair Director Kim Waag said, ā€œWe have combined our 2020 spring and fall fairs to bring together artists from across the Southeast and around the country. You will be able to browse and shop unique, finely crafted artwork directly from these juried, award-winning artists in their virtual booths, artists that you would have visited at the 2020 in person craft fairs. And you can do it all from the comfort of your home!ā€ VisitĀ tennesseecraft.org/2020virtualfairĀ beginning Oct. 9 to participate in this new craft fair experience.

šŸ”¹Ā The Virginia Department of Health recommends people celebrate Halloween safely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. VDH recommends not trick or treating in large groups or outside your own neighborhood, and not holding haunted houses or other large Halloween parties. To stay healthy and safe during Halloween, consider activities such as decorating your living space, carving pumpkins with people who live with you, or having a virtual Halloween costume contest.Ā To learn more about how to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 during the Halloween season, seeĀ VDH Interim Guidelines for Participating in Halloween EventsĀ and theĀ CDCā€™s Guidance for Holiday Celebrations.

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AP source: 2 more Titans test positive in COVID-19 outbreak

Biden awaiting results of coronavirus test

Update: Trump, first lady positive for virus; he has 'mild symptoms'

TRI spokeswoman: American Airlines hasn't notified us of any flight loss

President Trump and first lady test positive for COVID-19

Thursday, Oct. 1

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā Sullivan South's football gameĀ scheduled for Friday at Union County has been canceled. It will not be rescheduled, and the Rebels will receive a COVID region win.

šŸ”¹Ā Sullivan County Schools announced aĀ member of the football community at Sullivan East High SchoolĀ has tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the Oct. 2 Homecoming football game with Grainger and all homecoming festivities will be postponed. Homecoming activities are tentatively rescheduled for Oct. 16. Tickets purchased for the Oct. 2 game will be honored at the Oct. 16 game.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) announced his monthly constituent services outreach forĀ Sullivan County, normally scheduled for 9-11 a.m. at the Slater Community Center,Ā will be handled remotely for the month of October.Ā This is not a cancelation of constituent service hours, but another way the congressman can effectively assist his constituents with the extraordinary measures put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Ā Congressman Roeā€™s staff continue to be available for designated office hoursĀ MondayĀ throughĀ FridayĀ fromĀ 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.Ā to assist First District constituents. To speak with one of the district representatives in our Kingsport office callĀ 423-247-8161.

šŸ”¹ VirginiaĀ Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that the Virginia Open Data Portal now includes more than a dozen new COVID-19 datasets from the Virginia Department of Health. The launch of the new Virginia Open Data Portal, which is a collaboration between the Office of the Chief Data Officer and the Library of Virginia, was accelerated amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to provide greater access to the data informing public health officials and allow Virginians to interact with it.Ā Learn more about the Virginia Open Data Portal and access the Commonwealthā€™s datasets atĀ data.virginia.gov.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 26, 2020. Statewide, there were 9,802 new claims, along with 138,727 continued claims. In Sullivan County, there were 199 initial claims, along with 2,330 continued claims. In Hawkins County, there were 60 initial claims, along with 731 continued claims.

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Two new COVID-19 deaths in Hawkins County, 52 new cases in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia cases rise by 15

This year's KOSBEs will honor small businesses via livestream

Virginia-Wise football will play four games in the spring; basketball set to begin in November

Ballad officials warn of potential COVID-19-related complication in children

NFL postpones Steelers-Titans after 2 more positive tests

Hawkins commissioners oppose COVID hazard pay for non-sheriff's employees

Wednesday, Sept. 30

News updates

🔹 Northeast Tennessee American Job Centers will reopen on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Hours are from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. Northeast Tennessee American Job Centers will follow social distancing protocols and will require COVID-19 pre-screening prior to entry. Face masks are required. In order to observe social distancing requirements, appointments are encouraged but not required. Please call ahead for more information. To file an unemployment claim online visit jobs4tn.gov. If you have questions regarding a claim, please call 844-224-5818.

šŸ”¹ The 32nd Annual Southern Festival of Books virtual event begins Oct. 1 and will feature live sessions with more than 100 authors across all genres. See the full schedule here.

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156 new COVID-19 cases, but no more deaths in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19: far Southwest Virginia cases see another double-digit spike

Quilt commemorates Hawkins County's face mask-making 'sewing soldiers'

Virus outbreak pushes Steelers-Titans to Monday or Tuesday

Hawkins mayor allows mask mandate to expire at midnight Tuesday

Virginia legislators, prison staff union concerned over inmate COVID-19 cases

Tuesday, Sept. 29

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā As a National State of Emergency remains in place, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced today the State of Emergency in Tennessee will continue through October with adjustments made to previous executive orders.Ā Gov. Lee today signed Executive Order No. 63 to extend certain, targeted provisions of previous executive orders through Oct. 30, including the authority of local governments to institute mask requirements. Remaining restrictions on businesses and gathering sizes in the 89 counties with a state-run health department have been removed.Ā Gov. Lee also signed Executive Order No. 64, which extends through Oct. 30 provisions that allow for remote notarization and witnessing of documents. Executive Order No. 60, which extends through Oct. 28 provisions that allow for electronic government meetings subject to transparency safeguards, including the requirement of live broadcasts of electronic meetings to the public beginning Oct. 1, remains in effect.

šŸ”¹Ā After consultation with the Carter County and Regional Health Departments, Elizabethton City Schools will transition from the current, two days a week in-person instruction plan, to four days a week in-person instruction plan for students in grades 6-12 beginning Oct. 5, 2020. Wednesday will continue to be a remote day for all students in grades Pre-K ā€“ 12. This will allow for deep cleaning procedures to continue at all school locations. This change does not affect students who are on the distance learning track.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that more than 100 million food boxes have been distributed in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through the U.S. Department of Agricultureā€™s (USDA)Ā Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Earlier this month, the departmentĀ announced it had entered into contracts with 50 entities for the third round of food box deliveries, which include contracts to purchase up to $1 billionĀ authorized byĀ President Donald J. Trump.

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Seven new COVID-19 deaths, 43 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia sees 12-case spike

How can I tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

1 million COVID deaths 'a very sad milestone' -- WHO

Titans have NFL's first COVID-19 outbreak, with 8 positives

Football playoffs could have makeshift look in 2020

Monday, Sept. 28

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously extendsĀ the Declaration of Judicial Emergency through Nov. 1, 2020, and orders that the provisions of the Tenth Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency In Response To Covid-19 Emergency, entered Sept. 4, 2020 (Tenth Order), to emphasize that all clerks should accept filings submitted by facsimile or e-mail, shall continue to apply in all courts of the Commonwealth for the duration of this order unless amended by future order.Ā Pursuant to Va. Code Ā§ 17.1-330, all courts continue to be authorized to accept pleadings, orders and other documents that are electronically signed.Ā All courts should continue to conduct as much business as possible by means other than in-person court proceedings.Ā This order shall be in effect from Oct. 12, 2020, through Nov. 1, 2020. Accordingly, the Period of Judicial Emergency now extends from March 16, 2020, through Nov. 1, 2020. The Declaration of Judicial Emergency may be extended for additional periods as provided in Va. Code Ā§ 17.1-330(E).

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced more than $8.4 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for 14 projects that will help rural communities across Virginia respond to recover from the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā The following local projects will receive CDBG funding:Ā LENOWISCO Regional Small Business Recovery Assistance ofĀ $1,700,000 for City of Norton andĀ Lunchbox276 ofĀ $187,500 for Wise County.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a newĀ Pandemic Metrics Dashboard, which shows a visualization of COVID-19 community transmission by region. Updated weekly, this dashboard will show: data trends for COVID-19 in specific communities; where the COVID-19 virus is spreading; and assist local and state governments in determining additional mitigation measures.

šŸ”¹Ā BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is launching a statewide awareness campaign to educate Tennesseans on the importance of the flu vaccine ahead of the 2020ā€“2021 flu season. According to the CDC, on average, the flu hospitalizes more than 200,000 Americans per year. It is crucial to receive the flu vaccine early considering the overlap of the flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an approximate two-week wait time for the flu vaccine to become fully effective.

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Editorial: Simple gestures can make a big difference

41 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths, reported in Northeast Tennessee

Tennesseans with virus-susceptible roomies OKed to mail vote

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia adds five cases

COVID-19 positivity tops 25% in some states

Brewers, Astros ā€“ both under .500 ā€” make 'pandemic playoffs'

YMCA expands its mission during COVID-19 pandemic

Sunday, Sept. 27

Read more

Through pickleball, local seniors staying engaged during pandemic

108 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths reported Sunday in Northeast Tennessee region

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia adds seven cases

StoryTown Radio Show honors first responders

Saturday, Sept. 26

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Reemploy Tennessee initiative begins Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development reminds unemployment claimants that is the day the work search requirement resumes to remain eligible to receive benefits. If a claimant chooses to continue receiving unemployment benefits, they must make at least three potential job contacts between Sunday, Sept. 27, and Saturday, Oct. 3. They will then report those work search activities during the certification week that begins Sunday, Oct. 4. This will be part of the weekly certification process moving forward. If a claimant has a definitive return-to-work date due to a temporary layoff, or a COVID-19 related exemption, they do not need to complete this requirement. The system will not prompt exempt claimants to complete the work search portion of the certification process.

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Department of Corrections will resume visitation for inmates at three TDOC facilities beginning next weekend. A modified visitation schedule is planned for the Turney Center Industrial Complex, the Morgan County Correctional Complex and the Mark Luttrell Transition Center beginning Saturday, October 3. The Department of Correction suspended visitation at all TDOC facilities in March as COVID-19 began to spread in the community. The decision to resume limited visitation at three facilities was based on community data from the Department of Health, as well as the absence of active COVID-19 cases at each facility.Ā View additional guidelines prior to visiting.

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COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia adds 10 cases

93 new COVID-19 cases, one new death in Northeast Tennessee region

International Storytelling Center gearing up for first virtual Storytelling Festival

Tom Cromie on the front line of COVID-19 food relief

Friday, Sept. 25

News updates

🔹 The Kingsport Aquatic Center has resumed rental reservations on a limited basis. This comes as part of the KAC’s phased reopening plan. Guests will be able to rent the new heated outdoor lap pool for the first time since its opening. Rentals are available on Thursdays and Fridays from 7:30-9:30 p.m., as well as Saturdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. For more information including pricing, visit swimkingsport.com or call 423-343-9758. To book your reservation, please visit the KAC front desk or call 423-343-9758.

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee today announced a five-day extension for eligible small businesses to certify for the Tennessee Business Relief Program (TBRP). ā€œWe want to ensure this relief makes it to as many small businesses as possible who are hurting from the impacts of the pandemic,ā€ said Gov. Lee. ā€œI encourage every eligible business to certify and take advantage of these no-cost funds.ā€Ā Businesses can check their eligibility atĀ businessrelief.tn.gov. Eligible businesses can certifyĀ here.

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Kingsport Chamber Annual Dinner moved to April

Daniel Boone at Dobyns-Bennett football game canceled

Virginia governor, first lady test positive for COVID-19

Three new deaths, 124 new COVID-19 cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia adds eight cases

Thursday, Sept. 24

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹ TheĀ 2021 Kingsport Chamber (74th) Annual DinnerĀ has been moved to Friday, April 2, 2021. The original date was Friday, Feb. 5.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tickets for the National Storytelling Festivalā€™s longest-standing tradition, Ghost Stories, are now available. The set of spooky seasonal stories, beloved by festival goers for decades, will air live on Saturday, Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m.Ā The concert is just one event that will take place the weekend of the 48th annual National Storytelling Festival, which will stream digitally October 1-3. Admission is free for the Festivalā€™s weekend passholders, or tickets for the Ghost Stories events can be purchased separately for $10.Ā The concertā€™s digital format is part of the Festivalā€™s overall shift to online presentation in 2020, which has been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā For more information or to purchase tickets, visitĀ http://www.storytellingcenter.net/festival or call 800-952-8392.

šŸ”¹Ā Students applying for admission to East Tennessee State University for the 2021 year will not be required to submit ACT and SAT scores.Ā  The university will use the applicantā€™s GPA in making decisions regarding admissions.Ā  Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement may be required to present an ACT or SAT score.Ā Those who are seeking consideration for scholarships, however, such as the Academic Performance Scholarship, must submit any required ACT/SAT score by March 1, 2021.Ā  Students do not need to make a separate application for scholarships but need to have taken the ACT/SAT by March 1.Ā ā€œSince the start of the pandemic, many SAT and ACT testing dates have been cancelled, and while testing opportunities are being offered again, cancellations are also happening,ā€ said Dr. Sam Mayhew, associate vice president for Student Life and Enrollment at ETSU.Ā  ā€œWe want to do everything we can to assist students and help them navigate through these challenges as they make plans to begin their journey toward a college degree next fall.ā€

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced the expansion of the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP), which firstĀ launched at the end of JuneĀ with $50 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to assist households facing eviction or foreclosure due to COVID-19. Landlords can now apply to receive financial assistance for current and past-due rental payments dating back to April 1, 2020, on behalf of their tenants who qualify for RMRP.Ā This new application is available in addition to the existing tenant-based application.

šŸ”¹Ā Belk is inviting 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations to raise funds and compete for a $5,000 donation for their organization through its community-based Charity Sale, taking placeĀ Oct. 9-11.Ā At a time when many nonprofits are struggling due to the impacts of COVID-19, Belk is upping its long-standing support of local nonprofits by offering an additional donation of $5,000 to the organization that raises the most money online through its Charity Sale.Ā Nonprofits can visitĀ https://belk.donately.com/signup.htmlĀ to learn more and to register for the Charity Sale.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 19. Statewide, 11,313 new claims were filed, along with 152,195 continued claims. In Sullivan County, 226 new claims were filed, along with 2,616 continued claims. In Hawkins County, 83 new claims were filed, along with 824 continued claims.

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City schools report 8 Jefferson COVID-19 cases, 1 in D-B football; to buy D-B EXCEL campus

Prep basketball set to begin in December in Virginia

How you can sleep healthier for a better mind and body

2020 Wise Fall Fling adapts to pandemic

Six new COVID-19 deaths, 69 new cases, in Northeast Tennessee

Scott County shoppers could win $500 gift card in new contest

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia case rise by six

Mail-in voting could be double 2016 level in Sullivan County

Out of quarantine, Bucs begin life without Good

Wednesday, Sept. 23

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Education today released estimated data regarding learning loss for Tennessee students resulting from COVID-19 school closures through the summer months.Ā Preliminary data projects an estimated 50% decrease in proficiency rates in third grade reading and a projected 65% decrease in proficiency in math.Ā ā€œThis data highlights the immense challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for our students and educators,ā€ said Gov. Lee. ā€œThe vast majority of students learn best in-person with their teacher, and weā€™ll continue to help provide a safe environment for Tennessee students to get their educational journeys back on track.ā€

šŸ”¹Ā Remote Area Medical-RAMĀ® ā€“ a major nonprofit provider of pop-up clinics delivering free, quality, dental, vision, and medical care to underserved and uninsured individuals ā€“ is bringing an appointment-only free clinic to Morristown on Oct. 10, 2020.Ā The free clinic will provide medical and vision services to patients by appointment only. Vision and medical appointments are now open and can be booked through Oct. 9, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. ET, or until appointment slots are full.Ā Patients interested in receiving care should callĀ (865) 500-8555Ā to book an appointment.Ā In response to COVID-19, the organization has incorporated and developed new disinfecting and safety processes, including the shift from tickets to appointments.Ā All patients will be required to wear a face covering and must undergo a COVID-19 screening before entering the clinic. Guests and family members of patients will not be allowed to enter the building. New air flow, sterilization processes, and capacity limitations have also been put in place to ensure the safety of patients, staff and volunteers.

🔹 Beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 30, the Washington County Jonesborough Library will start their virtual trick-or-treating event, “Ghoulish Goodies.” For the event, downtown businesses will display secret codes in their windows and change them out every Wednesday. Each code will be worth a specific prize, ranging from handfuls of candy, full-sized candy bars, digital raffle tickets for giveaways and more. To collect the codes, all you need to do is visit wclibrarytn.beanstack.org. You can also download the Beanstack app for both iOS and Android phones. Once registered, you can start collecting the codes throughout the month of October. The event will end on Oct. 28 and the library will put together a personalized trick-or-treat bag for each participant based on the codes collected. You’ll then be able to use the curbside service at the Jonesborough Library to collect your bag of Ghoulish Goodies on Oct. 30 and onward. For more information, contact Allen McCumber at amccumber@wclibrarytn.org.

šŸ”¹Ā The Virginia Department of Corrections has taken major steps to manage the COVID-19 outbreak at Deerfield Correctional Center and reduce the spread among a highly vulnerable population of offenders.Ā Deerfield Correctional Center (DFCC) is home to Virginiaā€™s largest cohort of geriatric male inmates, many of whom have serious health conditions and reside in assisted living or nursing home environments. For this reason, the VADOC is handling the outbreak at DFCC by following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines for nursing homes in addition to guidelines for corrections.Ā 

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Three new COVID-19 deaths, 110 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

Reminder: Witness signatures not required for Virginia absentee ballots in 2020 election

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia sees one case

Notre Dame-Wake Forest postponed; Mountain West eyes fall

Hawkins COVID hazard pay proposal increases budget deficit by $92K

Tuesday, Sept. 22

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems (SVCHS) has purchased a Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic within the local communities.Ā The MMU is staffed by a driver and two nurses and equipped to perform COVID-19 testing services by appointment only at any of the four health centers in either Saltville, Meadowview, Bristol, or Tazewell. Each day, the MMU has the capacity to test and serve 50 to 60 patients when at full capacity.Ā Post-COVID-19, SVCHS still plans to use the MMU for different purposes.

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

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Study finds COVID-19 antibodies drop substantially in the weeks following infection

Lee County school board approves club sports program, negotiation for new Head Start site

Two new COVID-19 deaths, 34 new cases reported in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia sees four cases

'Unfathomable': US death toll from coronavirus hits 200,000

Monday, Sept. 21

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group, and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) today announced Coronavirus Agricultural and Forestry Business (CAFB) Fund awards to farm and forestry businesses. TDA established the CAFB Fund with CARES Act resources to help ensure stability of the food supply chain and agribusiness economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā CAFB Fund provides financial assistance to agricultural, food, forestry, and nonprofit agricultural entities in Tennessee. Recipients were awarded based on four categories relative to COVID-19 impact and response: business disruption, pandemic response, supply chain enhancement, and increased meat processing capacity. Applicants who had not received COVID-19 relief funding from other available programs were givenĀ priority.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā East Tennessee State Universityā€™s Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships will host aĀ Virtual FAFSA Completion WorkshopĀ that runs from Oct. 5-9.Ā ETSU will have staff available between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day to virtually assist students and their families in completing the 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). One-hour time slots for these sessions are limited, and students mayĀ registerĀ (https://forms.gle/VoP1T6mfGZTZ4LZE6) by Sept. 30.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that Rebuild VA, the $70 million economic recovery fundĀ launched in August, is expanding its eligibility criteria to allow more small businesses to apply. Businesses that received funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and supply chain partners of businesses whose normal operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible to receive grants of up to $10,000. Businesses that have received federal funds must certify that they will only use the Rebuild VA grant for recurring expenses and that the grant will not be used to cover the same expenses as the other CARES Act funds.Ā For additional information about Rebuild VA, expanded eligibility criteria, covered expenses, and how to submit an application, visitĀ governor.virginia.gov/RebuildVA.

šŸ”¹Ā The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the extension of more than a dozen flexibilities ensuring participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) continue receiving the food and health support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā More information on the WIC waivers extended today, along with those that have been approved since the start of COVID-19, is available atĀ www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, the Secretary of State released a new video series featuring members of the Division of Elections answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the 2020 election.Ā Some of the topics covered in the series include how to register to vote in Tennessee, important election deadlines, how to vote absentee by-mail, becoming a poll official and the precautions being taken for in-person voting.Ā For more information, go toĀ GoVoteTN.comĀ or call the Division of Elections toll-free at 1-877-850-4959.

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COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia adds three cases

Does my employer have to say if a coworker has the virus?

27 new COVID-19 cases, one new death in Northeast Tennessee

Social distancing won't always be possible as Sullivan students return to classrooms

Sunday, Sept. 20

Read more

NET region gains 133 COVID-19 cases, one new death, in state's daily report from Sunday

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia adds three cases, one death

Saturday, Sept. 19

Read more

Northeast Tennessee: 45 new COVID-19 cases, one new death

COVID-19: Uptick in far Southwest Virginia cases

Rock Springs is "Kingsport Strong"

Friday, Sept. 18

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Kingsport Public Library will be receiving the CARES Grant for Libraries, presented by Rep. John Crawford, on Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. The CARES Grant for Libraries is by the Tennessee State Library and Archives and is supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. It supplies funds to help provide digital access resources to the community as well as resources for staff to provide virtual programming and meetings. The library received $2,895.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that an adolescent resident in the Southside Health District who tested positive for COVID-19 has died. This is the first reported COVID-19 death of a child in the Commonwealth. VDH will disclose no further information about the teenager to protect privacy and out of respect for the patientā€™s family.

šŸ”¹Ā United Way of Southwest Virginia announced today four communities will receive funding to support Wifi Hotspots. In partnership with LENOWISCO Planning District Commission and Mount Rogers Planning District Commission, Big Stone Gap, the City of Norton, the Town of Damascus, and the community of Konnarock have been approved for funding, each receiving $1,500 towards their wifi installation project. With these new grants, a grand total of 30 hotspots have been supported by the fund, helping many communities and families in Southwest Virginia access the internet.Ā The grant funding will allow recipients to install wifi hotspots in a publicly accessible location in their community, making it easier for students and families in the region to access reliable internet service for free.Ā For more information about the United Way of Southwest Virginia COVID-19 Relief Fund, please visit:https://unitedwayswva.org/covid19/.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced the results of its Coronavirus Serology Project that was conducted during summer of 2020.Ā  An estimated 2.4% of adult Virginians have antibody test evidence of a prior COVID-19 infection. The presence of COVID-19 antibodies was highest in Hispanic individuals (10.2%), residents of the Northern region (4.4%), and among those uninsured or insured through Medicaid (3.8%). Statewide, Hispanic ethnicity, residence in an apartment building or other multi-family housing unit, and reported contact with a COVID-19 case significantly increased the risk of having a positive antibody test. The projectā€™s findings will help Virginia address the COVID-19 pandemic by understanding risk factors and giving the public health system and hospitals information to plan for future health care needs.

šŸ”¹Ā President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced up to an additional $14 billion dollars for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin September 21st and run through Dec. 11, 2020.Ā Additional information and application forms can be found atĀ farmers.gov/cfap.

šŸ”¹Ā In an effort to encourage inmates in the Virginia prison system to get their flu shots this year in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, the Virginia Department of Corrections is offering incentives.Ā Offenders who get their influenza shots between October and December will receive a care package filled with commissary items, including snacks and other goodies.Ā ā€œThis campaign is a priority for us. We join national health experts in encouraging everyone to get their flu shots,ā€ said VADOC Director Harold Clarke. ā€œThis effort is especially important this year, as we battle the combined effects of a traditional flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic.ā€Ā Virginiaā€™s state incarceration numbers have decreased to about 26,750 during the pandemic.Ā Medical professionals warn that flu is a serious, sometimes life-threatening illness. This year, flu shots are especially important because both the flu and COVID-19 affect the lungs.Ā The VADOC also offers free flu shot clinics for staff.

