Current Event April 12, 2021
A new study has found that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children as young as 12. The vaccine is currently approved for people aged 16 and older, but the drug company Pfizer has successfully tested its product on thousands of young people and will continue its research until a vaccine can be approved for all ages. The news is especially welcome because, like adults, children can become infected with COVID-19 and spread it to others. Listen to learn more about the study and what next steps are needed before the process of vaccinating kids can begin.
Current Event March 29, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced new guidance recommending that students should stay three feet away from others, rather than six feet, which was the previous recommendation, provided they are following other safety guidelines like wearing masks. The updated guidance is based on new research showing that COVID-19 transmission rates did not differ among schools maintaining three feet of distance in classrooms versus six feet. Many school leaders welcome the change, as it will help more schools return to full-time, in-person learning. Listen to learn more about the CDC’s new guidelines, the research behind them, and how they could affect school schedules.
Current Event March 26, 2021
Mandatory mask requirements have been lifted in Texas, giving restaurants and other businesses the freedom to set their own pandemic safety rules. Those in favor of the move say people, not the government, should take responsibility for the health and safety of their businesses. They note that the spread of COVID-19 is slowing, and lifting restrictions can help businesses recover. Opponents fear that it’s too early to roll back safety rules. They argue that it’s the government’s job to safeguard public health, and that masks should not yet be optional. Listen to Texas restaurant owners react to the change and then debate: Should business owners be allowed to decide their mask policies?
Current Event March 22, 2021
In an address to the nation, President Joe Biden set an aggressive timeline for getting Americans vaccinated and back to normal life. He said he expected the pace of vaccinations will be fast enough to allow friends and family to celebrate the 4th of July holiday together safely. Biden also expressed excitement over his recently passed $1.9 trillion package designed to bring economic relief to Americans. Listen to hear more about Biden’s optimistic remarks and plans for moving the country forward after a very difficult year.
Current Event March 18, 2021
After being canceled during the pandemic, many high school sports are starting up again. This audio story focuses on a high school girls’ tennis team in California where athletes are both nervous and excited to resume play. Listen to learn how one school community is handling the reopening of school sports, and hear high school athletes describe what this moment means to them.
Current Event March 11, 2021
For people with physical disabilities, sometimes simple but important daily tasks are impossibile. That was true for Matthew Walzer, who was born with cerebral palsy (CP), a condition that affects muscle tone and movement. CP left Walzer unable to tie his shoes, which he worried might interfere with his ability to attend college independently. At age 16, he wrote a letter to Nike asking for a hands-free sneaker, and the company responded. Listen to Walzer describe some of the challenges people with disabilities face each day and how he inspired Nike to design a cool new sneaker that anyone can wear.
Current Event March 8, 2021
The city of Washington, D.C., hosted a mass COVID-19 vaccination event for its public school employees. It was a huge operation requiring hundreds of volunteers and provided vaccinations to thousands of workers in one day. For this audio story, a reporter visited the event and asked attendees to share their thoughts on getting vaccinated. Listen to hear from a school custodian, a teacher, and a principal who received their shots, and hear a doctor explain how he addresses peoples’ fears about the vaccine.
Current Event February 26, 2021
The Tokyo Summer Olympics were originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, but the pandemic forced a year-long delay. Now, as the new date approaches, controversy is raging over whether to postpone this one too. Organizers insist they can manage the risks of COVID-19 outbreaks with a set of rules, outlined in a handbook, designed to keep athletes safe. The Japanese people overwhelmingly favor cancelling the event, though, saying the rules are inadequate and leave too many questions unanswered. Listen to hear more about the controversy over the upcoming Olympic Games and then debate: Should the Tokyo Summer Olympics be held in 2021?
Update: Since this story aired, Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo Games organizing committee, has resigned.
