Coronavirus

National Coverage of the Coronavirus Crisis from the NPR Newsroom.

When schools shut down in the spring, that raised immediate worries about the nearly 30 million children who depend on school food. Those worries were essentially borne out, with researchers reporting a large rise in child hunger.

Updated at 8 pm ET

President-elect Joe Biden has long pledged he would deliver an aggressive plan to address the raging coronavirus pandemic and the painful recession it spawned.

On Thursday, he did just that, proposing an ambitious $1.9 trillion relief plan that includes $1,400 stimulus checks, additional benefits for the unemployed, as well hundreds of billions of dollars for struggling businesses and local governments.

In Los Angeles, COVID-19 cases continue to soar at an astonishing rate. In the first seven days of the year, for instance, roughly seven people died each hour.

Pandemic Fuels Record Overdose Deaths

18 hours ago

After their son died, Jackie and Robert Watson found a stack of popsicle sticks in his Milwaukee apartment. He'd written an affirmation on each one.

"I am a fighter." "Don't sweat the small stuff." "My kids love me."

Brandon Cullins, 31, had been working with a drug counselor, who advised him to write the messages to himself.

Picking up the popsicle sticks, the Watsons were able to see how hard their son wanted to kick his battle with cocaine. But they also wondered why he hadn't asked them for help.

It's 8:45 a.m. on a weekday in Washington, D.C., and if anyone needs a reminder why the coronavirus vaccine is important, there's one arriving at the Takoma Metro stop: an almost empty train pulling up to an almost empty subway platform at the height of rush hour.

Updated at 8:37 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden outlined his plans for economic relief from the coronavirus crisis on Thursday, citing the need for a more robust vaccination plan as well as for additional direct payments to American families to help recover the U.S. economy. His plan, called the American Rescue Plan, is expected to cost $1.9 trillion.

Israel's health minister announced Thursday the country would vaccinate Palestinian prisoners against COVID-19, after Israel's president said withholding vaccines was against Israel's Jewish and democratic values.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the prisoners would be vaccinated early next week, on Monday or Tuesday. The minister informed NPR of the decision before making a public announcement.

Updated at 9:35 a.m. ET

A team of 13 World Health Organization scientists have now arrived in Wuhan, China, where they will investigate the origins of the coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic. Nearly 2 million people have died due to COVID-19, with more than 92 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As COVID-19 deaths and illnesses mount, essential workers — who are denied the chance to work from home — are struggling to stay safe. And it's far from clear whether the federal government is doing enough to protect them, according to a former top federal workplace safety official.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration official, Deborah Berkowitz, said the Trump administration has neglected COVID-19 safety at meatpacking plants and many other workplaces.

Scientists are sending the U.S. a warning: What's happening right now in the United Kingdom with the new coronavirus variant could likely happen in the U.S., and the country has a short window to prepare.

"I feel a sense of déjà vu right now about the situation we were in back in the spring," says epidemiologist Emma Hodcroft at the University of Bern in Switzerland. "I think a lot of countries are looking at the U.K. right now and saying, 'Oh, isn't that too bad that it's happening there,' just like we did with Italy in February.

Beating back the pandemic may come down to simple math: getting enough people vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, says the country will likely need a vaccination level of between 70% and 90% to reach herd immunity.

As India embarks this weekend on what may become the biggest national vaccination campaign in the world, some scientists have raised questions about one of the two vaccines the country of 1.4 billion people has authorized for emergency use against COVID-19.

More than 5 million vaccine vials arrived early Wednesday at hundreds of hospitals and clinics across India. Inoculations start Saturday. India aims to vaccinate 300 million people by July.

Don Brown has been driving a school bus for more than 20 years in the Chicago area. And for all that time, he's noticed one odd student habit.

As they climb aboard his bus, "when they get to the top step, they always cough," he says. "This was even before the pandemic! Or, when they get ready to get off, they say 'Bye, bus driver!' and they cough."

Because of this, Brown says, he hopes he'll be getting the vaccine, "as soon as I can."

Eleven million people are under lockdown in Hebei province after a new cluster of coronavirus infections.

Since Jan. 2, Hebei has reported more than 600 new positive cases, 544 of which were from the capital city of Shijiazhuang. To identify all potential patients, health officials have completed one round of mass testing of all the city's residents, and a second one is being carried out this week.

The Greater Sacramento Region of California lifted its regional stay at home order Tuesday after a month-long shutdown. The order restricted most California residents from early December, locking down regions when ICU bed availability dropped below 15%. Restaurants transitioned to take-out and pick-up orders only, gyms and salons closed and private gatherings of any size were prohibited.

Pages