NPR Stories

People who attended a wedding on Nov. 7 near Ritzville, Wash., have tested positive for the coronavirus. Health officials are asking more than 300 people who were in attendance to get tested and quarantine through Nov. 21, the Grant County Health District said Monday in a statement.

Kids, this comic is for you.

You've been living through this pandemic for months, and you might be feeling sad, frustrated or upset. But there are lots of different ways to deal with your worries – and make yourself feel better. Here are some tips and advice to help you through.

Print and fold a zine version of this comic here. Here are directions on how to fold it.

Updated at 9:13 a.m. ET

Shoppers kept buying electronics and home improvement supplies, but October proved a month when much of the retail world held its breath. Retail sales barely budged, inching up just 0.3% from September, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Rebounding from near-collapse in the spring, retail spending has improved since the summer, even topping pre-pandemic levels. In October, overall retail sales were up 5.7% compared with a year earlier.

Democrats held on to the House majority in 2020, but in the weeks since, it's Republicans who have been celebrating the election results.

"Pundits doubted us. Polls were stacked against us, and I don't believe one person in this room believed we'd win one race," boasted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., at his weekly news conference last week.

He is a slight, bespectacled man. Colleagues at the industrial materials company where he works describe him as a humorous but diligent employee, known for driving his white Jeep around town in northwestern China's Ningxia region to meet potential clients.

Unbeknownst to them, he goes by Benjamin Chen online, where he has a whole other business: He is a popular seller of the chemicals used to make the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl. NPR has identified him but is not using his real name because of the illegal activity in which he's involved.

Updated 11:55 a.m. ET

Two drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, have announced promising interim results for their vaccine candidates, raising hopes in the U.S. and abroad that the end of the pandemic may be in sight. But, if and when the vaccines are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, distributing them presents a daunting challenge.

Seven months ago, when Jake got out of jail in Phoenix, he expected to go back to using his drug of choice: heroin. But the street market for illegal opioids had changed.

"I just started smoking [fentanyl] pills because that was the thing that was around; it was so easy to get," he said. NPR is only using Jake's first name because he fears being arrested after talking openly about his addiction.

"Soon as I wake up, I have to have a pill," Jake said. "The high is not very long, so 20 minutes after I smoke a pill, I want to smoke another one, you know?"

For Thanksgiving this year, Kurt Beard was planning to travel from Indianapolis to Ohio and meet family for an outdoor hike, but as he watched COVID-19 rates spike he decided even that was too risky. Instead, his family is ordering pizza, video chatting with relatives and playing games.

However, when weighing spending time with elderly family members versus the coronavirus threat, Beard is conflicted.

As hospitals in Iowa fill up with COVID-19 patients amid a major surge in cases in recent weeks, Gov. Kim Reynolds, who once dismissed coronavirus restrictions as "feel-good" measures, has abruptly reversed course, issuing the state's first mask mandate.

Updated at 5:15 a.m. ET

Four astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Resilience have arrived at the International Space Station, circling 262 miles above Earth, where they will stay until spring.

Philadelphia is prohibiting most indoor gatherings through Jan. 1, joining cities across the U.S. that have begun to button up again as the coronavirus spreads relentlessly.

High schools and colleges in Philadelphia are moving to remote learning. Restaurants must revert back to takeout, delivery and outdoor dining only. Businesses like bowling alleys, movie theaters and arcades will once again have to shut their doors.

Religious institutions have some leeway, but must limit their indoor gatherings to five people per 1,000 square feet.

Starting Tuesday, oil and gas companies can pick which parts of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge they're interested in drilling. It's the latest push by the Trump administration to auction off development rights in the pristine landscape before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

As California's "unprecedented" coronavirus surge worsens, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that he's pulling "the emergency brake" and implementing the state's most restrictive safety measures across most counties, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The shift into the "purple tier" for 41 of 58 counties comes as the number of daily new coronavirus cases doubled in the past 10 days in California, Newsom told reporters.

"We are sounding the alarm," the governor said, acknowledging the move will have a detrimental impact on businesses.

Children now make up at least 1 in 11 of all reported U.S. coronavirus cases.

That's according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association. On Monday, the AAP said more than 1 million children have tested positive for the coronavirus in the United States.

