Marc Silver

In a Coronavirus FAQ last week, I reported on an encounter at an outdoor restaurant in which a stranger asked me why I was wearing a mask. "Do you think you really need it?" he wondered, even though he admitted that he was not yet fully vaccinated.

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." See an archive of our FAQs here.

Back in 2018, I interviewed Angeline Murimirwa about her remarkable journey from poverty to power. She is the executive director of CAMFED in Africa – a group that has given scholarships and additional academic support to 4.8 million girls in the five countries where it works. She herself was one of the first scholarship recipients at a time when it looked as if she'd be unable to continue her education because her family couldn't afford school fees.

Early in the pandemic, one bit of encouraging news was that children weren't as vulnerable to COVID-19 as adults.

But doctors who treat children with cancer had special concerns.

These kids have impaired white blood cells — the ones that fight infection. That can be a result of the cancer itself or of cancer treatments like chemotherapy. So when it comes to common respiratory infections like the flu, children with cancer tend to show more severe symptoms.

Would COVID also be more severe in this population?

How many people have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began?

The official global total as of this week: 4.1 million.

But everyone agrees the true toll is far greater. A study released on Tuesday looks at how much of a disparity there may be in India, one of the epicenters of the pandemic.

We launched this blog in the summer of 2014, when the Ebola outbreak in West Africa had just begun. We've been covering global health and development ever since — never so intensely as during the past year of the coronavirus pandemic.

So you've heard a lot from us. And now we'd like to hear from our readers.

Take the survey.

Tell us how you think we're doing. All it will take is a few minutes to fill out our survey. Thanks!

Here's a few things you probably didn't know about malaria and the U.S.

At least eight U.S. presidents had it, including George Washington (infected in Virginia), Abraham Lincoln (infected in Illinois) and John F. Kennedy (infected in the Solomon Islands during World War II).

The current U.S. caseload is zero (with the exception of Americans who contract the disease abroad).

Why do animals — including people — behave the way they do?

That's a question long pondered by researchers.

A new study on this pressing topic, published this month in Royal Society Open Science, reveals an interesting insight into goats — and perhaps humans as well.

Keeping a physical distance from other humans is more critical than ever in the pandemic, with COVID-19 cases surging and more contagious variants spreading. Yet humans are not very good at it.

When an armed mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and took over the building on Wednesday, many Americans said that's what happens in "Third World" countries. TV journalists and pundits said it. As did people on social media.

Everyone knows what they meant — countries that are poor, where health care systems are weak, where democracy may not be exactly flourishing.

But the very term "Third World" is a problem.

It is 7 a.m. on a chilly morning in September.

Alice Akinyi Amonde is standing on a beach along the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria. She makes her living by selling fish, and she's waiting for her boat to come in from a night on the lake so she can take the fisherman's catch, clean it and sell it in a nearby village.

When things were going well in her village of Nduru Beach, she'd earn about $50 a day. Now she is lucky if she makes $3 a day.

Every year, Stephen Lim and his colleagues at the University of Washington compile and analyze health data from every country on the planet to come up with a sort of global report card.

Year after year, one of the biggest success stories has been the vaccination of children.

"We've really seen this steady progress in increasing the fraction of children who are receiving ... in particular, the basic vaccines — diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis," Lim says.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

OK, so I'd planned a flight to visit my grandkids last week because with cold weather and the flu season looming in the U.S., it seemed like late summer/early fall might be a good window of opportunity to travel.

At 6' 2", wearing a purple tunic and crowned with a sky blue hat, Soumana Saley cut a dramatic figure at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival's "Crafts of African Fashion" program in 2018. He was surrounded by his leatherwork — from wallets to sandals to shoulder bags with etched geometric designs reflecting the art of his homeland, Niger. He now lives in Millersburg, Penn. When we spoke, he had two sources of income: He worked in a factory and he sold his leather goods at festivals — the biggest bags going for hundreds of dollars.

"You aren't going to have the year you thought you'd have."

That's what a nurse told my wife and me after my wife was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The cancer news came as a shock, as it often does. There were no warning signs. The tumor was picked up on a routine mammogram.

It was hard to take in what the nurse was telling us. We had plans and projects and dreams for the months ahead. Then suddenly — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation were the top items on our agenda.

We were mad. How dare cancer interfere?

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