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The Week in Review

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The state of Tennessee put itself in the national spotlight last week over the firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the state’s top vaccine official, and a subsequent mandate curtailing promotion of vaccinations for minors.

But as reporter Jane Roberts noted, the truth is actually more nuanced than much of the national coverage portrayed it. Tennessee will continue to administer COVID-19 vaccines to those 12 and older and still encourages all vaccinations, but believes parents should be in the loop. Still, firing an official who had been a proponent of proactive vaccination measures didn’t set well with many.

As Dr. Jon McCullers of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine noted: “By not promoting it, you very clearly have set up an environment where we will see less vaccination.”

Also last week, the city finally gave long overdue honor to Ida B. Wells with a statue at Fourth and Beale next to First Baptist Church on Beale. The dedication Friday, July 16, culminated a week of activities honoring the anti-lynching crusader, cofounder of the NAACP and early civil rights leader. And in Washington, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis joined other law enforcement and elected leaders from around the nation in meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss ways to deal with violent crime.

Davis said the meeting focused on using American Rescue Plan Act funds to combat gun violence and other violent crime through intervention programs. - Ron Maxey, Metro editor 

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“In keeping with our mission, we will continue to provide a comprehensive vaccination program for Shelby County residents of all ages,” Shelby County’s acting Health Department director said. 

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Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the top vaccine official at the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed in a statement Monday, July 12, that she has been fired.

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But national headlines alleging the state is anti-vaccine don’t sit well with lawmakers and elected officials. Many say the difference between promoting vaccines and simply educating residents, particularly minors, is a fine line.

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The author of the definitive 2008 biography of the anti-lynching crusader and NAACP cofounder says the statue of Wells defines the city as well as honors her in a city whose leaders once talked of killing her. 

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A ceremony Thursday at the site of three lynchings more than a century ago was part of a week of Ida B. Wells events leading up to Friday’s statue unveiling. 

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During the Monday meeting at the White House with Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis and other police chiefs, President Biden said federal, state and local coordination is essential to his violent crime strategy. 

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MPD Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis discussed meeting with President Biden Monday and plans to fight violent crime in Memphis. 

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Memphis Voices for Palestine, along with the Memphis chapter of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, led a march down Cooper Street holding signs that read ‘Zionism Equals Violence’ and ‘Free Palestine.’

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