Wellness

4 COVID-19 Stories Worth Reading Right Now

4 COVID-19 Stories Worth Reading Right Now

Every week, we corral compelling wellness stories from around the internet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re focusing on articles that help us stay informed about the novel coronavirus.

(For more about bolstering your immune system, we’ve also rounded up some tips and tools that can generally support our well-being, along with resources from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that you can turn to for more timely updates.)

Week of May 25

  • The Coronavirus Has Laid Bare the Reality of America’s Racial Caste System

    The Coronavirus Has Laid Bare the Reality of America’s Racial Caste System

    The Guardian

    Across the country, black Americans are dying at much higher rates than white Americans. Writer and activist Malaika Jabali explains the ways this disparity is a result of a society that is deeply rooted in white supremacy and institutional racism.

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  • Stockholm Won’t Reach Herd Immunity in May, Sweden’s Chief Epidemiologist Says

    Stockholm Won’t Reach Herd Immunity in May, Sweden’s Chief Epidemiologist Says

    NPR

    Without enforcing a strict nationwide lockdown, Swedish health officials had hoped that more of the country’s residents would develop immunity against the coronavirus, particularly in the younger, less vulnerable populations. Initial findings show that the number of people with antibodies in Stockholm is lower than predicted despite the country’s strategy to keep stores, bars, schools, and restaurants open during the pandemic.

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  • Why Remote Work Is So Hard—and How It Can Be Fixed

    Why Remote Work Is So Hard—and How It Can Be Fixed

    The New Yorker

    As companies capable of pivoting to full-time remote work do just that, there are social challenges to overcome, logistics to sort out, and routines to adjust. For many, it certainly feels new. But remote work has had a dynamic history over the last decades—and this shift might be one of many that determines what the working world will look like moving forward.

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  • 100,000 Lives Lost to COVID-19. What Did They Teach Us?

    100,000 Lives Lost to COVID-19. What Did They Teach Us?

    Propublica

    The United States has officially lost 100,000 people to COVID-19—and unofficially, likely many more. And although stay-at-home restrictions are beginning to ease, this pandemic isn’t close to over. What can we learn from the mistakes we’ve made so far?

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Week of May 18

  • America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further

    America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further

    The Atlantic

    Since the early days of the pandemic, experts have been waiting for the “peak” in the United States, which never came. Instead, due to varying responses from state government, caseloads have looked different from state to state. Ed Yong helps us try to understand the implications of that unevenness, who it has hurt the most, and why it is so dangerous for all of us.

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  • The Uncounted Dead

    The Uncounted Dead

    FiveThirtyEight

    When we look at the official counts of how many people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, the numbers are huge and terrifying and indicative of just how serious this pandemic is. But the data is incomplete. Between delays and limits to our testing capacity and the fact that not every COVID-related death is counted as a COVID-related death, our numbers fall short. Most likely, very short. In this story for FiveThirtyEight, Maggie Koerth runs us through the realities of measuring death, what issues are affecting our ability to collect data now, and why we might never know the true toll of the coronavirus crisis.

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  • Hospitals Move into Next Phase as New York Passes Viral Peak

    Hospitals Move into Next Phase as New York Passes Viral Peak

    The New York Times

    As coronavirus cases continue to decline in New York, the city’s hospitals are preparing—and bracing—for whatever comes next. That means restoring routine medical appointments and elective procedures to keep the hospitals afloat, as well as expanding ICU capacity and locking down PPE in case this is the calm before a second storm. Meanwhile, the health professionals who have spent months risking their lives to provide medical care to COVID patients are watching and waiting, with little to no sense of relief, as the country resumes the normal interactions that spurred the outbreak in the first place.

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  • The Trump Administration Is Rushing Deportations of Migrant Children during Coronavirus

    The Trump Administration Is Rushing Deportations of Migrant Children during Coronavirus

    ProPublica

    Before the coronavirus pandemic, children seeking asylum in the United States without an adult were allowed into the country, given shelter, and assigned to a social worker who would help the young migrant make a case for staying in the country. But since the nation has turned its focus toward fighting the COVID-19 outbreak, asylum-seeking children are being sent back to their home countries more rapidly, alone, putting them back into the same dangerous situations they were fleeing from.

