Sean McMinn | WAMC

Sean McMinn

Far more people in the U.S. are hospitalized for COVID-19 now than at any other moment of the coronavirus pandemic — more than twice as many as just a month ago.

Hospitals in some of the hardest-hit states are exhausting every health care worker, hospital room and piece of equipment to evade the worst-case scenario, when crisis plans have to be set in motion and care may have to be rationed.

More than 1,000 hospitals across the United States are "critically" short on staff, according to numbers released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Those hospitals, which span all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, represent about 18% of all hospitals that report their staffing status to HHS. And that number is expected to grow: 21% of all hospitals reporting say they anticipate having critical staffing shortages in the next week.

Support for President Trump increased in 2020 in many of the U.S. counties that lost lives at the highest rate to COVID-19, according to an NPR analysis.

Of the 100 counties with the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita, 68 had a higher proportion of votes cast for Trump this cycle than they did in 2016. This includes both Republican-leaning counties and counties that supported Joe Biden.

Loading...

Of the colleges and universities that have chosen to hold classes in person this fall, most are not conducting widespread testing of their students for the coronavirus, an NPR analysis has found. With only weeks remaining before many of those schools plan to send students home for the end of the semester, the findings raise concerns that communities around the U.S. could be exposed to new outbreaks.

Wildfires near cities have become commonplace in the Western United States, but this year the reach and intensity of the dangerous air pollution they produce has been the worst on record.

Many Americans in populous, urban areas endured smoke for longer than previous years. Some places experienced very unhealthy or hazardous air from wildfires for the first time ever recorded.

Loading...

When COVID-19 claimed its first 100,000 lives in the U.S., Hidalgo County, Texas, seemed to have avoided the worst of it. The county, which sits on the border with Mexico, had just 10 deaths when the U.S. crossed that tragic milestone on May 27.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

Democrats go into the final weeks of the presidential campaign with a cash advantage.

As of the beginning of this month, former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign, combined with the Democratic Party, had about $30 million more in the bank than President Trump's reelection effort and the Republican Party, according to campaign finance filings made public Sunday evening.

Larry Pichon called an ambulance to take his wife, Judy, to a hospital in Lake Charles, in southwest Louisiana, on the morning of July 13. He'd had to do this before.

She had a rare autoimmune disease — granulomatosis with polyangiitis, which causes inflammation of blood vessels and can be particularly damaging for the lungs and kidneys. It wasn't uncommon for Judy to make a trip to the emergency room.

"When she got in the ambulance to go was the last time I saw her, and that was around nine o'clock," Larry remembered.

Millions have lost their jobs during the coronavirus shutdowns, placing an unprecedented burden on public welfare programs designed to help people in these situations. For those people and others who are hurting financially as a result of the virus, it's often the case that where you live determines what kind of help is available.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, state and local health officials rush to try to detect and contain outbreaks before they get out of control. A key to that is testing, and despite a slow start, testing has increased around the country.

But it's still not always easy to get a test. While many things can affect access to testing, location is an important starting point.

Loading...

Updated on October. 22 at 11:55 p.m. ET

Which presidential candidate has the fundraising advantage?

More than 82,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday. How many more lives will be lost? Scientists have built dozens of computational models to answer that question. But the profusion of forecasts poses a challenge: The models use such a wide range of methodologies, formats and time frames that it's hard to get even a ballpark sense of what the future has in store.

At a time when jigsaw puzzles may be harder to come by than toilet paper, the hot new item in the Trump campaign online store is a 200-piece puzzle, featuring a faintly smiling President Trump standing in front of an American flag, giving two thumbs up.

The $35 puzzle is just the latest example of the campaign capitalizing on in-the-moment merchandise.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET, April 20

As COVID-19 surges in places throughout the country, Americans are left to wonder, "When will my state hit its worst point?"

The response to the growing threat of the coronavirus has varied widely in cities and counties across the country. Some are sheltering in place; others aren't.

A month after the Iowa caucuses, Super Tuesday offered up the first look at how a diverse swath of the country could vote in the Democratic presidential primary race.

Now that more than 1,200 counties across 18 states have voted, a clearer picture is emerging of whom different segments of the Democratic voter base are backing.

Loading...

The Democratic Party is officially nominating Joe Biden as the party's presidential nominee on Aug. 18. Follow live coverage of the DNC here.

Updated on June 4, 2020

The Senate is scheduled to vote on President Trump's fate on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET after about two weeks of his impeachment trial.

The House of Representatives impeached the president in December, charging him with abusing his power and obstructing Congress for efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rivals.

Three years ago, only about one in ten high school students reported having recently used e-cigarettes. But a study published this week in JAMA shows the proportion of students vaping nicotine has now grown to more than one in four.

Loading...

Twitter and Facebook last month suspended hundreds of thousands of accounts and operations that they said were part of a Chinese state-linked disinformation campaign designed to discredit pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Annie Haigler steps out of her home in Louisville, Ky., pulling a handkerchief out of her pocket to dab sweat off her forehead. She enjoys sitting on her porch, especially to watch the sunrise. She has always been a morning person.

But as the day progresses, the heat can be unbearable for her. On summer days like this, when highs reach into the 90s, the lack of trees in her neighborhood is hard for Haigler to ignore.

"That's what I'm accustomed to trees doing: They bring comfort. You don't notice it, you don't think about it. But they bring comfort to you," she says.

When Shakira Franklin drives from West Baltimore to her job near the city's Inner Harbor, she can feel the summer heat ease up like a fist loosening its grip.

"I can actually feel me riding out of the heat. When I get to a certain place when I'm on my way, I'll turn off my air and I'll roll my windows down," says Franklin. "It just seems like the sun is beaming down on this neighborhood."

Facing a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats who are issuing document demands and subpoenas, President Trump's White House counsel's office grew its payroll by nearly a third, newly released records reveal.

From 2018 to 2019, the counsel's office added 10 people.

Editor's Note on June 4: We're no longer updating this page. For the latest on the money race between President Trump and his challenger, Joe Biden, go here.


Raising money isn't just a necessity for presidential candidates — it can also be a way to measure candidates' credibility and staying power.

Congressional negotiators are hurtling toward another deadline — Feb. 15 — to avoid a partial government shutdown. A bipartisan group of 17 lawmakers on the House and Senate appropriations committees are working to reach a deal to fund seven of the 12 outstanding annual bills to fund the federal government.

The controversy centers on just one of the funding measures for the Department of Homeland Security. President Trump waged the longest shutdown in U.S. history because the bill did not include enough money to help build his long-promised "wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The presence of Juul e-cigarettes in high schools across the country is increasing — and so is Juul Labs' lobbying presence in the nation's capital.

The company, which bills its product as "a satisfying alternative to cigarettes," spent $750,000 on lobbying during the last three months of 2018, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed with Congress on Tuesday.

Receiving a $0 pay stub is not easy on any worker. But some of the thousands of federal employees and contract workers who live paycheck to paycheck say the lingering partial government shutdown feels devastating. They started the shutdown with little or no savings and no safety net to weather this kind of financial emergency.

Now, one month into the shutdown, even those who had a cushion are finding their bank accounts empty or negative and bills and loan payments piling up.

Most undocumented immigrants didn't enter this country through Tijuana, where news cameras have captured images of thousands of immigrants seeking refuge during recent months.

And they didn't enter near the border town of McAllen, Texas, which the president visited Thursday during the 20th day of a partial government shutdown fought over constructing additional barriers on the Southern border.

Pages