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VIRUS OUTBREAK-TENNESSEE

Doctor: State advises using diapers to protect from virus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee doctor says the Department of Health is advising doctors to use diapers and swim goggles to protect their faces if they cannot obtain personal protective equipment due to shortages related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Dr. Sonal Gupta spoke during a video news conference on Thursday. She is one of more than 2,000 Tennessee doctors and nurses who petitioned Gov. Bill Lee to issue an immediate stay-at-home order. Lee has closed dine-in services at restaurants, closed gyms, barred most visitors to nursing homes, and prohibited social gatherings of 10 people or more. The doctors say that is not enough.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-TENNESSEE-UNEMPLOYMENT

Tennessee weekly jobless claims 14 times higher amid virus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee saw more than 14 times as many new unemployment claims filed last week compared to the previous one, showing the stark economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered businesses to try to curb further infection. According to U.S. Department of Labor figures, Tennessee had 39,096 new claims during the week that ended Saturday. That was before Gov. Bill Lee limited restaurants and bars statewide to takeout, delivery and drive-thru and closed gyms, which took effect Monday. Some cities and counties had similar restrictions last week, and more stringent closure orders have followed. There were 2,702 new claims during the week ending March 14.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-NATIONAL-PARKS

Appeals grow to close US national parks during pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is sticking with its crowd-friendly waiver of entrance fees at national parks during the coronavirus outbreak. That's even as managers at some parks try and fail to keep tens of thousands of hikers and tourists a safe distance apart and as communities appeal for shutdowns at some parks that are still open. Communities around Grand Canyon National Park are among those asking for a shutdown, saying they fear more local spread of the coronavirus. The Interior Department says there's been no decision on that request.

MATERNAL RIGHTS STRIPPED

Court: Judge improperly removed mother's rights to children

JACKSBORO, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee Court of Appeals says a judge who recently came off probation for mishandling cases stripped a mother’s parental rights without proper notice or a hearing. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the court ruled in an opinion that Campbell County General Sessions Court Judge, Amanda Sammons, violated a mother’s constitutional rights in a June 2019 order. The court says it ordered a new hearing for the woman to demand fairness. Sammons terminated the rights of the mother without having proof that the mother had received hearing notices. She also did not make a mention of the attorney’s absence in the hearing in the June 2019 order. Sammons was suspended in 2016 after a probe led to an indictment on four felony counts of official misconduct.

SEVERE WEATHER-TENNESSEE-ASSISTANCE

3 more counties eligible for severe weather reimbursement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says three additional Tennessee counties are eligible for federal assistance under disaster declarations for tornadoes and severe weather that killed 25 people on March 3. Lee said in a news release that Benton, Carroll and Smith counties will be eligible for federal reimbursement assistance for costs related to damaged infrastructure and recovery. The three new counties and Davidson, Putnam and Wilson counties are also eligible for federal reimbursement for costs associated with damage to county roads and bridges, water control facilities, buildings and equipment, utilities and parks.

WIFE ATTACKED-PAROLE DENIED

Tennessee man imprisoned for attacking wife denied parole

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Prosecutors say a former teacher serving a 21-year prison sentence in Tennessee for beating his wife nearly to death has been denied parole for a second time. Michael Halliburton became eligible for parole in 2017 after serving a short part of his sentence under a state provision aimed at reducing prison overcrowding. The Shelby County district attorney's office said Wednesday that four members of the seven-person Tennessee Board of Parole voted earlier this month to decline parole for Halliburton. Halliburton was convicted in 2015 of attempted first-degree murder for attacking his wife with a knife-sharpening instrument in September 2012.