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Week of May 11

  • What Mutual Aid Can Do during a Pandemic

    What Mutual Aid Can Do during a Pandemic

    The New Yorker

    The coronavirus pandemic has given us many new normals. Among them, the mainstream rise of mutual aid networks. Mutual aid networks are organizations in which resources and labor are shared within communities—for example, the self-organized groups delivering meals to children out of school or supplying basic household goods to elderly people who can’t leave their homes. And while these organizations may seem COVID-specific, they’re creating cultural change that may last far beyond the day this pandemic ends.

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  • New Inflammatory Condition in Children Probably Linked to Coronavirus, Study Finds

    New Inflammatory Condition in Children Probably Linked to Coronavirus, Study Finds

    The New York Times

    As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to rise around the world, so does the incidence of another new condition that’s been reported in children in the United States and Europe, called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Experts believe clusters of this new inflammatory condition—like the one hundred cases reported in the state of New York—may be driven by infection with COVID-19.

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  • What You Learn When You Read Obituaries

    What You Learn When You Read Obituaries

    BuzzFeed News

    When we refer to lost lives in terms of numbers and numbers only—as we’ve been seeing in many, if not most, reports on the COVID-19 pandemic—there’s something we lose: the lives themselves. We find them again in obituaries. In this story for BuzzFeed News, reporter Katherine Miller captures how powerful simple details (like a love for owls, a collection of dictionaries, or unfailing lateness) can be.

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  • The Emerging Long-Term Complications of COVID-19, Explained

    The Emerging Long-Term Complications of COVID-19, Explained

    Vox

    In patients who have recovered from COVID-19, doctors are warning of possible long-term damage as experts begin to see more fully the trajectory of those with severe symptoms. While there are currently no studies on the long-term impact of the disease, some of the possible long-term symptoms doctors are learning about include lung scarring, heart damage, blood clotting, male infertility, and neurocognitive and mental health issues.

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Week of May 4

  • What the Coronavirus Crisis Reveals about American Medicine

    What the Coronavirus Crisis Reveals about American Medicine

    The New Yorker

    It’s no secret that we weren’t prepared for this pandemic. The course of events that followed coronavirus outbreaks in the US revealed exactly how and why we’ve failed to contain them. It shows us why “back to normal” is a goal that will set us up for further failures. In this essay for The New Yorker, physician and researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee explains what it will take to build a medical system capable of handling the next crisis—as well as the immense public health problems this one has exposed.

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  • New Studies Add to Evidence That Children May Transmit the Coronavirus

    New Studies Add to Evidence That Children May Transmit the Coronavirus

    The New York Times

    As states begin to reopen businesses, experts are warning that reopening schools too soon may increase the pandemic’s reproduction number, or the number of new infections that result from a single case. In parts of the United States, that number is already hovering near alarming levels. Two studies point to new data showing that children are about a third as susceptible to becoming infected with the virus as adults are. And while most children experience mild symptoms or none at all, they had three times as many contacts as adults, which increases their risk to a similar level.

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  • The Problem with Stories about Dangerous Coronavirus Mutations

    The Problem with Stories about Dangerous Coronavirus Mutations

    The Atlantic

    Preprints—papers that have not been formally published or peer-reviewed—have been circling the internet as the world desperately tries to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic. One such preprint has gone viral, claiming that there is a new, dominant, and more contagious strain of the virus. Ed Yong uncovers that this may not be the most likely explanation, as viruses mutate all the time, and many experts believe it may be too early to believe that this particular virus has created a new strain, let alone a deadlier one.

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  • The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Pushing America into a Mental-Health Crisis

    The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Pushing America into a Mental-Health Crisis

    The Washington Post

    Data suggests that in the US, less than half of adults with mental illness receive treatment. And while telemedicine is a convenient treatment option at this time, access to mental health resources and funding is still a major issue. Very little of the emergency money from this pandemic will go to mental health resources—funding that experts argue would help combat the psychological fallout from this pandemic in the years to come, especially among frontline health workers. (If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255.)

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Week of April 27

  • The False Hope of Antibody Tests

    The False Hope of Antibody Tests

    The Atlantic

    Antibody tests were supposed to be able to tell us whether or not we’ve already contracted and recovered from COVID-19 and, therefore, whether we have immunity to the virus. Some even hoped they’d be the key to reopening the economy. But there are a couple of problems: First, many of the antibody tests currently available to the public are delivering a high rate of false positives, meaning they could tell someone they have antibodies when they don’t. And second, having antibodies to this virus might not actually confer immunity. Atlantic staff writer Sarah Zhang reports on how the problem is emerging and what it could mean for getting back to normal.