Iowa is one of several states, mostly in the Midwest, where coronavirus cases in nursing homes are rising faster than in nursing homes nationally.

While national cases in nursing home residents and staff rose by 8% between September and October, the numbers in Iowa more than doubled in that time, according to the AARP.

The White House will bring home 2,500 troops from Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of the year against the guidance of top military officials, a drawdown order that reduces the American presence by about a third, from 4,500 to 2,500 in Afghanistan and 3,000 to 2,500 in Iraq, according to a U.S. official.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday outlined his plan for rehabilitating the U.S. economy, emphasizing the importance of getting control of the coronavirus pandemic.

As Biden spoke, the shadow of President Trump's refusal to concede was apparent, with the president-elect making clear that he was being kept from information that would be vital to taking over the presidency early next year.

"More people may die if we don't coordinate," Biden said on plans for vaccine distribution.

After warning of "uncontrolled spread" of the coronavirus last week, the Navajo Nation entered a lockdown Monday in an effort to stop infections.

Updated at 5:05 a.m. ET on Tuesday

Hurricane Iota has made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 storm, with the Central American region bracing for the possibility of catastrophic damage.

Iota crossed into Nicaragua near the town of Haulover, approximately 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta also struck as a Category 4 on Nov. 3.

Former first lady Michelle Obama called on Americans, "especially our nation's leaders, regardless of power," to "honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power," as President Trump continues to dispute the results of the November election.

Obama warned that a refusal to commit to an orderly transfer of power could put the country at risk.

As coronavirus cases spike in Michigan at an alarming rate, state officials announced a new emergency order sharply limiting indoor gatherings for three weeks.

Then a top Trump administration coronavirus adviser urged the state's residents to "rise up" against such measures, prompting the governor to respond that she is "not going to be bullied."

White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas tweeted Sunday, "The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept."

Updated at 12:37 p.m. ET

National security adviser Robert O'Brien promised a "professional transition" with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, partly diverging from the mode in use by President Trump, who says he contests the election.

"If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — and, obviously, things look that way now — we'll have a very professional transition with the National Security Council, no doubt about it," O'Brien said.

Work crews are dynamiting mountains and bulldozing access roads in the badlands of southeastern Arizona, while government lawyers have acquired a beloved birding preserve along the Rio Grande in South Texas — all to make way for a border wall that may never get built.

The completion of President's Trump's signature wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is very much in doubt. Before winning the presidential election, Joe Biden flatly told NPR: "There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration."

This comic was originally published on Feb. 28, 2020, and has been updated.

Kids, this comic is just for you.

The coronavirus pandemic started in March and in many countries, thousands and thousands of people are getting sick. You may have questions about what exactly this virus is — and how to stay safe. Here are some answers.

Professional and college sports are playing through the pandemic, although it's taken a toll.

Key government policies on religious freedom and discrimination, once set through legislation, are increasingly dictated by presidential orders, meaning they shift capriciously from one administration to the next.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

Rising from the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, just south of the Canadian border, this distant city looks like a quaint throwback, with Victorian-era architecture, church steeples and a main shopping street laid with brick.

But over the last few years, Burlington, Vt., has become home to an invisible economy of people who work remotely for the world's most cutting-edge technology businesses — and the pandemic has only increased the number decamping to this bucolic enclave.

Updated at 4:07 p.m. ET

After languishing for more than a year, Judy Shelton's controversial nomination to the Federal Reserve's board of governors appears poised for Senate confirmation in what is likely to be a narrow vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to hold a vote sometime this week after Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, signaled her support for the nominee.

Shelton has attracted great scrutiny over views that place her well outside the economic mainstream.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

An extremely powerful Hurricane Iota has swirled into a Category 5 behemoth, with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour, as it moves toward the Nicaraguan coast. The storm is expected to make landfall later Monday, just two weeks after the Central American country weathered Hurricane Eta.

Former President Barack Obama's memoir A Promised Land, focusing on his political life from his time in Chicago through the killing of Osama bin Laden during his presidency, hits shelves Tuesday.

The book acts as a record of the former president's rise to the nation's top elected office — and his first two years on the job. But it also gives a window into his thinking along the way, about policy, his political life and his personal life.

Pages