Patti Neighmond

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I had been covering the frightening development of a disease that was striking mostly young, gay men in New York City and San Francisco in the early 1980s. Later, it would be learned that the cause was HIV. Effective treatments that promised a nearly normal lifespan would be developed. But that wasn't our world — certainly, it wasn't the world in which Archie Harrison found himself, infected with a virus that was killing him.

At the start of the pandemic, stores quickly sold out of disinfectant sprays and wipes. People were advised to wipe down their packages and the cans they bought at the grocery store.

But scientists have learned a lot this year about the coronavirus and how it's transmitted, and it turns out all that scrubbing and disinfecting might not be necessary.

It's supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but this year it doesn't really feel like it. With many of us hunkered down at home, some having lost jobs, others having lost friends and family members to COVID-19 or other illnesses, it's tempting to give this holiday season a miss.

But it's important to find joy and meaning in the midst of this dark winter — and carrying on with favorite holiday traditions can help. NPR checked in with medical researchers to figure out how risky our favorite customs are, and highlight ways we can all celebrate more safely.

Karen McCullough never wanted a dog. "It would have tied me down, and I had a great, very busy life," she says.

Her career as a keynote speaker at conferences has taken her across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. "My job is to get everybody engaged, excited and ready to network," she says.

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Attending school remotely is hard for kids, and it turns out it can be hard to return to school, too. That's because of the isolation and worry kids have experienced during the pandemic. NPR's Patti Neighmond reports.

The disproportionate harm people of color have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic serves as an "appalling reminder of the deep inequities" of the American health care system and demands congressional remedies, according to a new Senate committee report.

When 28-year-old Katie Kinsey moved from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles in early March, she didn't expect the pandemic would affect her directly, at least not right away. But that's exactly what happened.

She was still settling in and didn't have a primary care doctor when she got sick with symptoms of what she feared was COVID-19.

The vast majority of children dying from COVID-19 are Hispanic, Black or Native American, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers analyzed the number of coronavirus cases and deaths among people under the age of 21 that were reported to the CDC between Feb. 12 and July 31 of this year. They found more than 390,000 cases and 121 deaths.

As schools across the country grapple with bringing kids back into the classroom, parents — and teachers — are worried about safety. We asked pediatricians, infectious disease specialists and education experts for help evaluating school district plans.

What we learned: There's no such thing as zero risk, but certain practices can lower the risk of an outbreak at school and keep kids, teachers and families safer.

The Black Lives Matter movement has changed the country and shifted conversations about police, social justice and structural racism.

Nowhere is the impact as great as it is for Black families, especially those with children. NPR spoke with five couples about how their family conversations have changed and how they try to support and inform their children in the face of police violence and racism.

As the pandemic continues, children are still mostly at home. Summer activities are canceled or up in the air, and many children are suffering confusion and stress. Parents may be stressed themselves, but there are ways to help kids feel better.

During the first few weeks of staying at home, Maryam Jernigan-Noesi's 4-year-old son Carter was excited. His working parents were around him most of the day, and it seemed like a big extended weekend. But after a few weeks, she says, things changed.

Exercise is good for physical and mental health, but with coronavirus cases surging across the country, exercising indoors with other people could increase your chance of infection. So, as gyms reopen across the country, here are some things to consider before heading for your workout.

Assess your own risk

It starts with you, says Dr. Saadia Griffith-Howard, an infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente.

Having trouble getting to sleep these days? You're not alone. For people with a history of insomnia, sleep problems are magnified right now. And many who never struggled before are suddenly experiencing interruptions in their nightly rest or difficulty falling asleep.

Staying home and sheltering in place can be stressful for everyone. But for some college students who identify as LGBTQ, returning to family environments can be very difficult and even psychologically damaging, psychologists say.

For many young people, sheltering at home means missing milestones and public recognition of their achievements. This is especially true for seniors graduating from high school and college.

Kendall Smith, a high school senior who lives in Tallahassee, Fla., says her school has many traditions leading up to graduation. But this year things are very different.

As many cities and regions of the country brace for a surge of coronavirus patients over the next few weeks, hospitals are scrambling to get ready. The increase in costs to convert beds, buy equipment and increase staffing time in order to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients is adding up at a time when revenues are down.

And the resources they have to turn to may vary, depending on the demographics of the patients they serve.

As the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads across the United States, there are continuing concerns among hospitals, public health experts and government leaders that hospital intensive care units would be hard-pressed to handle a surge in seriously ill patients.

A key limiting factor to being able to provide good care, they say, is the number of ventilation machines — ventilators — a hospital has on hand to help the most seriously ill patients breathe.

As COVID-19 begins to spread and sicken more people in the United States, federal health officials are recommending people acquire a several-week supply of the prescription drugs they routinely take for chronic conditions. You don't want to be stuck without them if you get sick.

As Americans begin to cope with the prospect that the novel coronavirus could spread more widely in the U.S., there are questions about how prepared and sufficiently funded most hospitals are to handle severe cases in a major outbreak.

So far, several dozen people or so, across the country have been hospitalized with the virus, and at least six people in the U.S. have died. Government health officials now say they expect significantly more cases could arise, which means that hospitals need to be ready.

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