In the recent past, episodes of HealthConnections have probed different facets of the COVID-19 pandemic, and mental health care in America. Today, we look at the area where the two overlap.

Todd Steed

Jazz composer and educator Eric Reed talks with Todd Steed about his new recording, the challenges of Mingus, the joy of teaching and what might be coming next. 

Video interview here. 

Cynthia Finch

In Knoxville’s Black community, Cynthia Finch might qualify as the biggest booster for the shot that protects against COVID-19. Yet even she has struggled to convince her own siblings to get vaccinated. 

It helped that she was willing to take the plunge first, by joining the AstraZeneca vaccine trial and finishing her vaccinations in January. The pharmaceutical company was struggling to find enough Black participants to draw conclusions about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Three Knoxville arts organizations are collaborating to present a livestreamed performance of Igor Stravinsky's theatrical work with music, "The Soldier's Tale," Sunday, February 7th at 2:30pm. Members of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will provide the music, with music director, Aram Demirjian, conducting the seven member chamber ensemble. Narration will be provided by Kathryn Frady of Marble City Opera, with stage direction by James Marvel. Lisa McKee of GO! Contemporary Dance Works is the choreographer, with dancer, Ashlynn Mason playing the role of the princess.

Tennessee's General Assembly spent a week in January working through new education legislation that aims to address pandemic learning loss. Advocates say there's still a long road ahead to equity in education both during, and after the pandemic.

In the pre-pandemic days, the Knox County Board of Health met quarterly to discuss routine business, evaluate the county health department budget and get updates from health department staff. In June 2020, the board's profile and power changed dramatically. The Knox County Law Department put the health board in charge of making decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the county's response.

Office of the Governor

When the federal government asked the public to weigh in on Tennessee’s proposal to receive its Medicaid dollars as a modified block grant, it received more than 6,100 comments. Just 14 of them supported the plan.


An attorney for former Tennessee Volunteers head football coach Jeremy Pruitt says his client was fired not for possible NCAA violations, but as the result of a university effort to renege on the coach’s contract.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran, WPLN

The Tennessee General Assembly has approved the so-called Medicaid block grant. Lawmakers spent just two days rushing it through.

The House passed the agreement on Friday morning, while the Senate did so on Thursday.

The lump sum is supposed to help the poor get medical insurance. But the future of the newly-passed agreement is uncertain once President-elect Joe Biden gets sworn in.

It is assumed that Joe Biden will be sworn in at noon January 20 as the 46th president of the United States. As we transition from one administration to the next, we wanted to take a look at what might be expected in the realm of health care. There’s of course a lot we don’t know yet, but Dr. Carole Myers from the University of Tennessee College of Nursing will shed some light on what President-elect Biden has shared about his vision for health care in the U.S.