coronavirus

Updated at 1 pm, to include comment from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services

Even the most effective, safest coronavirus vaccine won't work to curb the spread of the virus unless a large number of people get immunized. And getting a vaccine from the manufacturers all the way into people's arms requires complex logistics — and will take many months.

Wells Fargo has fired more than 100 employees, saying they personally defrauded a coronavirus relief program from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In a memo sent Wednesday and obtained by NPR, the company said it had identified employees that it believes made false representations in applying for relief funds through the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

The employees' actions were outside of their work responsibilities, the company said.

 

On the outskirts of Rantoul, in east-central Illinois, about 100 migrant farmworkers are living at an old hotel in a sleepy part of town.

The tools of the Internet, and a bit of public embarrassment, can go a long way in drawing attention to a cause.

Front-line workers at grocery and retail stores have used them effectively during the pandemic. Eight out of every nine American workers don't have a union to represent them in workplace disputes. So thousands of them have been flocking to the nonprofit website Coworker.org in their fight for a fairer workplace.

Fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been a problem for a long time, and states have set up systems to try to prevent such fraud. But lost in that effort is arguably a bigger problem: Some of those systems have hurt millions of innocent people, keeping the benefits they deserve in limbo.

They're people like Sevy Guasch, who lost his job as a food and beverage manager at a Marriott hotel near San Jose, Calif. In March, he applied for unemployment benefits. He went online, entered his information, and waited. And waited.

During this pandemic, people in the United States are dying at rates unparalleled elsewhere in the world.

A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that in the past five months, per capita deaths in the U.S., both from COVID-19 and other causes, have been far greater than in 18 other high-income countries.

"It's shocking. It's horrible," says Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor of health policy and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the study.

In the midst of what has otherwise been a heavy, unrelenting year, many Midwesterners have found solace in the dirt.

 

As the return of college students to campuses has fueled as many as 3,000 COVID-19 cases a day, keeping track of them is a logistical nightmare for local health departments and colleges.

Some students are putting down their home addresses instead of their college ones on their COVID testing forms — slowing the transfer of case data and hampering contact tracing across state and county lines.

Updated at 5:38 p.m. ET

Two coronavirus studies have been put on pause by drugmakers as they investigate safety concerns.

The pauses are not uncommon or cause for undue concern, but they highlight how little is known about the combination of medications prescribed to President Trump following his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Johnson & Johnson paused all clinical trials of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after a study participant became sick with an "unexplained illness."

In March, Dr. Achintya Moulick found himself at the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic.

He oversees three CarePoint Health hospitals in northern New Jersey and in the early days of the pandemic, they were swamped. "We had no idea what this infection was all about," he says.

One of the first challenges was screening patients for COVID-19 even before they entered the hospital.

"One day I saw a big line outside the entrance of the hospital," he says. "And they were manually checking everybody's temperature."

The Republican-controlled Senate returns this month in a high-stakes gamble: Three members tested positive for the coronavirus as the Senate is moving full steam ahead to confirm a new justice to the Supreme Court.

Members of Congress, advocacy groups and a former administration official say Operation Warp Speed should release its vaccine contracts with pharmaceutical companies, following an NPR report that the Trump administration awarded billions of dollars through a third party, bypassing the usual contracting process.

A conservation group is warning that the development of an effective coronavirus vaccine on a global scale could ravage shark populations worldwide, as researchers race to produce a vaccine using an oil derived from sharks.

Squalene, a compound that is harvested from the livers of sharks, is a common moisturizing ingredient in cosmetics. It's also used in malaria and flu vaccines as an agent that boosts the immune system's response.

The White House's apparent failures to do thorough contact tracing after its coronavirus outbreak has led local health officers to take matters into their own hands.

The District of Columbia and nine neighboring jurisdictions are calling on White House staff and visitors who might be connected to the recent outbreak there to contact their local health departments.

China has joined a global effort aimed at fair and equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once one becomes available — an effort the Trump administration has shunned.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX, is jointly led by the World Health Organization and Gavi, an alliance promoting access to vaccines.

Orange County, Fla., has 8,000 missing students. The Miami-Dade County public schools have 16,000 fewer than last year. Los Angeles Unified — the nation's second-largest school system — is down nearly 11,000. Charlotte-Mecklenburg in North Carolina has 5,000 missing. Utah, Virginia and Washington are reporting declines statewide.

Dr. William Foege doesn't know how his private letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, got leaked — but he stands by its contents.

"I think we've got about the worst response to this pandemic that you could possibly have," said Foege, who served as CDC director from 1977 to 1983, spanning the Carter and Reagan administrations, in an interview with NPR.

Editor's note: Since we published this story, Trump's physician said that the president has completed his treatment for COVID-19.

President Trump told Fox Business Network on Thursday that he will be taking a steroid for COVID-19 for a "little bit longer." As his physicians told reporters last weekend, Trump started taking the drug on Saturday while he was still at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

WICHITA, Kansas — Less than a week into the new school year, the warning came: The school district’s COVID-19 learning plan expected too much from teachers.

“It’s unsustainable,” Greg Jones, a representative for the Kansas National Education Association, told the Wichita school board. “We don’t think that things can continue as they are.”

President Trump and close to a dozen key members of his circle, including senior White House and campaign staff and Republican senators, have announced positive coronavirus test results in the days before and after Trump tested positive.

Even when there isn't a pandemic, finding the right doctor can be tough in rural eastern Ohio. Reid Davis, 21, and his mother Crystal live in Jefferson County, which hugs the Ohio River near West Virginia. Their home is surrounded by farms, hayfields and just a few neighbors.

"To the nearest hospital, you're talking about 50 minutes to an hour," Reid Davis says.

The Food and Drug Administration published guidance Tuesday detailing what's required for the emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine after the advice to pharmaceutical companies was delayed by White House review.

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President Trump's medical team once again held a briefing outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday for an update on the president's COVID-19 treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says the coronavirus can be spread through airborne particles that can linger in the air "for minutes or even hours" — even among people who are more than 6 feet apart.

President Trump's medical team announced on Sunday that it had decided to treat the president with dexamethasone.

It was a decision that struck some doctors and COVID-19 specialists as surprising, given the fact that Dr. Sean Conley, the president's doctor, gave a fairly upbeat assessment of his patient's condition. Typically, only hospitalized COVID-19 patients in need of oxygen are given the drug.

The White House is struggling on Monday to show that it has a burgeoning public health and political crisis under control as President Trump enters his third day of aggressive and experimental treatment for the coronavirus.

Updated at 7:53 a.m. ET Monday

Despite indications from doctors that he is still facing serious challenges from the coronavirus and could spread the disease to others, President Trump briefly left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday evening to wave to supporters gathered outside.

Updated a 2:40 a.m. ET

President Trump sought to project an image of vigor in the face of COVID-19, with a surprise motorcade Sunday outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he is being treated, as his physicians suggested he could be discharged to return to the White House as early as Monday.

The president was admitted to Walter Reed on Friday, hours after announcing that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Donald Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien is the latest in the president's inner circle to test positive for the coronavirus, a campaign official confirmed to NPR.

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