Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee will soon stop providing the names and addresses of COVID-19 patients to first responders, after initially arguing doing so would protect those on the front line.


Gov. Bill Lee’s administration made the decision this week, conceding that the data may have created a false sense of security to those responding to emergency calls.


The data sharing will stop at the end of the month.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee officials say they “cannot feasibly implement” a quick shift to let all voters cast their ballots by mail in the 2020 elections, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a response Friday to one of three lawsuit seeking the expansion, Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote that the change to vote-by-mail for all could lead to the “functional disenfranchisement of thousands of voters,” lost confidence in the upcoming elections and immense strain on state and county resources.

Thomas R Machnitzki

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — School voucher advocates are asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to take over the legal battle challenging the constitutionality of a program that would allow parents to use public tax dollars on private school tuition.


The Tennessee attorney general’s office, as well as pro-voucher groups representing parents seeking to enroll in the program, filed their motion with the high court this week.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee officials are extending free pandemic child care for essential workers until mid-August, while letting more categories of workers qualify for the program.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services says the expansion covers essential workers in the financial, religious, utility and hotel industries, among others. The offer involves payment assistance and a network of temporary care locations.

The department will arrange payments for care with licensed programs once workers are approved for the initiative. Eligible workers can apply online.

Another blow to Gov. Lee's plan to launch his school voucher plan this fall

May 20, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee won't be able to implement a contentious school voucher program while the state continues to fight back constitutional challenges over the law that would allow parents to use public tax dollars on private school tuition, according to a ruling issued Tuesday.

The latest decision from the Tennessee Court of Appeals comes nearly two weeks after a lower court deemed the program unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Instead, the appeals court scheduled oral arguments for the case to be held Aug. 5.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than 29,000 people filed new unemployment claims in Tennessee last week, bringing the number of jobless residents who have sought benefits to more than a half-million stemming from the shutdown of businesses during the response to the new coronavirus outbreak.

The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development said Thursday that more than $294 million in unemployment benefits was paid during the week ending Saturday.

Keith Caldwell (Facebook)

  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The head of the Nashville NAACP chapter says the police officer who responded to his home after a bullseye target appeared in his front yard dismissed his concerns.


Nashville NAACP President Keith Caldwell said in a Facebook post that he found the “bullseye” target on an easel-like holder in his front yard on Saturday night.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's attorney general is opposing motions to delay executions scheduled in August and October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In two state Supreme Court filings this week, Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote that attorneys for Byron Black and Harold Nichols are speculating about about future public health conditions in their delay requests.

Slatery wrote that the court can take whatever actions necessary if public health circumstances worsen.

Nichols' execution is scheduled for Aug. 4 and Black's is slated for Oct. 8.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee’s office says the state has hit pause on a new school voucher program.


The governor reversed course just a day after the Republican encouraged parents to apply despite a recent court declaring the program unconstitutional and unenforceable.


Instead, Tennessee’s attorney general’s office on Wednesday sought permission to continue implementing a new school voucher program just days after a judge deemed the law unconstitutional and unenforceable.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal appeals court has declined to block the Kentucky governor's temporary ban on mass gatherings from applying to in-person religious services.

The three-judge panel ruled Saturday. It cleared the way for Maryville Baptist Church to hold drive-in worship services while adhering to public health requirements.

That’s an alternative Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has encouraged throughout the coronavirus pandemic. But the panel stopped short of applying its order to in-person worship services.

Bill Lee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee says the state will continue to accept applications for a contentious school voucher program despite a Tennessee judge’s recent order deeming the law unconstitutional.


Lee's announcement on Tuesday came a day after a judge deemed the voucher law “unconstitutional, unlawful and unenforceable.”


Lee said he is appealing the judge's decision.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt University Medical Center had to scramble for personal protective equipment even before the coronavirus hit.


That's because the deadly March 3 tornado that tore through Tennessee took out its distribution center.


Robin Adkins is a nurse who consults with Vanderbilt. She says the hospital got distribution somewhere else, then COVID-19 created a nationwide shortage of many items, including N95 masks.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee judge has ruled that the state’s much-debated school voucher program is illegal and cannot be implemented despite education officials receiving thousands of applications from parents hoping to use public tax dollars on private schooling tuition.


