NPR Staff

Last month, we asked our audience: What are some of the inventive ways that people are addressing COVID-19 challenges in their community?

What TV are you bingeing these days?

It's a question you've probably been asked a lot — and asked others — five months into the pandemic. Movies are shut. Theater is on hold. So there's not much else to do. I myself can't stop watching Korean dramas (just finished Crash Landing On You) and reruns of Gossip Girl on Netflix.

The COVID-19 pandemic could swipe roughly $200 billion from state coffers by June of next year, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute's State and Local Finance Initiative.

Cardboard beds. Urban farms. Roving mariachi bands.

These are some of the ways that regular folks are solving problems and spreading happiness during the pandemic.

The solutions aren't perfect — public health experts have some critiques and suggestions. But at the same time, they applaud the ingenuity and positive vibes.

Read the stories of six grassroots change-makers — then nominate your own at the bottom of this story.

Our blog covers the globe. And as we in the U.S. mourn the citizens who died of novel coronavirus, we also wanted to pay tribute to lives lost around the world. Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 people worldwide.

It has been five months since the novel coronavirus started infecting Americans. Since then, the U.S. has lost more than 120,000 people to the sickness it causes — COVID-19.

So many have been touched by the deaths of family and friends. Here we remember just a few of those who continued working during the pandemic because their jobs called for it and who, ultimately, lost their lives.

The White House released guidance on coronavirus testing on Monday, which reiterates the administration's work on testing and includes recommendations for states to further develop and implement their own testing plans.

The challenges that COVID-19 poses for governments around the world are formidable. For Taiwan, there have been additional hurdles.

Experts say the island's response to the novel coronavirus has been remarkably effective so far, despite many serious challenges, starting with its close links to China, and may even hold lessons for others to follow.

We don't have a crystal ball, but as journalists covering global health and development, we have a pretty good nose for emerging trends (with some help from our favorite expert sources).

Some likely trends give cause for optimism — signs of progress in solving the world's problems. Other trends are pessimistic — threats and challenges that are expected to worsen in the year ahead.

Here are 11 trend lines we'll be watching in 2020. First we'll give you the bad news — then the hopeful predictions.

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This week, Republicans in Congress will try to rally votes behind a bill that proposes major changes to the way Americans get health care and how much they pay.

On Monday, authorities in Yemen declared a state of emergency due to a sharp rise in cholera deaths.

Yemen has been at war for more than two years — a Saudi-led coalition has been battling Shiite Houthi rebels aligned with Iran — leaving a reported 10,000 dead. The fighting has decimated much of the country's infrastructure, including its medical facilities. The World Health Organization said in April that fewer than half of Yemen's medical centers were functioning to capacity.

Our global health team has just finished up a series called "What Causes Pandemics? We Do." In radio and online stories, we looked at the causes behind our new hyperinfectious era. We'll continue covering this topic in future stories, but we thought our readers might want a chance to brush up on their pandemic facts. So roll up your sleeves, wash your hands and then try this quiz.

These days, you're more likely to come across the concept of a Rorschach test in a cultural context than a clinical one. The actual psychological test — in which participants are asked to interpret 10 symmetric inkblot images — isn't as widely used as it once was. But metaphorically, Rorschach is still our go-to term when something elicits a variety of interpretations among different people.

Goats and Soda is now running a series on pandemics.

Dangerous viruses like Ebola and MERS are emerging in greater numbers than ever before. We're looking at how pandemics start, how diseases jump from animals to humans and why the number of newly discovered viruses is on the rise.

On New Year's Eve, 2006, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee developed a splitting headache. She was 33, and her world turned upside down — as in, she literally saw the world upside down. Suddenly, she could hold things in her mind for only 15 minutes at a time. She was a writer who now couldn't recall words or craft sentences. She remembers looking at the phone and thinking to herself: What is the phone number for 911? Days later, she learned she'd had a stroke.

President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders have been working to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And the millions of Americans who have health insurance through the Obamacare marketplaces aren't the only ones wondering about their fate. Leaders of insurance companies are, too.

Tuesday is the last day of open enrollment for health coverage for 2017 under the Affordable Care Act. And while Republicans in Congress are working to repeal the law, it's not at all clear what might replace it.

During the campaign, President Trump suggested a nationwide insurance market that would allow insurance plans to be sold across state lines.

There's the heroic, lightning-quick medical care that saves us from crises. And then there's the slow-but-steady incremental medical attention that doctors provide for weeks, months, years, even decades in the attempt to heal complex conditions.

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Jeneyah McDonald is tired of using bottled water for everything: drinking, cooking, bathing.

In order to keep her two children safe, the resident of Flint, Mich., told them the city tap water was poisonous.

"I don't know any way to explain to a 6-year-old why you can't take a bath anymore every day, why you can't help mommy wash the dishes anymore," McDonald said earlier this year. "So I told him it's poison. And that way, he'll know I'm serious — don't play with it."

There's a grim chapter in American history that involves forced sterilization. And for much of this past century, California had one of the most active sterilization programs in the country.

A state law from 1909 authorized the surgery for people judged to have "mental disease, which may have been inherited." That law remained on the books until 1979.

It's been nearly a year since Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency in Flint, Mich.

Before she became mayor, the city switched its water supply to the Flint River in a cost-cutting measure. The water wasn't properly treated, which caused corrosion in old pipes — leaching lead and other toxins into the city's tap water. People were afraid to drink or even bathe in the water.

Since then, a lot has happened.

When he was growing up in New York, All Things Considered host Robert Siegel always knew that Bellevue Hospital was a city institution.

But it wasn't until he read David Oshinsky's book Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital, that he realized the hospital was a pioneering institution for all of American medicine.

Whether it's an IUD, a shot, an implant, or a daily pill, birth control is a regular part of many adult women's lives. It has left a lot of women asking: Why not men?

Cori Bargmann's new job description includes "to help cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century." That's quite a lofty goal.

Bargmann is a neuroscientist and president of science for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the joint venture of pediatrician Priscilla Chan and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The couple pledged $3 billion to solve major medical problems by helping scientists and engineers collaborate long term, over 25, 50, even 80 years.

Paternity leave can make a big difference in a dad's long-term engagement with the child, doctors find. Paid family leave also fosters breastfeeding and reduces the incidence of maternal depression.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton went head to head Monday night in the first presidential debate.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, live annotated the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are underlined in yellow, followed by context and fact checks.

Note: The transcript on this page was updated live as the debate proceeded.

Robert Hoge's new memoir is about his childhood — his first day of school, making friends and learning to ride a bike. But it's also about getting called "cripple," having multiple reconstructive surgeries and teaching himself how to play sports with two artificial limbs.

Hoge was born with deformed legs and a giant tumor between his eyes. "The tumor formed really early during my development," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "So it subsumed my nose and pushed my eyes to the side of my head, like a fish, and made a mess of my face, as you'd expect."

Last year, Ceceley Chambers visited a Massachusetts home for people with memory loss. As a chaplain who has worked with seniors and hospice patients, Chambers knew the residents liked having kids around.

She just wasn't sure her 9-year-old son, William, would feel the same about being there.

"My original thought was, 'Oh no,' " William tells her, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. "I was a little afraid."

But as it turns out, he really liked it there. "They were very thoughtful," he says. "They were very accepting."

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