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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

India's parliament reopened Monday for the first time in nearly six months, but at least 25 lawmakers were barred from entering the chamber after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Picture this: You're 17, you walk into a corner store and grab a Coca-Cola and Doritos, but the cashier refuses to sell them to you because you're underage.

That rule is expected to soon become reality in parts of Mexico, as lawmakers in several states push legislation to keep junk food away from children, partly in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

After I shared my family's experience in trying to care for my 92-year-old grandmother in the pandemic, I wanted to know: How do we help older people feel safe and comfortable — and happy — in these times?

Drugmaker AstraZeneca announced Saturday that its COVID-19 vaccine studies have resumed in the United Kingdom, though not yet in the United States. The vaccine trials had been placed on hold around the world earlier in the week after a U.K. participant in one of the studies developed a neurological illness.

As we get closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, it's exciting to imagine a day when the virus is gone. But a vaccine will not be a magic bullet. In fact, it may be only about 50% effective.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief of the National Institute of Health and Infectious Disease, has tried to set realistic expectations when discussing the importance of a vaccine. "We don't know yet what the efficacy might be. We don't know if it will be 50% or 60%," Fauci said during a Brown University event in August.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

If you're wondering when it will be safe to date again — or how to do it — you're not alone.

Via social media and email, NPR readers have sent in questions about dating and relationships in the age of COVID-19. Some of the queries:

President Trump has publicly blamed the World Health Organization for being slow to sound alarm bells about the coronavirus.

In February, China pulled off an impressive construction feat that caught the world's attention: Amid surging cases of COVID-19, China built two hospitals in the pandemic's epicenter, Wuhan, in under two weeks to isolate and treat COVID-19 patients.

It's a grim roster of alerts. A woman, age 19, last spotted in July wearing sky blue jeans, a black sweater and black sneakers. A 16-year-girl missing since she left her home one morning in July. A 14-year-girl last seen heading to the supermarket at the end of June; she was wearing blue shoes.

In one of the more macabre attempts at public health messaging, Indonesian officials had an idea: What if they build coffins, put dummies wearing masks inside them — then display them around the capital city of Jakarta?

They hoped it would scare people into following the pandemic rules so they wouldn't end up ... in a coffin.

And like many an outrageous idea, it turned out to be controversial.

For six years, Omar Ibrahim was a surgeon in a war zone. After seeing a call for doctors in Syria, he left Egypt for Turkey and literally walked into the war-ravaged country. From 2014 until 2016 as war raged in Aleppo, he was the only brain surgeon in the Syrian city, working in two underground hospitals known as M2 and M10, both funded by the Syrian American Medical Society, an aid organization, and treating the head and brain injuries inflicted by bombs and shrapnel from troops loyal to the Syrian regime.

Last fall, we spoke to Cameroonian filmmaker Rosine Mbakam about the U.S. premiere of her documentaries The Two Faces of A Bamileke Woman and Chez Jolie Coiffure. Now, we catch up to hear how the pandemic has upended — and reinvented — her new projects.

Updated at 6:10 p.m. ET

Peru's government has launched a campaign of emotional shock tactics to persuade its citizens to help stop the coronavirus from causing more death and misery in a country with one of Latin America's biggest outbreaks.

Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra acknowledges the campaign "may seem too harsh." Yet he says: "We are in a war. ... You have to call things as they are."

At 6' 2", wearing a purple tunic and crowned with a sky blue hat, Soumana Saley cut a dramatic figure at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival's "Crafts of African Fashion" program in 2018. He was surrounded by his leatherwork — from wallets to sandals to shoulder bags with etched geometric designs reflecting the art of his homeland, Niger. He now lives in Millersburg, Penn. When we spoke, he had two sources of income: He worked in a factory and he sold his leather goods at festivals — the biggest bags going for hundreds of dollars.

Several vaccines are currently in large-scale studies to see if they can prevent COVID-19, and more are on the way.

Whatever Happened To ... The Melting Permafrost?

Sep 6, 2020

In 2018, we reported on concerns that zombie pathogens — ancient bacteria and viruses that could potentially rise from the dead and threaten humans if the layers of frozen permafrost where they're buried thaw as the Earth warms.

In January 2019, NPR reported on a Mongolian heavy metal band whose epic music videos were racking up millions of views on YouTube. Eight months later The Hu released their first album, which blends the screaming guitars of heavy metal and traditional Mongolian guttural singing. We caught up with two band members on a video call to Mongolia, where they have been waiting out the pandemic.

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New estimates released this week suggest the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic will reach even greater levels of awfulness before 2020 is over: A prominent forecasting team projects that between now and Jan. 1, the virus will kill an additional 1.9 million people worldwide, pushing the total death toll by year's end to above 2.8 million.

Remember how hard it was to buy hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes back in March? (Not to mention yeast!) Not many people were stockpiling portable air cleaners or purifiers back then. But engineers and doctors say these devices could play an important role in protecting your family from COVID-19 — especially as people start spending more time indoors as outdoor air temperatures fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

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

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

In March, NPR reported on the tolls of life under quarantine in Wuhan, then the epicenter for COVID-19. We spoke to two visitors who'd returned to their hometown of Wuhan to ring in the Lunar New Year with their families — then couldn't leave for months: epidemiologist Lin Yang, now back in her home in Hong Kong, and Xi Lu, who's returned to London.

During this pandemic, I've been worried about my grandma — Nanay, to me. That's Tagalog for mother.

Her name is Felisa Mercene. She's a Filipino American immigrant. She's 92. Since March, she's been living in isolation from most of our family in Southern California. Her relatives have been wary of visiting. What if they had COVID-19 and infected her?

3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., where I live, I wondered: Is she feeling safe? Is she happy? Or ... is she lonely?

With the annual flu season about to start, it's still unclear exactly how influenza virus will interact with the coronavirus if a person has both viruses.

V Unbeatable is a Mumbai-based acrobatic dance troupe whose members range in age from 12 to 28 and come from the city's slums. NPR wrote about them after they won America's Got Talent: The Champions this February. They'd hoped the win would help improve the financial situation of their families and open doors to new opportunities.

Three new studies strongly support using inexpensive and widely available drugs to treat people who are seriously ill with COVID-19. The drugs are steroids, and the research published Wednesday confirms they are proving to be the most effective treatment found to date.

Alex Hershaft remembers the special comb.

He and his family were living in the Warsaw ghetto. It was 1940. He was a little boy, about 6 years old.

A disease known as epidemic typhus was spreading among the close to half a million Jews confined in 1.3 square miles of Warsaw, Poland, in what became known as the Warsaw ghetto.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a spokeswoman.

Berlusconi, 83, will continue working in isolation at his home in Arcore, near Milan, his staff said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Lebanon is seeing a dramatic increase in the spread of the coronavirus since last month's massive explosion at Beirut's port, which damaged much of the capital city. Since the Aug. 4 blast, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased by some 220%, according to an assessment by the International Rescue Committee.

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