Coronavirus

National Coverage of the Coronavirus Crisis from the NPR Newsroom.

Retailers had placed much hope on a big midsummer shopping spurt, but July proved to be somewhat lackluster, amid renewed lockdowns and new waves of coronavirus cases. Retail sales grew only 1.2% last month compared to June.

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Lawmakers in California are rushing to create a new financial protection watchdog agency by the end of the month. They say it's needed because, under the Trump administration, the main federal regulator has been paralyzed.

And they say that during the pandemic that is leaving millions of Americans who are in dire financial straits more vulnerable to predatory lenders, get-out-of-debt-scams and other wrongdoing.

When everyone who tests positive for coronavirus in your community gets a call from a public health worker asking them about their contacts, and those contacts are then asked to quarantine, that can be a powerful way to keep the virus from spreading.

In a video statement released on Twitter, NCAA president Mark Emmert says, "We cannot, at this point, have fall NCAA championships." He says there are not enough schools participating because of coronavirus cancellations and season postponements.

This means there will no championships in any Division 1 collegiate sports with the possible exception of football. "If you don't have half the schools participating, you can't have a legitimate championship," he says.

The U.S. now has more than 5 million cases and 166,700 deaths from the coronavirus. And with flu season approaching, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Wednesday that things could get a lot more grim.

Robert Redfield said in an interview with WebMD that if Americans don't follow public health guidance, the country could be facing "the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we've ever had."

Gov. Brain Kemp is taking a new approach in his battle over face masks with Atlanta's mayor. Rather than have a judge rule on the conflict, he's going to issue a new order on the subject.

On Thursday Kemp announced the attorney general's office has withdrawn a lawsuit he filed against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta city council, when she moved to reinstate more restrictive COVID-19-related safeguards.

Updated at 8:02 p.m. ET

Tribune Publishing, the parent company of local news outlets across the country from the Chicago Tribune to The Baltimore Sun, is closing the physical offices of five newspapers permanently.

Black Americans are becoming infected with the coronavirus at a rate three times that of whites and they are twice as likely to die from COVID-19, according to a new report from the National Urban League, based partly on data from Johns Hopkins University.

A key focus of Thursday's report is the impact of the pandemic and how the disease has followed the contours of the larger society in falling especially hard on Blacks, Latinos and Indigenous people.

Updated at 6:08 p.m. ET

Joe Biden is calling for everyone in the United States to wear a mask, well into the fall.

"Every single American should be wearing a mask when they're outside for the next three months, at a minimum," Biden said Thursday afternoon in remarks in Wilmington, Del. "Every governor should mandate mandatory mask-wearing. The estimates by the experts are it will save over 40,000 lives."

New data from around the U.S. confirms that drug overdoses are spiking during the coronavirus pandemic, rising by roughly 18%.

Reports collected in real time by the Washington, D.C.-based group ODMAP — the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, located at the University of Baltimore — also found a significant spike in the number of fatal overdoses.

"Overdose clusters have shifted from traditional centralized urban locations to adjacent and surrounding suburban and rural areas," said ODMAP program manager Aliese Alter.

An agreement that makes it easier for Rhode Island residents to vote by mail during the pandemic will remain in place after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an effort by Republicans to block it.

The agreement allows Rhode Islanders to vote in two upcoming elections without requiring voters to fill out mail-in ballots before two witnesses or a notary. That requirement was already suspended for the presidential primary that took place June 2.

Let's face it, if you've been staying home a lot, you're probably pretty tired of looking at the same faces. Love them as we do, it feels like well past time to start seeing other people, to visit or host relatives and dear friends. So how can you do this without unknowingly spreading the virus or getting exposed?

First-time claims for state unemployment benefits dropped below 1 million last week for the first time since the pandemic hit the economy in March. Claims under a special pandemic program for gig workers and others who are typically not eligible for unemployment also fell.

The drop may signal an improvement in the job market. Jobless benefits have also become less valuable, since a $600 per week federal supplement expired at the end of July.

In Annapolis, Md., young men and women in crisp white uniforms and white masks are doing what students here have been doing for 175 years — taking their first steps to becoming officers in the U.S. Navy.

These exercises are a part of the traditional "plebe summer," an intensive crash course that prepares first-year students for the transition to military life. They learn how to salute and march as a unit, along with lots of new lingo: floors are called "decks," toilets are "heads," and the students are "midshipmen."

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

The Big 12 Conference is moving ahead with its football season, announcing that fall sports will continue – with teams following safety precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference hopes to hold its title game in December, as it normally would.

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