Topic: Viruses

Current Event April 27, 2020

Conditions for Lifting Pandemic Restrictions

Health Viruses

Millions of people in the U.S. are under strict social distancing restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The time length and requirements of these policies have been determined by governors, so they vary from state to state. Many people want to know when these restrictions will be lifted and what will make it safe to go back to school or eat at a local restaurant again. Listen to this story to hear a public health expert talk about what scientists and public health experts say will be necessary for normal life to resume.

This audio story was recorded in mid-April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event April 16, 2020

Booming Business at Toilet Paper Company

Health Viruses Business

During the COVID-19 pandemic, toilet paper has been in high demand, and one Maine factory owner is working around the clock to supply it. He moved to Maine a year before the pandemic hit and invested his life savings in a toilet paper factory. Now, he and his son can barely fill all the orders they are receiving, and they hope that means the business will succeed. Listen to hear the owner’s son explain the lessons he has learned and why he finds his work rewarding.

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Current Event April 14, 2020

Sports During a National Crisis

Health Sports Viruses

Sporting events have soothed the nation during difficult times by distracting people from worries and giving them hope. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, when big gatherings can spread disease, public sporting events contribute to the problem rather than offering a solution. Listen to hear an ESPN commentator describe how sports have helped Americans survive past crises, why this one is different, and how sports organizations have helped set the tone for responding to the current pandemic.

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Current Event April 13, 2020

Face Masks Can Help Contain Virus Spread

Health Viruses

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says all Americans should wear face masks in public to prevent spreading COVID-19. Before now, the CDC had recommended social distancing, or keeping six feet away from others, but that can be difficult in crowded spaces like grocery stores. The new recommendation reflects recent studies indicating that many people carry the virus without showing symptoms. Listen to learn which materials make effective masks and how wearing a mask in public sends an important message.

This audio story was recorded in early April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event April 10, 2020

Debate: Should Companies Offer Paid Sick Leave During the Pandemic?

Health Viruses Business Labor

Workers at big companies are demanding paid leave, among other protections, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. Amazon workers in New York, where some employees have COVID-19, want their warehouse to be deep cleaned while they continue to be paid. Instacart workers, contractors who do not receive benefits, are asking for paid leave if they get sick or are exposed to illness. Workers at both companies say these benefits are necessary and fair, given the risks they are facing, though the companies do not normally offer extended paid leave. Listen to learn more about the workers’ demands and then debate: Should companies offer paid leave during the pandemic?

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Current Event April 6, 2020

Health Care Providers Need Protective Gear

Health Viruses

Health care workers treating COVID-19 patients around the country need more equipment to protect themselves against the highly contagious virus. They say a shortage of masks, gowns, gloves, and other protective gear puts them and their families at risk of catching the disease. The federal government says production is underway and equipment should arrive soon, but health care workers feel a sense of urgency. Listen to hear how an ER doctor on the front lines is coping and learn about a newly reported symptom of COVID-19.

This audio story was recorded in mid-March. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event April 2, 2020

Grocery Cashiers on the Front Lines

Health Viruses Business

Grocery store clerks have become essential workers during the COVID-19 outbreak, performing the crucial service of helping people feed themselves and their families. They put their own health at risk each day as hundreds of shoppers file through stores, often standing closer than the recommended safe distance of six feet away. Listen to hear a grocery store cashier describe life on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and how she feels about taking risks to help others during a health crisis.

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Current Event March 30, 2020

The Importance of COVID-19 Testing

Health Viruses Biology

Countries that have extensively tested their populations for the COVID-19 virus have generally succeeded in containing the outbreak. Now debate has begun in the U.S. over how much testing makes sense in this country. Although many medical experts say aggressive testing would help to slow the spread of the disease, production of test kits has not kept up with demand. Listen to hear a public health expert explain why he believes testing is important for controlling the spread of COVID-19 and when he expects enough test kits to become available.

This audio story was recorded in mid-March. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event March 26, 2020

States Lock Down to Protect Lives

Economics Health Viruses Business

States around the country are ordering new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. State governors have put various orders in place, including closing nonessential businesses, restricting big gatherings, and directing people to stay at home. Essential services such as food stores, pharmacies, and public transportation, remain open. These leaders hope limiting social contact will slow the spread of the disease enough to avoid overwhelming hospitals and health care workers with patients. Listen to learn how states plan to enforce the orders and why one governor struggled mightily with his decision to close businesses.

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Current Event March 23, 2020

COVID-19 Vaccination in Development

Health Viruses

Scientists are one step closer to finding a vaccine to protect people against COVID-19. A biomedical research company has vaccinated eight patients in Washington state with a new trial vaccine and has plans to vaccinate dozens more. The patients will be closely watched over time to make sure the vaccine is both safe and effective. The careful process means a vaccine will likely not be available to the general public for at least a year. Listen to learn how the new vaccine testing works and what motivates the scientists involved in the project.

