health

In 40 years of smoking, Katie Kennedy has tried four times to quit but always went back to cigarettes. Today, she is summoning a new mental image when a craving comes on: rows of COVID-19 patients hooked to ventilators.

Kennedy's dad also smoked. He was on a ventilator before he died, and seeing how invasive the machine was, and watching his discomfort and distress, made Kennedy vow not to die like that.

Creative Commons 3.0 / Andrew Farkas

Gov. Mark Gordon has announced new public health orders that will ease restrictions to some businesses like restaurants, gyms, and salons.

Most of us have never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic in our lifetime, and that's especially true for children. The Mountain West News Bureau spoke with five kids about what's on their minds: 6-year-old Emerson, 10-year-old Eleanor, 11-year-old Wren, 11-year-old Brennan, and 10-year-old Olivia. Amanda Peacher shares their voices in this audio postcard.

Updated at 10:32 a.m. ET

Food prices have jumped the most since 1974, when double-digit inflation became a national concern. But inflation isn't a worry this time as prices for just about everything else are diving.

New inflation numbers out Tuesday from the Labor Department offer a window on how consumers are coping in the COVID-19 era. And the bottom line is that we're snacking more — and paying more for a lot of food — as we shop more at our local grocery stores.

Depending on the estimate, the U.S. needs between 100,000 and 300,000 contact tracers to help fight COVID-19. Some say these new jobs could be an opportunity for some of the millions of Americans who've been laid off or furloughed.

The Trump administration says it will now spend billions of dollars to help states make COVID-19 testing more widely available, a move meant to address months-long complaints about test shortages.

But here's the puzzle: Many labs say they have plenty of tests. So what's the disconnect?

Turns out a "test" is not a single device. COVID-19 testing involves several steps, each one requiring different supplies, and there are shortages of different supplies at different times in different places.

Most health experts agree that the need for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is clear.

"To return to a semblance of previous normality, the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines is an absolute necessity" is how a perspective in Science magazine puts it.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned Tuesday of states and localities skipping over federal guidelines while trying to lift restrictions and restart their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking remotely during a unique Senate health committee hearing, Fauci told lawmakers that his concern is that if some areas "jump over" guidelines from the federal government and "prematurely open up," there will be "little spikes that turn into outbreaks."

Staffers in the West Wing have been directed to wear face masks in the White House, except when at their own desks, a Trump administration official told NPR.

States around the country are gradually reopening their economies, even as most of them fail to meet voluntary guidelines set by the White House for doing it safely.

At least 31 states are partially reopening as of Monday.

The coronavirus has in recent days edged closer to President Trump. At least two White House aides who've been in proximity to the president and the vice president have tested positive for COVID-19.

Diana Berrent learned she had tested positive for COVID-19 on a Wednesday in mid-March. Within a day, she had received 30 emails from people urging her to donate blood.

We are social creatures. So it's no surprise that quarantine fatigue has begun to set in.

"Humans are wired to come together physically," says psychologist Judith Moskowitz of Northwestern University. But, loneliness has become widespread in modern life. And, social distancing has just exacerbated the problem, Moskowitz says.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Saturday that it has granted its first emergency authorization to a new type of test that can detect the coronavirus, called an antigen test.

The test looks for protein fragments associated with the virus. The sample is collected with a nasal swab. It can produce a result in minutes, the FDA said in a statement. The agency notes that compared to already approved genetic testing, the antigen test is cheaper and easier to use and could "potentially scale to test millions of Americans per day" once multiple manufacturers enter the market.

This is part of a series looking at pressing coronavirus questions of the week. We'd like to hear what you're curious about. Email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

Savannah Maher

For more than a month, there has been a strict stay-at-home order on the Wind River Reservation. Tribal members face court fines and potential jail time for violating it. Starting Friday, May 8, they will also be subject to a nightly 9 p.m. curfew.

"The Northern Arapaho Business Council and the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, as advised by authorized Medical Officers, specifically deem this order necessary to protect the public health," the Wind River Inter-Tribal Council wrote in a resolution signed on May 6.

Public Domain

After submitting a request to the state to allow bars and restaurants to open at half capacity, Campbell County has had to put that on hold.

On Wednesday, May 6, the 16th case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Campbell County. The newest case is a teenage woman who is quarantined at home. However, due to her job as an essential worker, she had close contact with around 80 people, many of whom are considered high-risk, said Campbell County Public Health Executive Director Jane Glaser.

This week, the question of mutation has been front and center in coverage of the coronavirus — from controversial claims about changes that make the virus more contagious to reassurances that any mutations are not yet consequential.

Here are some of the questions being raised — and what the specialists can (and can't yet) say to answer them.

Is the coronavirus mutating?

Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET

Michelle Sweeney could barely sleep. The nurse in Plymouth, Mass., had just learned she would be furloughed. She only had four hours the next day to call all of her patients.

"I was in a panic state. I was sick over it," Sweeney said. "Our patients are the frailest, sickest group."

Sweeney works for Atrius Health as a case manager for patients with chronic health conditions and those who have been discharged from the hospital or emergency room.

Savannah Maher

This story is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

For the past 140 years, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have both called the Wind River Valley home.

They didn't choose to share this reservation - and it's no secret that the two tribal governments don't always agree. But since the start of the pandemic, they've been on the same page about one thing.

The White House coronavirus task force rejected detailed guidance drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how workplaces ranging from schools to bars to churches should resume operations to prevent the spread of the virus because it was viewed as "overly prescriptive."

As the pandemic decimates local budgets across the Mountain West, another threat looms large at local fire stations across the region: wildfires. That has lawmakers and firefighters demanding more federal support.

Communities across the globe are trying to understand what percent of their population has been exposed to COVID-19 by searching random samples of residents for antibodies against the virus. 

Updated on May 8 at 11:54 a.m. ET

Sixty-four children and teens in New York State are suspected of having a mysterious inflammatory syndrome that is believed to be linked to COVID-19, the New York Department of Health said in an alert issued Wednesday. A growing number of similar cases — including at least one death — have been reported in other parts of the U.S. and Europe, though the phenomenon is still not well-understood.

When the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, public health officials told the world to watch out for its telltale symptoms: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But as the virus has spread across the globe, researchers have developed a more nuanced picture of how symptoms of infection can manifest themselves, especially in milder cases.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., officials have been warning about the prospect of a second wave. Some even say additional COVID-19 spikes in the country could be worse than the first wave.

Dr. Ali Khan, former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says he is confident that a second wave will happen. That's because, he says in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, the vast majority of people in the U.S. are likely still at risk of contracting the virus.

Intensive care teams inside hospitals are rapidly altering the way they care for patients with COVID-19.

The changes range from new protective gear to new treatment protocols aimed at preventing deadly blood clots.

Updated on May 5 at 3:02 p.m. ET to include additional White House reactions.

On Monday the New York Times published what appeared to be an explosive finding: an internal document from the Trump Administration that forecast many more coming deaths from the coronavirus than the president has predicted publicly.

A global alliance responded to calls to fight the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, as world leaders pledged some $8 billion to develop vaccines and treatments to fight COVID-19. The cavalcade of donors did not include the U.S., which did not participate despite being a major contributor to global health initiatives.

The Food and Drug Administration is stiffening its rules to counteract what some have called a Wild West of antibody testing for the coronavirus.

These tests are designed to identify people who have been previously exposed to the virus. The FDA said more than 250 developers have been bringing products to the market in the past few weeks.

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