KRWG

Maria Godoy

How many children in the world have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead?

That's a pressing question that has had no definitive answer until now. About 1 in 3 children have been exposed to lead at levels shown to damage their health and cognitive development, according to a groundbreaking report that is the first to document the problem globally.

So you want to wear a face mask? Good call.

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that wearing face masks in public, even when you feel well, can help curb the spread of the coronavirus — since people can spread the virus even without showing symptoms. That's the main reason to wear a mask: to protect other people from you.

New federal data reinforces the stark racial disparities that have appeared with COVID-19: According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Black Americans enrolled in Medicare were hospitalized with the disease at rates nearly four times higher than their white counterparts.

Mask wearing has become a topic of fierce debate in the United States.

Protesting during a pandemic likely leaves participants with at least two questions: Did I get infected? And might I be putting others at risk?

Given that COVID-19 has an incubation time of up to two weeks, experts say it will take a couple of weeks before the impact of the protests on community transmission is known. But in the meantime, there are critical steps you can take to minimize the risks to yourself and those you live with.

In April, New Orleans health officials realized their drive-through testing strategy for the coronavirus wasn't working. The reason? Census tract data revealed hot spots for the virus were located in predominantly low-income African-American neighborhoods where many residents lacked cars.

Updated on May 8 at 11:54 a.m. ET

Sixty-four children and teens in New York State are suspected of having a mysterious inflammatory syndrome that is believed to be linked to COVID-19, the New York Department of Health said in an alert issued Wednesday. A growing number of similar cases — including at least one death — have been reported in other parts of the U.S. and Europe, though the phenomenon is still not well-understood.

When the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, public health officials told the world to watch out for its telltale symptoms: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But as the virus has spread across the globe, researchers have developed a more nuanced picture of how symptoms of infection can manifest themselves, especially in milder cases.

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During World War II, nylon stockings disappeared from store shelves as the valuable synthetic material was diverted to make critical wartime supplies such as parachutes, flak jackets and aircraft fuel tanks. Now, new research suggests that nylon stockings could once again play a critical role in a national battle — this time by making homemade cloth masks significantly more protective.

Can sunlight kill the coronavirus? What about UV light?

By now, you've likely heard the advice: If you suspect that you're sick with COVID-19, or live with someone who is showing symptoms of the disease caused by the coronavirus, be prepared to ride it out at home.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The vast majority of the country is under lockdown right now. But stay-at-home orders come with a few exceptions — like grocery shopping.

Many of us are still venturing out to stock up on food and toiletries. But what's the safest way to shop during this pandemic? And what should you do once you've brought your haul home?

We asked infectious disease, virology and food safety experts to share their tips about safe grocery shopping — and what you can stop worrying about.

Know the dangers — focus on the people, not the food

Misty Donaldson-Urriola and Edgar Urriola of Raytown, Mo., are recently divorced. But they have remained close friends as they raise their three sons together.

They generally see each other every day.

That constant contact and proximity – an aspect of family life – is being put to the test by a disease that thrives when people are close together.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET

Three weeks ago, Washington, D.C., resident Rebecca Read Medrano started feeling unwell. She had a dry cough, fatigue, nausea and terrible stomach pains that had her bending over.

There was one more symptom, and it was a bit odd. Medrano had largely lost her sense of taste. "My cousin was cooking, and everything he made tasted weird," she recalls.

People age 50 and older are around 2-and-a-half times more likely to progress to a severe case of COVID-19. That's according to a new study that quantifies the risk factors that increase the odds that people infected with the coronavirus will develop a severe case of the disease.

This is part of a series looking at pressing coronavirus questions of the week. We'd like to hear what you're curious about. Email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

The global spread of COVID-19 cases continues, with cases around the world and increasingly strict measures to control its spread. Authorities in the U.S. and other countries have banned or discouraged large gatherings and are urging social distancing and frequent hand-washing.

Updated March 19 at 12:08 p.m. ET

Over the past few days, social media has lit up with reports, picked up by some media outlets, that taking drugs like ibuprofen to ease COVID-19 symptoms could actually worsen the progress of the illness.

But most infectious disease experts say there's no good scientific evidence at this point to support that claim.

A federal judge has issued an injunction blocking the Trump administration from adopting a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The rule change was set to take effect April 1.

In a ruling issued Friday evening in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell called the rule change capricious, arbitrary and likely unlawful.

Before she was the interim minister at the Central Christian Church of Austin, Janet Maykus was a chaplain in health care settings, a job that required training in infectious disease control. So when she heard reports of the coronavirus spreading in some U.S. communities, she knew it was time to overhaul religious practices at her church.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling Americans that they should be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community.

But what does preparedness look like in practice? The short answer: Don't panic — but do prepare.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated on March 17 at 6:43 p.m. ET:

Thousands of people have now died from COVID-19 — the name for the disease caused by the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.

According to the World Health Organization, the disease is relatively mild in about 80% of cases.

What does mild mean?

And how does this disease turn fatal?

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, HOST:

As the coronavirus continues to spread, officials in China are urging citizens to wear masks in public to stop the spread of the virus — and cities in China as well as other parts of Asia are reportedly running out of face masks.

But can a mask really keep you from catching the virus?

To answer that, it helps to clarify which kinds of masks we're talking about.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

As the Wuhan coronavirus spreads, cities in China and other parts of Asia are reportedly running out of face masks. NPR's Maria Godoy looked into whether a mask can protect you from the virus.

Updated at 3:32 p.m. ET

Health officials in two California counties have reported over the weekend two new cases of Wuhan coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number of cases in the U.S. to four.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported Saturday that a man in his 50s tested positive for the infectious disease and is currently being treated in isolation at a local hospital.

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