Leila Fadel | WAMC

Leila Fadel

On a recent Friday afternoon, the critical care charge nurse at a South Los Angeles hospital tries to send another nurse off to grab lunch. Maria Arechiga is interrupted by the beeping of an alarm, the vitals of a patient declining, organs failing.

She dons a surgical gown and unzips a plastic tarp that hangs from the doorway of a hospital room — a makeshift isolation room on this floor temporarily transformed into a larger intensive care unit to make space for the patients that just keep coming. She slips inside.

From her couch in Minneapolis, Nuny Nichols watched a mob of largely white extremists stage an insurrection in Washington, D.C., set up a noose on a wooden beam outside the U.S. Capitol and walk a symbol of violence and slavery — the Confederate flag — through the building as they stormed and raided it.

She was angry, but she was not surprised at the way people in the mob laughed as they took things from the building. There were white extremists who felt at ease giving their names to media outlets and taking selfies with a white police officer.

Few high-profile Republican members of Congress have publicly acknowledged Joe Biden's presidential win.

And many Republican politicians have refused to denounce President Trump's legal challenges and false allegations of widespread voter fraud.

Reymundo Torres is an Arizonan, a devout Roman Catholic, ethnically Mexican and a staunch supporter of the president.

"The thing that initially attracted me and keeps me tied to him is that he has taught Republicans how to not just win, but no longer throw our faces and bodies in front of every punch that the left is willing to throw," Torres said.

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Soon after being discharged from the hospital for treatment for COVID-19, President Trump tweeted the slur "Chinese virus" to refer to the coronavirus, something he's often repeated during the pandemic.

It's the latest example of Trump's alarming language that critics charge is xenophobic, discriminatory and even white supremacist. While Trump denies those labels, he has increasingly returned to the issue of race in the runup to the November election.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis is the place where police brutality ended the life of a black man named George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

It was here that police officers held down the 46-year-old man that people called Perry, until his pulse stopped. It was here where a passerby filmed his killing, shared it online and sparked an uprising that's spread from this one corner to cities across the country, and now the world.

And it's here now where people gather every day to protest, to remember and to find comfort.

Cesia Baires knocks on the three apartment doors above her restaurant and a neighboring taqueria just before curfew.

A woman opens the door. Her two young children are inside.

"Remember," she says to them in Spanish. "Same thing as yesterday. I'm going to come check on you. If there's anything you guys need, give us a call right away."

On the south side of Minneapolis over the weekend, Safia Munye and her family walk up to the door of what was Mama Safia's Kitchen.

A volunteer from the neighborhood walks out onto Lake Street.

"Is this your business?" she asks.

Safia and her daughter Saida Hassan nod silently.

"I'm sorry," the woman says.

It's the first time they've seen it since fiery protests erupted among cries for racial justice and as state troopers in riot gear blocked the road to this street.

As of Friday in Texas, you can go to a tanning salon. In Indiana, houses of worship are being allowed to open with no cap on attendance. Places like Pennsylvania are taking a more cautious approach, only starting to ease restrictions in some counties based on the number of COVID-19 cases.

By Monday, at least 31 states will have partially reopened after seven weeks of restrictions. The moves come as President Trump pushes for the country to get back to work despite public health experts warning that it's too soon.

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.

In their tiny apartment just outside Minneapolis, Sarah Alfaham directs her husband Mohamed Ahmed to hold up the gold curtains she picked up at Walmart.

She takes a look.

"I like it," she says.

With thumbtacks, string and dowels, Alfaham fashions a canopy in the corner of their living room with a homemade navy blue and gold "Ramadan Mubarak" sign underneath. On the floor is a prayer rug.

"It's just really creating a mosque feel inside your house in a sense. I don't know how else to do it," she says with a laugh.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

At one New York City hospital, a doctor's used mask tore as she performed CPR on her infected patient.

In Seattle, a nurse compares walking into her intensive care unit to bathing in COVID-19.

And in St. Louis, a nurse slips her used N95 mask into a paper bag at the end of her shift and prays that it's disinfected properly.

These are scenes playing out in hospitals across the country, based on interviews with more than a dozen residents, doctors and nurses who go into work every day feeling unprotected from the disease they're supposed to treat.

Neilly Buckalew is a traveling doctor who fills in at hospitals when there's need. So in the midst of this pandemic, she feels particularly vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus — not just in hospitals but in hotels and on her travels.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

On Mondays and Tuesdays, Jessica's daughter is supposed to stay overnight with her in Brooklyn, N.Y., but that's all changed with the coronavirus outbreak.

"I have to just do FaceTime, video conference and three-way calls," Jessica says. "I can't see her anymore, for now."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom took the dramatic step this week of ordering the state's nearly 40 million residents to stay at home. That order on Thursday was followed by similar orders in states including New York, Illinois and Nevada.

These were actions welcomed by health care professionals who are trying to prepare hospitals even in the midst of the pandemic, as they watch the Italian hospitals buckle under the demand of the fast-spreading virus.

Singer, writer and producer Natasha Khan moved to LA to write scripts and music for film after her 2016 release, The Bride. The release marked the end of her recording contract with EMI and she wasn't sure she'd write another album as Bat for Lashes.

It's billed as one of the most livable places in the country with its good schools, leafy streets and safe neighborhoods. That's what makes Boise, Idaho, an odd backdrop for a heated legal fight around homelessness that is reverberating across the western United States and may soon be taken up by the Supreme Court.

Nearly two years ago NPR profiled Usama Canon, a celebrated Muslim preacher facing his own mortality. He'd been public about his diagnosis of Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS, a degenerative neurologic condition that robs people of their ability to move, to speak. Eventually it takes your life.

More than 200 years ago, in January of 1811, a group of enslaved people on a plantation on the outskirts of New Orleans rose up, armed themselves and began a long march toward the city. Hundreds would join them along the way. Their goal: to free every slave they found and then seize the Crescent City.

Halloween is around the corner and guess what that means? Someone will metaphorically step in it with an insensitive or straight up racist costume.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

On Monday in the nation's capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.

It's a hectic morning at the home of Kathleen O'Donnell and her wife, Casey. Kathleen is getting their 4-year-old foster daughter ready for the park. She got placed with them overnight. Casey is wrangling the four dogs. They've already got their 11-year-old son off to school.

They live on a tree-lined street in Billings, Mont. It's a place they've called home since 2014.

"All of my family lives in Billings, so with a kid we wanted to be near them," Kathleen said.

It's Monday night and performer Mark Shunock is where he comes alive — on stage.

"Hello, Mondays Dark!" he calls out to the audience of about 400 people. They cheer. "We have an amazing line up of talent that have given their time to be here tonight."

For nine months, Rosa Gutierrez Lopez has been living at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Md. She can't leave the property. If she does, she risks being deported to El Salvador.

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