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NPR-COVID19

World leaders of the Group of Seven are expected to announce Friday a commitment to share 1 billion of their COVID-19 vaccine resources with lower-income countries struggling to control the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, President Biden announced plans for the U.S. to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine globally. The first 200 million are expected to be distributed this year and the rest will follow in 2022.

For Manas Ray, the distance from his home in Massachusetts to India, where his extended family lives, has made the coronavirus pandemic feel like a nightmare.

At least 12 friends and family members close to the biochemist have been infected since April 2020, including his mother, Bandana. Reports earlier this spring from his friends and relatives were especially bleak as the second wave devastated the country he left 33 years ago.

"It's very hard on me because I'm so far away from them and cannot help," Ray tells Morning Edition.

Fifteen months into the pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a mandatory workplace safety rule aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19. But it only applies to health care settings, a setback for unions and worker safety advocates who had called for much broader requirements.

Mehran Mossaddad has spent much of the pandemic scared and lying awake at night. He's a single dad with an 10-year-old daughter living outside Atlanta.

"I get panic attacks not knowing what's in store for us," he says. "I have to take care of her."

Mossaddad drives Uber for a living, but when the pandemic hit, he stopped because he couldn't leave his daughter home alone. As a result, he has fallen more than $15,000 behind on his rent, and his landlord has filed an eviction case against him.

Updated June 10, 2021 at 9:56 AM ET

Prices for a lot of things are surging across the U.S., and John McConnell's recent car-shopping experience helps explain why.

McConnell, from Colorado Springs, Colo., was recently looking for a Toyota Tacoma to replace his two-year-old Nissan Altima and was shocked to see the one he wanted priced several thousand dollars above the sticker price.

He plans to buy it anyway.

The emergence of new and more infectious variants of the coronavirus has raised a troubling question: Will the current crop of COVID-19 vaccine prevent these variants from causing disease?

A study out Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests the answer is yes.

The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, now accounts for more than 6% of all infections in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And this highly transmissible variant may be responsible for more than 18% of cases in some Western U.S. states.

When a filmmaker asked medical historian Naomi Rogers to appear in a new documentary, the Yale professor didn't blink. She had done these "talking head" interviews many times before.

She assumed her comments would end up in a straightforward documentary that addressed some of the most pressing concerns of the pandemic, such as the legacy of racism in medicine and how that plays into current mistrust in some communities of color. The subject of vaccines was also mentioned, but the focus wasn't clear to Rogers.

On a walk outside his office in downtown Washington, D.C., Greg Meyer stops to peer in through the glass windows of a fast-casual lunch spot called Leon. The exposed brick interior gives it a cozy coffeehouse vibe. But the lunch crowd is nowhere to be seen. The whole place is dark.

"The pandemic put them out of business," says Meyer, region head for Brookfield Properties, which owns almost all the buildings on this block and hundreds more around the country.

Updated June 12, 2021 at 6:35 AM ET

The United States is about to embark on a big national experiment with 4 million unemployed workers serving as guinea pigs. And it all centers on $300 a week.

That payment was intended as a lifeline for millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic: an extra $300 a week on top of regular unemployment benefits.

A new kind of COVID-19 vaccine could be available as soon as this summer.

It's what's known as a protein subunit vaccine. It works somewhat differently from the current crop of vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. but is based on a well-understood technology and doesn't require special refrigeration.

In Southeast Asia, the coronavirus is gathering pace, with dangerous new outbreaks in Malaysia and Vietnam. Both these countries had managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic in 2020.

In Malaysia, the surge in cases follows exponential growth that began in early April. Cases have risen by more than 60% in the past 14 days.

Friday alone saw more than 8,200 confirmed new cases of infection, pushing the country's tally to more than 603,100, a five-fold increase since the start of the year.

Updated June 4, 2021 at 1:21 PM ET

Hiring picked up steam last month, providing a mild shot of relief to an economy that needs workers as millions of Americans start to venture out again.

U.S. employers added 559,000 jobs in May. That's about twice the number of jobs that were added during a disappointing April but is still a slowdown compared with the 770,000 jobs created in March.

Canada's public health agency says people can mix COVID-19 vaccines if they want to, citing cases where local supply shortages or health concerns might otherwise prevent some from completing their two-dose vaccination regimen.

