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Austin Beutner looked haggard, his face a curtain of worry lines. The superintendent of the second-largest school district in the nation sat at a desk last week delivering a video address to Los Angeles families. But he began with a stark message clearly meant for another audience:

Lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

No door-to-door canvassing. Public gatherings are canceled. Motor vehicle offices are closed. Naturalization ceremonies are on hiatus.

Almost every place where Americans usually register to vote has been out of reach since March and it's led to a big drop in new registrations right before a presidential election that was expected to see record turnout.

The 2020 presidential election is more than five months away. So it may seem a bit early to think about — much less prepare for — a possible presidential transition.

But under law, and behind the scenes, that's just what the Trump administration and staffers for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, have begun to do.

California churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship can reopen, the California Department of Public Health announced on Monday. Additionally, in-store retailers are allowed to resume business throughout the state.

The changes are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's latest round of modifications to the state's stay-at-home order that is intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Sweden's controversial approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic has so far failed to produce the expected results, and there are calls within the country for the government to change its strategy.

"We have a very vivid political debate," Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden's ambassador to the United States, told NPR. "I don't think people are protesting on the streets but ... there's a very big debate, if this [strategy] is the right thing to do or not, on Facebook and everywhere."

The World Health Organization says it is temporarily halting its clinical trials that use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients over published concerns that the drug may do more harm than good.

The move comes after the medical journal The Lancet reported on Friday that patients getting hydroxychloroquine were dying at higher rates than other coronavirus patients.

Even in a typical year, Memorial Day in the U.S. can be a confusing mixture of joy and sadness — at once a hearty welcome to summertime, brimming with picnics and parties, and a somber remembrance of the service members who died in wars.

But this has been no typical year.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made an unannounced visit to Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Del., on Monday.

It's the first time Biden has left the area around his home in Wilmington since mid-March, when he began self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He and his wife, Jill Biden, both wearing black masks, placed a wreath before a memorial wall commemorating war veterans from Delaware and New Jersey.

As Americans observe a subdued Memorial Day, President Trump visited Fort McHenry in Baltimore to remember those soldiers who have fallen in service of the country.

"I stand before you at this noble fortress of American liberty to pay tribute to the immortal souls who fought and died to keep us free," Trump told the crowd, which included several members of his Cabinet. "We pledge in their cherished memories that this majestic flag will proudly fly forever."

Since the U.S. and the Taliban agreed to a deal that American officials applauded as a path to peace, Afghanistan has endured months of anything but. The spring has brought bloodshed, acrimony and few signs that the Afghan government and the Islamist militant group were any closer to reconciliation — until Sunday.

Jimmy Cobb, The Pulse Of 'Kind Of Blue,' Dies At 91

May 25, 2020

Jimmy Cobb, whose subtle and steady drumming formed the pulse of some of jazz's most beloved recordings, died at his home in Manhattan on Sunday. He was 91.

The cause was lung cancer, says his wife, Eleana Tee Cobb.

Cobb was the last surviving member of what's often called Miles Davis' First Great Sextet. He held that title for almost three decades, serving as a conduit for many generations of jazz fans into the band that recorded the music's most iconic and enduring album, Kind of Blue.

Japan has completely lifted its nationwide state of emergency.

The country's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, announced Monday that officials have loosened the coronavirus restrictions in the last five of the country's 47 prefectures: Tokyo and its surrounding regions, as well as the northern island of Hokkaido.

Thousands of people who had planned to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C., this holiday weekend were forced to cancel this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. That includes veterans traveling with the nonprofit network Honor Flight, which recently suspended all trips at least until this fall.

"Our veterans that travel with us are still living, so their day is Veterans Day not Memorial Day," says Honor Flight CEO Meredith Rosenbeck. "But they go to honor their friends and comrades, those who have fallen."

What advice is there for the army of new contact tracers out to find anyone who has been near a newly diagnosed coronavirus patient?