This audio story was recorded in mid-March. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event March 17, 2020

Coronavirus Explained for Kids

Health Viruses Human Body

The new coronavirus is a highly infectious disease that is spreading rapidly around the world. The virus causes mild symptoms for many people, like those of the common cold, but it affects others more seriously. The new coronavirus is very contagious, and public health experts are trying to better understand it and control the global outbreak. Listen to hear about the effects of the virus and what people can do to slow its spread.

This audio story was recorded in mid-February. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event March 17, 2020

Schools Closing Around the Country

Education Health Viruses

Leaders in over 30 states have closed schools statewide to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Millions of students will be home, and parents and guardians are scrambling to find child care. Children from low-income families who rely on free or reduced-price lunches, and parents who are unable to stay home from work, will face particular challenges. Listen to learn why schools are closing for long periods of time and what politicians are doing to help people affected by the virus.

This audio story was recorded in mid-March. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event March 16, 2020

Flattening the Curve of Infection's Spread

Health Viruses

COVID-19 has officially been declared a pandemic, a disease infecting populations throughout the world. The virus spreads easily, and once a few people have it, they can quickly infect many others with whom they have contact. A graph of the infection’s spread shows a sharp peak when the rate of infection is highest. As schools close, more people work from home, and other steps are taken to limit human interaction, scientists expect the rate of infection to slow down and the graph’s curve to flatten. Listen to learn how flattening the curve can help the health care system handle the COVID-19 outbreak, and how past epidemics can help guide today’s decisions about how to respond.

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Current Event March 12, 2020

Drive-Through Coronavirus Testing

Health Viruses

Health care workers at a Seattle hospital can now drive their cars up to a window to be tested for COVID-19. Washington state has been one of the places hardest hit by COVID-19, an illness caused by a new coronavirus, and the city hopes to protect health workers who are essential to keeping the virus contained. Listen to learn how coronavirus testing is done and why drive-through test sites are considered safer than traditional clinics.

This audio story was recorded in early March. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event March 10, 2020

American Teacher Stuck in China

International Viruses

Authorities have locked down the city of Wuhan, China, where the first cases of the highly contagious coronavirus were found. Wuhan residents need to stay in their homes at all times and receive food and other supplies by delivery. Even foreigners cannot leave, since many airlines have suspended flights to and from China. Listen to hear an American teacher in Wuhan describe her daily routine and how she copes with the isolation of life under quarantine.

This audio story was recorded in late February. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event March 5, 2020

Avoiding Coronavirus

Health Viruses

A new, highly contagious virus is spreading quickly, prompting many people to wonder how they can protect themselves. COVID-19, an illness caused by a new strand of coronavirus, spreads through tiny droplets sent into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Experts say simple measures like hand washing and avoiding handshakes can help prevent illness. Listen to a science reporter explain how Americans can prepare for a possible outbreak of COVID-19 in their communities and what individuals can do to keep themselves healthy.

This audio story was recorded in early March. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event February 24, 2020

Bats and Coronavirus

Health Animals Viruses

Where did the new coronavirus start? Scientists believe the highly contagious virus spreading quickly among humans probably originated with bats. Bats’ amazing immune systems allow them to carry viruses without getting sick themselves. Just as with past viral outbreaks like SARS and MERS, scientists believe bats infected other animals with coronavirus, and those animals then passed it to humans. Listen to learn more about the origin of coronavirus and why scientists believe studying bats could unlock secrets about fighting disease.

This audio story was recorded in early February. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event February 19, 2020

"Going Viral" Exhibit

Health Viruses

An exhibit at a Philadelphia museum explores how ideas about infection have changed over two thousand years. “Going Viral” examines early views of illness, when people believed body fluids like blood and snot regulated the body, and helps visitors understand the devastation brought by epidemics like the Black Death and Spanish flu. It even demonstrates through an interactive display how germs might spread on a modern-day subway. Listen to hear more about the exhibit and what museum curators hope visitors will learn from it.

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Current Event February 13, 2020

Containing the Coronavirus Outbreak

Health International Viruses

The World Health Organization and the U.S. government are taking action to keep a new contagious virus from spreading. The coronavirus is transmitted by air and can quickly infect large populations. To help prevent its spread, the U.S. government is restricting travel to and from China, where the outbreak began, and putting some travelers in quarantine, which means separating them from other people for a few weeks. Listen to learn how this virus compares to others, where it has already spread, and how the government plans to contain it.

This audio story was recorded in early February. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.

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Current Event October 29, 2019

Vampire Bats

Animals Biology Viruses

With their sharp teeth and thirst for blood, vampire bats can be frightening. They have been known to bite the feet of sleeping children, and they sometimes spread disease. But these fuzzy, wrinkle-nosed creatures are also loving friends. Listen to learn more facts, both scary and surprising, about the legendary vampire bat.

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