Alina Selyukh

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.

Before joining NPR in October 2015, Selyukh spent five years at Reuters, where she covered tech, telecom and cybersecurity policy, campaign finance during the 2012 election cycle, health care policy and the Food and Drug Administration, and a bit of financial markets and IPOs.

Selyukh began her career in journalism at age 13, freelancing for a local television station and several newspapers in her home town of Samara in Russia. She has since reported for CNN in Moscow, ABC News in Nebraska, and NationalJournal.com in Washington, D.C. At her alma mater, Selyukh also helped in the production of a documentary for NET Television, Nebraska's PBS station.

She received a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, news-editorial and political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Walmart says shoppers must wear masks inside its stores starting Monday — the largest retailer to join a growing list of companies making face covering mandatory across the nation.

A strange thing happened this spring.

As co-workers began to get sick, essential worker Yudelka LaVigna took an unpaid leave of absence. When she got her unemployment benefits, she realized something unheard of: She was making more money not working.

"That just kind of opens your eyes," says LaVigna, who's now back at her New York call center job for essential services.

Giving someone a facial is one of the more intimate jobs out there: leaning over someone else's face, treating it, massaging it.

"To be totally honest, a lot's going to have to happen for me to feel comfortable giving facials in person," says Hawaii-based facialist Nicole Burke Stephenson. "I'm questioning whether or not I'll ever use a steamer again because it blows people's breath into my face."

Hero pay. Thank You pay. Service pay. Hazard pay.

These were the many names for temporary pay bumps that some stores, warehouses and factories gave to workers who risked their health to continue to show up on the job during the pandemic.

It's hard to say that an extra $3 an hour made a dramatic difference in Sammy Сonde's budget. Maybe a few more groceries — soup is a dinner favorite — or an occasional treat of a takeout meal after a particularly tiring workday.

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Hero pay, thank you pay, service pay - we are talking temporary pay bumps that some retailers and food companies have been giving their workers during the pandemic. Many are going away this month at a time when some workers feel their risks are only increasing. NPR's Alina Selyukh reports.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: It's hard to say that extra $3 an hour for working in a pandemic made a dramatic difference in Sammy Conde's budget.

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Amazon warehouse employees had been able to take unlimited unpaid time off during the coronavirus pandemic. But starting May 1, Amazon will instead ask workers who want to stay home to use their regular accrued time off or request a leave of absence.

Amazon warehouse workers are staging a nationwide protest against the company, an action that could be the largest yet targeting Amazon's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Searching for work right out of college is always hard. Now try doing that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and an economic meltdown.

Many students have lost income: jobs on campus or around town. They've lost internships, which help them build resumes. Now they are entering the workforce at a time when 22 million are filing for unemployment.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says "vastly more" COVID-19 testing is needed for the U.S. economy to reopen, while his company is building its own lab to potentially begin its own testing of all workers.

"We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our frontline employees soon," Bezos wrote in a letter Thursday to the shareholders.

Kroger, the largest U.S. grocery chain, has teamed up with the largest U.S. retail and food workers union in urging national and state officials to designate grocery employees as "extended first responders" or "emergency personnel."

The goal is for grocery workers to get a higher priority for COVID-19 testing and access to safety gear like masks and gloves and other protections. Stores have struggled particularly to access a steady supply of masks, which are in shortage. Health workers and other first responders are also desperate to get them.

Some runners are are still jogging outside, while others are posting joke videos about sprinting in place on soapy floors. Weightlifters are filling bags with canned goods and shoulder-pressing milk jugs. But what's a swimmer to do?

"Yeah, it's difficult. They call them dryland exercises," says Lauren Anneberg, a volunteer coach at the Capital YTri triathlon team in Washington, D.C.

Two employees of one Walmart store in the Chicago area have died after contracting the coronavirus. The company did not specify the timing of their illnesses, but said the store remains open after passing "necessary inspections" last week.

Walmart on Saturday will begin limiting how many people are allowed inside its stores at one time, reducing its capacity to roughly 20%, as a way to enforce social distancing.

The retail giant joins Target, Costo and other supermarket chains in deciding to count and restrict the number of visitors to keep shoppers at least six feet apart — from each other and from the workers — hoping to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the city's human rights commissioner to investigate Amazon over the firing of a warehouse employee who helped organize a worker walkout on Monday. The order, announced on Tuesday, follows the call from New York state's attorney general for a federal labor investigation into the firing.

Walmart plans to start checking workers' temperatures as they clock in and to offer them gloves and masks, the company said on Tuesday as it announced a series of new measures to safeguard against the coronavirus.

Amazon has closed a warehouse in Shepherdsville, Ky., until April 1, after several workers there tested positive for the coronavirus — the first prolonged closure of a facility confirmed by the company.

Workers in at least 10 other warehouses across the country have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting shorter temporary closures for sanitation and cleaning.

Online platforms have "an ethical obligation" to root out price gouging on hand sanitizer and other high-demand products during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, top law enforcement officials from across the country say.

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Many industries are furloughing or firing workers, but some are hiring. NPR's Alina Selyukh has the story.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Despite all the shutdowns and lockdowns, Americans still need food and medicine, and that means some companies are actually hiring, at least temporarily - supermarkets like Kroger and Albertsons, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.

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Amazon says it plans to hire 100,000 new workers for warehouses and delivery service in the U.S. as more people turn to online shopping for supplies as they're isolated at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Has the coronavirus outbreak affected your employment or income? The pandemic's economic impact is starting to prompt layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts for many U.S. workers. Are you one of them?

Please share your story with us below or fill out the form here. Someone from NPR may contact you for a potential interview.

This form was closed on March 18.

Shelly Hughes says three things are required to do her job: a strong back, a strong stomach and a big heart.

She's a certified nurse's aide at a nursing home in Washington state, which also means another requirement: To get her work done, she has to physically be there.

"You're helping residents that may not be able to dress themselves, feed themselves, toilet themselves," Hughes says. "The great stuff is that you get to know wonderful people. I have so many grandmas and grandpas now, let me tell you."

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Starbucks has temporarily closed more than half of its stores in mainland China as an outbreak of coronavirus has surged through the country, affecting thousands of people.

Starbucks executives on Tuesday called the viral outbreak a "very complex situation," adding that the company closed its locations in China at the direction of local government officials as well as "proactively," to limit the spread of the virus among workers and customers.

Walmart says it will stop selling electronic cigarettes, at namesake stores and Sam's Club locations. The nation's largest retailer is responding to growing health concerns around vaping, especially among young people.

Walmart cited "growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes," saying that its stores will stop selling e-cigarettes once the current inventory is sold.

It's a case of animal versus vegetable — and the steaks are high.

A growing number of states have been passing laws saying that only foods made of animal flesh should be allowed to carry labels like "meat," "sausage," "jerky," "burger" or "hot dog."

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"Big data" is a very 21st-century kind of buzzword, which ambiguously invokes the idea of using large sets of data to draw computer-assisted conclusions about trends, patterns and correlations, often about people and their behavior.

But if you wanted to trace the origin of using big data for health research, you'd have to go back — way back, to 17th-century England.

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