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Editorial: Tennessee should be transparent with COVID-19 data

Sullivan tops 2,000 COVID-19 cases as NET adds 165 cases, seven deaths

SAC basketball to tip off Nov. 21

SW Va. reports only one new COVID-19 case

For television executives, return of football is good news

What should I look for in a hand sanitizer?

Thursday, Sept. 17

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Kingsport City Schools has updated itsĀ operational scheduleĀ for next week.Ā  Based on its weekly meeting with the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, KCS is now in the "yellow" zone of operationalĀ status. This means that all face-to-face students in grades 6-12 schools will go back to in-person learning at school beginning on Monday, Sept. 22. AllĀ PreK-5 face-to-face students have been back at school for in-person instruction since Aug. 31. Grades 6-12 face-to-face students returnedĀ to in-person at-school instruction on a hybrid schedule beginning Aug. 31.Ā Here is a link to the dashboardĀ that outlines the scheduleĀ for next week.

🔹 The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is offering an option to complete Tennessee Hunter Education all online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The course can be completed by using the online course, Hunter-Ed.com, with no in-person portion required. The online course found at https://www.hunter-ed.com/tennessee/ allows Tennessee students (ages 9 and up), who satisfactorily complete this online course to become certified Tennessee Hunter Education graduates. This option would allow students who complete the online course to forego the previously required 4-hour field day. Students would have immediate proof of course completion in the form of their completion certificate. The online course costs $28.95. Students will only pay if they pass the course.

šŸ”¹Ā The antibody levels to SAR-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, substantially drop in the weeks following infection, according to a study led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Ā In an April study of 19 health care workers at VUMC with detectable antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, 58% had antibody levels drop below the threshold of positivity 60 days later.Ā The team is continuing to study antibody and other immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

šŸ”¹Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group (FSAG) proactively invested Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars into the stateā€™s unemployment trust fund, protecting employees and businesses across the state.Ā Ā Based on newly-released projections from the University of Tennesseeā€™s Boyd Center, the tax premiums paid by the stateā€™s employers would have increased by at least 300% in 2021 had these resources not been invested early.Ā Additionally, Tennessee businesses would have had their unemployment taxes raised by $837 million. Employer premiums would have also remained elevated for several years, placing an enormous burden on businesses. Tennessee would have transitioned from enjoying the lowest taxable wage base and tax table as of January 2020 to the highest in 2021.Ā ā€œPreserving Tennesseeā€™s thriving economy has been one of my top priorities throughout this pandemic,ā€ said Gov. Bill Lee. ā€œI thank the members of the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for fiercely defending our Tennessee businesses and workers from the consequences of a significant tax hike.ā€

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennesseeā€™s Unified Command Group today announcedĀ three new initiatives to enhance the well-being and quality of life of Tennesseans in long-term health care facilities. These efforts include expanding options for visitation, relaxing restrictions for resident interactions within LTCFs and the formation of theĀ Tennessee COVID-19 Long-Term Care Task Force.Ā Additional information about these initiatives is available online atĀ www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/healthcare-providers.htmlĀ under Long-Term Care Facility Guidance as ā€œIncreased Visitationā€ and ā€œActivities and Diningā€.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 12, 2020. Statewide, 10,771 new claims were filed, along with 163,791 continued claims. In Sullivan County, 160 initial claims were filed, along with 2,784 continued claims. In Hawkins County, 66 initial claims were filed, along with 900 continued claims.

Read more

Sullivan, Kingsport students heading back to school; virtual Wednesdays ending

Five new COVID-19 deaths in Northeast Tennessee among 13 statewide

VHSL adopts back-to-sports plan

ETSU basketball team in quarantine after positive tests

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia reports six cases

Wednesday, Sept. 16

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā In addition to CFKā€™s normal services providing after-school care to 350+ children each school day from 3-7,Ā Coalition For Kids (C4K) is now offering daytime programming during the 2020-21 school year to further support Johnson City Schools and the children and families that are in grades seven through nine.Ā Full time in-person learning started for JC schools Kindergarten through sixthĀ grades on Aug. 31;Ā however, seventh-ninthĀ grade is on a 50% physical attendance schedule with children rotating days in-person and at home virtual learning.Ā C4K has implemented plans to support these youth during the day with virtual learning, when they are not scheduled to be at school (Tues./Wed./Thurs.) and otherwise could be at home alone.Ā C4K will continue to assist children with virtual learning, communicate with their teachers, assist each individual with their homework assignments, tutoring, mentoring, and provide meals and snacks.Ā The C4K $10,000 Reverse Raffle fundraiser, presented by Citi and being held on Oct. 1, is raising funds to cover the cost of providing additional programming, which has been offered since the beginning of August at no cost to the families and children. Raffle tickets are $100 each and can be purchased online atĀ https://www.coalitionforkids.org/raffle/Ā or by contacting Lisa Pawley, director of development, at 423.434.2031 ext. 835.

šŸ”¹Ā The Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) Board of Directors voted on Wednesday to reduce its customersā€™ rates for the next 12 months.Ā ā€œOn August 27, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board approved a Wholesale Pandemic Relief Credit of 2.5 percent of certain components of the wholesale rate for twelve months for all of the customers TVA serves,ā€ explained BTES CEO Mike Browder. ā€œThe BTES Board voted to pass this credit through to our customers which results in a decrease of an average of 1.6 percent of retail rates.ā€Ā The rate reduction will be applied beginning in October 2020 and will remain in effect for the duration of the TVA credit.Ā In addition to the temporary rate reduction, BTES and TVA have each allocated $15,000 in matching funds to donations that help some residential customers in need pay their electric bills.

šŸ”¹Ā The Clinch Coalition (TCC) launches its 14th annual Naturalist Rally online Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. The wide array of program topics include edible and medicinal mushrooms, raptors, poison ivy, nature journaling, wildflowers, nature photography, birds, High Knob landforms, reptiles/amphibians on High Knob, the Virginia Big Tree Project and solar energy. All programs will be easily accessible through TCC's Facebook page and website, clinchcoalition.net. The presentations are free and open to the public.

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Basketball teams prepare for altered season in Virginia

Northeast Tennessee adds 89 COVID-19 cases, one new death

Trick-or-What? Pandemic Halloween is a mixed bag all around

SW Va. adds four COVID-19 cases, but no deaths

The Latest: CDC director: Scientific integrity not altered

Vols' Smith confident he's safer than others on campus

US outlines sweeping plan to provide free COVID-19 vaccines

Wise County school return plan on hold

Tuesday, Sept. 15

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Earlier today, Food City announced that a team of their supermarket heroes will serve as Fridayā€™s race officials. ā€œThe past several months has been unchartered times for all of us and while our company has certainly faced its share of challenges, this experience has also made us better and stronger,ā€ said Food City president and CEO, Steven C. Smith. ā€œOur superstar team of heroes have gone above and beyond the call of duty to meet the needs of our valued customers and the communities we serve. From the extraordinary efforts of our front-line associates to those working behind the scenes, this has truly been a team effort.ā€

šŸ”¹Ā The Marching Bucs of East Tennessee State University may not be able to take the field at William B. Green Stadium this fall, but thatā€™s not stopping them from making music.Ā Members of the ETSU marching band will begin a series of Friday Concerts on the Plaza on Friday, Sept. 18. These free public mini-concerts will be held at 3:30 p.m. at Borchuck Plaza outside the Charles C. Sherrod Library.Ā Members of the campus community and public attending these performances are asked to wear masks and observe social distancing in accordance withĀ ETSUā€™s COVID-19 guidelines.Ā In the case of inclement weather on the day of a concert, that dayā€™s event will be canceled.

🔹 Tickets are on sale now for the 48th annual National Storytelling Festival, the world’s premier storytelling production. The online event, which will stream live on Oct. 1-3, is expected to draw thousands of new storytelling fans from around the world. The one-year-only shift to a digital format, while due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will likely permanently expand access to the Festival even after regular operations resume in 2021. For more information or to purchase tickets, visithttp://www.storytellingcenter.net/festival or call 800-952-8392.

šŸ”¹Ā Driving behaviors across the country continue to evolve during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on current trends, State FarmĀ is working to reduce auto insurance rates in Tennessee by an average of 9.5%. This rate reduction will save more than one million State Farm customers a total of $86 million. This applies to current customers at policy renewal, as well as new and returning customers.Ā In addition to the auto rate reduction, the discount for participating in Drive Safe & Save is increasing to 10%, and empowers drivers to save more on their auto premiums through driving behaviors.Ā Customer rate reductions will vary based on their individual renewals. Customers are encouraged to visit with their State Farm agent about individual policies, coverage and any opportunities for discounts, including Drive Safe & Save.

šŸ”¹Ā Adults across Tennessee who did not graduate high school now have an online pathway that will lead them to a high school equivalency diploma. Every county in the state offers students virtual classes that will prepare them to take the online HiSET examination.Ā ā€œThere are still several adult education programs whose classrooms are closed due to COVID-19,ā€ said Jay Baker, interim Assistant Commissioner of Adult Education. ā€œWe want everyone interested in improving their math, literacy, and English language skills to know they never have to leave home and they can still work to change their future. And that includes earning a high school equivalency diplomaā€”all of it can be done completely online.ā€Ā Individuals interested in learning more about their local adult education program can call TDLWD at 800-531-1515.

šŸ”¹Ā Dr. Chaya Nanjundeswaran Guntupalli, associate professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology in the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences (CCRHS) at ETSU, is reaching out to area teachers with tips toĀ protect their voices while teaching and wearing a mask.Ā Guntupalli developed a Vocal Fatigue Index, which is a series of 19 questions to help identify whether people have vocal fatigue.Ā To help people avoid this problem while teaching and wearing masks, she developed a handout of tips that she has distributed to several local school systems. She also hosted a shortĀ video seminarĀ on Zoom for teachers who wanted to learn more.

Read more

Northeast Tennessee adds 89 COVID-19 cases, three deaths

COVID-19: Governor says Southwest Virginia seeing higher test positivity rates than rest of state

Study shows eating at restaurants may increase COVID-19 risk

Monday, Sept. 14

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) will once again ask unemployment claimants to complete weekly work searches beginning Sunday, Oct. 4.Ā Claimants who choose to continue receiving unemployment benefits will start work search activities during the week of Sunday, Sept. 27. They will then document those searches during their weekly certification for Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, and each week after that date.Ā Claimants who have a definitive return to work date due to a temporary layoff do not need to complete this requirement.Ā Self-employed workers can fulfill the requirement by completing business improvement or enhancement activities.

šŸ”¹Ā Holston Habitat for Humanity will resume construction and break ground for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the region last spring.Ā  The house, which will be built in the Lynn Garden area of Kingsport, has been designated a Faith and Community Build and will be the future home of Habitat homebuyer Ashleigh and her three children. The public is invited to participate in the Groundbreaking Ceremony which is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 112 Virgil Ave.Ā 

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Hargett expects heavy volume of absentee ballots

Washington County COVID-19 cases top 2,000, most in Northeast Tennessee

COVID-19: Far SWVA daily cases drop to three

Sunday, Sept. 13

News updates

🔹 While the gates at the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville remain shuttered for 2020, there’s still an opportunity for a number of learning experiences and family entertainment during what’s recognized as the traditional 10-day period in which the state fair is held annually. Jones encouraged individuals and families alike to visit the Tennessee State Fair website, tnstatefair.org, to get a full rundown on events and activities planned for the week.

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Northeast Tennessee adds 43 new cases, no new deaths, in state's Sunday COVID-19 report

COVID-19: Five cases in far Southwest Virginia

Saturday, Sept. 12

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Face coverings will be a required accessory in high-traffic areas inside the stadium for all guests who attend next weekendā€™s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and officials from The Worldā€™s Fastest Half-Mile are encouraging everyone in the Appalachian Highlands region as well as fans who will be visiting from other areas to ā€œMask Upā€ and follow all of the required protocols and guidelines.Ā Guests will be required to have their temperatures screened upon entry to the stadium and to wear masks in common areas like concourses, concessions, restrooms, and entry/exit gates. Fans will be able to remove their masks at their seats. Fans are encouraged to review the full details and requirements of the BMS Safety Plan prior to arrival at theĀ BMS website.

šŸ”¹Ā DeerfieldĀ Correctional Center in Capron, Virginia, has 407 offenders with COVID-19, theĀ illness caused by the novel coronavirus.Ā Two COVID-positive Deerfield offenders died today, making a total of sixĀ offenders who have died from that facility, the most at any DOC facility.Ā More information can be found atĀ https://www.vadoc.virginia.gov/.

Read more

Five new COVID-19 deaths reported by state in Northeast Tennessee

BMS officials urge fans to 'Mask Up'

Antarctica is still free of COVID-19. Can it stay that way?

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia adds two deaths, two outbreaks

Oxford, AstraZeneca to resume coronavirus vaccine trial

Five new COVID-19 deaths reported by state in Northeast Tennessee

Friday, Sept. 11

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has informed the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) funding for Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program payments will stop after the week ending Sept. 5, 2020.Ā FEMA funded LWA through a $44 billion grant. Once the agency depleted that funding, the program ended.Ā Eligible claimants will receive the additional $300 payment for the weeks ending Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and Sept. 5.Ā To receive the additional LWA payment, a claimant must be out of work due to COVID-19, they must earn at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits, and they must complete their required weekly certifications.Ā Unemployment benefits starting the week ending Sept. 12 will only contain the weekly benefit amount a claimant is eligible to receive through either a state or federal unemployment program.

šŸ”¹Ā Eating at dine-in restaurants appears to increase the risk of becoming sick with COVID-19, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.Ā The study assessed differences in community and close contact exposures between adults who tested positive for COVID-19 and those who tested negative while matching for geographic location, age and sex. Going to dine-in restaurants was identified as a factor strongly associated with testing positive for COVID-19.Ā Findings from the study, which appears in this weekā€™s CDCā€™sĀ Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR),Ā show that adults with COVID-19 were more than twice as likely to report dining in a restaurant in the 14 days before getting sick compared to adults without COVID-19.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $35,719,247 in federal funding to support access to safe and affordable housing throughout Virginia, particularly in communities whose households face a higher rateĀ of eviction.Ā The United States Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentĀ (HUD) awarded the funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The funding is part of the $5 billion in supplemental CDBG funding authorized by the CARES Act in March. Locally, Bristol will receive $116,003.

šŸ”¹Ā On March 16, 2020, the Supreme Court of VirginiaĀ declared a ā€œjudicial emergencyā€ on several grounds, including the fact that the COVID-19 crisis ā€œsubstantially endangers or impedes . . . the ability of litigants or others to have access to the court or to meet schedules or time deadlines imposed by court order, rule, or statute,ā€ Code Ā§ 17.1-330(A). Subsection D of Code Ā§ 17.1-330 provides the Court with broad power to suspend various court-related deadlines: ā€œNotwithstanding any other provision of law, such order may suspend, toll, extend, or otherwise grant relief from deadlines, time schedules, or filing requirements imposed by otherwise applicable statutes, rules, or court orders in any court processes and proceedings, including all appellate court time limitations.ā€ The Speedy Trial Act, Code Ā§ 19.2-243, imposes statutory time deadlines on criminal prosecutions subject to various exceptions and tolling provisions.Ā In its Clarification Order entered on May 1, 2020, this Court unanimously ordered that the tolling provisions of the March 16, March 27, and April 22 emergency orders, as clarified therein, ā€œtoll the running of any statutory speedy trial period applicable to criminal prosecutions in the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia from March 16 until May 17 or later if further extended by this Court.ā€Ā This tolling of the running of any statutory speedy trial period applicable to criminal prosecutions in the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia has been continued by this Courtā€™s subsequent judicial emergency orders, up to and including the Ninth Order, in effect through September 20, 2020, and the Tenth Order which becomes effective September 21, 2020. This Court unanimously orders that the tolling of the running of any statutory speedy trial period applicable to criminal prosecutions in the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia is not affected by approval by 2 a panel of three Justices of this Court of any plan to restart jury trials, and this tolling of the statutory speedy trial period shall continue to be unaffected by approval of such plans, unless amended by future order.

Read more

State reports 13 more COVID-19 deaths in Northeast Tennessee

Sullivan face mask order extended through end of month

SW Va. adds 11 COVID-19 cases

Thursday, Sept. 10

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā Adoration 2020, originally scheduled for Oct. 3, has been canceled. The ministry is still focusedĀ on uniting 1,000 different churches for prayer, worship, and the restoration of Appalachia from drug abuse.Ā Instead of hosting Adoration 2020, organizers will be working on uniting churches in smaller gatherings to create deeper fellowship.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Clinch River Health Services will hold drive-thru testing for COVID-19 on Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are required. A limited number of tests are available. Please bring a government-issued ID and insurance card. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (276) 467-2201.

šŸ”¹Ā The Health Wagon Mobile Unit is now resuming service in Southwest Virginia. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the safety of staff and community, mobile sites were suspended temporarily. Free COVID-19 testing will be offered at each site.Ā The mobile unit will be at the following locations in September:Ā September 10 - Pound - IGA - 9A-5P,Ā September 15- Dungannon- Town Hall 9A-5P,Ā September 21 -Big Stone Gap- Food City 9A-5P,Ā September 24 - St. Paul - Food City - 9A-5P,Ā September 29 - Pennington Gap - IGA - 9A-5P, andĀ October 1- Lebanon- Farmers Market -9A-5P.

šŸ”¹Ā The sixth annual Tri-Cities 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb will take place on Sept. 12, 2020, at Bristol Motor Speedway. Participants will climb a section of grandstands for a total of 110 stories, representing the number of floors in the Twin Towers. Everyone will receive a photo ID of one of the fallen heroes of Sept. 11. Check-in is between 7-9 a.m. at the North Entrance, and Opening Ceremonies start at 9 a.m.Ā This location has been secured to host the event in an outdoor arena to allow for proper social distancing for the climbers to keep apart. COVID-19 procedures have been put into place, including masks being worn in all staging areas and temperature checks of all the participants and volunteers.

šŸ”¹Ā The Town of Unicoi will host a free drive-in movie at its Tourist Information Center Saturday, Sept. 19, at 8 p.m. at 106 Unicoi Village Place. Sound will be played through FM radio and concessions will be available.Ā The newly finished Buffalo Pavilion will house the concession stand and food-handling precautions will be taken, including masks and gloves and one person to handle money while another handles the food in an effort to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure.Ā For more information or for the name of the movie showing, visit the Town of Unicoiā€™s Facebook page at facebook.com/townofunicoitn. Information is also available on the townā€™s website at UnicoiTN.net.

šŸ”¹Ā Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill have been awarded $500,000 by Googleā€™sĀ philanthropy,Ā Google.org, to studyĀ how COVID-19 alters gene expression in some people in ways that may be linked to their risk of severe illness and death.Ā The study will analyze blood samples collected during the past 16 years from more than 4,000 participants in theĀ Cameron County Hispanic Cohort. Some of them have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on new unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 5, 2020. Statewide, 11,706 new claims were filed, along with 176,388 continued claims. In Sullivan County, there were 257 initial claims and 3,064 continued claims. In Hawkins County, there were 86 initial claims and 965 continued claims.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that, due to significantly improved health metrics in the Eastern Region, localities in Hampton Roads will join the rest of the Commonwealth in Phase Three of the ā€œForward Virginiaā€ plan to ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of COVID-19.Ā The full text of amended Executive Order Sixty-Seven and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven is availableĀ here.

Read more

In a year of social distancing, virus alters Sept. 11, too

Grandparentsā€™ Day to be celebrated with drive-thru event

Editorial: Pandemic causing rise in food insecurity

COVID-19 in NET: Sullivan County, 1,914 cases; Washington County, 1,913 cases

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia daily cases climb over 10

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Sept. 10, 2020

Wednesday, Sept. 9

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tickets are on sale now for the 48th annual National Storytelling Festival, the worldā€™s premier storytelling production. The online event, which will stream live onĀ Oct. 1-3, is expected to draw thousands of new storytelling fans from around the world.Ā The one-year-only shift to a digital format, while due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will likely permanently expand access to the festival even after regular operations resume in 2021.Ā For more information or to purchase tickets, visitĀ http://www.storytellingcenter.net/festival or call 800-952-8392.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā BMS officials announced today that the socially-distanced ticket capacity has been reached for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Sept. 19, the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race to be held at the iconic Northeast Tennessee high-banked short track. A limited number of tickets are still available for the Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Friday, Sept. 18.Ā Fans who are interested in obtaining tickets for the Food City 300 are encouraged to act quickly by visiting theĀ BMS website.Ā Fans are encouraged to review the full details and requirements of the BMS Safety Plan prior to arrival at theĀ BMS website.

🔹 Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) announced he will host the 11th Annual Military Service Academy Day virtually on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, from 9-11 a.m. Congressman Roe will host the 11th Annual Military Service Academy Day to assist those interested in applying for any U.S. Service Academy. Tennesseans interested in being nominated to one of the four Academies for the Class of 2025 should apply by Oct. 23. The nomination packet can be found on the Congressman’s website. Interested applicants should contact Congressman Phil Roe’s office at (423) 247-8161 or email tracie.ohara@mail.house.gov.

šŸ”¹ The Tennessee Department of Education released a dashboard reporting additional COVID-19 information at school and district levels, including numbers of new positive COVID-19 cases in districts and schools. The department is requesting districts submit information on a weekly basis to report positive COVID-19 cases in districts and schools, as well as whether or how positive cases may impact the way teachers deliver instruction to students. While over half of districts have submitted data for this first week of reporting, full reporting across every district is expected by September 22.

šŸ”¹Ā United Way of Southwest Virginia has opened applications to childcare providers with school age students who would otherwise be in Washington County Public School classrooms. Washington County has promised nearly $300,000 to pay for childcare needed because of school closures. This funding will support tuition costs for more than 170 students between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31.Ā Childcare centers who have Washington County Public School students during the day due to pandemic school schedules can apply to receive payment of $100 a week for each child in their facility. Payments will be made directly to the childcare center; direct payments will not be made to parent or guardians.Ā For more information, childcare providers and parents can visit: https://unitedwayswva.org/cares/.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ KingsportĀ ChamberĀ will host aĀ series of virtual job fairs.Ā Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with hiring employers through free virtual showcases beginning Sept. 16.Ā There is no cost to attend. Job applicants interested in participating, please RSVP by contactingĀ Lora BarnettĀ atĀ (423) 392-8835Ā orĀ lbarnett@kingsportchamber.org. You can also find the registration links on theĀ Kingsport Chamber Education and Workforce Development Facebook page.

šŸ”¹Ā Soon-to-be married couples and their guests are invited to the Simple Elegance Bridal Show on Sept. 20 from 1-4 p.m. at The Heritage in Jonesborough.Ā Face coverings will be available to vendors and attendees at the show. There are will be hand sanitizers throughout the venue. Organizers are also scheduling arrival times at the show to promote social distancing. In addition, attendees will sign up for the drawings during the show but are not required to be present during the actual prize drawings to win.Ā Tickets for the Simple Elegance Bridal Show are $6 at the door, or guests can pre-register online atĀ simpleelegancebridalshow.comĀ to save $3 per person.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $116,003 in additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to the City of Bristol. Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) issued the following statement:Ā ā€œCommunity Development Block Grants support local governments in maintaining important services and promoting quality of life in their jurisdictions. Additional funding from this grant program during the pandemic will provide a measure of relief to the City of Bristol.ā€Ā This round of funding was provided by theĀ CARES Act, which Griffith supported.

