Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks Vaccine Incentives, Response, and County Owned Hosptials

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks Vaccine Incentives, Response, and County Owned Hosptials


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to discuss Nashville’s continuing COVID vaccine incentives, Maury County Health Department’s community response, and county-owned hospital stats.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by our good friend Andy Ogles, mayor of Maury County. Andy, a couple of local stories of note here at the Nashville Mayor John Cooper has announced an incentive for flu and COVID vaccination. Did you see that one?

Ogles: No, I’m going to right now to try to catch up.

Leahy: Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a new incentive for residents to get their COVID vaccine and flu shot. Cooper tweeted earlier this week that anyone needing their annual flu shot or COVID vaccination could meet, wait for it…NFL alumni today, December 14th from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Nissan Stadium. It’s not exactly like the free pizzas that they’ve given away in public schools in California to kids to get the vaccines without their parents’ approval. What do you think?

Ogles: I guess if you were going to get it anyway and it’s an opportunity to meet some of your NFL favorites, why not? But I mean, when you’re having to bribe people to take it, that should tell you something about the will and kind of the free market and the marketplace.

And we’ve gone past the level of absurd when there’s no data that you should be giving the vaccine to minor children. And yet there’s this push to vaccinate five and six-year-olds. They’ve got a 99.99 percent survival rate.

And now with the Omicron variant out there, which is very transmissible. But all indications are the symptoms are mild. This thing is breaking and hopefully will continue to dilute itself. And yet we’re pushing the vaccine. Unfortunately, I hate to be conspiracy-minded, but it follows the money at this point.

Leahy: This vaccine incentive at Nissan Stadium from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. today, those attending will be able to meet retired NFL members and receive a holiday photo with the Titans mascot and team cheerleaders and be entered into a free raffle of NFL alumni signed footballs along with food and giveaway. NFL members attending include Chris Sanders, Neil O’Donnell, Al Smith. Two thousand one Titans are calling.

Ogles: There you go.

Leahy: These are long retired guys. (Chuckles)

Ogles: Again, whatever. I think we’re all over COVID. You look at anecdotally the Christmas tree lighting there in Franklin had a huge crowd of I think it was 12 or 13 thousand. It should be noted that the Christmas tree lighting in Maury County had over 20,000. Ours was bigger than Franklin, but that bastion of freedom. I think people are ready to move on and get back to life. And I think what I’ve been preaching for a long time is COVID is here. It may become an annual event and we’ve got to learn to adapt and live with it and to keep life moving forward.

Leahy: Mayor Cooper loves incentives for people to get vaccinated. Earlier in the year, they partnered with American Airlines to refer to win. They had a program there. It explained that anyone receiving a COVID booster shot could write down the name of whoever recommended they get the booster shot and then be entered to win a set of American Airlines plane tickets.

You’ll have to wear mask, though of course, if you go on that airline. Once you won that there were over 300 destinations the winner could choose from. Yeah. Okay. The contest ran from November 8th to the 22nd. But the winners were never announced.

Ogles: (Laughter) Wah, wah, wah.

Leahy: They had another refer to win raffle which promised Nashville residents with prizes such as Predator season tickets, multiple different gift cards, and one-year memberships at local Nashville attractions.

There are right now today, as we speak in Davidson County, 1,595 active cases. There have been 1,226 deaths and a total of 123,000 recovered cases reported.

Leahy: Now, Andy, have you been tracking this new Omicron variant?

Ogles: Omicron. That’s right.

Leahy: You know which letter proceeds it? Xi. They skipped that over. I wonder why?

Ogles: Well, because it’s the China virus, and they didn’t want to state the obvious.

Leahy: Can you imagine if it came out as the Xi variant? Because that was like the next Greek letter up for these variants.

Ogles: Yeah. Obviously, emergency management and aas County Mayor, the governor has vested a lot of authority with your County Mayor when it comes to public health. Then the General Assembly reaffirmed that authority during their special session.

