Coronavirus National

To say Leah Juelke is an award-winning teacher is a bit of an understatement. She was a top 10 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in 2020; she was North Dakota's Teacher of the Year in 2018; and she was awarded an NEA Foundation award for teaching excellence in 2019.

But Juelke, who teaches high school English learners in Fargo, N.D., says nothing prepared her for teaching during the pandemic.

"The level of stress is exponentially higher. It's like nothing I've experienced before."

After a year of grim milestones, Sunday marked a hopeful statistic in America's fight against the coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all American adults have now gotten at least one vaccine dose.

"You're a hero."

I can't count the number of times I've heard this from well-intentioned friends and family. They send messages of praise for the work I've done over the past decade, addressing rural health and infectious diseases in India (where I was born), Mozambique, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Thailand, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Uganda.

In many ways, this recognition felt and still feels misplaced.

Back in December, I spent what felt like every moment agonizing over whether or not I should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

I was early in my second trimester of pregnancy, and I'm also a family physician, which meant I was eligible to get my shot as soon as the vaccines were authorized for use in the U.S.

For Denver-based flight attendant Ken Kyle, getting a coronavirus vaccine was as convenient as pulling up to the place he knows so well.

"It was great to be able to be vaccinated at the airport," Kyle says, quipping: "You know where you're going."

Kyle is one of a growing number of workers who are benefitting from a strong push by some companies to provide shots at employment sites, all in coordination with local and state health authorities.

Global COVID-19 Deaths Top 3 Million

Apr 17, 2021

Global deaths from COVID-19 has surpassed 3 million, according to the latest data from John Hopkins University.

Leading in those deaths are the United States, with more than 566,000, and Brazil, with more than 368,000. They are followed by Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.

The global death toll reached 1 million in September 2020 and 2 million in January.

It's no secret why poor countries don't have as many vaccines as rich countries.

"There's really just a scarcity of doses," says Kate Elder, senior vaccine policy adviser at Doctors Without Borders' Access Campaign. The question is, how do you fix it?

The Chinook Indian Nation has about 3,000 members who mostly live near the mouth of the Columbia River in southwest Washington. But they're not on the list of federally recognized tribes — so they get nothing from the Indian Health Service.

"We have all the problems of Indian Country, but no means of dealing with it," Chinook chair Tony Johnson says. Without recognition, they get no reservation, no housing allowance, no clinics.

And, during the pandemic, no federal recognition has meant no testing supplies or vaccine allocations.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

I've been hearing about breakthrough infections in people who have been vaccinated. Should I be worried? What can I do to protect myself?

The short answer:

Government officials are trying to figure out how to make better use of drugs that can keep people with COVID-19 out of the hospital. That's an urgent but daunting challenge in Michigan, where hospitals are struggling to keep up with a surge in new cases.

CAPE TOWN, South AfricaIn South Africa, the government tried to control the COVID-19 outbreak by banning booze to keep people from gathering. Plus, sober South Africans were less likely to violently protest a complete lockdown.

You couldn't sit at a bar; you couldn't order a glass of wine; you couldn't even buy beer at the store.

There was an immediate public health benefit that had nothing to do with COVID-19. Suddenly, emergency rooms were empty, devoid of alcohol-related accidents.

It's been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic completely upended our lives. For young people especially, it reprieved them of fully experiencing the world during a crucial time of growth and development.

Parents all over the world are beaming with all sorts of questions to get a grasp on the pandemic's toll, such as: How has the pandemic been affecting our children? Has remote learning slowed their education? Has reduced socializing hurt their development?

Health officials in Brazil say many hospitals are running dangerously short of sedatives and other crucial medications used for treating gravely ill COVID-19 patients.

They say some health services have already exhausted stocks of certain drugs, while others expect to do so within the next few days unless they receive fresh supplies.

India surpassed a somber COVID milestone Thursday, confirming more than 200,000 new cases in a single day as patients and doctors grapple with a shortage of beds and cities announce curfews.

Updated April 15, 2021 at 4:52 PM ET

Signs of an economic boom are emerging as Americans open up their wallets to spend freely.