Read more

SAC commissioner: Conference must decide on basketball season by the end of the month

Sullivan County continues to lead Northeast Tennessee in COVID-19 cases

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia sees third straight day of single-digit daily cases

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Sept. 9, 2020

Kingsport virtual education sees smoother sailing, school system official says

Scott County schools to return to in-person learning next week

Tuesday, Sept. 8

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health encourage residents to get an annual influenza (flu) vaccination to reduce the chance of getting the flu and spreading it to others.Ā ā€œGetting a flu vaccination this year is more important than ever,ā€ said Eleanor Cantrell, M.D., director of the Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO Health Districts. ā€œAccording to the CDC, COVID-19 will likely continue into the fall and winter and may overlap with the flu season. With the possibility of both viruses occurring in our communities at the same time, it is vital that everyone age 6 months or older get their yearly flu shot.ā€

šŸ”¹Ā Today the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) announced grant assistance has been awarded to 656 non-profit organizations across the state serving Tennessee communities. These grants are all provided through the new Tennessee Community CARES Program.Ā The Tennessee Community CARES grants announced today range from $25,000 to as large as $2 million. These dollars will fund a variety of activities, including support for individuals or families whoā€™ve experienced economic hardship due to COVID-19, along with assistance for vulnerable populations, housing assistance, food relief, educational support for virtual learning activities, public health activities, and essential supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.Ā A complete list of organizations receiving grants is available here.

šŸ”¹Ā Todayā€™s COVID-19 case count for Tennessee includes an increase of 645 new total cases. This is the result of a low volume of lab reports received during the Labor Day holiday weekend.Ā TDH data on COVID-19 cases may be found online atĀ www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at its four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Food City will once again be providing the flu vaccine this immunization season.Ā Food City Pharmacy will be following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines, including guidance to minimize the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and reduce the risk for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā Visit foodcity.com for a complete list of immunizing locations.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā There's good news for the state of Tennessee's economy, according to aĀ new surveyĀ by the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Two thirds of business leaders responded that they expect the state's economy to improve more quickly than the nation's over the next year.Ā "In fact, about 16 percent of business leaders indicated they have actually increased employment in the past three months," said Boyd Center Director Bill Fox. "It is certainly a unique time for Tennessee and the nation, and this offers an encouraging perspective about the economy's resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic."Ā 

Read more

Holiday weekend cited in drop in COVID-19 testing, cases, in Tennessee

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia daily cases dip below five

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Sept. 8, 2020

Monday, Sept. 7

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā East Tennessee State Universityā€™s Board of Trustees will hold its quarterly meeting on Friday, Sept. 18, at 10 a.m.Ā Due to extraordinary circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting will be conducted permitting participation by electronic or other means of communication if necessary.Ā Public attendance to the meeting will be available via livestream atĀ www.etsu.edu/trustees/livestream.php. When it becomes available, the agenda and accompanying materials will be posted online atĀ www.etsu.edu/trusteesĀ under ā€œMeeting Schedule & Materials.ā€

Read more

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia daily cases dip below 10

Sullivan County continues to lead in COVID-19 cases in Northeast Tennessee region

Rogersville Heritage Days will have fewer vendors to encourage social distancing

Relief program can help businesses get back on their feet

Sunday, Sept. 6

Read more

COVID-19: 17 new cases in far Southwest Virginia

Sullivan County continues to lead in COVID-19 cases

Editorial: Sullivan should stay masked up

H.O.P.E. continues operating during pandemic, seeks donations

COVID-19 is here and has 'a stronghold in our community'

Saturday, Sept. 5

Read more

Hawkins BOE approves schedule to put students back in classrooms

Northeast Tennessee adds 125 COVID-19 cases, Sullivan retains lead in caseload

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia adds 10 cases, one death

Kingsport Public Library adds a ā€œstoryā€ to Glen Bruce Park

Friday, Sept. 4

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Supreme Court of Virginia has extended itsĀ Declaration of Judicial Emergency through Oct. 11, 2020, and ordered that the provisions of the Ninth Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency in Response to Covid-19 Emergency, entered Aug. 20, 2020, shall continue to apply in all courts of the Commonwealth for the duration of this order unless amended by future order.Ā Accordingly, the Period of Judicial Emergency now extends from March 16, 2020, through Oct. 11, 2020. The Declaration of Judicial Emergency may be extended for additional periods as provided in Va. Code Ā§ I7.I-330(E).

šŸ”¹Ā Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) are conducting a clinical trial to determine whether nasal saline irrigations can reduce viral shedding and symptoms in patients with COVID-19.Ā While many medications and treatments have been proposed for COVID-19, there has not yet been a study targeting intervention within the nasal cavity, which is often where a patient first comes into contact with the virus, where the viral load is highest, and where the virus is most likely to exit the body when a person coughs, sneezes or breathes.Ā The researchers will also examine changes the virus causes to the nasal microbiome, when the virus clears and who is more likely to transmit the virus to others by following participantsā€™ household contacts to see if they also develop the disease.

Read more

Sullivan County has highest number of COVID-19 cases, second lowest test rate, in NET

Editorial: Schools continue to face challenging times

US unemployment rate falls to 8.4% even as hiring slows

ā€œNo playbook for thisā€: Business, education leaders discuss COVID-19ā€™s impact at SWVA Economic Forum

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia cases climb by a dozen

Duffield Daze canceled, but fireworks show still happening Saturday

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Sept. 4, 2020

Thursday, Sept. 3

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ University of Tennessee Institute of Agricultureā€™s Beef Heifer Development School has been canceled. The one-day school is traditionally held every October at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center at Lewisburg, but like many other events has been called off in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The center plans to host the Beef Heifer Development School in-person in the fall of 2021. There are online educational resources currently available to beef producers, including the Beef Tour portion of the Milan No-Till Field Day found atĀ milannotill.tennessee.edu.Ā For the most up-to-date information on Institute field days or other events, visit theĀ Event CalendarĀ atĀ utia.tennessee.edu.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Scott County is releasing a second round of the Disaster Recovery Grant Fund program to mitigate economic effects of the coronavirus. The application deadline is Sept. 30Ā atĀ 2 p.m. The online application can be found atĀ http://scottcountyva.org/

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Department of Health is improving the format for sharing of data on COVID-19 to update how some metrics are calculated and reflect evolving knowledge of the pandemic. The new format will begin Sept. 3, 2020, and reflect a change in how active cases are calculated and a correction in county of residence for some cases. In addition, TDH is adding new resources including data snapshots for each county and a Critical Indicators Report. TDH data on COVID-19 will be posted at 3 p.m. CDT Sept. 3 atĀ www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.htmlĀ as the new format is implemented.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā The George L. Carter Railroad Museum has reopened to the public under specific health guidelines instituted by East Tennessee State University.Ā The museum, located in the Campus Center Building, is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All visitors are required to wear masks while on the ETSU campus and in its buildings, including the railroad museum. Directional signage is posted throughout the museum to promote physical distancing and for safe traffic flow inside the galleries and corridors. All frequently touched surfaces are routinely disinfected for added safety.Ā The number of visitors will be restricted to 10 persons in each of the two galleries and time spent in the galleries will be limited to approximately 15 minutes in each when the galleries are fully occupied.Ā A preregistration link is provided to encourage patrons to schedule a time to visit:Ā https://tinyurl.com/y3ba5uto. For the added safety of all visitors, the Little Engineerā€™s Playroom will remain closed until further notice.

šŸ”¹Ā Dominoā€™s franchise-owned locations are looking to hire about 100 new team members across 13 stores throughout the Tri-Cities. The positions include delivery drivers, customer service representatives, assistant managers and managers.Ā ā€œDominoā€™s works hard to serve local communities across the country and this area is no different,ā€ said Tim Hurd, a local Dominoā€™s franchisee. ā€œThe increased demand for deliveries has amplified the need for additional team members.Ā Stores across the region are continuing to provide pizza to those who are looking for a delicious, hot meal, and at times like this, staffing is critical.ā€Ā Dominoā€™s stores throughout the area have implemented several cleanliness and sanitization precautions based on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include wearing a mask at all times, and increasing the sanitation of all frequently touched surfaces.Ā Those who are interested in applying for a position should visitĀ jobs.dominos.com.Ā To read more about what Dominoā€™s is doing regarding COVID-19, please visitĀ biz.dominos.com/web/media/covid-19.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 29, 2020. Statewide, 12,035 new claims were filed, along with 184,781 continued claims. In Sullivan County, 304 initial claims were filed, along with 3,230 continued claims. In Hawkins County, 95 initial claims were filed, along with 930 continued claims.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, the Tennessee Department of Education released plans to report additional COVID-19 information at school and district levels, including numbers of new positive COVID-19 cases in districts and schools. ā€œParents and community members are working to make informed decisions, and we have determined the best path that balances informed decision-making with our obligation to student privacy,ā€ said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. ā€œWe believe this resource will not only help parents but will inform how COVID-19 is affecting student attendance, chronic absenteeism and overall student attainment." Next week, as the final two districts in the state begin the new school year, a new dashboard will launch on the departmentā€™s website that will display information reported by districts about COVID-19 in their communities, and whether or how positive cases within a school may impact the way teachers deliver instruction to students. For access to additional resources related to reopening schools, visit the Tennessee Department of Educationā€™s Reopening webpage: https://www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/update-on-coronavirus/reopening-guidance.html.

Read more

County schools approve a hybrid plan for returning to classrooms

Northeast Tennessee adds 137 cases of COVID-19, 70 in Sullivan County

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia cases climb by 13

Operation Christmas Child's Tri-Cities team will host kickoff workshop Sept. 12

LENOWISCO offers help for businesses hurt by outbreak

Kingsport City Schools serious about temperature checks

Schools again serving free meals for those 18 and under

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Sept. 3, 2020

Wednesday, Sept. 2

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā Bristol DragwayĀ officials announced Wednesday the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals has been canceled for 2020. Originally scheduled to take place on Fatherā€™s Day weekend in June, the race was rescheduled for mid-October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the ongoing pandemic and at-track protocols, BMS and NHRA officials have decided to remove the event from the 2020 schedule in the hopes of providing NHRA fans the 20th anniversary experience theyā€™ve come to expect at the Thunder Valley Nationals in 2021.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Soldiers and Airmen with the Tennessee National Guard, who are working diligently alongside Tennesseeā€™s Department of Health, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and various other state and local agencies have successfully administered over 300,000 COVID-19 tests since March.Ā The service members are conducting testing at Remote Assessment Sites spread throughout the stateā€™s three grand divisions.

šŸ”¹Ā With the cancellation of this year's Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion came the promise of a few "surprises" on what would have been festival weekend - and the Birthplace of Country Music (BCM, parent nonprofit of the annual event) is making good on it.Ā Celebrating Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Live Stream will take place Sept. 10-13, 2020, withĀ virtual, live concert events that includeĀ Jim Lauderdale, Acoustic Syndicate, Amythyst Kiah, Morgan Wade, and Martha Spencer,Ā a WBCM Radio BristolĀ Farm and Fun TimeĀ show,Ā flashback performances from festivals past, and the Bristol Sessions Super Raffle drawing.Ā For up-to-date information and to choose the Bristol Rhythm ticket option that works best for you, visitĀ BristolRhythm.com.

šŸ”¹Ā The Kingsport Senior Center is not letting COVID-19 slow its programming down, as it continues to offer a variety of programs and classes. It is getting creative in what it can offer virtually for members during this time. Some of the activities offered include interactive Facebook trivia, Facebook Live events, exercise classes, cooking tutorials and more.Ā The Kingsport Senior Center started its YouTube page a little less than a month ago, reaching nearly 100 subscribers and climbing. On the channel, it shares all of its virtual programs and classes, as well as funny bloopers from some of the events. You can also find virtual content on its website and view the monthly newsletter.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā Regions BankĀ today announced its annual Share the Good program will serve health care workers in the Tri-Cities area who are helping patients and families impacted by COVID-19.Ā In Gray, Tenn., Regions team members delivered box lunches to 65 Frontier Health associates to recognize their selfless service during the novel coronavirus.

šŸ”¹Ā Vanderbilt University Medical CenterĀ (VUMC)Ā is now enrollingĀ volunteersĀ for a clinical trial ofĀ promising treatments forĀ COVID-19Ā in the outpatient setting. The trialĀ is part of the national ACTIV-2Ā protocolĀ toĀ evaluate the safety and efficacy ofĀ new potentialĀ therapeuticsĀ in adult patientsĀ whoĀ have COVID-19 illness but are not hospitalized.Ā For information about enrolling in the trial at Vanderbilt, visit theĀ study website.Ā 

Read more

North holding out hope to reschedule Cosby game

D-B releases stadium guidelines, ticket information

163 new COVID-19 cases in Northeast Tennessee, including 67 in Sullivan

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol canceled

Back to School tour brings Virginia first lady to Wise

Exchange Place Fall Folk Arts Festival canceled

COVID-19: Far Southwest Virginia sees seven cases

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Sept. 2, 2020

Tuesday, Sept. 1

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)Ā will extendĀ theĀ Free Meals for Kids ProgramĀ untilĀ December 2020. This extensionĀ allowsĀ Kingsport City Schools School Nutrition ServicesĀ DepartmentĀ to serve free breakfast and lunch, starting Sept. 1, 2020, to all children, 18 and under, until the end of December. This unprecedented move by theĀ USDAĀ will help ensure children have access to nutritiousĀ food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless if they are in-person or virtual learners.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at its four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

🔹 Birthplace of Country Music (BCM), along with other local venues, is joining a national campaign with #WeMakeEvents #RedAlertRESTART and #ExtendPUA in an initiative imploring Congress to pass the RESTART Act (S.3814) as quickly as possible. The RESTART Act offers economic relief to the Live Events Industry, which has been shuttered since March 2020, putting millions of people out of work. Additionally, the movement is to support ExtendPUA.org in their efforts towards continuation and extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to provide relief to those without work due to COVID-19.

šŸ”¹Ā USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.Ā Read the full stakeholder announcement here.

Read more

Lee County extends remote learning by a week, modifies reopening plan

Editorial: United Way needs your help more than ever

COVID-19: NET adds 109 cases; far Southwest Virginia sees 15 new cases

Second Harvest sees rise in food needs during pandemic

Monday first day of in-person instruction in Kingsport public schools for 2020-21

Hawkins students may return to classroom next week, pending BOE approval

Monday, Aug. 31

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā PEAK - Young ProfessionalsĀ will host aĀ cleaning supply drive Monday, Aug. 31,Ā throughĀ Friday, Sept. 11,Ā atĀ your Kingsport Chamber, 400 Clinchfield St., Suite 100.Ā The cleaning supply drive is an opportunity for the public to support local schools amidst the COVID pandemic while students are returning.Ā For questions about the drive, contactĀ Vanessa BennettĀ atĀ (423) 392-8813Ā orĀ vbennett@kingsportchamber.org.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that more than $6 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program was approved by the Executive Committee of the Criminal Justice Services Board of the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). The committee awarded 171 grants to localities, nonprofit organizations and state agencies throughout Virginia.Ā As a program under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, CESF grants assist criminal justice entities in their ongoing mitigation and response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic.

šŸ”¹Ā On Tuesday, Sept. 1, volunteers from Grace Fellowship Church in Johnson City delivered baskets to local hospitals that were collected from GFCā€™s initiative ā€œHelp for Heroes.ā€ This initiative was launched out of a desire to support those working in healthcare, which has grown harder in recent months after COVID-19 cases have risen in the region.Ā Those who attend GFC signed up and donated over 150 baskets, allowing baskets to also be delivered to EMS workers, nursing home staff and hospital administration.

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Department of Revenue announced today a newĀ digital eligibility toolĀ for small business owners to determine if their business may be eligible for a Tennessee Business Relief Program payment.Ā More than 40,000 small business owners across 60 different industries qualify for theĀ Tennessee Business Relief Program. Eligible businesses have until September 25, 2020 to confirm their information with the Department of Revenue in order to receive a relief payment between $2,500 and $30,000 in no-cost funds from the state.Ā The eligibility tool can be found atĀ businessrelief.tn.gov.

šŸ”¹Ā Todayā€™s COVID-19 case count for Tennessee will include an increase in 1,818 new total cases. Of this number, there are 965 positive cases associated with the South Central Correctional Facility in Wayne County. This report of cases also contributes to the high positivity rate for the day. Additional questions about COVID-19 cases associated with this facility should be directed to the Tennessee Department of Correction.Ā TDH data on COVID-19 cases may be found online atĀ www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities through as late as Dec. 31, 2020. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. This unprecedented move will help ensure ā€“ no matter what the situation is on-the-ground ā€“ children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

šŸ”¹ VirginiaĀ Gov. Ralph Northam today announced $4 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation of Virginia, which will support 20 Legal Aid attorneys in providing services to Virginia tenants facing eviction for the next two years. This critical investment comes as thousands of Virginians continue to be at risk of eviction and is supported in part by a $2 million donation from IKEA U.S. Community Foundation. The Governor will match the donation with $2 million from Virginiaā€™s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which was approved by the General Assembly in April.

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Editorial: Don't let COVID-19 prevent your child's annual doctor visit

COVID-19: NET adds 71 cases; far Southwest Virginia sees 10 cases

Northeast State adding drive-thru center for student services

Looking for a job? Kingsport Chamber is ready to help

Sunday, Aug. 30

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COVID-19: NET daily case rate falls below 40

Kingsport students return to in-person schooling Monday

Jonesborough Genealogical Society to host first-ever virtual help night

Sullivan North football season on hold because of positive coronavirus test

Netherland Inn set for limited reopening

Saturday, Aug. 29

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Mountain Empire Community CollegeĀ announced Saturday it has been notified that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is self-isolated, according to CDC and local public health guidelines. Contact tracing is being coordinated through the local health department in conjunction with the college. Those persons who may have come into close contact with the positive case are notified directly by the Health Department and given further instructions to prevent the spread. A press release from the college says MECC will continue with previously scheduled classes and classes will continue as they have this semester. There is no change to the staff schedules and access to the campus as a part of this notification, the release said. "As part the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) requirements for all colleges and universities, Mountain Empire Community College is required to send this initial Emergency Notification to students and employees of a positive COVID-19 case(s) on campus. Additional information regarding COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, testing and academic planning can be found at the collegeā€™s COVID-19 Prevention and Response webpage at https://www.mecc.edu/coronavirus/.

🔹 The Kingsport Diabetes Association will hold its meeting for new and current members at 7 p.m., Sept. 8, via conference call. This month will feature an open "hoot" — an opportunity for everyone to connect, ask questions and have discussion about any changes in therapy. We would love to hear about good outcomes and also about the challenges of being a diabetic. Anyone interested in connecting with a local group of supportive diabetics can join in on this conference call at no charge by calling (978) 990-5184 and then entering access code 2692346#. New members can also visit the KDA website at kingsportdiabetes.org to learn about its mission and upcoming activities. For more details, call (423) 416-3910.

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DKA, BoomTown announce winners of DKA COVID-19 Recovery Micro-Grants

MECC to provide internet access, laptops for former foster youth

NET adds 98 cases of COVID-19, SW Va. 12

Friday, Aug. 28

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee today signedĀ Executive Order No. 59Ā to extend certain, targeted provisions of Executive Order Nos. 36, 38, 49, 50, 54, and 55 through Sept. 30, 2020 to facilitate the continued treatment and containment of COVID-19 through regulatory flexibility, promoting social distancing and wearing face coverings in public places, and protecting vulnerable populations.Ā Gov. Lee also signed Executive Order Nos.Ā 60Ā andĀ 61, which extend through Sept. 30 provisions that allow for electronic government meetings subject to transparency safeguards and remote notarization and witnessing of documents, allowing for implementation of best practices developed during COVID-19 for providing live broadcasts of electronic meetings and safely conducting in-person transactions, respectively, beginning Oct. 1.Ā The full executive orders can be viewedĀ here.

šŸ”¹Ā Sullivan County Schools announced Friday a member of the Sullivan North High School football community has tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the need for team members and the coaching staff to quarantine. This will effectively suspend all practices and scheduled games through Sept. 9, the release said.

šŸ”¹Ā The Virginia House of Delegates today passed legislation that will protect voting rights and prioritize support for Virginians during the COVID-19 public health emergency.Ā The House passed bills that will protect housing security for individuals and families affected by COVID-19, improve transparency requirements for congregate-care facilities, increase access to vital telemedicine and protect mail-in absentee voting, among others. The House also passed legislation establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday.

šŸ”¹Ā U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement:Ā ā€œThe Trump Administration has announced that during the nextĀ threeĀ months the federal government will help make available 150 million new Abbott COVID-19 antigen diagnostic tests costing $5 eachĀ that deliverĀ rapid results in 15 minutes. This could meanĀ as many as one million additionalĀ tests just during October for use in Tennessee hospitals,Ā doctorsā€™ offices and other health care settings to helpĀ schools,Ā colleges, child care centers and workplaces continue to safely reopen. Until there are more treatments and a vaccine, such a large number of cheap and reliable rapid tests is one of the biggest steps yet toward giving Americans more confidence to go back to school, back to work and out to eat."

šŸ”¹Ā The George L. Carter Railroad Museum, located in the Campus Center Building on the campus of East Tennessee State University, will reopen on Saturday, Aug. 29, for Heritage Day focusing on the vast expanses of the American West.Ā The colorful and popular lines of the region west of the Mississippi will be highlighted on the reopening, which will be operated under the specific health guidelines instituted by the university. All visitors will be required to wear masks while on the ETSU campus and in its buildings, including the railroad museum.Ā  There will be directional signage in place to promote physical distancing and for safe traffic flow inside the galleries and corridors. The number of visitors will be restricted to 10 persons in each of the two galleries and time spent in the galleries will be limited to approximately 15 minutes in each.Ā A preregistration link is provided to encourage patrons to schedule a time to visit:Ā https://tinyurl.com/y3ba5uto. For the added safety of all visitors, the Little Engineerā€™s Playroom will remain closed until further notice.

🔹 USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep customers, partners and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America. Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for information on Rural Development loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions and more.

šŸ”¹Ā U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agricultureā€™s (USDA)Ā Farmers to Families Food Box ProgramĀ has distributed more than 75 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, President TrumpĀ announced an additional up to $1 billionĀ will be added to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program while the economy continues to reopen.

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COVID-19: NET daily case total tops 100; far Southwest Virginia adds eight cases

Direct Relief grant assists Providence Medical Clinic with COVID-19 needs

ETSU great Silvers hospitalized with COVID-19

TSSAA state cross country meet venue changed

Shay thinks seasonā€™s start might be pushed back

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Aug. 28, 2020

Thursday, Aug. 27

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors took three significant actions at its meeting on Thursday to further extend support to citizens, communities and businesses that continue to be challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā Based on TVA employee performance and consultation with TVAā€™s public power partners about ongoing needs in the region, the Board approved an additional $2 million contribution to the Community Care Fund. Similar to the initial contribution in April, these funds will be matched by local power companies and other community groups to benefit local organizations that assist families and businesses most in need.Ā Secondly, the Board extended TVAā€™s Back-to-Business credit program, which encourages large customers to resume operations as quickly as possible.Ā Lastly, the Board approved a special $200 million Pandemic Relief Credit for the coming fiscal year to help communities and businesses recover more quickly from the pandemic.

šŸ”¹Ā State Rep. John Crawford, R-Bristol/Kingsport, today announced Sullivan County will receive two emergency broadband grants totaling more than $267,000 through the stateā€™s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government. BrightRidge Johnson City Energy Authority will receive $89,383 to expand public Wi-Fi internet access in Sullivan County Schools. Spectrum SE will receive $177,700 to provide broadband access to 55 residential homes in parts of rural Sullivan County.Ā Pursuant to federal guidelines, these projects are limited to those that would enhance access to individuals and families affected during the COVID-19 pandemic by the lack of broadband access in their area.