And so, yeah, it’s something that I’m grayer because of. Following the data, talking to the doctors, there is hope in the medical community that the Omicron is the variant that ushers in the end of COVID as far as how lethal it is.

Leahy: The reporting is that it is not as nearly as lethal as the other variants. And also, although I did see a report that said it’s not confirmed that the first Omicron death in the United Kingdom has been recorded.

Ogles: That’s right. Yes, I saw that. Without getting into the pathology and all the others. But the Delta variant was much more aggressive. It particularly loved the fat cells in your lungs. Whereas when you look at your comorbidities in order, typically in the previous variants, it was heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and then pulmonary issues.

But with the Delta variant, there was an emphasis on obesity. And so you had individuals that were even mildly obese, were much more susceptible to extreme illness with Delta. And again, the protocols, the treatment, the therapeutics, all the things that doctors have, which really spurs a whole nother conversation.

You’ve got these nurses and doctors on the front lines giving everything they have to save lives. And then with these mandates through CMS, they’re suddenly discarded. Now, fortunately, the courts in Louisiana stepped up and said, we’re going to put a stay on this when it comes to forced vaccinations and firing our frontline workers.

But our nurses and doctors and CNAs and all these people working in our health care facilities are heroes, and they should not be discarded because they don’t want the vaccine. They’ve been working in this environment for almost two years without a vaccine. And now, as it’s waning, you’re going to fire them?

Leahy: Yes. This is kind of crazy. Let’s talk a little bit about the relationship that you have with the public health department in Maury County, the public health department of the state of Tennessee. There are 95 counties in the state, right?

Ogles: That’s right.

Leahy: And in six of them, there are separate independent public health departments that have been constrained by recent legislation but have been historically somewhat independent. How does it work? Maury County is not one of those six counties. How does it work in Maury County?

Ogles: So we have a county department of health, and it’s run by a board. I’m on it. I actually serve as the chairman. But just like Maury County, because of where we’re situated geographically, our infrastructure, our hospital is a regional hospital.

We serve nine counties, and our department of health serves much in the same way. So whether it’s AIDS treatments or TB clinics or some of those more significant illnesses that require much more in-depth treatments, they’ll come to our health department because we have this regiment and the capacity to handle it.

And so everything that we were doing in Maury County, both from a hospital side, which is county-owned, and the health department, which I’m the chairman of the board impacted more than just one county. It was impacting the entire Southern Middle Tennessee.

Leahy: How is the operation of the Maury County public health Department different from, let’s say, Davidson County because that’s one of the six that’s been independent.

Ogles: I can’t speak to the inner workings of Davidson County’s Nashville Health Department. But I can tell you that Andy Kenny, who runs the health department there in Maury County, has really done a stellar job.

When other counties, Williamson County, not to pick on them, we’re having trouble getting people signed up and tested, it was Maury County that filled the gap. I mean, we were having people in droves coming from Murfreesboro, Nashville, and Franklin because we had the ability and the facilities to test more people.

And so we really became kind of that stopgap where others were struggling. And then everybody came online. We were learning as we were going.

But that team there in Maury County, if you know anybody that works for the health department in Maury County, you need to give them a hug because they have done an amazing job these last two years.

Leahy: In Williamson County, the county basically owns the hospital.

Ogles: That’s right. Same setup in Maury County.

Leahy: How many counties in Tennessee is a local hospital owned by the county?

Ogles: It’s becoming rarer and rarer as you see more consolidation with Vanderbilt. And there’s a big system out in East Tennessee that’s by rural hospitals and now one in West Tennessee. So I would say Williamson and Maury, especially the size that we both are, is more of a rarity these days.

Leahy: And do you see that continuing, the county ownership of the hospital in Maury County?

Ogles: Yes. I think so. Again, we serve nine counties. We have satellite hospitals and triage centers. It works well in rural America, and we’ve kind of figured out how to do it. And so, obviously, healthcare is a fluid industry, and the influences could change, that would change that. But right now, I see no end in sight for our ownership of the hospital.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.