Davidson County Chancellor Anne C. Martin said in her Monday order that the voucher law, which Gov. Bill Lee signed into effect last year, violated the Tennessee constitution’s “home rule.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal appeals court says Tennessee must continue allowing abortions amid a temporary ban on nonessential medical procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The ruling follows a U.S. District judge’s order last week that abortions could proceed during the pandemic.

The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued its opinion Friday. The justices wrote that courts must give governments flexibility to respond to a crisis but that does not include “abdicating responsibility, especially when well-established constitutional rights are at stake."


OOLTEWAH, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities say two managers of a Tennessee mobile home park accused of withholding tornado relief donations have been charged with theft and conspiracy.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press cited a statement from police in reporting the arrests of 64-year-old Steven West and 49-year-old Kimberly West.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said the two were arrested Thursday evening at their residence at the Auburn Hills mobile home park in Ooltewah.

Court documents say detectives saw 54 totes marked Red Cross in the residence.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Many Nashville musicians have been without steady work for more than five weeks since the city shut down its clubs to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Many don't qualify for traditional unemployment, so they welcomed the news that Congress was extending benefits to the self-employed and independent contractors.

But Tennessee had to reprogram its computers to add the new categories of workers. The state is just beginning to distribute the money.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee says that restaurants in Tennessee will be allowed to open Monday for dine-in service with reduced seating capacity as part of his effort to reopen large swaths of the state by the end of the month.

Lee announced earlier this week that he would not extend his mandatory safer-at-home order, which expires April 30. Instead, the Republican said businesses in 89 out of the state’s 95 counties will be allowed to reopen.

That did not include the state’s biggest cities, including Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee ordered a halt to non-emergency medical services last month due to the coronavirus, many Republican lawmakers questioned how it impacted abortion.

The Republican governor publicly said he intended to restrict abortions with the order. But emails obtained by The Associated Press through public records requests show conservative lawmakers and anti-abortion advocates pressed him to make the order explicit, saying clinics were still performing the procedure.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville is adding 20 tornado sirens in a system upgrade that will let the warnings go off in specific areas, instead of throughout all of the city.

The Metro Office of Emergency Management said in a news release Tuesday that it will begin work this week on the next phase of a $1.9 million upgrade to Nashville's tornado warning system alongside Metro Information Technology Services.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Some of Tennessee’s biggest cities are not committing to reopen their economies by Gov. Bill Lee’s stated goal of May 1.


Nashville Mayor John Cooper said Tuesday that he could see the first phase of an economic reopening in early May if criteria are met on transmission rates, new cases, testing and equipment, and contact tracing.


Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said the gradual lift of restrictions will be based on data, not dates.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is offering free child care to essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services says the offer involves payment assistance and a network of temporary care locations to offer the free care through June 15.

The department will arrange payments for licensed programs once workers are approved for the initiative.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge Friday night ruled that Tennessee has to continue allowing abortions amid a temporary ban on nonessential medical procedures that’s aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

In a Friday night ruling, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said the defendants didn’t show that any appreciable amount of personal protective equipment would be saved if the ban is applied to abortions.

In a hearing by telephone Friday, attorneys for abortion providers argued that Tennessee women will face immediate harm if the ban on abortions is not lifted.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke  has reversed course and will allow drive-in church services during the coronavirus pandemic after the city was sued over its ban.

Berke confirmed the change in policy Saturday on Twitter.

The conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom recently filed a federal lawsuit over the drive-in church ban on behalf of Chattanooga-based Metropolitan Tabernacle Church.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s Supreme Court is postponing the scheduled execution of a death row prisoner for eight months because of the coronavirus.

Oscar Smith had been sentenced to die on June 4 for the murders of his estranged wife and her two sons from a previous marriage.

On Friday, the court granted a motion requested by Smith’s attorneys to delay his execution. Smith’s new execution date is Feb. 4, 2021.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Attorney General's Office is defending an order that restricts abortions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a federal court filing Wednesday, attorneys for the state argue that Gov. Bill Lee’s order preserves personal protective equipment for emergency needs and prevents the community spread of COVID-19.