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  • Young and Middle-Aged People, Barely Sick with COVID-19, Are Dying of Strokes

    Young and Middle-Aged People, Barely Sick with COVID-19, Are Dying of Strokes

    The Washington Post

    A surge of patients suffering from catastrophic strokes is hitting emergency rooms. And reports show these patients are in their thirties and forties (decades younger than the average severe stroke patient), otherwise healthy, and testing positive for COVID-19. Major medical centers are investigating and preparing reports on why the novel coronavirus might cause strokes and other blood blockages—and warning that the pandemic might be riskier to young people than we previously thought.

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  • New Model Shows How Deadly Lifting Georgia’s Lockdown May Be

    New Model Shows How Deadly Lifting Georgia’s Lockdown May Be

    The Daily Beast

    Last week, Georgia became the first state to start the process of reopening some businesses and easing restrictions. But simulations done by epidemiologists and computer scientists at Harvard and MIT paint a grim outcome if states prematurely decide to send people back to work—a move that, in most scenarios, could cost thousands of lives.

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  • San Francisco Had the 1918 Flu under Control. And Then It Lifted the Restrictions.

    San Francisco Had the 1918 Flu under Control. And Then It Lifted the Restrictions.

    NBC News

    In 1918, when San Francisco ended a shut-down ordinance too soon during the Spanish flu pandemic, residents flocked to the streets and businesses opened. You might call this one a cautionary tale.

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Week of April 20

  • The Climate Crisis Isn’t Coming, It’s Already Here

    The Climate Crisis Isn’t Coming, It’s Already Here

    GQ

    In the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, author and essayist Rosecrans Baldwin reminds us there is another looming crisis: climate change. But there is hope in that (seemingly depressing) premise: The lessons we’re learning from each crisis overlap with one another. Lessons like: People really do want to help. And human connection and vulnerability might really be what save us.

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  • The Rebirth of Urban Ag Is a Coronavirus Silver Lining

    The Rebirth of Urban Ag Is a Coronavirus Silver Lining

    Civil Eats

    Our coronavirus-induced prepping has gone through waves—first paper towels and pasta, then flour and jigsaw puzzles, and so on—as we start to worry the systems we rely on for these commodities won’t remain dependable in the future. In the latest wave, nurseries are struggling to keep up with demand for seeds. Backyard and community gardens are booming as a safeguarded source of fresh produce, and, as Jason Mark reports for Civil Eats, the trend toward at-home agriculture comes with benefits that could extend far beyond the scope of the pandemic.

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  • The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients

    The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients

    The New York Times

    While Richard Levitan, an emergency medicine doctor who’s been researching intubation and teaching about medical airway procedures for twenty years, was treating COVID-19 patients at Bellevue Hospital in Washington state, he noticed that the pneumonia associated with the disease presents differently than other types of pneumonia: Even patients in the early stages of disease, who didn’t yet have shortness of breath, had very low oxygen levels in their blood. This could mean that measuring blood oxygen at home with a simple and inexpensive tool—a pulse oximeter—could help us catch cases before they become severe. And according to Levitan, it could be a promising first step in getting ahead of this virus.

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  • Singapore Seemed to Have Coronavirus Under Control, Until Cases Doubled

    Singapore Seemed to Have Coronavirus Under Control, Until Cases Doubled

    The New York Times

    In Singapore, there have been eleven deaths related to COVID-19—a relatively low fatality rate. Hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, and residents can get tested and treated for free. The city-state has also closely tracked those who tested positive and banned flights from affected areas. Despite these measures, a wave of new infections has doubled Singapore’s cases in a few days, sending a signal to the rest of the world that it may be too soon to reopen countries again.

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Week of April 13

  • Our Pandemic Summer

    Our Pandemic Summer

    The Atlantic

    Clear is kind: Ed Yong’s latest piece is a sobering, thoughtful, incisive look at why hope of returning to “normal” is both a near-impossible fantasy and also deeply misguided. If you’re someone who finds it hard to keep up with the daily cycle of pandemic news, this is the read to catch you up.

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  • A Woman Living Alone

    A Woman Living Alone

    Washington Post

    More American women live alone today than ever before—a fact that’s especially apparent as people around the country are being forced to stay inside in isolation. Some are relishing in their newfound freedom, while others feel more disconnected and lonely than ever before. Here are the stories of seven women, ages twenty-four to eighty-six, living in isolation.

