Claire Heddles

Morning Edition Host/Reporter

From Tucson, Arizona, Claire has a master’s from the University of Southern California’s prestigious Annenberg School of Journalism. Most recently, Claire worked at NPR West in Culver City, California, assisting NPR’s western correspondents with research and production. Claire’s own work has been featured nationally on NPR’s All Things Considered. Her specialties include data journalism and investigative reporting. 

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Thursday marked the highest daily increase with 39 new cases

There was a 28% increase in new COVID cases in Knox County since last Friday. Three days this week subsequently marked the largest daily increase in new case counts since the start of the pandemic.

Screen capture, PARC Meeting on Oct. 23, 2019

Amid nationwide protests against police brutality, the Knoxville Police Department isued a new use of force policy. But many leaders have called for more substatianal police reform in Knoxville, including increased civilian oversight. 

Claire Heddles, WUOT News

More than 4,000 people gathered at Caswell Park in Knoxville Friday evening to celebrate Juneteenth — the holiday celebrating the end of slavery on the date the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced in Galveston, Texas in 1865, two years after it was passed.

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Nursing homes can reopen for visitation as early as next week

Governor Bill Lee announced limited visitation to nursing homes and long term care facilities can begin on Monday. By the end of this week, all residents in Tennessee’s long-term care facilities and nursing homes will have been tested for COVID-19. Procedures are required to be in place by July 1 for weekly, repeated testing of staff statewide. 

Screen Capture Facebook Live

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon vowed Thursday to reform Knoxville’s use of force policy, following a nationwide push by the Obama Foundation calling on mayors to pledge police reform.


Knox County had the largest day-to-day increase in new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started, with 23 new cases on Tuesday. This comes after Knox County changed one of its COVID-19 benchmarks from a green light to a red light last week, after another spike in cases. Knox County Health Department’s lead Roberta Sturm said a spike was expected, but that mass exposure is not the county's goal.

Screen Capture Gov. Lee Breifing May 21

Tourist attractions, large venues reopen ahead of a Memorial Day weekend

Governor Bill Lee signed executive order 38 allowing social gatherings of up to 50 people. Large venues like auditoriums, theatres, zoos and concert venues can also reopen Friday in 95 counties. 

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More than half a million Tennesseans have filed unemployment claims since mid-March

Another 28,000 people filed new unemployment claims in Tennessee last week, according to the latest report from the Tennessee Department of Labor. There have been 532,580 new unemployment claims since March 15.

Official White House Photo by Amy Rossetti

City council approved the new budget in an 8-1 vote Tuesday 

In a vote Tuesday evening, Knoxville's city council approved mayor Indya Kincannon's $334.4 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but not without debate. Before the city council voted, Mayor Kincannon said, “It’s not the budget any of us wanted. I think given the pandemic it’s a fiscally responsible budget that responds to the community’s needs.” 

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KCS changes course on graduation plans 

In a reversal from previous statements, Knox County Schools will now hold graduation ceremonies in mid-June. Unlike former plans for live-streamed and closed ceremonies, each graduate can now invite up to four guests. This decision came after students at Austin-East High School created a video featuring graduates county-wide asking the district to reconsider its plan.