Updated June 4, 2021 at 1:04 PM ET

The United States was unprepared for the coronavirus, the response "wasn't a good performance," and there's still "a lot of work to do" to get ready for the next pandemic when it comes. That's the assessment of Dr. Anne Schuchat, the No. 2 official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who is retiring this summer after 33 years at the agency.

One million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are heading to Mexico from the U.S. with most of the shots set to service resort areas and spots along the border.

For many Americans, Dr. Anthony Fauci quickly became the face of trust and reason against the coronavirus pandemic. He was a reliable man of science while the Trump White House often played politics in its decision-making.

Updated June 3, 2021 at 3:17 PM ET

The United States will send its first shipments of surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses abroad on Thursday, spelling out for the first time how it will share its wealth of vaccines with parts of the world struggling to get shots in arms.

Updated June 3, 2021 at 2:00 PM ET

As the economic recovery picks up steam, new claims for state unemployment benefits have fallen to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic. And, citing a severe shortage of workers, half of the nation's governors have decided to end extra federal jobless benefits early — well before they're due to expire in early September.

Updated June 4, 2021 at 1:43 PM ET

On the day in April 2020 that Valerie Mekki lost her job, she was scared to share the bad news with her children. So she hid in her room for 45 minutes.

"I just didn't want to face them," says Mekki, who worked in fashion merchandising for more than 18 years and was the sole provider of health insurance for her family. "I had the shame and the guilt."

But her teenagers surprised her with their optimism.

In the 1960s, health care for Black residents in rural Mississippi was meager. Most health systems were segregated. Although some hospitals did serve Black patients, they struggled to stay afloat. At the height of the civil rights movement, young Black doctors decided to launch a movement of their own.

West Virginia is giving its vaccine incentive program a boost to get more residents immunized from the coronavirus, Gov. Jim Justice announced on Tuesday.

The World Health Organization is hoping to simplify the way the public talks about the growing number of variants of the coronavirus. It will start assigning different letters of the Greek alphabet to each new mutation of the virus.

The new system takes the names of new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and moves them away from what can be sometimes confusing scientific nomenclature, or shorthand that puts heavy emphasis on where the variants were first discovered.

Government officials in Peru announced on Monday the country's official COVID-19 death toll had been far lower than the real number. Instead of 69,342 Peruvians perishing from COVID-19 as of May 22, as the Peruvian government previously reported, more than 180,000 actually have died from the virus.

The COVID-19 pandemic proves that the world needs a pandemic treaty, says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It's the one major change, Tedros said, that would do the most to boost global health security and also empower the World Health Organization.

"This is an idea whose time has come," Tedros told diplomats attending the final day of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

Vietnam has detected a new coronavirus variant that is highly transmissible and has features of two other strains.

With more than half of adult Americans now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, many employers have started laying the groundwork to get back to the office.

Returning to a post-pandemic workplace can be daunting — even more so as employers attempt to navigate safety and consider the sometimes-thorny issue of vaccine mandates.

A large number of Americans still say they are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving employers to decide about how to handle employee health and safety.

This time last year, amid the pandemic lockdown, Marissa Lovell's landlord offered to sell Lovell her current rental house in Boise, Idaho, for $256,000.

Lovell and her fiancé are first-time homebuyers — she's a freelance writer and publicist for a local music festival, and he's an arborist. So it took them until July to get all their paperwork together and loan secured. By then, her landlord had raised the asking price to $300,000. Today, one year later, it's for sale for almost $400,000.

Millions of Americans are grabbing a quick getaway this Memorial Day weekend, now that COVID-19 cases are down and vaccination rates are up.

And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those who are vaccinated can go ahead and embrace those #shotgirlsummer vibes, there are some things you should keep in mind as you hit the road — including the fact that the seven-day average of new U.S. COVID-19 cases is still hovering around 24,000 infections per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and 50% of the population hasn't been vaccinated.

There's good news and bad news for Americans who have been itching to take a European vacation. Spain reopens to vaccinated tourists on June 7. Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia and other countries are opening up again soon.

But in order to go, travelers will have to show proof that they've been vaccinated, and it's not yet clear how they'll do that. That's causing a lot of confusion among those with pent-up wanderlust, as demand for air travel has been soaring in recent weeks.

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