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.

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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. 

Public Domain

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.” 

Public Domain

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.  

Ken Thomas / Public domain

Absentee ballot applications open, as groups sue for loosened vote by mail restrictions

Local Tennessee election commissions are now accepting applications for absentee ballots for the August 6 election. In Knox County, the ballot will include primary candidates for a U.S. Senate seat, U.S. House of Representatives seat, Tennessee Senate seat, seven Tennessee House of Representatives seats and four school board seats.

Screen Capture KCHD Breifing May 8

Hospitals to Resume Services, but Visitor Restrictions Remain in Place

During a county health briefing Friday Dr. Keith Gray, the chief medical officer at the University of Tennessee, said hospitals are planning to add low-risk inpatient surgeries on May 18. There are plans to reopen for all procedures and services by the end of May.

As Knox County Reopens, Many Aren't Following Mask Guidelines

With a recent flood of information about COVID-19, it's hard to know what's true and what's not. And as we head to the presidential polls in just 6 months, it's never been more important to understand if and how information has been manipulated. One study suggests Tennesseeans were among those most likely to retweet Russian disinformation during the 2016 presidential election. WUOT News took an in-depth look at how and why false information spreads on the internet with three disinformation experts. 

Claire Heddles / WUOT

Phase One of Knox County’s reopening plan starts today. People are heading back to work with safety at the top of their minds. Some workers though have been weathering through all along.