Retail sales soared 9.8% in March, according to a report Thursday from the Commerce Department. The increase follows a 2.7% slump in February, which analysts blamed partly on severe winter weather.

There are more than enough shots to go around in communities such as Hartsville, Tenn., the seat of Trousdale County, a quiet town tucked in the wooded hills northeast of Nashville.

Updated April 15, 2021 at 2:39 PM ET

CNN. ABC News. The New York Times. Fox News.

Those are the publishers of four of the five most popular Facebook posts of articles about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week. They're ranked 2 to 5 in total interactions, according to data from the tracking tool CrowdTangle.

The No. 1 posting, however, isn't from a news organization. Or a government official. Or a public health expert.

An expert advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided Wednesday it needed more time to consider whether to recommend to resume administering the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.

One in 4 Americans would refuse a coronavirus vaccine if offered, a recent NPR/Marist poll found. Another 5% are "undecided" about whether they would get the shot. And some researchers are growing worried that this reluctance will be enough to prevent the nation from reaching what's known as herd immunity.

Denmark will stop administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said Wednesday.

In a statement, the Danish Health Authority emphasized that the shot's benefits outweigh the risks for those who do get it, but said they had decided to discontinue its use because of its possible link to rare cases of blood clotting and the "fact that the COVID-19 epidemic in Denmark is currently under control and other vaccines are available."

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause in the U.S. – because of reports of rare cases of potentially fatal blood clots in a small number of vaccinated women – could have global ramifications.

Even though the J&J vaccine so far has had very limited distribution outside of the United States, it's slated to provide more than a billion doses to the global fight against COVID.

J&J is authorized in, among other countries, Brazil, Canada, Peru, Chile and New Zealand (although none of those countries have received shipments yet).

Updated April 13, 2021 at 4:50 PM ET

Federal health officials have called for a "pause" in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports that six women who got the vaccine developed blood clots afterward. Close to 7 million people have gotten this vaccine in the U.S. to date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the blood clots are extremely rare but that it is reviewing the cases. The agency says it expects this pause to last for "a matter of days."

Ezhil Arasi Kumar was 8 weeks pregnant and due for her first prenatal visit — which would include an ultrasound scan.

But she didn't go.

Her appointment had been scheduled around the time when India's 21-day lockdown began, with little notice, on the eve of March 24, 2020.

Prices for some of your favorite things are going up. The big question is how long the price hikes will last.

Consumer prices rose 0.6% in March, according to the Labor Department — the sharpest increase in nearly nine years. Higher gasoline prices account for nearly half the increase, but prices for hotel rooms, baseball tickets and haircuts were also higher.

Updated April 13, 2021 at 2:11 PM ET

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday they are recommending a "pause" in the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of an "abundance of caution" while a review of reports of rare, potentially dangerous blood clots is conducted.

HYDERABAD, India — One of the largest gatherings of people in the world continues in northern India amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and a weakening supply of vaccines.

Updated on April 15 at 1 p.m. ET

Ginger Eatman thought she was safe after getting her second COVID-19 vaccination in February. But she kept wearing her mask, using hand sanitizer and wiping down the carts at the grocery store anyway. A few weeks later, she noticed a scratchy throat.

"By Wednesday morning, St. Patrick's Day, I was sick. I had congestion — a lot of congestion — and some coughing," says Eatman, 73, of Dallas, Ga.

People infected with the U.K. variant of the coronavirus didn't experience more severe symptoms and weren't more likely to die from this particular strain, according to a new study of hospitalized patients published Monday.

The strain, called the B.1.1.7 variant, remains more contagious than original strains of the virus however, according to the study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Days after declaring racism a serious public health threat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a pair of studies further quantifying the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.

The studies, published Monday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, examine trends in racial and ethnic disparities in hospitalizations and emergency room visits associated with COVID-19 in 2020.

This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is making good on a veiled threat she issued two weeks ago to centralize pandemic management. Amid growing calls for Merkel to take control of the situation and bypass the country's 16 state leaders, Germany's parliament is expected to pass a measure this month that will allow her finally to take charge of the country's COVID-19 response.

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