Coronavirus

President Trump on Wednesday decried reported health agency efforts to issue stricter guidelines for evaluating a vaccine against COVID-19, accusing the Food and Drug Administration of playing politics.

Trump was apparently reacting to a Tuesday report in the New York Times that said the agency will soon move to tighten requirements for emergency authorization of any coronavirus vaccine to better ensure its safety and effectiveness.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, whose mask-wearing habits have been publicly inconsistent and who has declined to issue a statewide mandate for face coverings, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Republican governor's wife, Teresa Parson, has also tested positive.

In a brief video statement, Mike Parson said he is awaiting a second test to confirm the results.

New York's famed Metropolitan Opera announced on Wednesday that the house will remain closed until September 2021.

In a press release, the Met said that it had made its decision to cancel the rest of the 2020-21 season based on the advice of "health officials who advise the Met and Lincoln Center," and keeping in mind the hundreds of performers and staff members required for rehearsals and performances as well as its audiences.

It's a bit hard to describe Vietnam's Intergenerational Self Help Clubs.

But one thing is easy to say. If you're older — like above the age of 60 — and need help, the club will help you get it. That could mean a microloan if times are tough, a drum lesson as a chance for self-expression and social activity (and to prove that old people can play drums, too). And during the pandemic, the clubs have played a critical role informing and supporting its members.

There are around 3,000 of the clubs in Vietnam, with 160,000 participants, most of them older people.

Data gathered early in the pandemic showed that communities of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 across the United States. But incomplete data left a muddy picture of these disparities.

Today, as the U.S. has surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, and reached nearly 7 million confirmed cases, racial data is more complete, and the trend is crystal clear: People of color get sick and die of COVID-19 at rates higher than whites and higher than their share of the population.

The venerable Sizzler USA family steakhouse chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a business environment roiled by COVID-19 restrictions — and saying that not enough has been done to help restaurants survive.

"Our current financial state is a direct consequence of the pandemic's economic impact," Sizzler President Chris Perkins said, "due to long-term indoor dining closures and landlords' refusal to provide necessary rent abatements."

Updated at 1:37 p.m. ET

Amid criticism from Democrats that politics may be guiding decisions at the nation's top health agencies, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration told Congress on Wednesday that a coronavirus vaccine would not be approved until it met "vigorous expectations" for safety and effectiveness.

A new national effort asks K-12 schools to voluntarily — and anonymously — report their confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases, along with the safety strategies they're using.

The United States is home to the world's best-known technology companies, but so far the use of smartphones to fight the coronavirus has been tepid at best.

Smartphones have the potential to be a powerful tool in tracking the spread of COVID-19. They can tell you exactly how close you've been to other people, for how long and keep a detailed log of everyone you've been around for the last 14 days. Linked to testing systems, they can rapidly alert you if someone you've been in contact with tests positive.

Chris Anderson, supervisor of elections in Seminole County, Florida, had a stylus problem.

He says it would have cost more than a quarter of a million dollars to purchase enough pens and styluses needed for the county's 328,000 voters. So, his department got creative.

Updated at 7:00 a.m. ET

More than 100,000 people are taking part in studies to see if one or more COVID-19 vaccine candidates actually work.

As of now, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization say the primary way the coronavirus spreads is by hitching a ride on respiratory droplets when people are in close contact.

Respiratory droplets form when someone sneezes, coughs, talks or sings, for example. They don't travel far and fall to the ground quickly.

Police have charged a Massachusetts high school student and the youth's parents with allegedly hosting a house party with underage drinking, a gathering that led the town's high school to delay in-person classes by two weeks amid coronavirus concerns.

In a year that's been plenty scary, this much is clear: Pandemic Halloween will be different than regular Halloween. Many traditional ways of celebrating are now considerably more frightful than usual, because now they bring the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

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When COVID-19 claimed its first 100,000 lives in the U.S., Hidalgo County, Texas, seemed to have avoided the worst of it. The county, which sits on the border with Mexico, had just 10 deaths when the U.S. crossed that tragic milestone on May 27.

It's still unknown when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available in the United States. But when one is first approved, there may only be 10 million to 15 million doses available, which may be enough to cover around 3% to 5% of the U.S. population.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday — reaching what was once the upper limit of some estimates for the pandemic's impact on Americans. Some experts now warn that the toll could nearly double again by the end of 2020.

"I hoped we would be in a better place by now," said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "It's an enormous and tragic loss of life."

Shay Chandler did not plan to buy what seemed like the last full-sized refrigerator in all of San Antonio. When her old one broke a few weekends ago, she discovered she'd have to wait almost two months for a replacement.

"I found out that all I could buy was a mini fridge," she said. "It's nuts. ... All the Lowe's all over San Antonio — and San Antonio is a very large city — everyone was out."

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

In a speech Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly, President Trump once again sought to blame China for the COVID-19 pandemic and called on Beijing to be punished for its handling of the disease, which has killed nearly 1 million people worldwide – a fifth of them in the United States.

The NFL has fined several head coaches $100,000 for not wearing face masks on the sidelines — a safety precaution that is required at games during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coaches' teams were also punished, with $250,000 fines.

The coaches include Pete Carroll of Seattle, Kyle Shanahan of San Francisco and Vic Fangio of Denver, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. A league source confirmed details about the fines to NPR on Tuesday morning.

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