Tennessee Considers Bill Restricting State Department of Child Services from Requiring Adoptive Parents to Vaccinate


The Tennessee General Assembly is considering a bill that would restrict the state’s Department of Child Services from requiring prospective adoptive or foster parents to get vaccinated.

The State House Children and Family Affairs Subcommittee voted to pass the State House version of the legislation today after discussion and testimony. It is now on the calendar for the State Senate for February 29.

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Reported Death Toll from Winter Storms Up to 27

As of Sunday, 27 people are dead after Tennessee was pummeled with winter weather last week, as confirmed by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH). 

As part of a release from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), TDOH said eight people in Shelby County, four in Knox County, two in Marshall County, two in Washington County, and two in Roane County had died as a result of the storms. 

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Death Count from Extreme Winter Weather in Tennessee Rises to 19, Department of Health Confirms

Snow Nashville

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) confirmed 19 Tennesseans died as of Friday evening due to the winter weather and extreme cold in the state.

“The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed 19 weather-related fatalities. Seven in Shelby County, one in Hickman County, one in Madison County, two in Washington County, one in Carroll County, one in Knox County, one in Van Buren County, one in Lauderdale County, one in Henry County, two in Marshall County, and one in Roane County,” the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) wrote in its  Flash Report.

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14 Tennesseans Dead Due to Extreme Winter Weather, Health Department Confirms

Nashville Snow

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH)  confirmed 14 Tennesseans died due to the winter weather and extreme cold in the state.

“The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed 14 weather-related fatalities. Five in Shelby County, one in Hickman County, one in Madison County, two in Washington County, one in Carroll County, one in Knox County, one in Van Buren County, one in Lauderdale County, and one in Henry County,” the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) wrote in its Wednesday evening Flash Report.

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Tennessee Settles Lawsuit from Former Health Official Who Reportedly Bought Dog Muzzle to Protest Firing

A legal settlement reached by the State of Tennessee and a former health official that requires both parties to cease discussing the terms of her firing became public on Thursday, likely signaling the end to a legal drama that began when former Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) official Michelle Fiscus was fired in 2021.

After Fiscus was terminated from her position directing the agency’s Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization program, she quickly gained national attention after claiming she was fired due to her advocacy for the mature minor doctrine, which accepts that minor children can make some health decisions without parental involvement.

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Tennessee Governor Bill Lee Launches Grant Program to Support Expecting Mothers and Families

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) opened applications this week for the Tennessee Strong Families Grant Program to support expecting mothers and families.

According to the press release, the $20 million program aims to increase resources for moms, kids, and families while improving maternity healthcare access. It aids local nonprofit organizations across the state, including pregnancy centers.

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Tennessee Department of Health Announces Grant Recipients to Expand Services, Address Staffing Shortages

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) announced on Tuesday the recipients of $119 million in grant funding through its Healthcare Resiliency Program.

Forty-one applicants received funding to expand “brick-and-mortar healthcare capacity, and for Practice Transformation and Extension projects, to improve access to healthcare services” through Capital Investment projects, according to TDH. The funding was awarded on a competitive basis.

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Tennessee Department of Health Engages in Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) will work with local leaders to support the Red Sand Project between July 25 and 31.

‘’Human trafficking is a hidden crime in our state and across the country because victims rarely come forward to receive help or services,’’ said Tennessee Health Commissioner Ralph Alvarado, MD, FACP. ‘’It’s up to all of us to bring an end to the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. The Red Sand Project reminds us how crucial it is for communities, both urban and rural, to engage in awareness and education activities that support survivors of human trafficking and strengthen our prevention efforts.”

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Tennessee Identifies First Monkeypox Case

Tennessee has identified its first case of Monkeypox, a rare affliction that can be deadly. 

“Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness. Although infection may begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion before the development of rash, many of the cases associated with the 2022 outbreak have reported very mild or no symptoms other than rash,” according to the Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH).

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Oral Antiviral Therapeutics to Combat COVID-19 More Available in Tennessee


The two oral antiviral therapeutics developed by pharmaceutical companies Merck and Pfizer to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 are readily available to patients in Tennessee as a part of an increased bi-weekly allocation program.

