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James Doubek

James Doubek is an associate editor and reporter for NPR. He frequently covers breaking news for NPR.org and NPR's hourly newscast. In 2018, he reported feature stories for NPR's business desk on topics including electric scooters, cryptocurrency, and small business owners who lost out when Amazon made a deal with Apple.

In the fall of that year, Doubek was selected for NPR's internal enrichment rotation to work as an audio producer for Weekend Edition. He spent two months pitching, producing, and editing interviews and pieces for broadcast.

As an associate producer for NPR's digital content team, Doubek edits online stories and manages NPR's website and social media presence.

He got his start at NPR as an intern at the Washington Desk, where he made frequent trips to the Supreme Court and reported on political campaigns.

Scientists and public health experts agree that masks are effective at lowering the spread of the coronavirus indoors, where the vast majority of transmission is likely to occur.

But what about outside?

About two dozen states have statewide mask mandates that generally require people to wear masks outside when they're not able to stay at least 6 feet apart. Many cities have their own rules.

The pandemic has changed how people talk and write. In English, dictionaries have noted a few dozen new entries and revisions: social distancing, frontliner, super-spreader, "Zoom" as a verb.

In the midst of a pandemic that is taxing medical workers like never before, a doctor in a Los Angeles hospital turned a camera toward his colleagues.

Dr. Scott Kobner is the chief emergency room resident at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. He's also an amateur photographer. His black-and-white photos show the suffering, anxiety and chaos unfolding in overrun COVID-19 units.

It was a couple months into the pandemic that Kobner started taking pictures of scenes from his own hospital.

African countries are far behind when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations, largely because rich countries in North America and Europe have already bought much of the existing and future supply.

Emergency room physician Cleavon Gilman compares working in a hospital amid the pandemic to war.

"You can actually die at your job now, and that's never really been an issue before," he says.

He has the experience to make the comparison: Gilman served as a combat medic in the Iraq War.

As the U.S. marks 300,000 dead, it's impossible to capture the grief families around the country are experiencing.

Each person who dies of COVID-19 has a story. But many of those left behind no longer have access to the traditional ways of remembering the dead. Funerals are often happening over Zoom or as stripped-down, socially distant affairs.

Hugs aren't safe anymore.

The Food and Drug Administration looks set to allow emergency authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine shortly. With that, vaccinations will likely begin soon for health care workers and people in nursing homes.

Black people are disproportionately getting sick and dying of the coronavirus, but surveys suggest they're more hesitant to get a vaccine than other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

As coronavirus cases increase across the U.S., children have been increasingly testing positive as well.

Elizabeth Hawse, a pediatrician in Lexington, Ky., says she has seen a jump from earlier this year, when she was getting "sporadic calls."

"But over the past few weeks, we are seeing more and more kids calling the office that they've been exposed or family members exposed and more and more positive cases," Hawse tells Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's foremost infectious disease expert, tells NPR that it's "OK to celebrate" the good news about Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, but warned it's not the time to back off on basic health measures.

The biotechnology Moderna Inc. said Monday that its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing the disease, according to data from its clinical trial.

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.

After a purge at the Pentagon, former national security officials are worried about the fallout if President Trump were to launch an unprovoked military action against Iran or make big changes in Afghanistan in his waning days in office.

That's in addition to the ways that President Trump's refusal to concede and to give President-elect Biden access to intelligence materials are already damaging national security.

Despite Joe Biden's victory, congressional Democrats are upset.

Bolstered by President Trump's unpopularity and the pandemic, polls had showed Democrats possibly taking control of the Senate, expanding their majority in the House of Representatives and Biden winning convincingly in several swing states.

But Democrats didn't gain a majority in the Senate. They lost a handful of seats in the House. And though Biden won the popular vote, it was a close contest in several battleground states.

It took Wisconsin more than seven months to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases. On Monday, just five weeks later, it reached 200,000.

Coronavirus cases appear headed for a new surge in the U.S., which could eclipse the explosion of cases in July.

Much of the new surge is driven by cases in the Midwest and Great Plains states.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, says "it was all sadly somewhat predictable."

Novavax, a vaccine maker in Maryland, is becoming the 10th coronavirus vaccine candidate to enter the final phase of testing, called phase 3.

The trial is taking place in the U.K., where researchers plan to enroll up to 10,000 adults of various ages in the next four to six weeks. Half the participants will get a placebo and half will get the company's vaccine.

At least a quarter of participants will be over the age of 65, the company says, and it will also "prioritize groups that are most affected by COVID-19, including racial and ethnic minorities."

As of now, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization say the primary way the coronavirus spreads is by hitching a ride on respiratory droplets when people are in close contact.

Respiratory droplets form when someone sneezes, coughs, talks or sings, for example. They don't travel far and fall to the ground quickly.

The U.S. marked 100,000 recorded deaths from COVID-19 on May 27. Now it's preparing to reach 200,000.

Though the number of daily fatalities has gone down since the highs of spring, COVID-19 still claims the lives of hundreds of people in the U.S. each day. More are expected to die as the weather gets colder.

Farmworkers in California are facing two crises at once: the coronavirus and exposure to dangerous air from wildfires.

Massive fires border large swaths of California's agriculture region, the Central Valley. Monitoring stations report unhealthy air across the interior of the state.

In Indiana, school has started up for many students — or will in the next week. It's one of a majority of states where local districts will make most of the decisions about what school will look like this year.

American football is famous for being a full-contact sport. That presents a challenge for trying to keep the coronavirus at bay.

But the NFL is going for it, with some changes.

For most public officials, battling the coronavirus and keeping their constituents safe is an incredible professional challenge.

For Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, it's also personal: His mother died of COVID-19 complications last month at age 61.

His mother, Gaby O'Donnell, was a medical assistant for more than 25 years in Southern California. She immigrated from her native Peru with 5-year-old Garcia and other family members in 1982.

Democratic Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp are facing off in a legal battle over mask mandates.

The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team won't be playing in Toronto this regular season after the Canadian government rejected a plan for the team to host home games there.

Due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus, the government said, it would not be safe for the team and opposing Major League Baseball teams to travel back and forth between the U.S. and Canada.

As school districts consider how to approach learning this fall with no sign of the coronavirus slowing, the virus has already had devastating consequences in one rural Arizona school district.

Jena Martinez-Inzunza was one of three elementary school teachers at the Hayden Winkelman Unified School District who all tested positive for COVID-19 after teaching virtual summer school lessons together from the same classroom.

Martinez's colleague and friend, Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd, who taught in the district for nearly four decades, died.

Florida is breaking records in its explosion of coronavirus cases. On Sunday, the state reported 15,299 new resident cases from the day before, a jump larger than any seen before in a single U.S. state.

Arizona is one of just five states that has seen new coronavirus cases climb by the thousands each day in the past couple of weeks.

The state's governor, Republican Doug Ducey, in May lifted a stay-at-home order he put in place in March so the economy could begin reopening. But a week ago, Ducey ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to shut down again for 30 days as daily caseloads topped 3,000.

Mississippi is seeing a sharp uptick in new coronavirus cases. The state is reporting double the number of new cases that it was seeing just two weeks ago. The average number of new cases each day this week is just over 600. And on June 25, the state reported more than 1,000 cases in a single day for the first time.

The number of new coronavirus cases has been going up in Alabama even as the state's governor relaxes restrictions.

Last week's number of new cases was up from the week before. Of the more than 15,000 confirmed cases across the state, about one-third have been confirmed within the last 14 days.

Much is still unknown about the coronavirus, including a full picture of perhaps its most important impact: who it has killed.

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