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  • The Pandemic Is Not a Natural Disaster

    The Pandemic Is Not a Natural Disaster

    The New Yorker

    Zoonotic diseases—pathogenic illnesses that jump to humans from animals—appear to be random incidents: a bird flu here, a swine flu there, a highly contagious coronavirus that began with bats. But these epidemics have been linked to industrial agriculture since industrial agriculture has been a thing. Which begs the question: Is this pandemic man-made?

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  • Invite a Llama or Goat to Your Next Zoom Meeting

    Invite a Llama or Goat to Your Next Zoom Meeting

    Business Insider

    This isn’t the most critical news update, but it was the rare headline that made us happy. If virtual happy hours with your coworkers have lost their magic, there’s an animal sanctuary in Silicon Valley that wants to help. We can’t say for sure, but if you happen to be the person who invites a sheep to your next meeting, you won’t just be a colleague—you’ll be a cool colleague.

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Week of March 30

  • Hospitals Tell Doctors They’ll Be Fired If They Speak Out about Lack of Gear

    Hospitals Tell Doctors They’ll Be Fired If They Speak Out about Lack of Gear

    Bloomberg

    Across the US, health care workers aren’t getting the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe while treating COVID-19 patients. Many of them are advocating to get more gear by talking to reporters or posting on the internet. But as some hospitals put reputation over safety, a new threat is emerging: If health care workers talk about PPE shortages with journalists, it could cost them their jobs entirely.

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  • Farmworkers Face Coronavirus Risk: “You Can’t Pick Strawberries over Zoom”

    Farmworkers Face Coronavirus Risk: “You Can’t Pick Strawberries over Zoom”

    Los Angeles Times

    As the spring picking season ramps up, California farmworkers face particular challenges in combating the virus: Social isolation is impossible. Time spent washing their hands could cost them pay. And even getting information about the virus in their native languages can be difficult to do. Since farmworkers are considered essential by the state and can’t work from home, what can we do to better protect them?

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  • Infected but Feeling Fine: The Unwitting Coronavirus Spreaders

    Infected but Feeling Fine: The Unwitting Coronavirus Spreaders

    The New York Times

    Current CDC guidelines recommend that people who are sick should wear a face mask when they’re outside to protect others. But new data suggests that people who are infected with the coronavirus may be transmitting the virus before ever feeling ill, or they might not have symptoms at all. Now many experts are suggesting that the CDC and WHO broaden their current recommendations for more widespread use of nonmedical masks across the country.

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  • How COVID-19 Immunity Testing Can Help People Get Back to Work

    How COVID-19 Immunity Testing Can Help People Get Back to Work

    Vox

    Serological tests—tests that determine whether a person has developed antibodies that confer immunity against a virus—may be key to putting an end to this pandemic by determining who has recovered from COVID-19 and who can safely return to work or volunteer to help those in need. Researchers also believe these antibodies from recovered people could help treat those with current infections. But several big unknowns remain, like how long immunity lasts and whether countries can ramp up the resources needed to produce enough tests.

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Week of March 23

  • The Virus Can Be Stopped, but Only with Harsh Steps, Experts Say

    The Virus Can Be Stopped, but Only with Harsh Steps, Experts Say

    The New York Times

    Public health experts are taking lessons from China and South Korea on how to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. They warn that more extreme steps need to be taken to stop transmission as quickly as possible: “If it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all Americans freeze in place for fourteen days while sitting six feet apart, epidemiologists say, the whole epidemic would sputter to a halt.” We need to increase available tests to identify and isolate those affected and their contacts, provide hospitals with more masks and ventilators, prioritize development of vaccines and treatments, and create sweeping national policies to protect citizens and provide aid to those most severely affected.

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  • That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

    That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

    Harvard Business Review

    If you’re finding it hard to describe or name your emotions right now, what you might be feeling is grief. As grief expert David Kessler explains, there are different forms of grief, including collective and anticipatory grieving, and managing grief starts with understanding the stages. Acknowledging the way we feel, Kessler explains, empowers us to keep going and find meaning through our dark times.

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  • Why Losing Your Sense of Smell Could Be a Symptom of COVID-19

    Why Losing Your Sense of Smell Could Be a Symptom of COVID-19

    Time

    Scientists have discovered that in around 30 percent of coronavirus cases, including seemingly mild or asymptomatic ones, patients are experiencing anosmia—the loss of sense of smell (and often taste as well). Meaning: Anosmia could be an indicator of infection when there aren’t other indicators, and spreading the word might be a key to slowing the spread of the virus.

