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.

Contact Claire at 

Heather Duncan

More than half of the record 4.4 million registered voters in Tennessee have already cast their ballots, according to Secretary of State Tre Hargett's office. For the more than two million people who haven't voted yet, most East Tennessee polling locations, including all Knox County locations, open at 8 a.m. Tuesday. 

Claire Heddles

Knox County is number one on a list of Tennessee counties in the "red zone" for COVID cases in an October 25 report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Eddie Mannis / Virginia Couch

Tennessee House District 18 stretches across Kingston Pike, extending from the west end of the shopping-filled Bearden to greens of Cedar Bluff. The historically Republican district is wealthier and whiter than Knoxville as a whole and the last Democrat to hold this state House seat was in 1984. But both voting data, and the candidate pool, suggest the district could be moving to the left.

October 11 White House Report

Tennessee ranked fifth in the country for COVID deaths per 100,000 people, according to a White House task force report issued to Governor Bill Lee on October 11. The recommendations in the report say “a statewide mask mandate must be implemented to stop the increasing spread among residents in rural and urban areas of Tennessee.”


The Knox County Election Commission has received more than 18,000 absentee ballot requests for the November presidential election, three times the number of absentee voters during the 2016 presidential election.

Tennessee Secretary of State's office

WUOT News is partnering with ProPublica’s Electionland to report on voting problems in East Tennessee.

The project is a coalition of newsrooms around the country investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.


Knox County Schools say they are not currently collecting student biometric data in virtual classrooms or accessing laptop cameras, but there are no laws ensuring it stays that way.

Knox County has seen a spike in suspected drug overdose deaths this year, most starkly during the first few months of COVID-19. By the end of August last year, 170 people had died from a suspected drug overdose. By that date in 2020, there were 218 deaths. 

Screen Capture: Chancellor's COVID-19 Update August 18

Chancellor Donde Plowman told students those who do not cooperate with contact tracing efforts could be expelled, following a cluster of five cases stemming from an off-campus party in Fort Sanders.

Screen Capture KCS Board Meeting August 12


In an 8 to 1 vote, the Knox County School Board passed a resolution that requires students, teachers, staff and visitors to wear facial coverings inside schools. An amendment to clarify that the policy applies only when six feet of distance can’t be maintained was added during Wednesday’s meeting.