šŸ”¹Ā The 21st annual Boone Lake Cleanup will be held Saturday, Sept. 12. Register and pick up your bags starting at 9 a.m. Return your full bags no later than 3 p.m. In order to meet social distancing guidelines, the picnic that typically follows the cleanup is canceled this year. For more information, call the Boone Lake Association at (423) 360-5057.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 22, 2020. Statewide, 10,998 new claims were filed, along with 191,204 continued claims. In Sullivan County, 221 initial claims were filed, along with 3,380 continued claims. In Hawkins County, 83 initial claims were filed, along with 1,003 continued claims.

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Rogersville area churches to offer the 'July 4 concert that wasn't'

Children need healthy foods to fuel the mind

Hawkins Health Department holding drive-thru 'Baby Shower' this year

Authorā€™s Corner: Kingsport native writes book about homeschooling

Daily COVID-19 numbers for Tennessee and Virginia

Annual Church Hill Trout Rodeo canceled due to COVID-19

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Aug. 27, 2020

COVID-19 cancels Surgoinsville Riverfront Festival, but spawns bigger fireworks extravaganza

Wednesday, Aug. 26

Read more

Eligible to absentee vote? Request your ballot now!

HolstonConnect awarded $5.5M to bring broadband to 2,300 Hawkins homes

Editorial: In these times, Rogersville needs Heritage Days

Daily COVID-19 numbers from Tennessee and Virginia

Hotspots available next week at Lonesome Pine Regional Library branches

About 1 in 3 Sullivan students remain virtual

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Aug. 26, 2020

UVA Wise employee tests positive for COVID-19

New look on all levels for Downtown Mile

Tuesday, Aug. 25

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call, first serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā BrightRidge Broadband will offer free community Wi-Fi at the grounds of 16 Washington County schools, six community centers, three Johnson City schools and three Sullivan County schools under $2.47 million in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Grants awarded by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. BrightRidge Broadband will match the grant with $617,828 in local funds for a total project cost of $3,089,143. The grants are funded through the stateā€™s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, with all projects required to be online by mid-December under the grant award.

šŸ”¹Ā Since March 26, soldiers and airmen with the Tennessee National Guard have been working diligently alongside Tennesseeā€™s Department of Health, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and various other state and local agencies to combat the spread of COVID-19. Their main focus: to test as many citizens as possible.Ā Tennessee Guardsmen, alongside state and local agencies, are conducting COVID-19 testing at 18 Remote Assessment Sites spread throughout the stateā€™s three grand divisions. Soldiers and airmen have participated in and established temporary testing sites in hot spot areas, tested vulnerable populations at long-term care facilities, county and state corrections facilities, public housing, and many other locations across the state. They also established an Infectious Disease Team that visits hospitals and alternative care centers to help develop plans and processes that prevent and decrease COVID-19 transmissions within the facilities.Ā The Tennessee Guard is currently helping with warehouse operations for PPE.

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New virus cases decline in the US and experts credit masks

Daily COVID-19 statistics from Tennessee and Virginia

SW Va. schools deal with rising COVID-19 case numbers

Director says Sullivan schools first day went well

Daily COVID-19 scorecard: Aug. 25, 2020

What you see is what you get? Not this year

Kingsport public school students heading back to classrooms Aug. 31

Not all inmates tested at Sullivan County Jail

Monday, Aug. 24

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the state of Tennesseeā€™s grant application to receive funding to pay the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) unemployment benefit, in addition to current benefits.Ā At this time, there is no definitive start date as to when the state will begin dispersing the additional weekly benefit. The department will provide updates on LWA payments as new information becomes available.Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development will add the $300 to current Tennessee Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or Extended Benefits payments.Ā The stateā€™s maximum unemployment benefit is $275. When combined with the new program, the maximum possible benefit in Tennessee will be $575 per week, before federal withholding taxes.Ā The LWA payments will be retroactive to Aug. 1, 2020. Eligible claimants currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action because the state will automatically add LWA to their weekly benefit payment.

šŸ”¹Ā The Rogersville Health Department will be hosting its annual baby shower. Due to COVID-19, this yearā€™s baby shower will be a drive-through event. Participants will remain in their car to increase social distancing in maintaining a safe event. The baby shower is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 18, from 2-4 p.m. In case of rain,the shower will be rescheduled for Friday, Sept. 25.

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COVID-19 cases rise in Tennessee and Virginia

WHO: Children aged 6-to-11 should wear masks at times, too

Carnival coming to Kingsport next month

Silence echoing inside SW Virginia stadiums hard to ignore

Sunday, Aug. 23

News updates

šŸ”¹ In a letter to parents, Norton City Schools announced a student or staff member in the system had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The letter said the local health department had been contacted and the school system is following protocols for assessing risks. "Parents should continue to monitor their own health and the health of their families for COVID-19 symptoms," the letter said.

šŸ”¹Ā On Thursday, Sept. 10,Ā from 6-8 p.m., the Jonesborough Genealogical Society will host its first ever Virtual Genealogy Help Night via Zoom. In the age of COVID-19, this will be its first Help Night since March and it will be in a different format than any other.Ā Those wishing to participate should register viaĀ https://jgstn.org/virtual-genealogy-help-night/.

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Buses to roll Monday, when Sullivan schools open in hybrid mode

School employees 'critical infrastructure' status clarified

Friday night wasn't all about football

Editorial: Santa Train will be different this year

COVID-19: NET daily case total over 100; far Southwest Virginia adds 10 cases

Saturday, Aug. 22

Read more

Sullivan leads NET surge with 164 new COVID-19 cases

Sullivan County Jail staff test all 700-plus inmates

Tusculum nursing students lift spirits at Crumley House with vehicle parade

Tournament change offers new way to 'Tee it Up for Breast Cancer'

Monday's Hawkins commission meeting available via live stream or phone call

Friday, Aug. 21

Schedule changes

🔹 Due to COVID-19, Healing Hands Health Center will be moving its 15th annual Fundraising Gala to a fun online virtual event called “Mask”erade. Join them on Thursday, Aug. 27, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Registration is open now. Go to Givergy.us/healinghands to enter your information. There is no charge to attend, so enter PROMO CODE 123. After you register you will receive a link to log in the night of the event. The silent auction is open now and is open for bidding.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Vibrant heritage music is still alive in the hills of Southwest Virginia, so now is a great time to plan a visit to the region in the upcoming months.Ā Major venues such asĀ The Floyd Country Store,Ā Blue Ridge Music Center,Ā Birthplace of Country MusicĀ Museum,Ā Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace and Country Cabin II are open or have music on limited schedules.Ā While other museums and venues, such as The Carter Family Fold, Blue Ridge Institute, Ralph Stanley Museum and Rex Theatre havenā€™t fully opened, there are still plenty of opportunities to view performances online or listen to radio shows.Ā Ā The best resource for updated hours and event information is either The Crooked Road or each venueā€™s social media.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group today announced $61 million will be awarded in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund grants to improve access to broadband internet across the state. The grants are funded through the stateā€™s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Kingsport City Schools Board of EducationĀ will hold its August work session toĀ Monday,Ā Aug. 24, 2020Ā atĀ 5 p.m.Ā Ā The work session will be held in-person in theĀ TennesseeĀ RoomĀ of theĀ KCS Administrative Support CenterĀ (400 Clinchfield St., third floor).Ā Due to COVID-19, capacity limitations will be in effect in accordance with Tennessee Pledge guidelines. All attendees will be required to wear a face mask and pass a safety screening before entering the work session location.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā As students, faculty and staff prepare for the start of a new academic year at East Tennessee State University, several changes to campus operations have been put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recommendations from the institutionā€™s COVID-19 Medical Response Team have served as the foundation for modifications to campus operations, such as a new universityĀ policyĀ announced in late July that requires all ETSU students, faculty and staff as well as visitors to campus to wear a face covering.Ā Additionally, a series of operational stages were developed by the Future Operations Workgroup to provide levels of restrictions and other health and safety guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, President Noland announced that ETSU would remain inĀ stage 2 with modificationsĀ for the beginning of the fall semester in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.Ā As part of an overall effort to reduce the population density on campus during peak times, more than 80% of the course sections offered by ETSU this fall will be taughtĀ online, and employees are continuing to work remotely where possible, with some on campus, including options for staffing rotations within offices.Ā Though the universityā€™s residence halls are now open, the overall capacity of students living on campus has been significantly decreased for the fall in order to reduce the population density.Ā  In a typical year, ETSU Housing and Residence Life can accommodate nearly 3,000 students in its 10 residence halls, but for the fall 2020 semester, that number will be lowered to approximately 60%.Ā Additional information, including health resources and a list of frequently asked questions, are available atĀ etsu.edu/bucs-are-back.

šŸ”¹Ā Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) has been awarded a one-year, $34-million grant by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, to conduct a nationwide study of ā€œconvalescent plasmaā€ as a treatment for COVID-19.Ā The randomized, controlled trial will test whether infusions of plasma, the liquid part of blood collected from COVID-19 survivors, can help other hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The plasma contains antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.Ā Todd Rice, MD, MSc, and Wesley Self, MD, MPH, will lead the study, which will recruit 1,000 participants in approximately 51 sites across the country. The goal is to complete enrollment by Oct. 31, and report results by November.

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Limited number of fans to be allowed for Bristol night race

COVID-19: NET daily case total passes 100; far Southwest Virginia adds 10 cases

Shay wants SoCon coaches to be ready for any scenario

Hicks tests positive for COVID-19

Thursday, Aug. 20

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā tnAchieves, the partnering organization to the TN Promise serving 90 counties and over 100,000 students annually, is excited to present a new virtual mentoring opportunity that will allow mentors to provide high impact supports while adhering to local, state and federal social distancing guidelines. Bank of America will be the banner sponsor of this new virtual mentoring tool known as tnAchieves CONNECT.Ā tnAchieves CONNECT creates a virtual space where students and mentors can safely engage using video chat, email and instant messaging. These tools will support mentors as they develop impactful relationships without leaving home/work. With the support of tnAchieves CONNECT, mentors will spend about one hour a month serving as a trusted college resource, providing timely reminders for important deadlines and, most importantly, encouraging students to reach their full potential.Ā Those wishing to learn more about tnAchieves CONNECT and the need for mentors are invited to attend an upcoming informational webinar set to take place on Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT, Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT, or Aug. 27 at 12:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. CT. Each session will present on the same material and last for 30 minutes. Recordings will be made available to those who cannot attend live. Those interested in attending an upcoming webinar can register atĀ www.tnAchieves.org/mentors. If you are unable to attend an informational webinar, you can learn more atĀ www.tnachieves.org.

šŸ”¹Ā As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) across the country have suffered significant loses in funding and donations.Ā In an effort to help families in need that are served by RMHC, local restaurants will increase awareness for the ā€œRound Up for RMHCā€ program through drive thru orders from Aug. 23 through Oct. 3. Each time someone orders through the drive thru, they will have the opportunity to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar or choose to give $1, $3 or $5 for RMHC.Ā McDonaldā€™s restaurants will engage in a friendly competition to see who can raise the most donations for RMHC in order to reach their goal of $1 million across the markets in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, Southwest Virginia and Eastern Tennessee to support their local RMHC houses.

šŸ”¹Ā Coalition For Kids (C4K) is hosting a $10,000 Reverse Raffle, presented by Citi, with the drawing being held on Oct. 1, 2020 with live Facebook streaming. Proceeds from this fundraiser will assist CFK in keeping services free to children and families in Washington County/Johnson City.Ā The organization will continue to provide trauma-informed care to childrenĀ by not onlyĀ mitigating the impact of remote learning on our vulnerable student population, but also mitigating the broader strain of the pandemic on our kids, our families, and our schools.Ā C4K will shift learning environments back and forth between virtual and in-person, as needed. Raffle tickets are $100 each and can be purchased online atĀ www.coalitionforkids.orgĀ or by mail to 2423 Susannah St., Johnson City, TN 37601.

šŸ”¹Ā The Supreme Court of VirginiaĀ extended itsĀ Declaration of Judicial Emergency through Sept. 20, 2020, and ordered that theĀ provisions of the Eighth Order Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency In Response To Covid-19 Emergency, entered July 29, 2020 (Eighth Order), shall continue to apply in all courts of the Commonwealth for the duration of this order unless amended by future order.Ā The court also ordered that the provisions of the Amendment of Eighth Order entered on Aug. 7, 2020, are not extended by this order, and remain in effect only through Sept. 7, 2020. The courtā€™s order that the issuance of writs of eviction pursuant to unlawful detainer actions related to the failure to pay rent be suspended and continued therefore shall cease to have effect after Sept. 7, 2020, unless amended by future order.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 15, 2020. Statewide, 13,806 new claims were filed, along with 204,726 continued claims. In Sullivan County, 253 initial claims were filed, along with 3,638 continied claims. In Hawkins County, 63 initial claims were filed, along with 1,120 continued claims.

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Economy wonā€™t grow if people keep getting sick

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett encourages voters to prepare now to vote in November election

COVID-19: NET daily case total goes below 60; far Southwest Virginia adds 12 cases

With no city leagues, big softball tournament at Mount Carmel City Park organized by parents

Courtroom side of Hawkins Justice Center closed due to COVID-19 infection

J.I. Burton Hall of Fame postpones induction ceremony until spring

Wednesday, Aug. 19

Schedule changes

🔹 The annual Pinnacle Trail Challenge, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, has been canceled because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases within the region, but that won’t stop organizers from raising money for their cause. The event benefits the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee and is usually hosted each fall by the Town of Unicoi and Unicoi Business Alliance (UBA). The 4.8-mile race to the top of Buffalo Mountain ends with a victorious view of the valley’s surrounding beauty, and proceeds are donated to the food bank along with canned items that are collected in conjunction with the race. Since the race is now canceled, the town and UBA will instead host a virtual food drive to benefit the food bank. The virtual food drive will be held throughout the month of September, and donations may be made using an online platform that allows you to choose different types of canned and non-perishable foods or make a monetary contribution. Visit UnicoiTN.net and check the events page for more information, or follow the town on Facebook.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The 13th and 14th confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kingsport City Schools are a Dobyns-Bennett High School student and a staff member at Roosevelt Elementary, Assistant Superintendent of Administration Andy True said. True said he could provide no information about the student's association with any athletic, co-curricular or extra-curricular activities in the case announced Tuesday evening. The school system remains in virtual mode until further notice but, like in Sullivan County and other systems, athletic teams are practicing and playing except when quarantines and isolations are in effect. True announced the Roosevelt case, the third at that school, Wednesday evening.

šŸ”¹Ā WonderWorks Pigeon Forge is offering a range of new educational opportunities for the fall of 2020. With both in-person and virtual options, WonderWorks is expanding upon current programs and adding new ones to be a part of the new education ā€œnormalā€ 2020 is bringing. These programs come at a time when many parents and teachers are searching for additional educational opportunities for their students, to help enhance the virtual and homeschool learning environment many families are opting into.Ā Educational opportunities being offered by WonderWorks this fall include aĀ Smoky Mountain art contest for local student artists, virtual learning labs, and expanded homeschool days.Ā For more information, visitĀ https://www.wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/.

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Sullivan school system has sixth COVID-19 case, going hybrid Aug. 24

29 inmates test positive for COVID-19 in Sullivan County Jail

NET records 140 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths

Team races up for grabs in different kind of cross country season

Sullivan board hears pleas against hybrid plan

Tuesday, Aug. 18

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The state of Tennessee will submit its application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to receive grant funding to pay an additional weekly unemployment benefit to claimants who meet the eligibility requirements of the Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance program (LWA).Ā If approved, the grant will fund a $300 weekly payment. This new LWA payment is in addition to the Tennessee Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or Extended Benefits payments currently available to unemployed Tennessee workers.Ā The grant requires claimants to receive at least $100 in state or federal unemployment benefits each week to be eligible for the new LWA payment.Ā The $300 option allows Tennessee to maintain its Coronavirus Relief Fund initiatives while still more than doubling the stateā€™s maximum benefit amount.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has issued Executive Order Seventy to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at Virginiaā€™s state-operated psychiatric hospitals and ensure the safety of patients and staff during the ongoing health crisis.Ā Executive Order Seventy directs that when state hospitals are operating at 100% of their total bed capacity, they will not serve as the facility of temporary detention for individuals who areĀ notĀ under emergency custody. The order encourages law enforcement to ensure a bed is available before taking a new admission to a state hospital and requires a medical screening for COVID-19 and other acute medical conditions before transferring a patient to a state hospital. The executive order also requires timely updating of the statewide acute psychiatric bed registry and establishes clear expectations for communication regarding state hospital discharges.Ā The full text of this executive order is availableĀ here.

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first-call, first-serve basis.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced proposals to expand access to voting for the Nov. 3 General Election amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.Ā Governor Northam is putting forward three proposals aimed at addressing challenges brought on by the pandemic: prepaid postage, drop off boxes and drop off locations, and an absentee cure process, whichĀ would allow voters to fix an error on their absentee ballot.Ā Additional information and presentations on the governorā€™s proposed amendments to the 2020-2022 Biennial Budget can be foundĀ here.

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COVID-19: NET sees five deaths; far Southwest Virginia adds 20 cases

Absentee ballots can't be returned in person by voters in Tennessee

Church Hill nursing home now reporting only two residents have COVID-19

Monday, Aug. 17

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Greene County Health Department modified COVID-19 testing hours effective Tuesday, Aug. 18.Ā Testing is Monday-Friday between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Additional information about Tennesseeā€™s testing sites is available for each county on the Tennessee Department of Health website at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/remote-assessment-sites.html.

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11th, 12th COVID-19 cases confirmed in Kingsport City Schools

Wise County schools open virtually Thursday

Southwest Virginia registrars anticipate few problems for absentee voters

Sullivan jail employee tests positive for COVID, inmate testing underway

COVID-19: NET sees three deaths; far Southwest Virginia adds 10 cases

Tri-Cities 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb moves to BMS

Surgoinsville Elementary hosts drive-thru Back to School Bash

Sunday, Aug. 16

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Volunteer High School football team's scheduled season opener against CAK on Friday has been postponed after a member of the football community tested positive for COVID-19. The football team is quarantining per Northeast Regional Health Department Guidelines and will not report back until Aug. 22. Daniel Boone, which had lost its opening week opponent, will now face CAK on Friday, Aug. 21.

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Wise County School Board calls emergency meeting on reopening

Boone to play CAK in season opener; Volunteer in quarantine

COVID-19: NET daily case spike over 200; far Southwest Virginia adds 17 cases

Saturday, Aug. 15

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) joins Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group in announcing new financial relief programs for businesses adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā TDA has established the Coronavirus Agricultural and Forestry Business (CAFB) Fund to help ensure stability of the food supply chain and agribusiness economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are accepted between Aug. 17-31, 2020.Ā CAFB Fund details can be found atĀ tncaresact.tn.gov/tda.Ā Contact TDAā€™s Business Development Division at 615-837-5160 with questions.

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COVID-19: NET daily cases dip below 70; far Southwest Virginia adds 28 cases

Friday, Aug. 14

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The City of Church Hill and VFW Post 9754 announced that theĀ 2020 Church Hill Trout DerbyĀ has been canceled due to safety concerns related to COVID-19.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced today new and expanded financial relief programs for small businesses, agribusinesses, displaced workers, and the tourism industry through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The Tennessee Small Business Relief Program will expand to include additional industries adversely impacted by reductions in commercial activity in April, with $83.5 million added to the programā€™s initial $200 million allotment.

šŸ”¹Ā The latest research from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of agricultural commodity production and distribution, leading to substantial price declines and reduced income for farmers.Ā Price declines for corn, cotton and soybeans occurred in the first five months of 2020 and are projected to continue. Price reductions associated with the pandemicā€™s market effects have in turn caused a negative impact on farm income and farm-associated expenditures throughout the state.Ā In anticipation of declining farm income due to price losses, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Without CFAP payments, Tennessee corn, soybean, cotton and wheat producers are estimated to have declines in income of $58.8 million, $21.4 million, $20.3 million and $1.2 million, respectively, for a total decline of $101.7 million in producer income for crops in storage. This decline in income is reduced to $43.7 million with CFAP payments.Ā The U.S. Department of Agricultureā€™s Farm Service Agency is acceptingĀ CFAP applicationsĀ through Sept. 11, 2020.

šŸ”¹Ā Warriors Path State Park announced it will offer "Weekend at the Park" nature discovery activities, akin to its Summer in the Park series, on weekends this fall. The programs will include social distancing and limited numbers. Visit the park website for details about the weekend programs, as well as the weekday H.O.N.E.Y. (Hands On Nature Education for Youth) offerings.

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ETSU suspends fall sports after SoCon decision

Will there be a college football season this year?

COVID-19: NET daily cases fall to 72; SW Va. adds 13

Kingsport school enrollment tops 7,700 in year of "grace"

Rogersville Heritage Days currently 'still a go'

Switching seasons 'going to be tough' for teams in SAC

Cooper Standard to lay off 86 at Phipps Bend

Thursday, Aug. 13

News updates

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is reminding parents that there’s time to apply for a program to help provide food for their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families can apply for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits here until Friday, Aug. 14, at 4:30 Central Time. Applications can also be downloaded to fill out in Spanish, Somali, and Arabic languages and emailed to P-EBT.DHS@tn.gov.

šŸ”¹Ā East Tennessee State Universityā€™s Dr. Zhi Q. Yao was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to explore the impact of diabetes on COVID-19 and the impact of COVID-19 on diabetes and related complications. The grant is ETSUā€™s first major funding for COVID-19-specific research.

šŸ”¹Ā Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson reported Wednesday evening that a baseball player at Cherokee High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, a total of nine players are currently are self-quarantining, Hixson said. The student who tested positive last attended an athletics event on Aug. 8.Ā  Hixson said that student was following all health and safety protocols developed by the Northeast Tennessee Athletic Administrators, Regional Health Officials, and the TSSAA.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers. Patients must schedule an appointment to be tested. Patients with appointments must travel in their personal vehicles to their appointments. Testing is done without patients leaving their vehicles. Testing results are available in two to three days unless a rapid test is performed. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (276) 496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley today announced that Tennessee tax revenues exceeded budgeted estimates in July. Overall July revenues were $1.86 billion, which is $689.4 million more than the state received in July 2019 and $667.1 million more than the budgeted estimate. The growth rate for July was 59.06%.Ā ā€œEven as the state finishes the year with a positive revenue balance, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on future revenues remains a concern," Eley said. "Thus, we will continue to monitor national and global economic indicators to manage our spending and revenue collections appropriately.ā€

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SoCon postpones fall sports

Kingsport, Hawkins County schools report new COVID-19 cases

Grant to help homeless in Tri-Cities during pandemic

KCS confirms four more COVID-19 cases

COVID-19: NET daily cases over 150; far Southwest Virginia adds 26 cases

Volunteer's teachers and students preparing for start of 'virtual' school year

Santa Train spirit of giving still coming, with modifications

Sullivan schools report two more COVID-19 cases

Wednesday, Aug. 12

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā Leaders at the University of Tennessee Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center have canceled the annual Tobacco, Beef and More Field Day for 2020. Rob Ellis, center director, cited the difficulty in maintaining proper social distancing at an event that typically draws more than 250 visitors.Ā Those needing pesticide recertification points are encouraged to contact the UT Extension office in their home counties for virtual or in-person options for training.Ā Tobacco, Beef and More is one of several UT Institute of Agriculture events that have been delayed, canceled or modified due to COVID-19. For the most up-to-date information on Institute field days or other events, visit theĀ Event CalendarĀ atĀ utia.tennessee.edu.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Three more people in the Kingsport City Schools system have tested positive for COVID-19, a school official reported Wednesday night. Assistant Superintendent of Administration Andy True said in an email that the cases involve two Washington Elementary School staff members and a Dobyns-Bennett student who is a member of the wrestling program. ā€œPer our established protocols, contact tracing has begun with the involvement of the KCS Supervisor of Nursing and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department,ā€ True said.

