Maureen Pao

Whether it's online-only consultations, closed pharmacies or having to wonder whether going into an office is safe, the coronavirus has upended access to health care. And it has presented particular challenges for women and reproductive health.

Across the country, leaders and activists are seeking ways to improve relations between their communities and the police, including how to reduce encounters that lead to arrests and the use of force. In places such as Kansas City, Mo., this has renewed calls to ease marijuana laws.

As stay-at-home orders across the U.S. begin to loosen, companies are planning for their employees' return to the office. For months, millions worked from home, raising the question of whether physical offices are even necessary.

Nabil Sabet thinks so. The group director at M Moser Associates, a firm that specializes in workplace design, says there is more to the office than just cubicles and conference rooms.

School hasn't ended yet in most places around the country. But educators are already grappling with what the next academic year will look like, as the future spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. remains unclear.

This week, California State University — the largest four-year public college system in the country — announced it plans to suspend in-person classes for its roughly 480,000 students for the semester beginning in August and move most instruction online.

The university system consists of 23 campuses, covering an 800-mile swath of the state.

Coronavirus fatalities in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for at least one-third of the deaths in 26 states.

Pediatricians across the U.S. are seeing a steep drop in the number of children coming in for appointments right now — only about 20% to 30% of the volume they would normally see this time of year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Though telemedicine can make up part of the difference, doctors say the size of the drop-off in some routine well checks is a big problem — for those children and for the nation — though parents are understandably concerned about exposing their kids to the coronavirus.

In an bid to help speed up the development of potential treatment options and a vaccine for COVID-19, the National Institutes of Health on Friday announced a new public-private research partnership.

Ventilators have been in short supply as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, and corporations are shifting production capacity to help fill the gaps.

Last month, Ford Motor Co. announced plans to build simple medical ventilators, with a goal of producing 50,000 of the devices over the next three months.

Thomas E. Lo is an anesthesiologist who works at Montefiore Nyack Hospital in New York. Since the coronavirus outbreak, his job has gotten dangerous.

"The exposure risk as an anesthesiologist is extremely high because when we intubate a patient, we are literally less than a foot away from the patient, who is in distress, and we're right by their airway, which is where the virus is," Lo tells All Things Considered.

And that exposure risk is made worse by widespread shortages of crucial personal protective equipment, or PPE, like masks, gowns and gloves.

Originally from Cameroon, Pisso Nseke's work as a business consultant took him to Wuhan, China — where he was trapped when the city where the coronavirus first emerged sealed itself off from the world in January.

That changed on Wednesday. After 76 days, Nseke and the other residents of Wuhan are finally able to leave the city.

Of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, California trails behind New York. To date, there are slightly more than 16,000 cases — around an eighth of New York's total — and far fewer deaths, at less than 400.

YouTube

It's the Year of the Pig — Peppa Pig, that is.

The Library of Congress hosted a very special guest at story time this week:

Dolly Parton.

The country music legend is also a champion of early childhood literacy, through her Imagination Library. Every month, the nonprofit program mails a free book to more than a million children — from infants to preschoolers.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We're going to end this hour with a strange and wonderful moment from earlier this week. It happened in the normally hushed Great Hall of the Library of Congress here in Washington, D.C. NPR's Maureen Pao was there.

Editor's note on Aug. 9, 2018: Since this story was published, NPR has published a story that re-examines the "30 million word gap" cited below.

"A busybody." That's how Raven Judd describes her 10-month-old daughter Bailey.

"She loves tummy time. She likes to roll over. She'd dive if you let her," says the 27-year-old mother from Washington, D.C.

When Maisha Watson heard about baby boxes, her first reaction was: "Why would I want to put my baby in a box?"

She was talking with Marcia Virgil — "Miss Marcia" to her clients — a family support worker with the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative.

Giving new moms face-to-face education about safe sleep practices — and providing them with a cardboard "baby box" where their newborns can sleep right when they get home — reduces the incidence of bed sharing, a significant risk factor for SIDS and other unexpected sleep-related deaths, a study from Temple University in Philadelphia has found.

In the hands of Japanese netsuke carvers like Ryushi Komada, something quite mundane becomes sublime. From a simple block of wood emerges a delicate and expressive face, the sense of movement in the folds of a dress, the fine strings on an ancient instrument.

For Jernica Quiñones, the reality of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, hit close to home this year when a friend woke up on New Year's Day and discovered the lifeless body of her baby girl.

That's why Quiñones' 4-month-old son, Bless'n, has spent a lot of his life so far sleeping in a cardboard box.

The 33-year-old mother of five took part in a program in New Jersey that promotes safe sleep education through the distribution of "baby boxes" that double as bassinets.

No snark or anti-commercialism rantings here, just a dose of simple sweetness. We asked readers to share their most memorable Valentine's Day cards; here are a few of our favorites, edited for length and clarity. And we asked NPR illustrator Chelsea Beck to re-create two valentines that live on only in their recipients' memories.


Renae Quinn, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Being a parent is hard, even if you have a partner and a steady income (or two). Now, imagine doing that job solo.

It's a trend that's risen steadily in the past few decades. In 1968, 85 percent of children were raised in two-parent families, according to U.S. Census data. By 2015, the share of U.S. kids in families with one parent had more than doubled, to 27 percent.

Life is pretty busy for Mike Buchmann, a high school art teacher and football coach, and his wife Shannon, who works as an assistant controller at a small private college near their home in Mishawaka, Ind.

Everyone is out the door by 7:45 each morning: Mike shuttles their two older kids to before-school care, while Shannon drops off their 14-month-old at a church-based child care center before they head off to their full-time jobs.

Half a century ago this summer, labor activist Cesar Chavez joined thousands of striking farmworkers in Texas as they converged on Austin, the state capital, to demand fair wages and humane working conditions.

Their march, which started from the punishing melon fields of South Texas, was his march, too. It was a deep and abiding understanding of the challenges of the farmworker's life that drove his commitment to labor rights. The life of Cesar Chavez mirrored that of the people he was trying to help. Their cause — La Causa — was his.

When the U.S. child support collection system was set up in 1975 under President Gerald Ford — a child of divorce whose father failed to pay court-ordered child support — the country, and the typical family, looked very different from today.

When Pope Francis meets with American bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, seminarian Stefan Megyery will participate in the midday prayer service.

He can hardly contain his excitement.

"How often do you get the chance to meet the pope?" Megyery says.

The images continue to haunt: storm surge from Hurricane Katrina pouring through gaps in failed flood walls, rapidly rising waters, desperate New Orleanians trapped on rooftops.