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  • Coronavirus Leaves Foster Children with Nowhere to Go

    Coronavirus Leaves Foster Children with Nowhere to Go

    The Marshall Project

    The Marshall Project is publishing critical reporting around the effects this pandemic is having for those trapped or entangled in the justice system. In the foster care system, new placements, family visits, and child-abuse investigations have slowed or come to a halt.

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Week of March 16

  • Two Women Fell Sick from the Coronavirus. One Survived.

    Two Women Fell Sick from the Coronavirus. One Survived.

    The New York Times

    While scientists are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, there’s a lot that the world is still trying to understand about the virus, including the range of cases, which can either be mild or life-threatening. Deng Danjing and Xia Sisi were both on the medical front lines as the coronavirus began to spread through their city of Wuhan, China: Ms. Deng is a nurse; Dr. Xia, a gastroenterologist. The two women were twenty-nine years old—and healthy—when both became critically ill after treating patients. This New York Times interactive outlines the virus’s physical aspects, from onset to hospitalization, and how one woman recovered and how the other did not.

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  • Want to Avoid Spreading Coronavirus Misinformation? Think Like a Science Journalist.

    Want to Avoid Spreading Coronavirus Misinformation? Think Like a Science Journalist.

    Mother Jones

    There’s an influx of news concerning COVID-19—some of it factual and some of it not, depending on the source. Reporter Rebecca Leber lays out some guidelines on how to distinguish fact from rumor and avoid spreading misinformation to others. (Rule number one: Admit what you don’t know.)

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  • Finding Connection and Resilience during the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Finding Connection and Resilience during the Coronavirus Pandemic

    The New Yorker

    Connection is a basic human need. And in an era of social distancing, people across the globe are drumming up new ways to come together. From streaming workout classes to virtual nightclubbing, this cultural evolution is a show of human resilience—and an example of how strongly we need one another.

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  • Hundreds of Scientists Scramble to Find a Coronavirus Treatment

    Hundreds of Scientists Scramble to Find a Coronavirus Treatment

    The New York Times

    After mapping the genome of COVID-19, scientists are learning exactly how the virus infects human cells and replicates itself. That sequencing, combined with our knowledge of existing drugs, might lead us to an effective treatment for coronavirus while we wait for the development of a vaccine.

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Week of March 9

  • Cancel Everything

    Cancel Everything

    The Atlantic

    In the absence of a vaccine for COVID-19, social distancing—limiting contact with others and avoiding public places—is the most viable way to prevent the spread of the disease. Taking personal measures to limit the spread also helps to avoid overburdening our health care system, where tests and beds may soon become limited. Work from home (if you can), cancel unnecessary travel plans and events, and please wash your hands frequently for twenty seconds at a time—for your health, for your loved ones, and for the vulnerable people in your community.

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  • How Long Will It Take to Develop a Coronavirus Vaccine?

    How Long Will It Take to Develop a Coronavirus Vaccine?

    The New Yorker

    With the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, pressure is on drug developers to push out a safe and effective vaccine in record time. But political voices calling for a vaccine to become available in the next few months are misinformed about what it takes to build one. New Yorker staff writer Carolyn Kormann reports on what challenges we’ll face in the process.

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  • As Coronavirus Closes Schools, USDA Offers Limited Help to Kids Who Rely on School Meals

    As Coronavirus Closes Schools, USDA Offers Limited Help to Kids Who Rely on School Meals

    As schools are shutting down in response to the coronavirus pandemic, many students are losing more than just classroom time: They’re also potentially missing their primary source of food. The USDA is responding by implementing the meal programs it usually deploys during summer breaks, and several states have waived the usual requirement that kids eat those meals in a group setting. Still, several factors limit students’ access to these programs—and it’s further proof that in a health crisis, low-income families almost always take the bigger hit.

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  • What Does the Coronavirus Do to the Body?

    What Does the Coronavirus Do to the Body?

    The New York Times

    COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness that can range from mild to severe with symptoms such as fatigue, fever, and cough, and a diagnosis can be tricky without a test. As new information becomes available, our understanding of it may change, including its severity and how far it will spread. Here’s what scientists know so far about how the novel coronavirus infects our bodies. (For more information on the COVID-19 outbreak, The New York Times has lifted its paywall for related content.)

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