Guest Host Ben Cunningham, Andy Ogles, and Grant Henry Discuss News of the Day, Education, and COVID Silver Linings

Guest Host Ben Cunningham, Andy Ogles, and Grant Henry Discuss News of the Day, Education, and COVID Silver Linings


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Cunningham welcomed Grassroots Engagement Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry and Mayor Andy Ogles in studio to discuss the news of the day and education in the era of COVID.

Cunningham: This is Ben Cunnigham sitting in for Michael Patrick Leahy this morning, along with Grant Henry and Andy Ogles. Andy is the Mayor of Maury County. Grant is with Americans for Prosperity. And we are holding down the fort this morning for Michael Patrick Leahy, who is out expanding his ever-expanding media empire.

He just keeps adding people and states all the time. I don’t even know how many states he’s up to. More than a dozen, I think. And he has, of course, The Tennessee Star and all the other state Stars. And it is your one source of dependable conservative news.

And I’m telling you, Michael just works his tail off. Hopefully, I can say that on the radio, but he works very hard to bring good, solid, fact-based – but with admittedly conservative bent – news to you.

And unfortunately, there’s just not much of that out there these days. The Tennesseean, and WPLN who has basically said, we’re going to be Liberal and we’re going to be proudly Liberal.

And we’re going to allow reporters to have a liberal bias. And we’re going to allow them not only to have a Liberal bias but to express it in their news content because of all the great good intentions they have to make the world a better place. Newsflash, we all want to make the world a better place. And we all should have a voice.

And the news we get should be reported objectively without bias. And that, of course, is the objective. But unfortunately, we’re getting that more and more. The news that’s being reported has a definite bias to it.

And you’ve got to interpret the news and the light of the bias that – from the source. And that’s just, unfortunately, what we, as news consumers, have to do these days. There’s no question about it. Andy, you had a report on a breaking story. Are there any updates to the Smile Direct shooting?

Ogles: I just looked and the information is the same. So they’re off of Antioch Pike, the Smile Direct warehouse. There was a shooting just moments ago. Two employees were shot. The shooter has been neutralized. And what I mean by that is that the shooter has been shot.

I don’t know his or her condition. So the scene seems to be secure. But if you’re traveling in that area, just know that it’s going to be crazy there for a bit as they kind of unpack what’s happened.

I know that the parking lot is taped off with crime scene tape, et cetera. But just be careful. If you’re in the area, make way, yield to the police because they’ve got a job to do this morning.

Cunningham: And it may well affect the inbound traffic from Murfreesboro and points out from there. So if you can take an alternate route this morning, that, unfortunately, and those kinds of things do occur.

Ogles: That’s right.

Cunningham: And that’s why the Second Amendment is so important in our state. We look at incidents like that and we see them reaffirming our right to protect ourselves for self-protection. In other states, the far-left Democrats look at incidents like that, and they use these as affirmations for taking our guns away from us.

And that really is a central part of the cultural fight we are in. Let me give you just a little bit of an update. Speaker Cameron Sexton will be joining us at the bottom of the next hour to talk about a pretty amazing news conference that he, the governor, and Jack Johnson, and our Education Commissioner had yesterday talking about getting kids back to school.

Getting those masks off of them, getting them learning because they got a report that said, basically, the kids are suffering. And they are suffering. This remote learning simply is not the way to teach kids. They need to be in a classroom. They need to be with a teacher there who can give feedback to them.

And if they don’t have that, then they need alternatives. And in the press conference yesterday, Speaker Sexton actually mentioned possibly even going for more vouchers. And that was a pretty amazing statement.

Of course, the voucher bill that was passed is in litigation now. I think they’ve made their statements before the Supreme Court, and we’ll probably hear about that fairly quickly. I don’t know. Do you guys got any insight into how long it’ll be before we hear?

