How funding cuts for COVID-19 tests and treatments could worsen health disparities

INDIANAPOLIS — At the start of the pandemic, many wished there was a pill people could swallow to make a COVID-19 infection go away. Two years later, we have not just one, but two of those pills, in addition to other outpatient and inpatient treatments. https://cpa.ds.npr.org/s4780019/audio/2022/03/covidfunding-feature-web.mp3 Listen to this story here. The federal government established […]

Two years in: The pandemic through the eyes of a health care worker’s spouse

INDIANAPOLIS — Nicole Oberhelman’s house is small, cozy and brims with character. Every corner tells a story. A painting of the first dance from her wedding is next to the TV. Up until early March, Christmas decorations were still on display. The holiday was extra special this year, because it was the closest to a […]

Ruling on order blocking the mask mandate in some schools could come as soon as Thursday

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker says Illinois schools should continue universal masking despite a flurry of legal and legislative action around the state’s school mask mandate. “The executive order is in effect,” Pritzker told reporters on Wednesday. “We still have a mask requirement in the state of Illinois for schools.” Pritzker made the case for […]

Meatpacking jobs are attractive to immigrants. COVID made the work even riskier

PERRY, Ia. — Amner Martinez still doesn’t know all the details from when his 74-year-old father Concepcion got dangerously sick with COVID-19 near the beginning of the pandemic. Martinez’s father works at the Tyson Foods plant in Perry, Iowa, the site of an outbreak in spring 2020 that affected 730 workers. https://cpa.ds.npr.org/s4780019/audio/2021/12/se-workers-mixweb.mp3 Listen to this […]

Nearly two years into COVID, worker safety is still a concern at meatpacking plants

DES MOINES — In late October, Debbie Berkowitz, a worker safety and health expert and former senior policy advisor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, shared shocking statistics with the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on workers at meatpacking plants. https://cpa.ds.npr.org/s4780019/audio/2021/12/se-plants-politics-mixweb.mp3 Listen to this story […]

Illinois COVID cases top 30,000 in new state daily record

CHICAGO — Illinois has 30,386 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed statewide. The figure that public health officials announced Thursday smashed by more than 9,000 the previous state record for new cases in a day and nearly doubling the high from last fall’s surge. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the previous record was set on Christmas Eve when […]

People face long lines as they rush to get tested for COVID ahead of the holidays

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Holiday travel, family gatherings and the rapid surge of new coronavirus cases triggered by the omicron variant, are driving huge demand for COVID-19 tests, leaving people scrambling as they prepare to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. The result so far has been around-the-block lines at testing sites and shortages of at-home tests […]

Residents in congregate care facilities face yet another uncertain holiday season

CENTRALIA — The Murray Developmental Center in Centralia, Illinois, is home to around 250 residents, many of whom are medically fragile. During the pandemic, these residents and their families have been separated by lockdowns, which have continued long after the rest of the country has been opening up. Rita Winkeler, who runs the Murray Parents […]

COVID is again raging across the U.S. just as Americans gather for the holidays

WASHINGTON — A surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. is seriously altering previously promising holiday plans for many Americans. As many people traveled over the weekend, health officials and state leaders issued serious warnings about the coronavirus as the U.S. experienced record new infections. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported […]

US COVID death toll hits 800,000, a year into vaccine drive

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has topped 800,000. That is according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The once-unimaginable milestone was hit Tuesday. It’s seen as doubly tragic, given that more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after the vaccine became available practically for the asking last spring. The death toll […]

Faith, medicine and COVID-19: Why do religious vaccine exemptions exist?

https://cpa.ds.npr.org/indiana/audio/2021/12/religious_vaccine_exemptions_history-context.mp3 Many employees are turning to religious exemptions as vaccine mandates become more common in workplaces. Exemptions are federally protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But what is the history of these exemptions and what are the consequences?  Imam Ahmed Alamine frequently speaks to his mosque in Indianapolis about getting vaccinated. In fact, […]

How shaky ivermectin studies overseas wreaked havoc in the U.S.

INDIANAPOLIS — Not a single scientific or health authority in the U.S. recommends the use of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19. Still, some Americans see the unproven drug as a way out of the pandemic. https://cpa.ds.npr.org/s4780019/audio/2021/12/ivermectin-part1-final-web.mp3 Listen to part one of this story here. Ivermectin is mostly used in large animals […]

Judge rules Vermilion County teachers, parents must follow state COVID-19 rules in schools

DANVILLE — Protestors from the group Vermilion County Health Advocates stood outside the Vermilion County Courthouse on Friday afternoon holding signs and wearing t-shirts saying “Unmask our Children” while cars honked in support.  Meanwhile — inside the courthouse — Judge Karen Wall ruled against both Danville District 118 teachers and parents from Hoopeston Area School […]