The Great Depression challenged Americans not just with horrifically high unemployment, but ideological divides not utterly unlike the ones we face today. Today, poll after poll show the country deeply split on major issues. Racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise. Back then, the labor movement was burgeoning; so was membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the illegal drug trade in ways not seen since World War II, affecting nearly every country and many different kinds of drugs, according to a report compiled by the United Nations.

In a decision with potentially far-reaching implications for November's election, a federal judge in Florida has determined a state law that would have required felons to pay any outstanding court fees and fines before they can register to vote is unconstitutional.

The ruling on Sunday by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle moves hundreds of thousands of felons who have completed "all terms of their sentence including probation and parole" one step closer to winning back their right to vote.

President Trump is barring the entry of most non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil within the past 14 days, the White House announced on Sunday, citing concerns over Brazil's rapidly worsening coronavirus crisis.

"Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

New York is "decidedly in the reopening phase," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday, as the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic gave sports leagues, campgrounds and veterinarian offices the green light to start up again, with modifications.

Professional sports leagues in the state are now able to begin training camps, Cuomo said during his daily press conference, adding that having teams come back, even without spectators, would mark a "return to normalcy."

Can Americans return to fun in the sand and in the water while keeping themselves safe from the coronavirus? That's a question being put to the test this Memorial Day weekend as many Americans flock to newly reopened beaches, like Los Angeles' famed Venice Beach.

Except for still-closed stores that usually sell souvenirs to tourists and signs reminding people to wear masks, Venice Beach looked much like its normally eclectic self this weekend.

Hong Kong police fired tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons as thousands of protesters rallied against proposed security measures aimed at tightening Beijing's grip on the semi-autonomous territory.

Vermont is a state of vast beauty, yet for all its idyllic Green Mountain landscapes, living there takes a certain amount of grit. The state's bitter winters can last as long as six months, only to be followed by "mud season" – the character-building preamble to spring that turns the ground to sludge and makes dirt roads impassable.

"I wasn't afraid of fighting," Ilhan Omar writes about her childhood in Somalia in her new memoir. "I felt like I was bigger and stronger than everyone else — even if I knew that wasn't really the case."

In This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman, Omar chronicles her childhood in a middle-class family compound in Mogadishu, followed by civil war, four years in a refugee camp, a journey to the United States and ultimately her election to Congress as a Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th district.

Champale Greene-Anderson keeps the volume up on her television when she watches 5-year-old granddaughter Amor Robinson while the girl's mom is at work.

"So we won't hear the gunshots," says Greene-Anderson. "I have little bitty grandbabies, and I don't want them to be afraid to be here."

As a preschooler, Amor already knows and fears the sounds that occurred with regularity in their St. Louis neighborhood before the pandemic — and continue even now as the rest of the world has slowed down.

In Brazil's favelas, poor urban neighborhoods where residents live in crowded homes and lack basic sanitation, the toll of the coronavirus is expected to be brutal. The informal jobs that sustain 39 million Brazilians, such as selling street food or working temporary construction gigs, are also victims of the stay-at-home order, which started in mid-March. For some in these sprawling settlements, hunger is a threat as real as COVID-19.

As summer nears, 2020 has another trick up its sleeve. This time, it's cicadas. A lot of cicadas.

In parts of southwestern Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia, it's nearly time for a brood of the insects to emerge for their once-in-17-year mating season. As many as 1.5 million cicadas could emerge per acre. And did we mention the bugs are known for their distinct — and overwhelming — chirping?

North Carolina has reported its highest one-day spike in new COVID-19 cases, a development that comes a day after the state entered its second phase of reopening.

In a statement on Saturday, the state's Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,107 infections — around 250 more cases than the state's last highest daily tally.

It has been around two months of quarantine for many of us. The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But what's safe? We asked a panel of infectious disease and public health experts to rate the risk of summer activities, from backyard gatherings to a day at the pool to sharing a vacation house with another household.

Trump Returns To Golf Course For 1st Time Since March

May 23, 2020

President Trump is visiting one of his golf courses this weekend, his first apparent golf outing since declaring a state of emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, the president visited the Trump National Golf Club located just outside Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia. His last visit to a course was on March 8 to his West Palm Beach club in Florida, days before he declared a national emergency.

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