“This increase in allocations is something we have been anticipating for weeks,” Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP said in a statement. “Our goal has always been to increase access to these treatments by onboarding more pharmacies to maximize access to patients. We have seen a steady increase in allocations to the state and know many pharmacies and providers are eager to offer this treatment to help mitigate COVID-19 disease progression for those at risk of a severe outcome.”

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Federal Judge Denies Fired Tennessee Department of Health Official Michelle Fiscus’ Request for Monetary Damages

U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw this month said that Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) Commissioner Lisa Piercey and TDOH Chief Medical Officer Tim Jones have qualified immunity against claims from former TDOH official Michelle Fiscus. Qualified immunity protects a government official from lawsuits alleging that the official violated a plaintiff’s rights.

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Williamson County Schools Offers No Update After First Day of Forced Masking

Williamson County Schools are not talking after the first day in which students were required to wear masks, offering no insight into whether the newly-imposed mandate worked as planned. 

Friday, Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw ruled Williamson County Schools could force students to wear masks, temporarily halting an executive order by Gov. Bill Lee (R) that previously made masks optional. 

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Tennessee Department of Health Says Vaccinated Not Recommended for Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Tennessee Department of Health officials said this week that only the unvaccinated should take monoclonal antibody treatments. Monoclonal antibodies, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website, are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses. Houston Methodist said monoclonal antibody infusion treats COVID-19 and can help prevent hospitalizations, “reduce viral loads and lessen symptom severity.”

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Tennessee Commissioner of Health Says All Pediatric Hospitals Will Fill with COVID Patients

Despite the fact that only 23 people under the age of 20 are currently hospitalized in the state of Tennessee with COVID-19, the state’s health director is scaremongering, telling reporters that all of the pediatric hospitals in the state will soon be full. 

Dr. Lisa Piercey said Thursday that every children’s hospital in the state will be full as children contract the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.

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Tennessee’s Fired Immunization Chief Claims ‘White, Male, Rural Conservatives’ Refuse Vaccine, Willing to Risk Others’ Lives Out of Spite for Left

Tennessee’s former leading vaccine official, Michelle Fiscus, said that white, male, rural conservatives refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and are willing to risk the lives of others and themselves out of spite for the left. The former Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) Vaccine and Preventable Diseases and Immunization Program (VPDIP) Director made these statements during an interview with PBS.

“But I think the other thing in Tennessee, and I think in a lot of our Southern states that’s happening, is this ideology that if you get this vaccine, you’re somehow placating to the left part of the political spectrum,” said Fiscus. “And so what we’re actually seeing is our most hesitant population in Tennessee is the white, male, rural conservatives, and that they are stating that they’re not going to get the vaccine really out of spite and are willing to put their own lives and the lives of the people that they love at risk because they feel that if they get the vaccine, then they have placated the left or done what the Biden Administration wants them to do.”

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Host Leahy Questions Whether Gov. Lee Is Aware of His State’s Own Health Policy on the Mature Minor Doctrine

Gov. Bill Lee

  Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy discussed the firing of vaccine chief, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, and Governor Lee’s statement, which exposed his unfamiliarity with the Tennessee Department of Health’s mature minor doctrine. Michel Patrick Leahy: Well, we’ve been talking about Governor Billy’s statement yesterday about the termination of Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the state’s former vaccine chief. And there’s something wrong with the way he’s explained it, it seems to me. By the way, you can call in if you want to disagree or if you have any additional insight into this number. So here’s the story. Actually, I’m reading the story from Newsweek about this and will elaborate a little bit on some of the headlines that you heard on the radio during the break. Here’s how Newsweek reported it. Remember, Newsweek is part of The Daily Beast. It’s more of a far-left outfit. So take this with a grain of salt. But they have done the most comprehensive reporting that I’ve seen on this so far. Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Lee…

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State Senator Says Tennessee Children Could Still Get COVID-19 Vaccine Without Parental Consent, but Only in Rare Circumstances

State Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) on Friday accused the media of trying to drive a wedge between him and Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) Commissioner Lisa Piercey when it comes to giving the COVID-19 vaccine to children. Roberts co-chairs the legislature’s Joint Government Operations Committee. He voiced concerns this week about state officials administering the vaccine to children without parental consent. Roberts said Thursday that he and Piercey agreed that administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children — without parental consent — violates TDOH policy.