šŸ”¹Ā The Conference Carolinas Board of Directors have agreed to continue deliberations on competing in fall intercollegiate athletics after receiving additional guidance from the NCAA Sport Science Institute on Tuesday evening.Ā The board unanimously affirmed the following statement on Tuesday: "The Conference Carolinas Board of Directors, having during our meeting today received new information from the NCAA pertaining to testing and other matters, will reconvene within the next week for a final decision on fall sports competition. During this time the presidents will consult with public health officials in their respective areas and determine what is the best decision with respect to our student-athletes and the potential for them to practice and compete safely."

šŸ”¹Ā The COVID-19 situation has affected how many residents are choosing to utilize some of Kingsportā€™s parks and recreational programming. If youā€™d like to share your thoughts about this with Kingsport Parks and Recreation, please take this short survey:Ā https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Kingsport_COVID_survey. Your thoughts and opinions will help shape future park projects and help plan for next steps.

🔹 The Tri-Cities 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is excited to announce the location of the sixth annual event. Participants will have the unique opportunity to climb at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Last Great Colosseum. By relocating the event to a large outdoor facility and by implementing procedures including hand sanitizing stations, social distancing, and masks being worn in common areas, organizers are planning the event with safety at the forefront. The event is limited to 343 climbers, and registration is online until filled at http://events.firehero.org/tricities.

šŸ”¹Ā The X Ambassadors, an alt-rock band based in Ithaca, New York, will perform in the East Tennessee State University Student Government Associationā€™s exclusive virtual Fall 2020 Welcome Week Concert on Saturday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. via Zoom.Ā The concert is free to all ETSU students, staff and faculty with ETSU Zoom registration required. Registration will open Monday, Aug. 17, at 8 a.m. at the SGA Concerts page,Ā etsu.edu/concerts.

šŸ”¹Ā Amerigroup and its foundation announced today they are giving $125,000 to nonprofit organizations in Tennessee to support ongoing efforts related to COVID-19, as part of Amerigroupā€™s continuing efforts to improve lives and communities. TheĀ funding is part of the foundationā€™s $50 million commitment for COVID-19 response and recovery efforts to help areas of greatest need, including Tennessee nonprofit organizations on the front lines of the pandemic, who have mobilized in response to the crises impacting the local community.

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Hawkins teachers relying on parents, technology to make virtual classrooms a success

Kingsport students to be fed even if no money in accounts

Norton schools make it through five days; Wise County school officials ponder future until Aug. 20 start

With possible shutdown looming, Bucs open preseason camp

COVID-19: NET reports 181 new cases, one death; SW Va. adds 18 cases

Tuesday, Aug. 11

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn announced today the state of Tennesseeā€™s continued efforts to assist families, teachers, and districts as the 2020-2021 school year begins.Ā The department released a dashboard that provides information on each schoolā€™s status as offering in-person learning, virtual learning, or a hybrid. The dashboard is updated daily and can be foundĀ here.Ā The department is releasing aĀ child wellbeing check toolkitĀ today, to ensure that the needs of Tennessee children are met during and after extended periods away from school and to empower local communities to meaningfully engage in ways that support child wellbeing. Guidelines established in this document are encouraged to be enacted during any period of extended school closure, through virtual school models, and when students return to school after extended periods away.Ā Earlier this week, the department releasedĀ Schoolnet, the online platform to house the departmentā€™s suite of free and optional assessment supports for the 2020-21 school year.Ā For access to additional resources related to reopening schools, visit the Tennessee Department of Educationā€™s Reopening webpage:Ā https://www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/update-on-coronavirus/reopening-guidance.html.

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. Rapid and PCR tests are available. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call first serve basis.Ā Depending on demand, SVCHS may expand the testing available at future events.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Birthplace of Country MusicĀ (BCM)Ā has achievedĀ Healthy Business CertificationĀ from theĀ Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry, certifying that both its business office and theĀ Birthplace of Country Music MuseumĀ hasĀ a disease prevention plan in place that meets guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) forĀ workplace health and pandemic response.Ā The certification will be up forĀ renewal in July 2021.

šŸ”¹Ā ā€œTaste of Tennesseeā€ is a new virtual program offered by the Heritage Alliance that promises to bring people together to explore and celebrate Appalachian cuisine from the comfort of their homes. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the event is completely online and is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This day-long digital celebration is full of education and entertainment and also serves as a fundraiser for The Heritage Alliance. As part of the event, The Heritage Alliance will present a variety of offerings via Facebook and Zoom, including lectures, demonstrations, cooking classes and more.Ā Tickets for special Zoom events are available on the Town of Jonesboroughā€™s website.

šŸ”¹Ā U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that additional commodities are covered by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) in response to public comments and data. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline to apply for the program to Sept. 11, and producers with approved applications will receive their final payment.Ā 

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Positive coronavirus tests impact D-B basketball, South volleyball

HMG announces participation in COVID-19 vaccine study

COVID-19: NET daily cases drop below 40, prison outbreak pushes SW Va. numbers higher

Lonesome Pine Regional Library putting itself on hotspot

Two marquee matchups still on Week 1 schedule

COVID testing ongoing in Sullivan

Monday, Aug. 10

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Public Utility Commission today adopted a motion that the Commissionā€™s moratorium on service disconnections for nonpayment be lifted effective Aug. 29, 2020. The moratorium was a pro-active measure enacted by the Commission in March of this year to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 during Tennesseeā€™s State of Emergency status invoked by Gov. Bill Lee. Customers must be provided a minimum 30-day written notice of the utilityā€™s intent to resume its procedures for disconnection of service due to nonpayment of bills. The written notice shall provide the date on which the utility will resume its procedures for cutoffs for nonpayment of services, which can resume no sooner than Sept. 28, 2020, thirty days after the moratorium is lifted.

šŸ”¹Ā The Sullivan County Board of Education will meet in regular session on Thursday, Aug. 13, at 6:30 p.m. This meeting will be held at Sullivan Central High School in the gymnasium. This meeting will be open to the public and public comment will be allowed. Masks are recommendedĀ and social distancing will be practiced. Anyone who wishes to speak during public comment will need to complete Form 1.404.F1 Public Comments prior to the start of the meeting. That form can be found on our websiteĀ https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1LP1qw9Y6X_djAzMWdidFEwbUU/viewĀ or will be available at the sign in table as you enter the meeting.Ā The agenda can be viewed here:Ā https://meeting.boeconnect.net/Public/Organization/561.

šŸ”¹Ā The Cumberlands Airport Commission, owner and operator of the Lonesome Pine Airport in Wise, Virginia, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a design grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the rehabilitation of its airport runway in the amount of $655,000. The design effort will include pavement rehabilitation, replacement/relocation of runway lighting, and the installation of a dedicated electrical vault. While funding contributions for airport capital projects are typically 90 percent from FAA, eight percent from the Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV), and two percent from the Commission, this project is funded at a 100 percent federal share as a result of the additional monies provided by the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

šŸ”¹Ā Thanks to a COVID CARES Act grant made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Lonesome Pine Regional Library just placed an order for 45 mobile hotspots so cardholders will be able to enjoy free wireless internet access at home or on the go.Ā Once the devices are ready for checkout, the library will share the details in another public announcement.

šŸ”¹Ā Food City recently announced that the supermarket retail chain is partnering with Reliant Immune Diagnostics to offer MDBox telehealth to their valued customers. MDBox is a telehealth provider thatĀ enables patients to video chat with a licensed medical professional on their mobile devise any time they feel sick or need medical attention. The MDBox telehealth app was developed by Reliant Immune Diagnostics to provide cost-effective, quality symptom-specific healthcare and wellness to everyone.Ā  For less than the price of most copaysĀ per visit, patients can live chat with an MDBox medical provider within minutes and get a prescription if needed. Food City customers will receive $10 off their first MDBox visit.

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Sullivan Thursday BOE meeting at Central

Kingsport schools report two more COVID-19 cases

Scott superintendent says health precautions crucial to getting students back in classrooms

COVID-19: NET sees 100-plus case climb; Sullivan County tops 1,000-case mark

Double the fun? UVA Wise working on plans for adding fall sports to spring

Eastman points to the balance sheet

Sunday, Aug. 9

Read more

Virtual Lynn View track ribbon cutting set for Monday

Warriors Path to launch new nature program

Scott first responders request place to quarantine after COVID-19 exposures

Saturday, Aug. 8

Read more

COVID-19: NET sees 88 new cases, three deaths; SW Va. adds 18 cases to tally

South shuts down football practice after positive test

Date set for Kingsport Chamber Golf Scramble

Sullivan to proceed with fall football, school board says

Friday, Aug. 7

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Kingsport City Schools Board of EducationĀ will hold an electronic meeting onĀ Tuesday, Aug. 11,Ā 2020Ā atĀ 6 p.m.Ā The agenda can be accessed at the following link:Ā https://go.boarddocs.com/tn/kingscs/Board.nsf/vpublic?open. Members of the public can attend and listen to the meeting electronically viaĀ www.k12k.comĀ - Homepage - Latest News or watch live on theĀ KCS Facebook PageĀ (www.facebook.com/KptSchools). Alternatively, the audio archive of the meeting will be available atĀ www.k12k.comĀ - Board - Board Schedule & Notes within two business days of the meeting.Ā 

šŸ”¹ VirginiaĀ Gov. Ralph Northam today announced a temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings in Virginia. The moratorium, which will begin on Monday, Aug. 10, and remain in effect through Monday, Sept. 7, halts all evictionĀ proceedings related to failure to pay rent. Northam requested this moratorium in a letter to Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Lemons on July 24. VisitĀ StayHomeVirginia.comĀ for additional information and resources on tenant rights.Ā Todayā€™s order from the Virginia Supreme Court can be foundĀ here.

šŸ”¹Ā A team of experts from East Tennessee State Universityā€™s health sciences colleges is helping the university navigate important decisions and policies to protect the health and safety of the campus community and ETSU Health clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā Created in response to the pandemic, the Medical Response Team meets regularly to analyze disease trends, craft medical suggestions and aid in decisions and considerations regarding the safe return to campus.Ā The team has assisted in the development of ETSUā€™s policy on face coverings, return to work and class protocol, and a list of frequently asked safety questions. They have also facilitated COVID-19 testing at the ETSU University Health Center and ETSU Health clinical offices.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that the COVID-19 data numbers that will be posted on Friday, Aug. 7, will contain a significant increase due to a data backlog from earlier in the week.Ā Todayā€™s data will indicate 2,015 new cases. This figure includes information that should have been reported on Wednesday and Thursday of this week as well as the regular numbers for Friday.Ā Late Thursday, VDHā€™s Office of Information Management, which helps manage VDHā€™s COVID-19 databases, identified and rectified the technical issue, which was a system performance configuration.Ā To follow the number of new cases by day of symptom onset, please refer to theĀ graph, ā€œNumber of Cases by Date of Symptom Onset.ā€Ā 

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Sullivan schools moving from virtual to hybrid Aug. 24

Tennessee moves online Epi Curve data

Sullivan schools selling student meals during virtual instruction

COVID-19: NET daily count hits 270; Virginia blames spike on data backlog

Jason Isbell and 400 Unit, Tanya Tucker, and Blackberry Smoke return as headliners to Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in 2021

Southwest Virginia volleyball programs dealing with season moved to the spring

Domtar's Kingsport mill to be repurposed

Thursday, Aug. 6

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The award-winning Tennessee Medieval Faire has been canceled for 2020 due to the global pandemic. The rescheduled show dates were to be Oct. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 in Harriman, Tennessee. Festival producers hope to continue hosting their annual Tennessee Medieval Faire and Tennessee Pirate Fest in the spring and fall of 2021.Ā For festival updates, visitĀ www.TMFaire.com.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn announced today the state of Tennesseeā€™s continued efforts to assist families, teachers, and districts as the 2020-2021 school year begin. Efforts include additional funding to support connectivity, a teacher PPE dashboard, a family remote learning site, a foundational skills site, and Best for All Central, whichĀ provides school leaders, educators, and families with an extensive collection of high-quality, optional resources designed to be easily accessible and searchable.

šŸ”¹Ā The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) hasĀ confirmed top headliners Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Tanya Tucker, and Blackberry Smoke will perform at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2021. All three acts were slated to perform at the festival's 20th annual event previously scheduled for this September, but the 2020 festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.

šŸ”¹Ā The Kingsport Chamber Golf Scramble is set for Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Ridgefields.Ā Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, precautions are being taken to ensure as safe an environment as possible.Ā Players and attendees are asked to wear masks when registering and standing in the gathering area. Players are also asked to leave the pins in the holes. Breakfast and lunch will be provided in box containers. Social distancing is encouraged. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will also be available for use.Ā To enter, sponsor a hole or donate a prize, callĀ Nora Davis, Kingsport Chamber communications and events coordinator, atĀ 392-8827Ā or send an email toĀ ndavis@kingsportchamber.org.

šŸ”¹Ā Barter Theatre revealed that its AT&T Make Me a Match Challenge has been completed almost two weeks early. AT&T pledged a dollar for dollar match to contributions to the theatre between July 17 and Aug. 14, up to $30,000. Tremendous donor support since the challenge began has resulted in a total of $60,000 in gifts to the theatreā€™s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 1, 2020. Statewide, 11,690 new claims were filed, along with 224,093 continued claims. In Sullivan County, 383 initial claims were filed, along with 3,999 continued claims. In Hawkins County, 116 initial claims were filed, along with 1,454 continued claims.

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Union Primary School gives a glimpse of Wise County Schoolsā€™ reopening plans

ETSUā€™s program pioneers new ways to help children

NET reports 137 new COVID-19 cases, four deaths

Northam encourages use of new COVID-19 warning app

Opening day in a pandemic: Norton schools break ground for region

Kingsport, Sullivan report positive COVID-19 cases Thursday

ACCā€™s cancelation of fall golf season hurts ETSUā€™s tourney

Wednesday, Aug. 5

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The Rose Center Board of Directors announces the cancellation of this yearā€™s Mountain Makins Festival in Morristown due to the current COVID-19 health crisis.Ā This would have been the 45thĀ annual festival, Rose Centerā€™s original and largest fundraiser.Ā Over the past 44 years, more than 1000 crafts makers from several states, and hundreds of musicians and dancers, have participated in the fall event.Ā The free app is available to download through the App Store and the Google Play Store.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Under a Tennessee Supreme Court decision issued today, the state must permit every eligible voter with an underlying health condition that makes them especially vulnerable to COVID-19 ā€” and any voter who is a caretaker of such individuals ā€” to vote by mail in all elections in 2020 due to COVID-19. Prior to this case, the state had refused to let anyone physically capable of traveling to the polls to vote by mail.Ā Any eligible voter who requested and voted via absentee ballot for the primary elections on August 6 will still have that ballot counted, regardless of whether they have an underlying condition.Ā Todayā€™s ruling, however, reverses a Chancery Court decision that found all voters can vote by mail, and it narrows the category of voters who can vote by mail in the general election to those with underlying medical conditions and caretakers of such individuals.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced the launch of COVIDWISE, an innovative exposure notification app that will alert users if they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Virginia is the first state in the country to design a COVID-19 app using Bluetooth Low Energy technology developed by Apple and Google, which does not rely on personal information or location data. Users opt-in to download and utilize the free app.

šŸ”¹Ā The U.S. Department of Agricultureā€™s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced it will authorize Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) to extend deadlines for premium and administrative fee payments, defer the resulting interest accrual and allow other flexibilities to help farmers, ranchers, and insurance providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā More information can be found atĀ farmers.gov/coronavirus.

šŸ”¹Ā A total of 697 students will earn degrees and certificates from the University of Memphis Aug. 6-7 inĀ a ā€œTouchless Drive-Thru Diploma Cover Distribution & Alumni Swagā€Ā event, which will be held both days from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Central Avenue parking lot.Ā During this touchless event, spring and summer graduates will be able to pick up their UofM diploma cover along with fun alumni swag.Ā In addition, 2020 commencement participants will be recognized during anĀ online commencement celebration. The premiere begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8.

Read more

Daughter concerned as five COVID deaths now reported at Church Hill nursing home

Sullivan North, Johnson County, Happy Valley join football shutdown list

NET reports 150-plus new COVID-19 cases, four deaths

Should TSSAA revise rule about potential virus cancellations?

Sullivan North football community member tests positive for COVID-19

Tuesday, Aug. 4

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The Johnson County Health Department will modify COVID-19 testing hours effective Thursday, Aug. 6.Ā Testing is Monday-Friday between 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Additional information about Tennesseeā€™s testing sites is available for each county on the Tennessee Department of Health website at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/remote-assessment-sites.html.Ā  Ā 

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at their four community health centers.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced a cutting-edge interstate compact to expand the use of rapid antigen testing in Virginia.Ā Northam joined Maryland Governor Larry Hogan,Ā Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards,Ā Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker,Ā Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer,Ā and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in this bipartisan agreement with theĀ Rockefeller Foundation, which represents the first interstate testing compact of its kind among governors during the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā With todayā€™s announcement, these six states are entering formal discussions with Becton Dickinson and Quidel, theĀ U.S. manufacturers of antigen tests that have already been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, to purchase 500,000 rapid antigen tests per state.Ā By joining together, states are demonstrating to private manufacturers that there is significant demand to scale up the production of these tests, which deliver results in 15 to 20 minutes. Additional states, cities, and local governments may join the compact in the coming weeks.

šŸ”¹Ā In celebration of National Health Center Week (NHCW), Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems (SVCHS) is switching gears this year and celebrating the week virtually during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā This National Health Center Week honors those front line providers, staff and beloved patients who lost their lives during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.Ā This year, SVCHS, is celebrating the week virtually by hosting outside visits to its new travelling testing unit that will be assisting at the COVID-19 testing.Ā SVCHS will be posting digital content on its Facebook page and website all week long from local and national government officials and providers and staff from SVCHS.

Read more

Scott County School Board changes reopening plan

Boone football could be impacted by Greeneville shutdown

COVID-19: NET adds 74 cases; 12 new cases in far SWVA

UVA Wise delays fall opening by two weeks, citing statewide COVID-19 spread

Monday, Aug. 3

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The Sullivan County Board of Education will postpone its meeting scheduled for Aug. 4Ā and will hold a called board meeting on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, at 4 p.m. to allow time for an additional parent and staff survey to be conducted. Parents and staff will be emailed a link to participate in the survey. This meeting will be held virtually and can be viewed live here.Ā Agenda items include 1) Consideration and approval of Sullivan County's Reopening Plan, 2) Proposal to Provide Full Pay for Full Time Sullivan County Bus Drivers, and 3) Discussion of Turf Fields.

šŸ”¹Ā The drive-through testing sites at Washington, Carter and Greene County Health Departments closed early today (8/3) due to inclement weather. Other Northeast Regional Testing Sites may also close early today due to inclement weather.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Today, Tennessee Gov. Bill LeeĀ called for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020 for a special session to address COVID-19 liability protections, telehealth services and laws governing the Capitol grounds.Ā The special session will address extending COVID-19 liability protections in order to provide legal clarity and certainty for health care providers, businesses, schools, non-profits and others.

šŸ”¹Ā East Tennessee State University and the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home are seeking patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate a sample of their blood to be used for current and future coronavirus research.Ā To qualify for the research study, participants must be at least 18 years old, be in recovery for more than six weeks from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, sign an informed consent form, submit to a blood draw, and answer a few health-related questions. Participants do not need to be a veteran to participate. The typical appointment takes less than 30 minutes, and participants will receive a $25 Walmart gift card. In addition, they will receive the results of a free COVID-19 antibody test.Ā All of the blood samples will become part of a biorepository, which is a storage bank of cellular material that is frozen and cryopreserved to use at a later time. The biorepository is housed at the VA.Ā For further details or to set up an appointment to discuss participation in the research study, contact James L. Adkins, clinical research coordinator, at 423-930-8337, ext. 132.

šŸ”¹Ā Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) announced his monthly constituent services outreach forĀ Sullivan County, normally scheduled for 9-11 a.m. at the Slater Community Center,Ā will be handled remotely for the month of August.Ā This is not a cancellationĀ of constituent service hours, but another way the congressman can effectively assist his constituents with the extraordinary measures put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Ā Congressman Roeā€™s staff continue to be available for designated office hoursĀ MondayĀ throughĀ FridayĀ atĀ 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.Ā to assist First District constituents. To speak with one of the district representatives in the Kingsport office, callĀ 423-247-8161. All telephone messages left will be returned in a timely manner.

Read more

Kingsport school system stays with Epi Curves for return to in-person learning

Parents struggle as schools reopen amid coronavirus surge

Eastman navigates COVID-19 impact

Hawkins schools beginning the school year Aug. 17 'in the red'

COVID-19: NET adds 111 cases; 21 new cases in far SWVA

Sunday, Aug. 2

Read more

Kingsport City Schools announce free meals for kids

COVID-19: NET adds 130 cases; one new case in far SWVA

Kingsport, Sullivan to decide on virtual or in-person learning

Winners of mask art contest announced

Saturday, Aug. 1

Read more

COVID-19: NET sees 159 cases; 13 new cases in far SWVA

Friday, July 31

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Kingsport City Schools Board of Education will hold a called meeting on Monday, Aug. 3, at 6 p.m. Per Executive Order Number 51 issued by Gov. Bill Lee on June 29, the called meeting will be held electronically. The agenda can be accessed by clicking here.Ā The purposeĀ of the called meeting is to consider approval of the "Kingsport City Schools OperationsĀ Manual - Framework forĀ Opening the 2020-21 School Year" andĀ consideration of approval to purchaseĀ student computers.

šŸ”¹Ā Working in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (DOE), the VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) has developed a list of Phase III recommended guidelines for school divisions as they prepare for the safe reopening of high school sports and activities. The guidelines can be found here.

šŸ”¹Ā Due to the one-week delay in the start of the Kingsport City Schools school year (KCS start date now Monday, Aug. 10), the KCS School Nutrition Services department will meet the nutritional needs of our community's children during the week prior to school, Aug. 3-7. All KCS schools (with the exception of Palmer Center, D-B EXCEL and Cora Cox Academy) will distribute meals on-site and school buses will travel their normal bus routes. Free breakfast and lunch will be served one week only, Monday, Aug. 3-Friday, Aug. 7, to all children 18 years of age or younger. "Grab and Go" meals will be provided from 10 a.m. ā€“ 1 p.m. at school sites and via school bus delivery. There are no income requirements to participate in this meals program. The child must be present at the distribution site or school bus stop to receive a meal ā€” one meal per child. The child does not have to be a KCS student to receive a meal. KCS school bus routes can be found on www.k12k.com. If you do not see a bus or cannot go to a school site for a meal, please call (423) 392-4670 and leave a voicemail to schedule a delivery.