Henry: I’m not sure I am.

Ogles: I think it’s anybody’s guess when you’re talking about the media outlets. I’ve got a story here from The Tennesseean that was talking about they looked at the test scores and – prior to COVID – rising fourth graders. So transitioning from the third grade to fourth grade.

At the end of the school year, kids are tested, and you only had about 35 percent of third-graders or rising fourth-graders reading on level. And then when you look at this new data, which is abysmal, by the way.

When you look at 65 percent of kids not reading on the level and roughly the same amount – 62 percent or so – not doing math on the level.

And what we’ve seen because of COVID is anywhere from a 10 to 20-point drop in test scores. Across all grades, the average is: only 29 percent of Tennessee students are on grade level for English. Only 29 percent.

Cunningham: That’s across all?

Ogles: All the grade levels.

Cunningham: Oh, that’s depressing.

Ogles: Only 25 percent are on grade level for math. And what’s insane is that third-fourth grade, maybe there’s a maturity issue, maybe that they need to mature. But when you get up into your seventh and eighth grade, those numbers are holding so that you only have 30 percent of your seventh and eighth-graders on the level.

And that’s a round number. I’m kind of just using a generic round-fixed figure there. But seventh and eighth graders reading or doing math, only 30 percent. We’ve got to do a better job in the state of Tennessee.

The system we have isn’t working. So I’m excited to have the Speaker on and let you guys ask questions because we’ve got to take this system, dismantle it, and build it back with a new approach. If there is an upside of COVID, I think it pulled the veil back on education in the state of Tennessee and really across the country.

And you see kind of this Critical Race Theory and some of these LGBTQ curriculums that have been forcibly inserted into our curriculums, and now parents are woke. Let’s take that term. I’m glad to see parents waking up to the crap that’s being force-fed to our kids, and let’s get back to the fact that it’s up to parents to teach.

Let’s give parents the right to choose where the kids are going to be taught. And it was a firm to hear the Speaker of the House being so forceful on this issue yesterday.

Henry: Yeah. What’s the old adage? We don’t have a democracy, we have a democracy of those that participate. I think Mayor Ogles just pointed to this directly. That one of the strange silver linings that have come down, come out of all these shutdowns, is that more people are paying attention to how their children are being educated in the state of Tennessee, I think than almost ever before.

At least in my lifetime. Granted, I’m somewhat young, but you get what I’m saying. I think if you’re looking at, say, the Critical Race Theory situation, or maybe if you’re looking at the math situation, or if there’s anything going on with public school that you might find even somewhat distasteful, maybe start looking into some alternate options.

Maybe start looking into considering some legislation at the state level for backpack funding, where the funding follows the child. Or look into what that ESA bill from several years ago did. The educational savings account bill.

Cunningham: Yes.

Henry: Granted, it’s only pertinent to, say, Memphis and Nashville, but that was essentially allowing you to use the dollars that were following your child to, I don’t know, home school, or maybe to a private school, or maybe for college savings, or maybe for, I don’t know, buying kids to a coop program or something to that effect.

The idea was to get a more personal touch on the way that your child is educated because there’s nothing more determinative in a child’s education than parental involvement and parents choosing how to educate their children.

Ogles: Well, I know we’re coming up on a break, so I have a shameless plug.

Henry: Do it! I love it! This is a good news segment right here.

Ogles: So my daughter’s going into the ninth grade, freshman, in high school, and last night she tried out for the volleyball team – so, the high school volleyball team. And so she was fired up last night, just anxious, kept checking because the coach had said that she’d either send out the team roster either late last night or first thing this morning.

So we just got the roster. So my daughter, a rising freshman, made the high school volleyball team, and she just found out and she’s excited. I can’t wait to chat with her in just a minute and congratulate her. Because she was one of three freshmen that made the team. So, way to go, Adelaide.

Cunnigham: Congratulations. (Applause)

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.