Claire Heddles

Morning Edition Host/Reporter

From Tucson, Arizona, Claire has a master’s from the University of Southern California’s 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 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.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The landmark legislation broadened the scope of institutions barred from discriminating against people with disabilities.

Courtesy of Egide Irambona

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Knox County Health Department has held regular informational briefings and provided extensive English resources, but this same information has not always been extended to non-English speakers. This lack of access has put some residents at much greater risk, according to community advocates.  

A White House Coronavirus Task Force governors' report lists 18 states, including Tennessee, as "red zones" for rising cases of COVID-19. Twenty-five Tennessee counties are also in the report's red zone, including Sevier County and Hamblen County. 

Public Domain

The World Health Organization has formally acknowledged COVID-19 may be transmitted by lingering in the air, not just through large respiratory droplets. But what the new guidance will mean in Knox County is yet to be determined.  

TN Secretary of State

Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote in the August 6 election, which includes state legislator primary races and county general elections. This election will mark the first time in Tennessee that almost all voters are eligible to vote by mail.

Public Domain

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.