🔹 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order No. 55, first announced this past Tuesday, making contact during practice permissible in the sports of football and girls' soccer. “Athletics is an important part of our way of life and provides many benefits for our student-athletes, but common-sense precautions must be taken to combat COVID-19,” said Gov. Lee. “We have worked directly with the TSSAA to coordinate a framework so that football season and soccer seasons can begin while keeping student-athletes, staff, and fans safe. Other fall sports, including golf, cross country and volleyball, were not affected by the State of Emergency Order that prohibited contact sports. Although contact practice is now permissible, the regulations and requirements for practice and competition adopted by the Board of Control at their July 22 meeting are still in place for all sports and must be followed. Visit the Tennessee Returns to Play page of TSSAA.org for complete details. The date of first contest for girls' soccer remains Aug. 17, with the state championships to be held Oct. 28-31 in Murfreesboro. Football teams were allowed to begin heat acclimatization on July 20. Each athlete must complete heat acclimatization (2 days of helmets only, 3 days in helmets and shoulder pads) before practicing in full equipment, which is now permitted. This order will also continue to give local governments the authority to determine mask requirements for their respective constituencies. The order also extends through Aug. 29 Executive Order 54, which provides local government authority concerning face coverings. "Adopting mask requirements at the local level has helped achieve greater community buy-in as Tennesseans adopt a new habit to protect lives and livelihoods," Lee said.  

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is opening the grant application process Saturday, Aug. 1, to support nonprofit organizations serving Tennessee’s health and economic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state is making $150 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds available in this grant cycle through the Tennessee Community CARES Program. Organizations are encouraged to apply for grants through the uniform application portal here until Aug. 15. Organizations that receive Tennessee Community CARES grants must be 501(c)(3) organizations. Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at www.tn.gov/humanservices.

šŸ”¹Ā The Sullivan County Board of Education will meet virtually at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4, which is a rescheduled meeting date from Wednesday, July 29. The board will consider for approval the district's draft Operating Procedures for reopening schools.Ā The plan draft may be seen on the districtā€™s website atĀ http://www.sullivank12.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/reopen_final.pdf.Ā This meeting may be viewed on the YouTube channel for the Sullivan County TN BOE.

šŸ”¹Ā Coalition For Kids (C4K) has implemented plans to be open, beginning Aug. 10, for children to participate in virtual learning with their teachers.Ā Additionally, it will be communicating with their teachers, assisting each child with their homework assignments, tutoring, mentoring, and providing meals & snack for each of these children.Ā If you would like additional information about programming availability, as space is limited, please contact Asia Gardner, director of programming, at 423-434-2031 ext. 820.

🔹 The Tennessee Department of Education and Trevecca Nazarene University announced today that the deadline for the free teacher training on digital learning and teaching has been extended for an additional month and is available through Labor Day. Since the launch in May, this free, self-paced and optional online training has equipped over 18,000 Tennessee educators with skills for digital learning and teaching. In order to continue providing this online resource to educators as schools prepare to reopen for the 2020-21 school year, this training series will now be offered through Sept. 7. All Tennessee teachers are eligible to participate and can find additional information, along with how to register here: www.Trevecca.edu/remoteinstruction.

Read more

Most area football teams not planning contact practice for Monday

COVID-19: Region hit with 243 new cases, four deaths

Shay embraces challenge of trying to keep ETSU program rolling

COVID-19, teacher pay, school funding among issues identified by BOE candidates

AOA officials in waiting to see what happens with VHSL sports seasons

Thursday, July 30

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The Johnson City Omnium is celebrating its 14th year in 2020 with a few adjustments from its typical format. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event that is typically held at the end of May in downtown Johnson City will take place Aug. 15 and 16, 2020 in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Details regarding these changes as well as new policies concerning COVID-19 can be found atĀ www.jcomnium.com.

🔹 The Thunder Valley Amphitheatre, presented by Ballad Health, and the band, ALABAMA, have mutually agreed to postpone its “50th Anniversary Tour” scheduled stop in August 2020, to the new date of Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. The highly-anticipated concert is not structured to align with social distancing measures under the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines. All previously purchased tickets and parking passes will be honored on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, and guests are encouraged to keep their original tickets. Guests who purchased their tickets directly from Ticketmaster and the Thunder Valley Amphitheatre ticket office will receive an email in coming days with other options available to them. Account holders may email questions to tickets@bristolmotorspeedway.com.

šŸ”¹Ā Bristol Dragway officials announced the 2020 Bristol Chevy Show and Thunder Valley Mayhem will be moved to a 2021 date. The dates will be announced in the future.

News updates

🔹 The Kingsport Diabetes Association will hold its meeting for new and current members via conference call at 7 p.m., Aug. 11. The speaker will be nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator Amy Beane. She is currently employed by NovoNordisk as a professional representative. She will be discussing new therapies for diabetics and health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone interested in connecting with a local group of supportive diabetics can join in on this conference call at no charge by calling 1-978-990-5184 and then entering access code 2692346#. New members can also visit our website at kingsportdiabetes.org to learn about our mission and upcoming activities. Contact (423) 416-3910 for more details.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Highlands Community College announced 75% of its course offerings will be online when the fall semester begins Aug. 31. Hands-on or skills-based programs are an exception and will be delivered in person with proper social distancing practices in place. This decision, according to college officials, is in accordance with recommended guidelines from federal, state and local health officials, and based on continuing guidance from the collegeā€™s COVID-19 Task Force. Virginia Highlands will be following all guidelines and prioritizing safety, which means the on-campus experience will include smaller, in-person class sizes, increased person-to-person distancing in classrooms and common areas, as well as new signage and extra attention to cleaning measures. A special committee of faculty and staff helped develop protocols and measures that will follow Governor Ralph Northamā€™s executive orders and the recommendations of the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia.

🔹 Tennessee State Parks has announced that the Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee (BRAT) will be a virtual event this year for the health and safety of riders and park personnel. Under the virtual format of the month-long event, Sept. 1-30, riders can log their miles on lovetoride.net as part of the Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee Cycling Club. The goal is for participants to ride 688 miles, the distance from Bristol to Memphis, in the month of September. Since this year is the 31st annual Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee, the club has a goal of 31,000 miles collectively. In the past, riders would take out-and-back rides together. The virtual ride encourages riders to keep riding with shared goals in an online community and with shared routes across the state. Riders can register at https://tnstateparks.com/blog/the-bicycle-ride-across-tennessee-is-brining-riders-together-virtually and connect with the BRAT on its Facebook page.

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at the Tazewell Community Health Centerā€™s drive-thru site.Ā Appointments are available on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020 between 3-5 p.m. This is to test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis. Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing. There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call first serve basis. Depending on demand, SVCHS may expand the testing available at future events.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims for the week ending July 25, 2020. Statewide, 19,461 new claims were filed, along with 242,397 continued claims. In Sullivan County, 431 initial claims were filed, along with 4,335 continued claims. In Hawkins County, 140 initial claims were filed, along with 1,374 continued claims.

Read more

COVID-19 NET adds 106 cases to tally; far SWVA sees 6 new cases

Hawkins 2020-21 budget proposal shows $709k deficit, but savings increase by $2 million

Papa Joe Smiddy Festival canceled due to COVID-19

Local health departments encourage COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 NET adds 106 cases to tally; far SWVA sees 6 new cases

Wednesday, July 29

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The special called virtual meeting of the Sullivan County Board of Education that was scheduledĀ for today, July 29, at 4 p.m.Ā  is being postponed, pending the receipt of additional and clarifying information from the TennesseeĀ Department of Education and the local health department in response to Gov. Lee's announcements yesterday. As soon as the necessary information is available, the meeting will be rescheduled with any recommended changes to operating procedures for the board's consideration.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at the Twin City Medical Centerā€™s drive-thru site.Ā Appointments are available on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 and Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 between 4-6 p.m. This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing.Ā There are a limited number of appointments available each day and will be offered on a first call first serve basis.Ā Depending on demand, SVCHS may expand the testing available at future events.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Based on current trends, State Farm is working to reduce auto insurance rates in Tennessee by an average of 9.5%. This rate reduction will save more than one million State Farm customers a total of $86 million. This applies to current customers at policy renewal, as well as new and returning customers.Ā Customer rate reductions will vary based on their individual renewals. Customers are encouraged to visit with their State Farm agent about individual policies, coverage and any opportunities for discounts.Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā The East Tennessee Historical Society (ETHS)Ā staff and board announced that the Museum of East Tennessee History will reopen Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, which will make the East Tennessee History Center fully reopened to the public.Ā The museum and all public programming at the history center has been closed since March 23, 2020, as ETHS worked to do its part in helping keep the community as safe as possible from the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā To stay informed of further plans, visitĀ www.eastTNhistory.org.

šŸ”¹Ā The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously extended the Declaration of Judicial Emergency through Aug. 30, 2020, and ordered that the provisions of the Seventh Order Extending Declaration Of Judicial Emergency In Response To Covid-19 Emergency, entered July 8, 2020, shall continue to apply in all courts of the Commonwealth for the duration of this order unless amended by future order. Accordingly, the Period of Judicial Emergency now extends from March 16, 2020, through Aug. 30, 2020.

šŸ”¹Ā U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agricultureā€™s (USDA)Ā Farmers to Families Food Box ProgramĀ has distributed over 50 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā ā€œThe delivery of 50 Million food boxes has helped an incredible number of Americans in need,ā€Ā said Secretary Perdue.Ā ā€œI couldnā€™t be prouder of the great job done by the food box program staff and the many farmers, distributors and non-profits that helped to get this program off the ground for the American people."

Read more

COVID-19: Tennessee tops 100,000-case mark

Steger walking upbeat road with Cougars

Basketball coaches cautiously optimistic about VHSL season

Sullivan schools called meeting on reopening delayed

COVID-associated death reported at Church Hill nursing home

Tuesday, July 28

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The University of Tennessee Institute of Agricultureā€™s Northeast Beef Expo for 2020 has been canceled. The event typically draws more than 400 people to the AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville every October.Ā In-person Master Beef recertification, which is typically offered at the Beef Expo, will also not be available. Clients that need recertification will have the opportunity to participate in a four-night online training. For dates and registration for the online training, contact the UT Extension office in your county. Plans are to bring the Northeast Tennessee Beef Expo back in October 2021 with an expanded program.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced today the state of Tennesseeā€™s recommendations to reopen schools for the 2020-2021 school year.Ā Gov. Lee will also issue Executive Order No. 55 to allow for contact sports to resume, provided they follow the requirements of TSSAA. Non-TSSAA schools must follow equivalent guidelines, and non-school-sponsored athletics should follow theĀ Tennessee PledgeĀ guidelines. An update to the Pledge guidelines will be forthcoming.

šŸ”¹Ā A new policy at East Tennessee State University requires all students, faculty and staff as well as visitors to campus to wear a face covering.Ā The policy is effective immediately and requires that face coverings be worn in classrooms and other public spaces as well as in outdoor areas where a physical distance of six feet cannot be maintained between persons.Ā The policy as well as a listing of frequently asked questions are available here.

šŸ”¹ VirginiaĀ Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that the Commonwealth will distribute $644.6 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to local governments in its second and final round of allocations. These payments represent the remaining 50 percent of local allocations and do not includeĀ $200.2 million that Fairfax County received directly from the federal government. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to provide funding to states and eligible units of local government navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

šŸ”¹ VirginiaĀ Gov. Ralph Northam today outlined new actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Hampton Roads region, which has seen a recent increase in new cases, hospitalizations, and positive tests. The new restrictions will apply to the Cities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News, Poquoson, James City County, and York County.Ā The percent of positive tests statewide has dropped to 7.3 percent, and remains well below 10 percent in the Northern, Northwest, Southwest, and Central Health regions. The Eastern region, which includes Hampton Roads, has a percent positivity rate of 10.8 percent.

Read more

Kingsport school start delayed until Aug. 10

Doctor: Asymptomatic staff likely spread COVID-19 in Church Hill nursing home

ā€œGood things come to those who waitā€ - Eastside High School Class of 2020 graduates in pandemic

Gov. Lee turns high school football loose for practice

Northam cuts back restaurant, bar hours in Hampton Roads in wake of COVID-19 case spike

Bucs practicing for season of uncertainty

Church Hill nursing home reports 19 residents, 13 employees test positive for COVID-19

Are Miami Marlins' COVID-19 woes bad news for high school football?

Monday, July 27

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā Music for All (the parent organization of Bands of America) recently announced it is unable to present its 2020 Bands of America Championships due to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision impacts all 2020 events, including the East Tennessee Regional Championships scheduled for Oct. 10, 2020, at East Tennessee State University.Ā Visit Johnson City staff will begin working immediately with Bands of America and ETSU staff to determine a suitable date for the 2021 event.

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā The Northeast Regional Health Office is reminding residents of the availability of free testing for COVID-19 in the community. There are a variety of organizations providing free COVID-19 testing throughout the Northeast Region. Some organizations require people with health insurance to use it for the free test. Testing for each organization is based on capacity of available staffing and test kit availability. Some organizations have an age requirement. Many organizations require people seeking testing to complete a survey online or to be assessed over the phone and to schedule an appointment.Ā Details such as addresses and phone numbers for Tennesseeā€™s testing sites are available for each county on the Tennessee Department of Health website at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/remote-assessment-sites.html.

šŸ”¹Ā The Sullivan County Board of Education will meet virtually at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, at 4 p.m. to consider and approve the Sullivan County Operations Procedures for reopening schools, as the single action item on the agenda. The plan draft may be seen on the districtā€™s website athttp://www.sullivank12.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/reopen_final.pdf.Ā This meeting may be viewed on the YouTube Channel for the Sullivan County TN BOE.

šŸ”¹Ā As plans for the 2020-21 school year continue to change, 88.3 WCQR is encouraging the community to pray for our schools -- the students, teachers, staff and parents. This Friday, July 31, will be a day dedicated to prayer for our schools. Families are encouraged to drive to their childā€™s school or a school in their community and tune in to 88.3 WCQR between noon and 1 p.m. for a special time of prayer and worship.Ā Morning co-hosts Rhonda Lacey and Adam McCain, afternoon host Lori Price, evening host Christian Studer and local community leaders and pastors will host this live hour of worship and prayer.Ā Participants will be instructed to remain in their vehicles and maintain a safe social distance.

šŸ”¹Ā The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) has received approval from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to temporarily waive one step in the process for individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits.Ā During the months of July and August, new customers filing initial applications and existing recipients filing recertifications no longer need to do an interview if their identity has been verified and all other mandatory verifications have been completed. This waiver includes customers who have interviews scheduled.Ā During the COVID-19 pandemic, these interviews have largely been done by telephone unless the customer requests an interview in-person. The temporary interview waiver follows other steps TDHS has taken during the COVID-19 pandemic to make it more convenient for families to apply for services from home.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced $70 million for small businesses and nonprofit organizations whose normal operations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be made available through Rebuild VA, a new economic recovery fund, and grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to approximately 7,000 applicants to cover eligible expenses.Ā For more information about Rebuild VA, eligibility criteria, covered expenses, and how to submit an application, please visitĀ governor.virginia.gov/RebuildVA.

šŸ”¹Ā Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam isĀ reminding all Virginians to prepare now as peak hurricane season approaches and the Commonwealth continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā One of the key statewide coordination efforts is the development of theĀ Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which highlights preparedness, response, and recovery actions in the event of tropical weather in coastal areas of the Commonwealth. This yearā€™s guide includes pandemic considerations such as updating kits to include sanitation and personal protective supplies and following public health guidance. The Commonwealth is also preparing to adjust operations to ensure the delivery of critical services while adhering to social distancing guidelines and keeping people safe from storm impacts.

šŸ”¹Ā The results are in for a competitive effort to build a collection of artwork focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā The Reece Museum and Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at East Tennessee State University, community supporters Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts!, and others joined in an initiative to purchase artwork created in 2019 or 2020 for a ā€œLocal Art in the Age of the 2020 Global Pandemicā€ special collection which will be housed in the Reece Museumā€™s Permanent Collection.Ā From the 106 artists who submitted entries, the jurors selected 40 artworks for the special collection.Ā Listed in alphabetical order, those artists are: Kailyn Beitzel, Sam Boven, Laken Bridges, Danielle Byington, Joel Carillet, Teresa Crowe, Mary de Wit, Cristy Dunn, Richard Dwyer, Joan Elliott, Jay Flack, Brian Fletcher, Ron Fondaw, Lyn Govette, Mike Helbing, John Hilton, Storm Ketron, Val Lyle, Gregory Marlow, Jocelyn Mathewes, Joy Messimer, Shannon Mettler, Katie Murphy, Mary Nees, Emily Parris, Charles Peters, Marie Porterfield, Rick Ramsey, James Rathschmidt, Mark Ray, Anne Reid, Garry Renfro, Jonathan Reynolds, Thomas Root, Mike Rose, Martha Rubenstein, Debra Savell Stewart, Beverly Thomas Jenkins, Christy Ward, and Lauren Whipple.

🔹 The Tennessee State Fair will still be making an appearance this year as it has for more than 150 years, although those participating this year will do so through online competitions and viewing educational videos on Facebook. The public will be invited to enter competitions online beginning Aug. 3 and continuing through Sept. 20. A complete listing of the competitions and rules for entries can be found at the Tennessee State Fair website at tnstatefair.org.

šŸ”¹Ā U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will launch a third round ofĀ Farmers to Families Food Box ProgramĀ purchases with distributions to occur beginning by Sept. 1 with completion by Oct. 31, 2020.Ā ā€œThe Farmers to Families Food Box Program has created a tangible link between hungry families and struggling farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,ā€ said Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump.Ā "Through this third round of Farmers to Families Food Box purchases announced today, the Trump Administration continues its steadfast commitment to supporting our farmers, bolstering our workforce and feeding families most in need during this critical time.ā€

Read more

Scott schools have backup plans if Virginia reverts to earlier reopening phase

Sunday, July 26

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā East Tennessee Children's Hospital in Knoxville announced its Fantasy of Trees 2020 has been canceled due to ongoing concerns over the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in the community. The annual event is the hospital's largest single fundraiser, usually attracting 60,000 people during the week of Thanksgiving each year. ā€œThis event has become a family tradition for 35 years. This was not an easy decision,ā€ explained Carlton Long, V.P. for Institutional Advancement. ā€œHowever, it is the right thing to do. As a childrenā€™s hospital, we must set the best example and do our part to slow the spread of this virus. There is no easy way to safely hold an indoor event this large during a worldwide pandemic.ā€ Fantasy of Trees organizers are busy working on an alternate fundraiser, keeping public safety as top priority. Details will be released soon.

Read more

VHSL faced with no-win decision

COVID-19: 190 new cases in NET; far Southwest Virginia adds 11

Community Scrapbook: Honoring Law Enforcement

A physicianā€™s thoughts on reopening school

Saturday, July 25

Read more

COVID-19: NET sees 105 new cases, far Southwest Virginia adds third day of 7 cases

COVID-19 recovery can take a few weeks even for young adults

All but one Mount Carmel aldermen comply with BMA's new mask rule

Netherland Inn's popular 'Loā€™ Country Boil' canceled

Friday, July 24

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The Carter County Health Department is updating hours for free COVID-19 testing hours effective Monday, July 27, 2020. Testing is Monday-Friday between 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Additional information about Tennesseeā€™s testing sites is available for each county on the Tennessee Department of Health website at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/remote-assessment-sites.html.

News updates

🔹 Sullivan County Schools announced today the 2020-21 school year will open with online instruction beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 5, through Friday, Aug. 14, in accordance with the Sullivan County Department of Education Operating Procedures, which can be found at www.sullivank12.net. This decision is in response to the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14-day period, which places the county in the “red” zone. The Operating Procedures green, yellow, and red thresholds are designed to provide guidance for decision making; however, other mitigating factors are also considered, including cluster information within contained facilities. Students who are enrolled in the Sullivan County Virtual Learning Academy will also begin on Aug. 5. Schools will be in touch with parents to arrange for the pick up of devices and materials prior to Aug. 5. Individual school schedules for device/materials pick-up will be posted on the school system's website.

šŸ”¹Ā TheĀ Kingsport City Schools Board of EducationĀ will hold a calledĀ meeting onĀ Tuesday, July 28, 2020Ā atĀ 6 p.m.Ā in theĀ Tennessee RoomĀ at theĀ KCS Administrative Support Center,Ā 400 Clinchfield St., third floor, downtownĀ Kingsport.Ā The purposeĀ of the called meeting is to consider approval of the "Kingsport City Schools OperationsĀ Manual -- Framework forĀ Opening the 2020-21 School Year," a potential revision to the 2020-21 KCS School Calendar, and to consider approval of revised Policy 2.601 -- FundraisingĀ Activities. The regularly scheduled BoardĀ WorkĀ SessionĀ has been cancelled.

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee parents have additional time to apply for an important program designed to help them feed their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will now be accepted online for theĀ Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) programĀ hereĀ until Friday, August 14 at 4:30 P.M. Central Time.Ā P-EBT provides parents with $5.70 in benefits per child for each day that child qualifies. These benefits can be used to purchase food at any establishment that accepts EBT or online with Amazon and Walmart.Ā To be eligible, children must receive free or reduced meals at school or attend aĀ Community Eligibility Provision school. The program is designed to replace meals lost during the months of March, April, and May due to COVID-19 school closures.Ā Individuals who need assistance completing their P-EBT application or have general questions about the program are encouraged to call the TDHS Family Assistance Service Center at 1-866-311- 4287.

šŸ”¹Ā University SchoolĀ will begin its 2020-21 academic year on Monday, Aug. 3, and will be on full-remote status. The school will continue with remote operations through Sept. 18, which is the end of the first quarter.Ā ā€œIn recent weeks we have witnessed the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus rise both locally and across the nation,ā€ said Dr. Brian Partin, director of University School. ā€œOur school year launches in just over 10 days, and we do not see this situation drastically improving by that time.Ā This has been a very difficult decision but the safety and health of our students, faculty and staff remain our highest priority.ā€

šŸ”¹Ā In an effort to make the application process for undergraduate admission easier for prospective students and their families during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will make submitting standardized test scores (ACT/SAT)Ā optionalĀ for the fall 2021 admissions cycle.Ā UT's application process will open August 1. Testing companies and centers have suspended testing during the pandemic, making it more difficult for students to submit a complete application.

šŸ”¹Ā The ongoing disruptive changes from efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are having a substantial negative impact on the physical and mental well-being of parents and their children across the country, according to a new national survey published today inĀ Pediatrics.Ā Families are particularly affected by stressors stemming from changes in work, school and day care schedules that are impacting finances and access to community support networks, according to the five-day survey of parents across the U.S. run June 5-June 10 run byĀ Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at VanderbiltĀ and Ann & Robert H.Ā Lurie Childrenā€™s Hospital of Chicago.

šŸ”¹Ā Today, the Tennessee Department of Education launched the TN Substitute Teacher Jobs Connection, which will serve as a central location for interested applicants to discover substitute teaching opportunities in the stateā€™s schools and districts. With a global pandemic that has limited traditional recruiting methods, the department launched this new initiative to support districts in finding and hiring great substitute teachers.Ā 

Read more

Sullivan County schools to open with online instruction beginning Aug. 5

There's still so much we don't know about COVID-19

SAC delays fall sports until Sept. 26, will play conference-only games in the fall

COVID-19: Region reports 142 new cases, three deaths

Hawkins schools hope to start classroom instruction on Aug. 10

Kingsport women create mask art contest for children

Thursday, July 23

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā Symphony of the Mountains announced that its gala, themed ā€œDownton Abbey,ā€ has been rescheduled for April 10, 2021, at MeadowView Conference, Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport.

News updates

šŸ”¹ Today, the Tennessee Department of Education released the Initial COVID-19 Impact Report, which provides context and data on the impact extended school closure has had on the wellbeing of students and the current effect the global pandemic has had on children and families. The Initial COVID-19 Impact Report contains valuable data around the effects of the coronavirus had on children's physical, mental, and emotional health when schools closed in the spring and also the impact it continues to have. The Initial COVID-19 Impact Report can be found here, along with a companion summary here. The goal of the Task Force is to ensure that the needs of Tennessee children are met during and after extended periods away from school, and to empower local communities to meaningfully engage in ways that support child wellbeing.

