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Civil rights officials at the Department of Health and Human Services issued a series of actions to protect people with disabilities from health care discrimination by medical providers during the pandemic.

The actions, by the Office of Civil Rights, or OCR, at the Department of Health and Human Services, specifically address discrimination related to the denial of treatment for people with disabilities who have COVID-19 or the symptoms of COVID-19. They include:

As nations around the world scramble to start vaccinating against COVID-19, many countries are finding it difficult if not impossible to get the vaccines they want.

Case in point — Argentina. President Alberto Fernández promised to start vaccination campaigns in the South American nation before the end of 2020.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

The National Mall, where millions of people have gathered to mark historic events in Washington, D.C., was closed to the public late Friday morning, as officials announced a string of security measures meant to foil any attempts to derail next week's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Keeping a physical distance from other humans is more critical than ever in the pandemic, with COVID-19 cases surging and more contagious variants spreading. Yet humans are not very good at it.

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."

The U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands sent a jubilant tweet on Monday, claiming to have "made some history today." He had welcomed Taiwan's de facto ambassador into the U.S. Embassy for a meeting.

The White House push to vaccinate against the coronavirus will have a new name and new leadership under the Biden administration.

The "Operation Warp Speed" name will be retired, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Friday. She said there was an "urgent need to address the failures of the Trump team approach to vaccine distribution." Psaki did not say what the new name will be.

Sean Urbanski, a former University of Maryland student who stabbed and killed a Black Army lieutenant at a bus stop in May 2017, was sentenced to life in prison for what prosecutors said was a racially motivated hate crime.

A Prince George's County Circuit Court judge handed down the life sentence for Urbanski, 25. However, the judge denied the prosecution's request for a sentence without parole.

"I'm absolutely satisfied that justice was served," said Maryland State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy, whose office prosecuted the case.

Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET

Some 6,000 workers at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., will begin voting next month on a groundbreaking possibility: the first union in the company's U.S. history.

Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET

As thousands of National Guard troops now buttress security in Washington, D.C., and the nation, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is standing by his actions, and those of his agency, on Jan. 6 — the day pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol under his watch.

In an interview with NPR, Sund says he had already planned to have 1,400 to 1,500 officers on duty, "all hands on deck." He said Capitol Police expected a large crowd but said nothing prepared them for what actually happened.

The coronavirus pandemic appears to have shortened the average life expectancy in the United States, according to new research, and the impact is most dire for racial and ethnic minorities.

The deaths caused by COVID-19 have reduced overall life expectancy by 1.13 years, according to the analysis by researchers at the University of Southern California and Princeton University.

That would be the largest single-year decline in life expectancy in the past 40 years and cut U.S. life expectancy to 77.48 years — the lowest it's been since 2003, the researchers say.

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Nearly 30 sworn police officers from a dozen departments attended the pro-Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol last week, and several stormed the building with rioters and are facing federal criminal charges as well as possible expulsion or other discipline.

The officers are from departments large and small. There was veteran officer in Houston, the nation's eighth-largest department; a sergeant in the small town of Rocky Mount, Va., and a group of Philadelphia transit officers.

Almost 6 in 10 Americans said they blame President Trump for the violent insurrection that took place Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

But they are split on whether Congress should continue to take action against him after he leaves office next week, and half believe social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter — which have banned him from their platforms — should not continue to restrict Trump after Wednesday.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET

The top federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia said Friday that investigators have not uncovered direct evidence at this point of any "kill/capture teams" targeting elected officials during the U.S. Capitol insurrection, contradicting allegations made earlier by federal prosecutors in Arizona.

U.S. prosecutors in Arizona said Thursday in a court filing against Jacob Chansley, also known as the "QAnon Shaman," that they have "strong evidence" members of the pro-Trump mob wanted to "capture and assassinate" officials.

The Trump administration introduced new addiction treatment guidelines Thursday that give physicians more flexibility to prescribe a drug to patients struggling with opioid addiction.

Civil liberties advocates are warning that the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol could lead to new police and surveillance powers. If history is a guide, they say, those tools could be used against Blacks and other people of color in the justice system, not the white rioters who stormed Congress.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Restaurants and bars are reeling from persistent spikes of coronavirus cases and related restrictions in their communities, driving retail spending in December down for the third month in a row.

Updated 4 p.m. ET

Law enforcement officials are bracing for possible serious security breaches and violent assaults ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's swearing-in next week. State and federal officials are taking no chances as the countdown begins for Inauguration Day.

The heightened security comes after a violent siege at the U.S. Capitol last week from pro-Trump extremists that resulted in the death of five people and forced lawmakers into hiding.

Clara Jean Ester was a college student at Memphis State College in Tennessee when she bore witness to a series of pivotal moments in civil rights history.

As a junior, Ester joined the Memphis Sanitation Strike in 1968, alongside African American sanitation workers who were calling to demand better working conditions and higher wages.

Americans are being more careful to avoid catching and spreading the coronavirus but are still not being careful enough to slow the pandemic, especially with worrisome, apparently more contagious new variants looming.

That's the conclusion of the latest findings, released Friday, from the largest national survey tracking behavior during the coronavirus pandemic.

When schools shut down in the spring, that raised immediate worries about the nearly 30 million children who depend on school food. Those worries were essentially borne out, with researchers reporting a large rise in child hunger.

The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a security failure, an intelligence failure — or both.

How could security forces in the nation's capital be so swiftly and completely overwhelmed by rioters who stated their plans openly on a range of social media sites? President Trump had even tweeted on Dec. 19: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"

On Wednesday, Kamala Harris will become the first woman, and the first woman of color, to serve as vice president of the United States.

Twelve years ago, hundreds of thousands of people filled the National Mall to watch Barack Obama make history as the nation's first Black president.

But when Harris takes the oath, the mall will very likely be nearly empty.

On Thursday night, the federal government executed a drug trafficker responsible for seven murders in 1992, despite his attorneys having claimed moving forward with the execution would be "cruel and usual punishment" because of his recent COVID-19 infection.

Corey Johnson, 52, was executed at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana and pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. He is the 12th person to be executed by the government since July, after the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17 year hiatus.

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions knew his "zero tolerance" policy on illegal entry along the Southwest border in 2018 would separate children from their parents, a watchdog office reported on Thursday. Despite warnings that the government couldn't care for the children, he pushed forward with the policy. As a result, more than 3,000 children were separated from their families.

Updated at 8 pm ET

President-elect Joe Biden has long pledged he would deliver an aggressive plan to address the raging coronavirus pandemic and the painful recession it spawned.

On Thursday, he did just that, proposing an ambitious $1.9 trillion relief plan that includes $1,400 stimulus checks, additional benefits for the unemployed, as well hundreds of billions of dollars for struggling businesses and local governments.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office Thursday announced criminal charges for eight former state officials, including the state's former Gov. Rick Snyder, along with one current official, for their alleged roles in the Flint water crisis.

Together the group face 42 counts related to the drinking water catastrophe roughly seven years ago. The crimes range from perjury to misconduct in office to involuntary manslaughter.

For the first time, a medication regime has been found effective for some patients with meth addiction in a large, placebo-controlled trial.

It's welcome news for those working with the growing number of people struggling with meth addiction.

"It's progress and it's quite significant," says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Addiction, which funded the two-year clinical trial involving roughly 400 patients.

It's 8:45 a.m. on a weekday in Washington, D.C., and if anyone needs a reminder why the coronavirus vaccine is important, there's one arriving at the Takoma Metro stop: an almost empty train pulling up to an almost empty subway platform at the height of rush hour.

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