Coronavirus: The latest news from WRVO and NPR

Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog. 

In recent days, the Trump administration has organized dozens of flights to deliver surgical masks and other critical medical supplies around the country, working with a half dozen major medical distributors to get those supplies "to the right place at the right time."

But if your state isn't considered the right place, that system can be frustrating.

"When you look at those five or six national distributors, Montana is sure as heck not getting much luck out of them," Gov. Steve Bullock said in an interview.

Who does and doesn't get to vote in November could rest on how states, political parties and the federal government respond to the coronavirus threat to U.S. elections.

It's the question on everyone's minds: What will it take for us to come out of this period of extreme social distancing and return to some semblance of normal life?

It turns out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working on a plan to allow the U.S. to safely begin to scale back those policies. CDC Director Robert Redfield spoke with NPR on Thursday, saying that the plan relies on not only ramped-up testing but "very aggressive" contact tracing of those who do test positive for the coronavirus, and a major scale-up of personnel to do the necessary work.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media File Photo

211 CNY is the call center for five central and northern New York counties that connects people with basic needs. Their call volume has increased drastically since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March. Access to food and paying bills are among the top concerns. 

The Department of Health and Human Services is stepping back from a plan to end support on Friday for community-based coronavirus testing sites around the country.

Instead the agency says local authorities can choose whether they want to transition to running the programs themselves or continue with federal oversight and help.

The number of patients being treated at overflow hospitals in New York City has more than doubled in the last two days, the Department of Defense says.

On Thursday, military doctors and nurses were treating 189 patients at the overflow hospital at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, including 15 patients who are being treated in an intensive care unit inside the facility. The Navy hospital ship, the U.S.N.S. Comfort, currently has 53 patients, including 10 who are critically ill with COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the two facilities had fewer than 100 patients combined.

Amid growing concerns about military readiness, a sailor from the coronavirus-sidelined aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt became the first crew member to be hospitalized in intensive care in Guam Thursday. He is one of more than 400 of the ship's sailors who have tested positive for COVID-19.

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.

Updated at 7:30 p.m.

President Trump said more oil producers are "getting close to a deal" to try to put a floor under prices as demand for energy plummets amid the global pandemic.

Trump said at his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday that he'd just finished a conference call with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Russia and that he hoped they'd agree on a cut or another solution that would stabilize the cost per barrel.

The worst outbreaks of COVID-19 so far have been in colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere during winter or early spring. Will warmer weather slow the transmission?

Could the Southern Hemisphere see outbreaks intensify as that part of the globe moves into winter?

And is it possible that transmission might be naturally interrupted as it is each year for the seasonal flu?

These are some of the key questions about COVID-19 that scientists are trying to answer.

California is releasing thousands of inmates early due to the pandemic without adequate transportation, support services or housing once they get out, statewide prison advocates and reentry service providers say.

"Absolutely do not stop folks from coming home, but we need realistic resources," says London Croudy, with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, a nonprofit that advocates for inmates' rights and the formerly incarcerated. "We want to be there for these folks, but we need help!"

In a remarkably prophetic report last summer, the Federal Emergency Management Agency accurately predicted that a nationwide pandemic would result in a shortage of medical supplies, hospitals would be overwhelmed and the economy would shut down.

The warnings were contained in the 2019 National Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment, published last July. Its existence was first reported by E&E News.

Updated at 3:51 p.m. ET

Boris Johnson is out of intensive care.

The British prime minister's office announced Thursday that medical workers have moved him back to the regular ward at St. Thomas' Hospital in central London, where he continues to receive treatment for persistent symptoms linked with COVID-19.

"An ICU. What is it?" asks Dr. Robert Foronjy. It's late afternoon. He's in his office at University Hospital Brooklyn.

"It's people," he says. "You think of an ICU, maybe you think four walls, some beds. But really it's people."

Some runners are are still jogging outside, while others are posting joke videos about sprinting in place on soapy floors. Weightlifters are filling bags with canned goods and shoulder-pressing milk jugs. But what's a swimmer to do?

"Yeah, it's difficult. They call them dryland exercises," says Lauren Anneberg, a volunteer coach at the Capital YTri triathlon team in Washington, D.C.

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