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State Sen. Kerry Roberts Clears Up Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccinations for Children in Tennessee

Tennessee State Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield), who co-chairs the legislature’s Joint Government Operations Committee, this week said he had to clear up misinformation about administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children throughout the state. Roberts said in an emailed statement that he and certain other committee members worried Tennessee had marketed the vaccine to minors and administered it without parental consent.

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Tennessee Department of Health Reportedly Fired Chief Vaccination Official for Months of Inappropriate Behavior – Not for Sharing Mature Minor Doctrine

Contrary to current claims, the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) reportedly fired its previous Vaccine-Preventable and Infectious Diseases State Medical Director Dr. Michelle Fiscus due to months of unprofessional behavior and poor job performance. TDH Chief Medical Officer Tim Jones detailed issues with Fiscus at length in a recommendation for termination email to TDH Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. 

Although Fiscus claims that she was fired for informing the public about the mature minor doctrine, TDH offered a laundry list of the issues Fiscus has reportedly caused. According to their records, Fiscus consistently engaged in inappropriate behaviors such as mistreating her colleagues and ignoring superiors. Her behavior reportedly caused two senior leaders to resign. She’d also been pushing TDH over the last three months to award funds to her nonprofit organization – though it had no staff or other major funds.

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Tennessee Fires Top Vaccine Official

The state of Tennessee Department of Heath on Monday fired one of the organization’s top vaccination officials, Dr. Michelle Fiscus.

Fiscus, the fired employee and medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs, claims she was blamed after the department faced heavy backlash from Tennessee state lawmakers over the department’s push to get children vaccinated.

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Tennessee Department of Health Says No Word from White House on Delta Variant Response Teams

Joe Biden speaking on vaccinations

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) informed The Tennessee Star that the White House hasn’t contacted them about the Delta variant response teams.

The Biden Administration announced in a press briefing last week that it would be launching these response teams due to the expectation of a surge in the COVID-19 Delta variant, which they claim is more infectious and dangerous. White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients explained that these response teams would have five focuses: increase testing and contact tracing; provide therapeutics for the infected; deploy federal personnel for vaccination, testing, and therapeutics; assist with public health response work like epidemiology, data analysis, field investigations; and increase vaccinations through campaigns.

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Certain Prisoners Now Front of Line for COVID Vaccinations Following Reports of Panel Saying It Would be ‘PR Nightmare’

Select Tennessee prisoners will now receive COVID-19 vaccinations, following a report on officials’ apparent hesitancy to prioritize them initially. The state progressed to Phase 1C of its vaccination plan earlier this week, which extends vaccines to those prisoners who are 65 and older or have eligible health conditions. Others now eligible to receive the vaccine are individuals 16 years old and older that have diabetes, Down syndrome, or any progressive neuromuscular diseases, or live in households with pregnant women.

The announcement to vaccinate these prisoners came shortly after it was discovered that officials determining the order of vaccine priority groups were hesitant to prioritize prisoners due to the optics of placing them ahead of other citizens. The Pandemic Vaccine Planning Stakeholder group, an advisory panel that assists in vaccine rollout decisions and communication with citizens across the state, reportedly stated during one of its meetings that prioritizing prisoners could prove a public relations “nightmare” and, possibly, a state liability. The Associated Press discovered these remarks in an open records request for the group’s meeting notes late last week.

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Tennessee Reports More Fatalities as Inclement Weather Continues into the Weekend

Tennessee remained at a Level Three State of Emergency Friday night as people in certain counties had no power during extreme winter temperatures, and officials reported more weather-related fatalities. In an emailed press release Friday, officials with the Tennessee Department of Health confirmed two weather-related deaths in Shelby County. TDH officials had previously reported two other fatalities in the county as well one fatality each in Maury, Williamson, Dickson, and Overton counties, bringing the total number of fatalities this week to eight.

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Tennessee Department of Health Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Website

In order to register for the COVID-19 vaccine, personal information such as full name, date of birth, address, email, phone number, gender, race, and ethnicity will be required. These details are requested via the questionnaire on an updated COVID-19 vaccine registration website recently launched by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH).