šŸ”¹ Appalachian Power today announced it is donating $50,000 to local and regional economic development organizations across its three-state service area to assist with expenses during the pandemic.Ā The funds will primarily help organizations with expenses tied to updating their computer systems, software and technology to accommodate virtual meetings, online research, and digital marketing.

šŸ”¹ Sync Space is now accepting applications for CO.STARTERS Rebuild, a 10-week, live-facilitated virtual program that helps small businesses impacted by COVID-19 refocus, stabilize, and build toward long-term recovery.Ā Entrepreneurs who participate in the CO.STARTERS Rebuild program will be able to confidently move forward with actionable next steps for their business, identify creative solutions, find both short-term and long-term financial stability, and adapt in an uncertain environment. Participants will work with a certified facilitator and dedicated group of peers in a series of 2.5 hour virtual sessions, covering topics that help them adapt and remodel their business to meet changing customer needs. Valued at more than $500, the Rebuild program is being offered during this challenging time to local businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers in Northeast Tennessee for a reduced rate, thanks to the generous support of Sync Spaceā€™s partners and sponsors. The 10-session CO.STARTERS Rebuild program will begin Aug. 5.Ā For more information about CO.STARTERS network and initiatives, visitĀ costarters.co. To learn about the Rebuild program in Northeast Tennessee, visitĀ syncspace.org

šŸ”¹ Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced today the state will launch a public service announcement campaign that urges all Tennesseans to fight against the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask. The ad campaign, titled ā€œFace It. Masks Fight COVID-19ā€, will run on broadcast and cable television, digital, social media, print, and billboards statewide. You can view the videoĀ here.Ā The campaign will officially launch Friday, July 24. For those wishing to share the message further, a public tool kit is availableĀ here.

šŸ”¹ The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims filed for the week endingĀ July 18, 2020. Statewide,Ā 25,794 new claims were filed, along withĀ 243,405 continued claims. In Sullivan County, there were 623 initial claims filed and 4,245 continued claims. In Hawkins County, there were 182 initial claims filed and 1,529 continued claims.

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COVID-19: NET posts 95 new cases, far Southwest Virginia adds another 12

NFL teams to see fruits of virtual offseason as camps begin

Virginia group backs traditional schedule for high school sports

Roe: We are close to deploying coronavirous vaccine

Wednesday, July 22

News updates

šŸ”¹ The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) began reporting all currently available COVID-19 datasetsĀ ā€”Ā including the addition of historical dataĀ ā€”Ā through the Virginia Open Data Portal. The portal serves to extend access to VDH data that allows the public to interpret and analyze data. Located under the Data Download section of theĀ COVID-19 in VirginiaĀ webpage, the portal provides datasets for public use and download. Step-by-step instructions about how to navigate the pages and download the datasets are also provided by clicking on the Data Download button.

šŸ”¹ The Conference Carolinas Board of Directors unanimously approved a plan to proceed with intercollegiate competition in conference-sponsored sports in the upcoming fall semester.Ā Intercollegiate competition may begin no earlier than Sept. 18, 2020.Ā The decision was made in the best interest of Conference Carolinas student-athletes, coaches and administrators. Conference Carolinas member institutions may begin practicing in their championship/non-championship segments on Sept. 1 or when mandated by NCAA policy, whichever is later.Ā Conference Carolinas originally announced in May of 2020 that it would emphasize conference contests in the 2020-21 academic year and that it did not have any plans to reduce league contests in 2020-21. That plan is still in place.Ā Conference Carolinas institutions are continuing to work daily to create updated policies and procedures surrounding campus life, including intercollegiate athletics,Ā that will allow students and student-athletes to return to campus as safely as possible.Ā The conference is also continuing to work to create safety protocols and precautions around intercollegiate athletics participation.Ā 

šŸ”¹ Newly released data on treatment outcomes of people with cancer diagnosed with COVID-19 reveal a racial disparity in access to Remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has been shown to shorten hospital stays, and increased mortality associated with dexamethasone, a steroid that has had the opposite effect in the general patient population.Ā The steroid dexamethasone lowered the death rate among critically ill patients, according to data from the RECOVERY trial in the United Kingdom, but the CCC19 data indicate an association with increased mortality among cancer patients. In the CCC19 analysis, patients receiving high-dose corticosteroids with any other potential COVID-19 treatment were more than twice as likely to die, as compared to patients treated with other medications or patients not requiring any treatment. There were very small numbers of patients treated just with steroids, making analysis of steroids in isolation difficult.Ā Remdesivir, which was primarily available as a clinical trial option, was associated with a lower mortality rate when compared to patients receiving any other potential COVID-19 treatment. Black patients were half as likely to receive Remdesivir as white patients.

šŸ”¹ The LENOWISCO Health District will offer drive-thru testing this month at Food City store parking lots in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the City of Norton. Testing is free and open to the public. Appointments are required due to limited availability. Please call your local health department to make an appointment.

šŸ”¹ The Cumberland Plateau Health District will offer drive-thru testing this month at Food City store parking lots in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties. Testing is free and open to the public. Appointments are required due to limited availability. Please call your local health department to make an appointment.

šŸ”¹ The Tennessee Department of Health and Unified Command Group are providing additional COVID-19 materials and resources for Spanish-speaking Tennesseans through a new webpage. These items are accessible on the TDH website atĀ https://tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/covid-19-resources-information-in-spanish.html. This new webpage includes videos, fact sheets, infographics and other resources about COVID-19 testing, the Tennessee Pledge and how to protect yourself, your family, your coworkers and your community from COVID-19.

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PHOTO GALLERY: New Hawkins event venue hosts Volunteer's 'unofficial' prom

Join a Virtual Star Party with Bays Mountain Park

VHSL reclassifies soccer as a high-risk contact sport

PHOTO GALLERY: Cherokee students enjoy a special downtown Rogersville prom

Scott school board delays first day of school, adopts onsite learning plan

Southwest Virginia schools find ways to connect students as reopening looms

Tuesday, July 21

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹ After much careful consideration, East Tennessee Childrenā€™s Hospital announces the need to cancel this yearā€™s Fantasy of Trees event due to ongoing concerns over the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in our community.Ā  The annual event is the hospitalā€™s single largest fundraiser, attracting 60,000 people, during the week of Thanksgiving each year.Ā Fantasy of Trees organizers are busy working on an alternate fundraiser, keeping public safety as top priority. Details will be released soon.

News updates

šŸ”¹ The LENOWISCO Health District encourages all residents to remain vigilant in practicing good health habits to limit the spread of illness in our community. As of July 21, Lee has recorded a total of 44 total cases; Wise has 54; Scott has 30, and Norton has 5.Ā VDH advises all Virginians to stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential or if you are at higher risk of serious illness. If you are traveling, use these guidelines to plan your trip to minimize the risk of exposure and illness:Ā www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus/travel-to-areas-with-widespread-ongoing-community-spread.

šŸ”¹ Today Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced $150 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds will be made available to Tennessee non-profits to assist their ongoing efforts to address the ongoing health and economic impacts of COVID-19.Ā The Tennessee Community CARES Program will provide $150 million in direct federally funded aid to non-profit organizations located in Tennessee and serving Tennesseans.Ā For non-profits wishing to receive response and recovery grants to provide direct services, instructions for grant proposals will be issued by the Department of Human Services and its partner non-profit grant administrators on Aug. 1, 2020. Grant applications will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis with monthly reporting requirements and a de-obligation date of Nov. 15.

šŸ”¹ The latest research from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture indicates that during late April and early May 2020, approximately 525,000 Tennessee households were food insufficient, meaning they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat ā€“ thatā€™s one in 10 families. About 30% of these struggling households were food sufficient prior to the onset of the pandemic.Ā The data for the study of Tennessee households were drawn from a national survey, the Household Pulse Survey, from April 23 to May 26. This time period coincides with the end of Tennesseeā€™s statewide stay-at-home order.Ā Among the weeks included in the study, the week of April 23 through May 5 was the peak of need, with approximately 83,000 Tennessee households seeking assistance with free food from schools or other programs aimed at children, followed by food banks, family and friends.

Read more

Wise County, Norton school systems adopt reopening plans, set opening dates

Spike in Hawkins COVID cases could affect how schools open Aug. 4

Photo gallery: 2020 Dobyns-Bennett graduation

Parent waiver form for COVID-19 removed from Kingsport school website

Monday, July 20

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹ The 13th annual Netherland Inn Loā€™ Country Boil previously scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Farmerā€™s Market will not be held this year to protect our volunteers and guests and to remain in compliance with local and state health mandates.Ā While Netherland Inn volunteers will certainly miss the opportunity to host this evening of great food, music, and fellowship but look forward to returning to the event next year.

šŸ”¹ Following the cancelation of the 2020 PDGA Pro Masters World Disc Golf World Championships due to the coronavirus health crisis, the Professional Disc Golf Association and Visit Johnson City staff have rescheduled the competition for July 31Ā through Aug. 7Ā of 2021.Ā This week long international competition is the premier disc golf event for professional disc golfersĀ competing in age based male and female divisions for World Championship Titles.Ā 

News updates

🔹 Sullivan County Schools will provide an in-person outdoor graduation ceremony. Participation in graduation is entirely voluntary for all participants and attendees. Sullivan County is under a mandatory executive order to wear a face covering, therefore everyone who chooses to attend will be required to wear a face covering and maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet apart for the duration of the event; however, families may be seated together in close proximity. Each high school will be directly in touch with their 2020 graduates, who will be provided with a limited number of spectator tickets. Dates and times for each school's graduation will be as follows but may be subject to change due to inclement weather: July 31 at 6 p.m. - Sullivan East High School; July 31 at :00 p.m. - Sullivan Central High School; Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. - Sullivan South High School; and Aug. 1 at 8 p.m. - Sullivan North High School. These plans are subject to change, based on current information and advice from the Sullivan County Department of Health. For the most updated information, please visit www.sullivank12.net.

šŸ”¹ Today, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced an additional $115 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds will be made available to local governments to offset costs incurred from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.Ā The Tennessee Local Government Reimbursement Program comes in addition to the $210 million in grants for county and municipal governments approved by the General Assembly in the Stateā€™s FY 2021 budget.

šŸ”¹ To further understand the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as well as foster much-needed blood donations, Marsh Regional Blood Center will conduct free COVID-19 antibody testing for its blood donors, beginning Monday, July 20.Ā This test ā€“ which is only available after donors successfully complete a pre-screening and are confirmed as eligible to give ā€“ does not indicate if someone currently has COVID-19, but it can show a previous COVID-19 infection. Gathering this information is crucial to understanding COVID-19, especially since current estimates suggest 25-45% of cases have mild or no symptoms.Ā When registering, potential donors will be asked, in the event they test positive for COVID-19, if they would be willing to donate convalescent plasma to help treat patients who are critically ill with the virus.Ā Donors will be notified of their test results by mail within two weeks, and Marsh Regional will reach out to any donors with positive antibodies.

šŸ”¹ The Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) at East Tennessee State University will host a three-part Zoom webinar series centered on operations excellence in response to the increasing COVID-19 challenges facing small businesses.Ā The webinar series is designed to help small businesses identify the best operations-related opportunities to work on, create and execute a specific plan for improvement, and improve key processes that are used to deliver products and services.Ā To register, visit:Ā https://clients.tsbdc.org/events.aspx. Each session is free to attend, however, pre-registration is required.Ā Ā 

šŸ”¹ Federal funding remains available for local law enforcement agencies, jails and courts for expenses related to COVID-19. The Office of Criminal Justice Programs (OCJP) today announced a deadline extension for jails and courts to apply for the grants through the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program. CESF will provide funding to assist in preventing, preparing for and responding to the pandemic. The amount available in Tennessee isĀ $4,250,000.Ā The deadline for jails and courts to apply has been extended until July 31, 2020. The deadline for local law enforcement remains July 24.Ā Allowable projects and purchases for the supplemental funding program include but are not limited to equipment (such as technology for remote hearings/appearances and personal protective equipment), supplies (gloves, masks, sanitizer, etc.), training and travel expenses (particularly related to the distribution of resources to the most impacted areas). FundingĀ cannotĀ be used to supplant local funds or to make up for budget shortfalls.

Read more

First COVID-19, now mosquitoes: Bracing for bug-borne ills

Scott County offers grants to small businesses

Rogersville City School waives nonresident tuition fees

Sullivan school system allowing partial fundraising refunds for cancelled school events

UK coronavirus vaccine prompts immune response in early test

Rogersville City School developing plan for teachers to livestream online

Sunday, July 19

Read more

Northeast Tennessee COVID-19 cases top 100

Brick or click? Kingsport schools virtual learning choice deadline July 21

Saturday, July 18

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹Ā The Phillips and Banks concert scheduled for Sunday night at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Mount Carmel has been canceled due to the COVID-19 situation.

Read more

Early voting underway, time left to request mail ballot

Public invited to sign Kingsport Heroes banner at Farmers Market

Local business recovery fund announces 46 grants in second round of awards

RPD Chief Doug Nelson honored by 'Sewing Soldiers' for 14,000 mask distribution

Friday, July 17

News updates

šŸ”¹Ā Bishop Richard F. Stika and Dr. Sedonna Prater, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Knoxville, have announced aĀ return to on-site learning at all 10 Catholic schools in the diocese - including St. Dominic in Kingsport and St. Mary in Johnson CityĀ - for the 2020-21 academic year, which begins Monday, Aug. 3. The plan includes an option for families to elect on-line, at-home learning with the flexibility to change to traditional classroom learning for their children at any time during the fall semester. The following procedures and protocols will be enforced for on-campus learning to mitigate the risk and optimize the return of students to classrooms: Infection-prevention education; hygiene and sanitation, including safe cleaning and disinfecting protocols at schools; adherence to physical and social distancing; facial coverings to be worn by students and faculty; outdoor classrooms when possible; suspension of off-campus field trips; and extracurricular activities limited to students who attend classes on campus. TheseĀ procedures and protocols are explained in detail hereĀ and will be reviewed every two weeks. School communities will be informed of any changes.

šŸ”¹ In response to a rapid, sustained increase of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Appalachian Highlands, Ballad Health is implementing additional visitation restrictions in its facilities. Effective Friday, July 17, at 11 a.m., Ballad Healthā€™s latest visitation policy and patient guidelines stipulate: A single, designated patient-support person ā€“ or visitor ā€“ is allowed for the duration of each patientā€™s visit or hospital stay. The visitor will only be allowed onsite from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Visitors are still not allowed in our behavioral health or long-term care facilities, or during outpatient procedures. Exceptions include neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and rooms with a pediatric patient which may have two guests per patient, and those guests must be the parents or legal guardians; they are permitted at all times. Exceptions may be made in Ballad Health Medical Associates clinics, labor and delivery, emergency departments and in the pediatric emergency room at Niswonger Childrenā€™s Hospital where one guest is permitted at all times, and during extenuating circumstances or in the case of end-of life-care. Designated visitors will still be required to wear a mask, and they will be screened for signs of illness before they enter any patient care area.

šŸ”¹ You can still go outside, and so can astronomers across the state! Enjoy the night sky through their telescopes on Friday, July 24, as they share their views of the sky from Kingsport to Memphis during the Tennessee Virtual Star Party.Ā Tune in to a YouTube Live video feed from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. for this free virtual event. Led by Warner Park Nature Center in Nashville, the Star Party is a cooperative effort from observing sites across the state to show off what our Tennessee skies have to offer.Ā Bays Mountain Parkā€™s planetarium director, Adam Thanz, will take a look at two of our Solar System neighbors, Jupiter and Saturn.Ā To watch the program, visit theĀ Warner Park Nature Center YouTube channelĀ on July 24 (https://bit.ly/TNStarParty). Viewers will also have the chance to submit comments and questions to the astronomers during the livestream.

šŸ”¹ Barter Theatre has officially launched its newest venture, Barter at the Moonlite Drive In. The start of Barterā€™s production of the Wizard of Oz makes the 87-year-old company the first in the nation to produce socially distant, live, in-person theatre at a large scale. To accommodate the production the previously vacant Moonlite Theatre Drive In, in Abingdon Virginia, has been cleaned up and converted into a live performance venue, complete with covered stage and arranged to park up to 220 amply spaced cars.

šŸ”¹Ā The LENOWISCO Health District will offer drive-thru testing this month at Food City store parking lots in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the City of Norton. Testing is free and open to the public. Appointments are required due to limited availability. Please call your local health department to make an appointment

šŸ”¹ The Cumberland Plateau Health District will offer drive-thru testing this month at Food City store parking lots in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties. Testing is free and open to the public. Appointments are required due to limited availability. Please call your local health department to make an appointment.

Read more

Free drive-thru COVID-19 testing offered at Food City stores in LENOWISCO Health District

Region adds 75 COVID-19 cases

KOSBE giving local microbusinesses free touchless thermometers

Thursday, July 16

News updates

šŸ”¹ This past week, the Southwest Virginia Medical Reserve Corps shared statistics tallying the "Feats of Strength" provided by MRC volunteers in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, in the Cumberland Plateau, Lenowisco and Mount Rogers Health Districts, totaling nearly $37,000 in in-kind services. Every day and every week, volunteers serve at testing sites, help make patient monitoring calls and more.

šŸ”¹ To ensure the Appalachian Highlands has a sufficient supply of lifesaving blood donations, Marsh Regional Blood Center is continuing its community-wide blood drives.Ā Marsh Regional continues to take appropriate measures to reduce donorsā€™ potential exposure to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as well as extra disinfection and sanitization efforts and additional physical distancing precautions wherever possible. Donors are required to wear a cloth face covering, such as homemade mask, bandana or buff, at all times on in collection centers or mobile units. If donors do not bring their own face covering, Marsh Regional will provide one.Ā All blood, platelet and convalescent plasma donations received until Friday, Aug. 14, will be entered to win a Yeti hard cooler prize pack.Ā 

šŸ”¹ TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development released data on unemployment claims filed for the week endingĀ July 11, 2020. Statewide, 22,431 new claims were filed, along with 251,924 continued claims.

šŸ”¹Ā Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community is re-testing residents and team members in an effort to minimize exposure to COVID-19, after its early detection strategy resulted in three residents being relocated to the hospital with mild symptoms. Read more here.

Read more

Northeast Tennessee added 68 COVID-19 cases as state nears 2,500 new cases

Carter County schools will open on Aug. 10

Wise County School Board meets July 21 for decision on reopening schools

BMA approves Cherokee's downtown Rogersville prom for Friday

Lee school board passes reopening plan with delayed start date

COVID-19 cases boost number of Ballad's infected patients to 60

Virtual academy choice looming for Sullivan parents

COVID-19 forces change at Hawkins, Hancock hospitals

Wednesday, July 15

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹ The Second Annual Quillen 100 cycling race, originally scheduled for Aug. 1, 2020, at Bristol Motor Speedway, has been postponed until spring 2021.Ā ā€œWe had a good plan in place to ensure the safety of all participants, but with the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in our region, we do not think we can safely host the race as intended,ā€ said Ryan Serbin, a student at East Tennessee State Universityā€™s Quillen College of Medicine. ā€œAs medical students, we want to promote the health and safety of our community, and we believe that waiting until a later date is the best way to do this.ā€Ā Organizers have not yet confirmed a new date for the race. For updates and more information, visitĀ www.thequillen100.com.

🔹 The July History Happy Hour, originally scheduled to be held at the museum on July 16, has been rescheduled as an online presentation for July 23 at 6:30 p.m. The program will be offered through the Zoom platform and will also be streamed live on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page. Go to the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum’s Facebook page for the link to the meeting room and for the password to login. You can also find this info at heritageall.org located under the events tab.

News updates

šŸ”¹ Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today announced the adoption of statewide emergency workplace safety standards in response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.Ā Newly adopted standards require all employers to mandate social distancing measures and face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions and when social distancing is not possible, provide frequent access to hand washing or hand sanitizer, and regularly clean high-contact surfaces. In addition, new standards require all employees be notified within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus. Employees who are known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work for 10 days or until they receive two consecutive negative tests.Ā 

šŸ”¹ Based on positive results in preclinicalĀ studies reportedĀ today, potently neutralizing antibodies identified by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) are showing promise as a potential therapy for preventing and treating COVID-19.Ā The monoclonal antibodies were isolated from the blood of a couple from Wuhan, China, who were diagnosed with COVID-19 after traveling to Toronto, Canada, in late January. They were two of the earliest confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North America.

šŸ”¹ To help offset the cost of personal protective equipment requirements associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship (KOSBE) is offering free non-contact Dayoumed NX-2000 infrared thermometers (regularly $39.99) to local microbusinesses.Ā  A microbusiness is generally defined as a small business employing five or fewer employees including the owner, or is otherwise disadvantaged: minority, women and veteran-owned businesses, entrepreneurs with disabilities and those in underserved, underrepresented areas.Ā Only one thermometer will be provided per business.Ā  Business owners may pick up free thermometers and free batteries while supplies last at the Kingsport Chamber. Contact BriAnna Taylor, COVID-19 project coordinator, for more information (phone 423-392-8806 or emailĀ btaylor@tsbdc.org).Ā 

šŸ”¹ Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians (GSCSA) will be holding another drive-through cookie booth on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Johnson City Girl Scout Service Center, 1100 Woodland Ave., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.Ā Since the disruption of cookie booths back in March due to COVID-19, GSCSA has had to get creative with cookie sales. They sold nearly 27,000 boxes of cookies through the national and local Digital Cookie store and 7,630 boxes during the June 6 day of drive-through cookie booths. However, GSCSA still has around 55,000 boxes on hand. In the interest of girl safety, this ā€œboothā€ will only be worked by adult volunteers. The sale will be outdoors, physical distancing guidelines will be followed, and masks will be worn by those working the booth.

🔹 The Storytown Radio Show has continued bringing the stories of Jonesborough and Northeast Tennessee to the radio and podcast, even while their live production has been suspended. But this month, the cast will perform a live-stream for audiences, with an episode all about travel and adventures. Audiences will have an opportunity to travel, at least virtually, through the stories of local community members who have gone on great adventures. This virtual production will take place Monday, July 27, at 7 p.m. Audiences may purchase tickets for the live stream for $5, which will help support the production costs associated with the production. To attend the live-stream and support the work of the StoryTown Radio Show and podcast, reserve a place by calling the Historic Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 or purchase online at Jonesborough.com/tickets.

šŸ”¹ The Integrated Translational Health Institute of Virginia (iTHRIV), in close collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has developed an online tool to collect COVID-19 related information from volunteers who are residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia.Ā The project, titled ā€œCOVID and the Commonwealth: an iTHRIV Health Status Registryā€ aims to fill an information gap by collecting self-reported data from individuals who may be healthy and or convalescing at home. The information collected ranges from simple demographic identifiers to more detailed health and symptom related questions. Additionally, Virginians will have the option to be contacted regarding future volunteer opportunities for COVID-19 related clinical research.Ā This registry is entirely voluntary and relies on Virginians to self-report. If the health status of an individual changes, they may amend their questionnaire answers.Ā For more information, please visitĀ www.iTHRIV.org.

šŸ”¹ In late July, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) will begin recruiting up to 1,000 volunteers in a late-stage study of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. in collaboration with the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health.Ā The randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 3 trial will be open to people 18 years old and older. They will receive two shots of either the vaccine or an inactive placebo and will be followed for two years.Ā The goals of the study are to determine how effective the vaccine is in protecting against COVID-19 and how long the protection lasts. For more information, contactĀ covidvaccine@vumc.orgĀ orĀ vaccineresearch@vumc.org.

