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News From NPR

A good part of Percy Deal's day is spent hauling water for his family and livestock in two 55-gallon barrels. So when he heard on the radio how often and for how long he was supposed to wash his hands to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, he was overwhelmed.

"I mean that's like a gallon and a half or so," Deal says. "For me, I'm using the same water at least three or four times. I use the same water for cooking. I use the same water for cleaning up. So I can't be washing my hands that many times."

Easter is next Sunday, April 12. But the country isn't close to being "opened up" by then, as President Trump said he'd like to see during a March 24 news conference, a suggestion that was panned by experts.

For three minutes on Saturday, people across China stopped what they had been doing. In public spaces in major cities, residents clad in masks, together but physically separate, bowed their heads and paid respects to the thousands of neighbors and fellow Chinese nationals — friends, family, patients and medical workers — who are no longer with them.

As they stood in silence, air raid sirens and vehicle horns wailed their lament.

Mention government financing public works projects and sooner or later someone's going to bring up the Works Progress Administration.

That conjures scenes from the 1930s, the breadlines and soup kitchens and the wan-faced men selling apples on the street. And also the image of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the man elected president in 1932 promising a "New Deal" to end the Great Depression.

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again postponed oral arguments scheduled for this spring, but this time the court seemed to hint it might not hear arguments in most cases until next term.

Following postponement of arguments scheduled for the last two weeks of March, the court on Friday announced that it would delay another round of oral arguments — its last for the term — scheduled for the second half of April.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


"Hello, this is Ben Gibbard, welcome to Tiny Desk, Seattle style."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Nurses, doctors, paramedics, technicians and other hospital workers earn the gratitude of the world right now. They risk their lives for others — what genuine heroes do.

But, there are many other people we might overlook who are also essential in these extraordinary times.

I took a run the other morning. It was still and quiet, but I was surprised to see how many people were up, about, and still working in a city in which "nonessential workers" have been told to stay at home.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Wash your hands, latch on your masks. Ready? Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The coronavirus has changed so much about our lives. It has also changed how we deal with death.

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have essentially brought an end to large funerals and memorials where people can share their grief. A brief hug to comfort a mourner is potentially lethal.

"We're all challenged by how to navigate emotional needs while exercising the right precautions," says Norman J. Williams, the long-time director of Unity Funeral Parlors in Chicago.

Brooklyn's Prospect Park looks normal. It's just after 8 a.m. Joggers are running the loop singing to themselves. Cyclists are whizzing by and dog owners are ignoring their pets, staring at their phones. But Holly Williams says life doesn't feel normal — she's lonely.

"I have seen people in person, but it's not the same, you know, as like going over to a friend's house and watching a movie or having dinner," Williams says.

Back in January, Laura Gao, a 23-year-old product developer for Twitter living in San Francisco, was preparing to visit her relatives in Wuhan, China. The trip was to celebrate her grandmother's 80th birthday.

But in the days leading up to her flight, Gao's relatives told her to cancel her trip. The coronavirus was spreading throughout the city.

Gao, a native of Wuhan, stayed in San Francisco and on January 23, the day after her flight would have landed, the city went on lockdown. If she'd taken her trip, Gao thinks she'd still be in Wuhan today.

From produce clerks to personal shoppers to warehouse stockers, millions of grocery workers across the U.S. are keeping food on the shelves throughout this pandemic for those of us hunkering at home. Their work is essential — needed and valued — and yet, many say they don't feel safe.

As hospitals across the country fill with COVID-19 patients, medical personnel are sounding the alarm about shortages of drugs essential to those patients' care.

"We have seen an increase in demand on pharmaceuticals that's unprecedented," says Daniel Kistner, who manages the pharmacy program for Vizient, a group purchasing organization that negotiates lower prices with drug manufacturers. "Never seen anything like this before across the whole country."

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, criticized governors Thursday, saying they don't have a handle on their own supplies of masks and ventilators needed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

In a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, Kushner urged governors and some senators to be more resourceful in their own states instead of looking first to the federal government for help.

Scientists are currently carrying out a trial to see whether a drug that's currently used to treat lupus and to prevent malaria might also help treat COVID-19.

Their interest is based on laboratory studies showing that the drug, hydroxychloroquine, blocked the coronavirus from entering cells. There's no solid evidence, as yet though, that the drug actually is an effective COVID-19 treatment.

In fact, medical experts have warned against buying it for that purpose, because that might exhaust supplies for people who actually need it.

It appears most, if not all of the nation's major airlines have applied for a share of $50 billion in federal coronavirus aid.

Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue, among others, met a 5 p.m. ET deadline to apply to the Treasury Department for payroll grants, loans or both.

It seems like such an obvious and powerful idea: airlines that laid off thousands of workers over the past few weeks are retraining some employees to assist in hospitals and nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Flight attendants, after all, are already skilled in handling minor medical emergencies and by the very nature of their job, know how to remain coolly capable amid chaos.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Trump administration announced Friday that doctors and hospitals can use federal aid to cover the costs of treating uninsured people who are suffering COVID-19.

The federal payments, part of a $100 billion aid package to health care providers, will specifically cover COVID-19 care. But some health policy experts say the program will be difficult to administer, because it's sometimes impossible to separate the cost of treating COVID-19 from the cost of treating a patient's other health problems, like kidney failure.

Since the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic, Americans have been told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to wear masks unless they are sick, caring for a sick person who is unable to wear one or working in health care.

The governors of Alabama and Missouri on Friday announced stay-at-home orders, leaving only a handful of state holdouts that continue to defy expert advice to self-quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to rise.

A powerful Senate Democrat is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Zoom for deceptive practices, adding to the growing chorus of concerns over the popular video chat software's privacy and security flaws.

Several state attorneys general are also probing Zoom, after users, including government officials, reported harassment, known as "Zoombombing," on the platform.

Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET

President Trump said Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people wear cloth or fabric face coverings, which can be made at home, when entering public spaces such as grocery stores and public transit stations. It is mainly to prevent those people who have the virus — and might not know it — from spreading the infection to others.

There are now so few coronavirus cases in China that some days, authorities don't see any local transmission. China has gone from reporting thousands of cases a day in February to reporting one or two a day now. Over the past week, officials with China's National Health Commission reported just five new domestic cases. The total of new cases was higher, but almost all of them were imported cases in travelers who had recently returned from abroad.

Walmart on Saturday will begin limiting how many people are allowed inside its stores at one time, reducing its capacity to roughly 20%, as a way to enforce social distancing.

The retail giant joins Target, Costo and other supermarket chains in deciding to count and restrict the number of visitors to keep shoppers at least six feet apart — from each other and from the workers — hoping to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

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