Users are also asked to confirm if they work or volunteer in certain environments, live with certain high-risk conditions, suffered past allergic reactions to any substance, received passive antibody therapy for COVID-19 in the last 90 days or any vaccinations in the previous two weeks, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or were currently or previously sick with COVID-19.

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Tennessee Health Officials Warn of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) warned individuals about scammers attempting to sell COVID-19 vaccines or spots on the vaccine wait list. The messaging was addressed to all Tennesseans, but heavily emphasized relaying the warning to the elderly.

TDH listed several common tactics they’d learned were being solicited by door-to-door scammers. These scams encouraged individuals to issue a payment in order to obtain the vaccine, placement on a vaccine priority list, and early access to the vaccine.

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Tennessee Reports 90 Percent Decrease in Flu Cases Between Last Weeks of 2019 and 2020; Yet COVID Cases Increased

Despite COVID-19 cases spiking around the same time, Tennessee experienced a marked decrease in flu cases last month. Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) data sets from the last week of 2019 and 2020 revealed a 90 percent decrease in overall flu cases. The end of December registered a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, near the all-time high in the state’s positivity rates.

TDH recorded over 6,700 flu cases in the final week of 2019, as compared to just over 600 during the last week of 2020. Last month, the percentage of individuals with flu-like illnesses visiting the reporting healthcare sites was exactly 2 percent; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) baseline for Tennessee sits at around 3 percent. According to the CDC, two or more consecutive weeks that fall under 2 percent reporting constitutes a “non-influenza week.”

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Teachers and Educational Staff Moved Up into First Phase of Vaccine Priority List

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) announced Wednesday that it would be moving teachers and educational staff up on the vaccine priority list. TDH estimated that teachers and educational staff may receive vaccines starting around February or March of 2021.

This updated plan for vaccine distribution occurs in months-long waves: Phases 1a1, 1a2, 1b, 1c, 2a/b, and 3. Teachers and educational staff fall into Phase 1b. The last several phases don’t have projected dates as of yet. Those who qualify solely through age-based criteria will be eligible to receive their vaccine beginning in Phase 1a2, starting with those over 75 years old.

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NAACP Leader Criticizes Tennessee for Allocating Only Five Percent of Coronavirus Vaccine for Minorities

The Tennessee Department of Health is setting aside a portion of its COVID-19 vaccines for communities that are poorer and have more people of color, but one minority leader says that is not good enough.

After this current first phase, the state will reserve 5 percent of the vaccine for areas that are poorer and have higher numbers of minorities, CBS News reported.

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Governor Lee Extends State of Emergency Through End of Year

Governor Bill Lee has officially extended the state of emergency for the remainder of 2020.
The executive order followed Lee’s own quarantine due to exposure from the coronavirus. The extension of the order means that Tennessee will receive further federal funding, mayors can continue to implement their own guidelines, and government officials can continue to meet virtually.

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Tennessee’s COVID-19 Case Count Rising, Although More Than 30,000 State Residents Have Recovered

  As of Sunday night Tennessee has had a total of 51,431 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 646 deaths. Officials at The Covid Tracking Project reported the latest numbers on their website Sunday night. The website also reported that the virus has hospitalized 2,871 Tennesseans. Exactly 949 of those Tennesseans remain hospitalized.. But the Covid Tracking Project also reported that 30,254 Tennesseans have recovered from the virus. As of press time, 844,735 Tennesseans had tested negative for the disease. The Tennessee Department of Health, meanwhile, reported on its website Sunday night that Shelby and Davidson counties continue to lead the state in confirmed and probable COVID-19 case counts. The TDH website listed the following numbers for Tennessee’s counties Sunday: • Shelby County: 11,793 cases • Davidson County: 11,089 cases • Rutherford County: 2,987 • Hamilton County: 2,781 cases • Sumner County: 1,610 cases • Trousdale County: 1,498 cases • Williamson County: 1,313 cases • Knox County: 1,171 cases • Wilson County: 941 cases • Putnam County: 883 cases • Robertson County: 834 cases • Sevier County: 804 cases • Bradley County: 707 • Lake County: 692 cases • Tipton County: 645 cases • Bledsoe County: 620 cases • Bedford County: 570…

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