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Wise County high school graduations set, start of school year isnā€™t

Kingsport elementary students will have later school start, end times

VHSL delays decision on sports until July 27

Hawkins county clerk reopening after closure for three positive COVID-19 cases

Tuesday, July 14

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹ Sounds of Summer, a concert series that has featured live music in Downtown Bristol each Tuesday and Thursday for more than two decades, has been canceled for the 2020 season. Coordinator Angie Rutherford of the Bristol, Tennessee Department of Parks and Recreation said the decision is based on ongoing health concerns related to the coronavirus. This year would've marked the series' 24th season.

News updates

šŸ”¹ With nearly a month of learnings from operating in the current environment, Dollywood officials have made operational adjustments designed to make trip planning simpler. Based on strong guest satisfaction scores and stellar guest reviews about the parkā€™s operating environment, Dollywood no longer requires guests to make reservations prior to their visit.Ā Additionally, one-day tickets and multi-day tickets are now valid for a five-day window following the original selected date. This means that if a visitorā€™s plans must change at the last minuteā€”or if the weather doesnā€™t cooperateā€”they may visit at another time during the ticket window. A paid ticket guarantees access to Dollywood and Dollywoodā€™s Splash Country.Ā To maintain social distancing, passholder reservations are still required at Dollywoodā€™s Splash Country.

šŸ”¹Ā An experimental coronavirus vaccine stimulated robust immune responses against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and raised no serious safety concerns in an early-stage clinical trial. The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, was co-developed by Moderna Inc. in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.Ā Early findings from the Phase I clinical trial of the vaccine, published this week in theĀ New England Journal of Medicine, support further development of mRNA-1273. A large Phase III clinical trial is expected to begin this summer.Ā The Phase I trial of mRNA-1273 enrolled 45 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 55, who received two vaccinations 28 days apart. The interim report includes follow-up through day 57; participants will continue to be followed for one year after the second vaccination, with scheduled blood collections to characterize immune responses.Ā The Phase III trial will evaluate the effectiveness of mRNA-1273 for the prevention of COVID-19, compared to no vaccine.

šŸ”¹ Pilot Company, the leading supplier of fuel and the largest operator of travel centers in North America, announced today a new in-store round-up campaign to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The campaign, which runs from today through July 27, will aid the organizationā€™s ongoing efforts to serve kids, families and communities in need, especially now as it adapts its services in the midst of COVID-19. Throughout the two-week campaign, guests are invited to visit any of the 700 company-operated stores to participate, including Pilot and Flying J travel centers and restaurants, EZ Trip, Mr. Fuel, Stamart and Pride locations. Guests will be prompted at checkout to round-up their purchase or make a donation of another amount. When guests donate, 100% of the proceeds will benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of America and its continued efforts with youth development and community services.

šŸ”¹ Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at the Saltville Medical Centerā€™s drive-thru site.Ā Appointments are available on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 between 3-5 p.m. This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling, and insurance will be billed for the test. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing. The tests will be offered to the first 24 people who call and request testing. Depending on demand, SVCHS may expand the testing available at future events.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹ Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems (SVCHS) is offering appointments to community members forĀ Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at SVCHSā€™ Administration building in Meadowview, Virginia.Ā Appointments are available on Thursday, July 23, 2020 between 3-5 p.m. at SVCHSā€™ administration building, located atĀ 13191 Glenbrook Ave., Meadowview, Virginia 24361.Ā Testing is not available on a walk-in basis.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling and insurance will be billed for the test. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing. The tests will be offered to the first 24 people who call and request testing. Depending on demand, SVCHS may expand the testing available at future events.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹ Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) today was informed that he tested positive for COVID-19. Upon developing possible symptoms, he took the test over the weekend and has since been self-isolating. Although he does not currently have significant symptoms, he will continue to self-isolate as he performs his duties on behalf of Virginiaā€™s Ninth Congressional District.

šŸ”¹ The Cumberland Plateau Health District will offer drive-thru testing this month at Food City store parking lots in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties. Testing is free and open to the public. Call your local health department to make an appointment.

šŸ”¹ Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) began providing the COVID-19 Key Measures for additional regions across the state: Central, Eastern, Northwest and Southwest. Previously, VDH only provided statewide and Northern Region key measures; data is now provided for all regions in the state. The new regional dashboards are available on the Key MeasuresĀ webpage.Ā For the latest information on the COVID-19 situation in Virginia, go to theĀ VDH coronavirus webpage.

šŸ”¹ The Tennessee Arts Commission has awarded 359 Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Grants totaling $5,214,158 to help fund arts and cultural activities for nonprofit arts organizations, schools, and local governments in Tennessee. The awards are a combination of one-time funding from federal CARES Act funds distributed through theĀ National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)Ā andĀ South Arts,Ā an appropriation of state funds by the Tennessee General Assembly including revenue from Tennesseans who purchase specialty license plates.Ā The Tennessee Arts Commission was awarded $474,000 in NEA federal CARES Act funds and an additional $60,000 in federal CARES Act funds from South Arts, the regional arts agency for southern states, resulting in an amount that is higher than FY2020 awards of $4,746,900. All of the federal CARES Act funds were distributed to qualifying nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

šŸ”¹ In an effort to help those who have been hurt by the economic impact of COVID-19, GPM Investments is teaming up with Feeding America to raise funds to help in the fight against hunger in their local markets. It has been estimated that in just 2020 alone, 54 million people may face hunger due to COVID-19.Ā From July 15 to Sept. 8, GPM Investments associates across all company-operated locations will sell Feeding America pinups for $1. Customers will also have the opportunity to round up their purchase to the nearest whole dollar or just make a donation. GPM is also partnering with its supplier community and raising additional dollars through their generosity. All proceeds will remain in the local communities in which they were raised.

šŸ”¹ The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc., aĀ Knoxville-based professional, multi-generational ensemble company, will hold itsĀ 31st Annual Youth Theatre Festival virtually, being mindful of our communityā€™s health and the current global pandemic.Ā With the Youth Theatre Festival being virtual, the youth will be able to engage with performers and workshop instructors from all over the country, from Knoxville to Louisiana to New York and places in between.Ā  Youth, ages 5-18, will have the opportunity to participate in poetry, hip hop dance, acting, and storytelling workshops right from the comfort of their own home. The free event will be heldĀ Friday, July 31, at 9 a.m. on Zoom. Register atĀ https://form.jotform.com/201873443358156.

šŸ”¹ The Maker City SummitĀ will be 100% online this year and will expand into two days: Sept. 12 and 13.Ā The LunchPool online platform will allow attendees the opportunity to network at digital tables and interact with workshop leaders like never before! In addition, going digital allows for a broader attendance and increased programming where attendees can choose the expert track that best fits their needs. A 101 track is presented for new makers and a more advanced 201 track is available for makers who need more specific answers.Ā Registration is $35, and a $25 Early Bird ticket is available the week of July 11, 2020.Ā The summit is presented by the City of Knoxville Mayorā€™s Maker Council in partnership with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. For more info, go toĀ http://themakercity.org/summit.

Read more

Lee County, Norton unveil school reopening proposals

Home Craft Days going virtual for 2020

Wise County Commissioner of Revenue shuts down office after possible COVID-19 contact

Wise County government offices close, Ninth District congressman announces he has COVID-19

Clock is ticking for high school football in Tennessee

Masks not required to vote

Monday, July 13

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹ The Tennessee Supreme Court today ordered the cancellation of the Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2020, citing the current trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although stringent public health and safety protocols were planned for the administration of the examination, the court decided that the in-person fall examination could not be safely administered with reasonable certainty. ToĀ mitigate delay and uncertainty,Ā the court ordered the Board of Law Examiners to administerĀ an online, remotely-proctored alternative Admissions Assessment on Oct. 5-6, 2020, that will be comprised of questions prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (ā€œNCBEā€). The Admissions Assessment will be comprised of a Multistate Performance Test item, three Multistate Essay Examination questions, and 100 Multistate Bar Examination questions.Ā Applicants who pass the online bar examination will be eligible for admission in Tennessee. Although successful applicants will not earn a portable Uniform Bar Examination score, the Board of Law Examiners has entered into reciprocal agreements with the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Massachusetts for transfer of scores earned on the online examination as a qualifying score for admission in those jurisdictions and is working to establish similar agreements with other jurisdictions offering the same online examination.Ā Also, the court ordered additional modifications to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, section 11.03, extending the last day to withdraw a July 2020 application with a refund to September 1, 2020. It also modified sections 10.04 and 10.07, permitting practice under supervision or practice pending admission to continue until July 1, 2022, for July 2020 applicants.

šŸ”¹ The city of Bluff City's office lobby is closed until further notice due to coronavirus precautions. Use drive-thru only.

News updates

šŸ”¹ Virginia Highlands Community CollegeĀ announced today that an individual in a classroom setting on the Abingdon campus has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the college's first reported case.Ā The college received notification of this potential positive case the evening of July 9, 2020; it was confirmed positive late on Friday, July 10.Ā The contact with campus occurred on July 7, was isolated to one building, and impacted a limited number of individuals.Ā Officials at the college immediately contacted the Mt. Rogers Health District and worked with officials there to contact those directly exposed and to instruct them to quarantine at home for 14 days.Ā Out of an abundance of caution, the building was closed to all employees and students on July 10 and through the weekend to allow crews to follow CDC-recommended cleaning procedures.Ā The building will return to its limited, pre-exposure access today, July 13.

šŸ”¹ The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a CARES Act grant of $455,806 to Bristol Tennessee Transit.Ā The CARES Act provided $25 billion for Transit Infrastructure Grants amid the coronavirus pandemic.Ā The grant will be used to ā€œsupport Bristol Tennessee Transitā€™s operating, administrative, and preventive maintenance costs in order to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 public health emergency. Expenses include wages, fringe benefits, services, vehicle operating and maintenance, materials and supplies, utilities, insurance, and other costs for the mitigation of COVID-19.ā€

šŸ”¹ The Appalachian Regional Commission today awarded $100,000 to the United Way of Southwest Virginia for its COVID-19 Relief Fund.Ā According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the project will improve sixteen communities, 25 organizations, and 1,000 participants.

šŸ”¹ Tennesseeā€™s Economic Recovery Group, in partnership with the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, released newĀ Tennessee PledgeĀ guidelines today with safety measures for media production. The new guidelines were created to address needs unique to the film, TV and music industry like filming on location, working with cast and crew, equipment, transportation and more.Ā The guidelines follow CDC and OSHA guidelines, as well as recommendations from the Motion Picture Association and The Recording Academy and include protocols for specific areas of production including special consideration for performers, who are among the most vulnerable on set and arenā€™t always able to wear protective equipment or observe physical distancing while on camera.Ā Full guidelines for media production can be found onĀ TNpledge.com.

šŸ”¹ The Tennessee Valley Authority announced Wednesday that is providing incentives to businesses and schools to install UV-C germicidal lights that remove viruses, like COVID-19, and bacteria from indoor air.Ā UV-C light is a short wavelength ultraviolet light used around the world to disinfect air in hospitals and laboratories. Studies show UV-C light is 99.9% lethal to bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the same technology is ideal for schools, offices and retail locations to help keep people healthy. AĀ TVA Preferred Partners Network professional can install germicidal lights into the ductwork of many existing commercial HVAC systems. Customers who use TVAā€™s provider network can receive a $30 per ton incentive toward the adoption of approved UV technologies that directly combat COVID-19.Ā Contact your local power company or visit TVAā€™s websiteĀ https://energyright.com/business-industry/incentives/Ā for more information.Ā Ā 

šŸ”¹Ā Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley today announced that revenues for June were $1.5 billion, which is $12.5 million less than the budgeted monthly revenue estimate. State tax revenues were $29.8 million less than June 2019 and overall collections for the month represented a negative growth rate of 1.91 percent.Ā ā€œTennesseans are cautiously increasing business and consumer activities as we move forward in an unprecedented environment,ā€ Eley said. ā€œWe anticipated a slow recovery from April, when everyone was staying at home, Ā but itā€™s too early to identify any patterns in revenue collections. It should be noted that a sizable percentage of June revenue receipts are supported by a shift in tax burden from business, privilege and motor vehicle registration tax payments which were delayed to help provide support during the early phases of the pandemic. The state will not know the full impact of the pandemic on fiscal year 2020 until the close of the fiscal year next month when corporate tax and Hall income tax filings are due.

Read more

Have another sales tax holiday

Northeast State offers varied fall semester learning formats

3 ETSU football players test positive for COVID-19

Sunday, July 12

Read more

Daily COVID-19 case rate dips in Tennessee, NET

Virtual academy, hybrid options separate in Sullivan schools plan

Saturday, July 11

News updates

šŸ”¹ Face coverings will be a required accessory in high-traffic areas inside the stadium for all guests who attend Wednesdayā€™s NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and officials from The Worldā€™s Fastest Half-Mile are encouraging everyone in the Appalachian Highlands region as well as fans who will be visiting from other areas to ā€œBe An All-Star: Wear A Mask.ā€Ā The new mantra is part of an important Public Service Announcement campaign from Bristol Motor Speedway that includes several video messages from NASCAR Cup Series drivers encouraging the public to wear masks, follow all of the necessary guidelines and do their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

šŸ”¹ The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is taking steps to ensure parents are able to receive a program designed to help them feed their children during the COVID19 pandemic.Ā Applications will be accepted online for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program here until Monday, July 27, at 4:30 p.m. Central Time. This is the second time TDHS has extended the application deadline and the department has expanded its outreach efforts to encourage more families to apply.Ā P-EBT provides parents with $5.70 in food benefits per child for each day that child qualifies. To be eligible, children must receive free or reduced meals at school or attend a Community Eligibility Provision school. The program is designed to replace meals lost during the months of March, April, and May due to COVID-19 school closures.Ā Families who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) do not need to apply as P-EBT benefits have automatically been applied to their existing EBT cards.Ā Families who do not currently receive SNAP or TANF need to apply and will receive a P-EBT card in the mail after approval that can be used to purchase food at any establishment that accepts EBT or online with Amazon and Walmart.

šŸ”¹ Northeast State Community College announced Saturday that a student has tested positive for COVID-19. It is the college's first reported case. A Northeast State student was diagnosed during a routine COVID-19 screening Friday, July 10. The student is quarantined at home. Those persons who had direct contact with the infected individual received a phone call and an email on Saturday morning from the college, and have been instructed to quarantine at home for 14 days. The student attended class at the Regional Center for Health Professions (RCHP) in Kingsport on July 6, 8 and 10. The college has closed the building and started the CDC-recommended cleaning procedures. Reopening for the RCHP is expected on Monday, July 13.

Read more

Ballad Health officials urge public to take COVID-19 prevention seriously

Northeast State reports first COVID-19 case

NET adds 83 COVID-19 cases, two deaths

Friday, July 10

News updates

šŸ”¹ With 94 new cases reported in 21 counties of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, officials with Ballad Health are warning community members that not only is COVID-19 continuing its spread, but the pandemic is on the brink of becoming much worse.Ā As of July 9, nearly 20% of Ballad Healthā€™s ventilators are in use, and the health systemā€™s beds are at more than 75% capacity. Dr. Runnels and other Ballad Health leaders are now worried that, as the year extends into flu season, the number of people in the Appalachian Highlands who need major healthcare interventions will outpace hospital unitsā€™ capacities and staffing levels.

šŸ”¹ Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) began reporting information related to efforts to notify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Information related to notification efforts ā€” referred to as contact tracing ā€” is available on the COVID-19 Data Insights webpage. The state-level data will be updated weekly on Fridays.

🔹 For the first time ever in its history, Jehovah’s Witnesses will be holding its annual conventions on a virtual platform hosted on its website, jw.org. For many years, the local gathering has been held at Freedom Hall Civic Center in Johnson City. However, its gatherings this year have been canceled out of concern for the health and safety of local communities. Those interested in viewing the convention can contact their local congregation or access the program on jw.org, available under the “Library” tab. There is no charge for viewing the convention.

šŸ”¹ The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is partnering with the University of Memphis (UofM) to provide COVID-19 testing for UofM students returning to campus this fall.Ā The partnership between two of the cityā€™s major academic institutions is an extension of previous successful research, education, and community outreach collaborations.Ā 

The testing for students will be done on the UofM campus and managed by University Clinical Health, one of UTHSCā€™s affiliated clinical practices. University Clinical Health has also managed COVID-19 testing at the UTHSC drive-through testing sites across the community. The details and timing of the UofM testing are being worked out by the two institutions.

šŸ”¹ Nonprofit organizations in all nine Tennessee Congressional districts received $550,000 from Humanities Tennessee in two rounds of CARES Act relief funding. The 98 recipient organizations provide public humanities programming in communities throughout Tennessee.Ā Funding for these grants was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan appropriated by the U.S. Congress.Ā CARES Act grant funds do not require a match and support organizations that provide public programs examining and reflecting upon ideas, stories, history, arts, and culture.

Read more

Venable issues mask order for Sullivan County

Tennessee nears 2,000 new COVID-19 cases; SW Va. adds four

Sullivan BOE adopts plan for workers exposed to coronavirus

Football coaches working to bolster players in uncertain time

Thursday, July 9

Schedule changes

šŸ”¹ Bluff City Heritage Day, originally scheduled for Sept. 26, has been canceled due to COVID-19.

News updates

šŸ”¹ Tusculum UniversityĀ is changing the format of its August graduation ceremony from in person to virtual.Ā The event, which will celebrate the students who completed their academic requirements in May and those who will finish in the summer, will premiere Saturday, Aug. 8, at 10:30 a.m. Graduates and anyone else who is interested in watching the ceremony can view it on Tusculumā€™s website.

šŸ”¹ Ballad Health announced it will resume weekly media briefings throughout the pandemic. The first will be heldĀ Friday, July 10, at 11 a.m. After this briefing, the weekly briefings will continue on Wednesdays at 11 a.m.

šŸ”¹ The U.S. Department of Commerce announced a CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant of $400,000 to the First Tennessee Development District.Ā The First Tennessee Development District is a collaborative agency of the governments of Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties.

šŸ”¹ The American Electric Power Foundation is donating $120,000 to United Way organizations in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee to provide facemasks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff, volunteers and clients of United Way agencies.Ā Funding for facemasks and other PPE will go to the United Ways of Greater Kingsport in Tennessee; Roanoke Valley, Central Virginia, Henry County & Martinsville, New River Valley, Southwest Virginia, as well as Caring Hearts Free Clinic in Virginia; and Central West Virginia, River Cities, Southern West Virginia, and Upper Ohio Valley in West Virginia. Each of the United Way organizations will purchase and distribute the masks and related PPE to the agencies they work with in their communities.

šŸ”¹ The news about remdesivir, the investigational anti-viral drug that has shown early promise in the fight against COVID-19, keeps getting better.Ā This week, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Gilead Sciences reportedĀ that remdesivir potently inhibited SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, in human lung cell cultures and that it improved lung function in mice infected with the virus.Ā These preclinical findings help explain the clinical effect the drug has had in treating COVID-19 patients. Remdesivir has been given to patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on a compassionate use basis since late January and through clinical trials since February.Ā Ongoing clinical trials will determine precisely how much it benefits patients in different stages of COVID-19 disease.

šŸ”¹ TheĀ Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has released new data on unemployment claims for the week ending July 4, 2020. Statewide,Ā 25,843 new claims were filed, along withĀ 256,645 continued claims. In Sullivan County, there were 394 initial claims, along with 4,476 continued claims. In Hawkins County, there were 145 initial claims, along with 1,548 continued claims.

šŸ”¹ The IVY Research Network,Ā led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has completed initial studies evaluating the epidemiology of COVID-19 in health care workers and patients.Ā Among 249 front-line health care workers who cared for COVID-19 patients during the first month of the pandemic in Tennessee, 8% tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies by serology testing, suggesting they had contracted COVID-19 in the first several weeks of taking care of COVID-19 patients. Among these health care workers with positive serology results, 42% reported no symptoms of a respiratory illness in the prior two months. This suggests that front-line health care workers are at high risk for COVID-19 and that many health care workers with the virus may not have typical symptoms of a respiratory infection. These results were published in the journalĀ Clinical Infectious DiseasesĀ on July 6.Ā In a separate study, the IVY investigators studied 350 patients across 11 medical centers in the U.S. who tested positive for COVID-19; 54% of these patients reported no close contact with another person known to have COVID-19 in the two weeks before getting sick.Ā Additionally, 40% of COVID-19 patients in the study remained symptomatic two weeks after a positive COVID-19 test, showing that patients with COVID-19 tend to remain ill longer than with other respiratory infections, such as influenza.Ā  The results were published by the journalĀ Morbidity and Mortality Weekly ReportĀ on June 30.

Read more

Tennessee sees 1,600 new COVID-19 cases

City of Kingsport worker has COVID-19

Wednesday, July 8

News updates

šŸ”¹ Under the constitutional, statutory, and inherent authority of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the court has unanimously extended the Declaration of Judicial Emergency through Aug. 9, 2020.

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems is offering appointments to community members forĀ coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at the Saltville Medical Centerā€™s drive-thru site.Ā Appointments are available on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, between 3-5 p.m. This is toĀ test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing.Ā Testing is available on an appointment or drive-up basis.Ā Patients are encouraged to schedule appointments, but it is not required. Testing priority will be given to people who schedule appointments and otherwise testing will be done on a first come first served basis the day of the event.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling or drive-up, and insurance will be billed for the test. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing. Depending on demand, SVCHS may expand the testing available at future events.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems (SVCHS) is offering appointments to community members for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing at SVCHSā€™ Administration building in Meadowview, Virginia. Appointments are available on Thursday, July 16, 2020 between 3-5 p.m. at SVCHSā€™ Administration building located at 13191 Glenbrook Ave., Meadowview, Virginia 24361. This is to test for current virus infection and is not antibody testing. Testing is available on an appointment or drive-up basis. Patients are encouraged to schedule appointments, but it is not required. Testing priority will be given to people who schedule appointments and otherwise testing will be done on a first come first served basis the day of the event.Ā Insurance information will be collected at the time of the appointment scheduling or drive-up, and insurance will be billed for the test. For patients who do not have insurance, financial assistance is available to cover the cost of testing. Depending on demand, SVCHS may expand the testing available at future events.Ā For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 276-496-4492.

šŸ”¹Ā Vanderbilt University Medical Center investigators are leading a new study that examines the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, within households in Nashville.Ā The study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aims to understand how fast the infections spread within households and the factors that may be associated with that transmission. This is one of few longitudinal studies in the country that will examine coronavirus infections among close contacts.Ā The new VUMC study has minimal selection criteria, includes all age groups and follows enrolled families daily for at least 14 days. To be enrolled, at least one member of the household must have experienced COVID-19 disease onset within the past seven days.Ā The study hopes to follow 200 families, and the group has already enrolled 18 families.Ā The data collected is being continuously shared with the CDC.

Read more

Tennessee posts almost 2,500 new COVID-19 cases

Hawkins BOE approves guidelines for opening 2020-21 school year

TSSAA delays vote, keeps door open for football restart

Green, yellow and red statuses to mark Sullivan school reopenings

Previous updates

šŸ”¹Ā To view the Times News COVID-19 blog for May 7-July 7, click here.

šŸ”¹Ā To view the Times News COVID-19 blog for March 11-May 6, click here.

NET reports 137 new COVID-19 cases, four deaths

COVID-19 in SWVA: Region adds 48 new cases, approaches 1,500 cases