Current Event February 23, 2021
Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation has prioritized those who speak the Cherokee language to receive the coronavirus vaccine. The language declined hundreds of years ago, when native populations were forced off their land, and today there are very few Cherokee speakers left. Mastery of the language is highly valued because it preserves native culture, and those who speak it can pass their knowledge to the next generation. Listen to hear a Cherokee sing a hymn in her native tongue, and learn why she changed her mind about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Is it possible to find “genuine pockets of goodness” on social media these days? Artist Johnny Sun and famed Hamilton playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda think so. They were strangers to each other until they met in the comments section of Twitter and went on to publish Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You, a book which coupled Miranda’s beloved daily Twitter affirmations with Sun’s quirky, expressive illustrations. Listen to Sun tell the story of how his search for positivity in the social media community brought him into Miranda’s orbit and transformed both his career and mental health.
Current Event February 2, 2021
President Joe Biden has issued a detailed national plan for fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The 200-page document outlines the federal government’s strategy for testing and vaccinating Americans, restoring U.S. leadership in the world, and more. This audio story features an infectious disease doctor discussing Biden’s plan, including his views on both its merits and its shortcomings. Listen to a medical expert explain how well the plan meets the challenges he has seen as a doctor, and why he calls the plan “very U.S.-centric.”
Current Event January 26, 2021
A new strain of coronavirus is spreading in the U.S. New versions of the virus are constantly developing from mutations, or slight genetic changes that occur as the original virus copies itself inside the human body. The new variant, which originated in the U.K., is more contagious than the original, raising concerns that infections could increase quickly in the U.S. and other countries as well. Listen to learn how the new strain may be causing infections to spread more easily and what scientists say is the best way to stay safe.
Current Event January 21, 2021
A teen diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes created an app to help himself and others manage the disease. Thirteen-year-old Drew Mendelow felt overwhelmed by all the data he had to keep track of as a diabetes patient, like food intake and blood sugar levels. He designed an app to help him, and he’s sharing it with as many other patients as he can. Listen to hear how a teen entrepreneur took action to manage his illness and help others, and learn why one medical professional thinks his efforts will make a positive difference.
Current Event January 6, 2021
High school students in Atlanta have organized an effort to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers throughout the country. It started in their home state of Georgia, where the group began delivering donations of masks and gloves to local hospitals when the pandemic hit. Their efforts went national when they realized that 3D printers could quickly produce large numbers of plastic face shields, a critical piece of protective gear. Listen to an interview with the teen entrepreneur who started the project, and learn how his volunteer work has impacted his life at school.
Current Event December 21, 2020
The first vaccines developed to protect people from COVID-19 have been approved by the FDA and shipped throughout the country, giving Americans hope that an end to the coronavirus pandemic is in sight. Most of the initial 2.9 million doses will be given to health care workers and people working and living in long-term care facilities. The vaccine must be kept frozen at very low temperatures, one of many factors that make nationwide distribution extremely complicated. Listen to hear more about the plan to distribute doses, what could go wrong, and how the government is preparing for possible mishaps.
Current Event December 11, 2020
Theme parks throughout the country closed soon after the pandemic hit, although some have since reopened. To control outbreaks of infection, reopened parks have limited the number of visitors and imposed strict rules, including mandatory mask wearing. Many people lost their jobs when parks closed, and the reopenings have put some back to work. California public health officials have decided that theme parks like Disneyland should not reopen until the risk of COVID-19 spread in the surrounding community is lower. Listen to hear from people for and against theme park reopenings and then debate: Should theme parks reopen?
Current Event December 9, 2020
The number of Americans who do not have enough food has increased dramatically during the pandemic. To address this problem of food insecurity, groups across the country are putting refrigerators filled with free food in public places and inviting people to take what they need. The “freedges” are feeding thousands of people, many of whom had never visited a food bank. Listen to hear more about a grassroots effort to feed hungry Americans, and learn why one activist worries about the sustainability of the movement.
Current Event November 30, 2020
Two American pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have developed vaccines that have been shown in trials to offer safe and effective protection against COVID-19. Now, the country needs to develop a coordinated plan for distributing them. The vaccines from both companies must be kept cold – one at temperatures colder than winter in Antarctica – which has implications for how they are shipped and distributed. Listen to learn how the vaccines will be kept cold as they move around the country and how state coordinators are deciding where each of the vaccines might work best.