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NPR News

The children's voices on the phone line were hesitant, but they were looking for answers.

"Why did we switch to remote learning?"

"When are we going to go back to school?"

"They're opening up an emergency hospital here, will that bring more coronavirus cases to my area?"

Professor Alice Kaplan has been scrambling to revise her lectures for the French literature class she teaches at Yale University.

On the syllabus, coincidentally, for her online class is The Plague, Albert Camus' 1947 novel about a plague epidemic that ravages a quarantined city in Algeria.

"I never imagined I would be teaching this novel in the midst of an epidemic," Kaplan says. "I never imagined I'd need to give a trigger warning for teaching Camus' The Plague."

The email came in from the editor of a small newspaper in Seaside, Calif. And she wasn't the bearer of good news.

Instead, she offered a small data point in a larger and troubling dynamic: The pandemic threatening the nation's public health is swiftly jeopardizing the local journalism that keeps its citizens informed about what's happening in their own communities.

In a development that could challenge the Constitution's prohibition of any law "respecting an establishment of religion," the federal government will soon provide money directly to U.S. churches to help them pay pastor salaries and utility bills.

As hospitals across the country fill with COVID-19 patients, medical personnel are sounding the alarm about shortages of drugs essential to those patients' care.

"We have seen an increase in demand on pharmaceuticals that's unprecedented," says Daniel Kistner, who manages the pharmacy program for Vizient, a group purchasing organization that negotiates lower prices with drug manufacturers. "Never seen anything like this before across the whole country."

Chelsea Bieker's mother left when she was 9 years old. "Growing up, I was hungry for narratives that were tackling some of the things that I was experiencing and feeling," she recalls. Whenever she found those stories, she says it felt healing, cathartic — a release.

"It didn't feel like I was so isolated — it made my experience feel more universal," she says.

The Flaming Lips have been making arty rock for nearly four decades, and over time the Oklahoma City-based group has become known for unusual collaborations, from pop star Miley Cyrus to the Denver Symphony Orchestra. Now, the band's frontman Wayne Coyne and multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd have teamed with Deap Vally, a Los Angeles guitar-and-drum duo. The project is called Deap Lips, as is its self-titled debut album.

Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET

President Trump said "we certainly want to try" to lift restrictions on life in the U.S. by April 30 but he made no definitive commitment at a news conference on Monday at the White House.

Trump sought to walk a tightrope between grim warnings about a new spike in fatalities forecast for the coming weeks and upbeat exuberance about how well he said the response is going.

"Tremendous progress has been made in a very short period," Trump said.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with older federal workers on Monday, making it easier for those over 40 to sue for age discrimination.

The 8-to-1 ruling rejected a Trump administration position that sought to dramatically limit the legal recourse available to federal workers.

This weekend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to the hospital, ten days after he tested positive for coronavirus. Johnson’s office said the prime minister’s case was not an emergency, and his hospital admission was a “precautionary step.” 

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