The U.S. Pandemic Is Stuck In A Cycle Of Endless Ups And Downs

Coronavirus cases fall, so people let their guard down. Cases rise, so they get more vigilant. That’s the cycle the U.S. is stuck in.

In most states across the country, the number of new coronavirus cases each day is up. That’s the situation in Wisconsin, where cases are surging. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Landrum spoke with NPR about what he’s been seeing the last several weeks.

As a whole, the U.S. is seeing around 50,000 new cases each day. That’s an increase from 35,000 a month ago. NPR’s Will Stone charts the course of the pandemic’s ups and downs over the last nine months, from early cases in Washington state to the current spread of the virus into rural America. And the predictions for winter are grim, as people are likely to spend more time indoors.

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An NPR Investigation Into Lethal Injection: Why It Could Amount To Torture

Lethal injection is commonly thought of as the most painless method of execution. But now many lawyers and doctors are looking inside the bodies of executed inmates and making the case that lethal injection could amount to torture.

To take a closer look at this claim, NPR producer Noah Caldwell and a team at All Things Considered obtained more than 300 inmate autopsies through Freedom of Information Act requests. It’s the largest collection of lethal injection autopsies in the U.S. They found that more than 80% of the inmates may have experienced the sensation of drowning.

Read and listen to the entire investigation here.

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The Michigan Kidnapping Plot And What’s Fueling Right-Wing Extremism

The FBI announced Thursday that it had thwarted a plan by far-right militia members to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and charged six men in relation to the plot.

The plot began as talk on social media sites, with a group of men gathering on Facebook to share anti-government reaction to Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions and shutdowns.

Experts say the pandemic, protests, and the words of the president have combined to fuel a rise in right-wing extremism. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a professor at American University who tracks right-wing extremism, spoke to NPR about how right-wing recruiters are taking advantage of President Trump’s hesitancy to condemn white supremacy and militia groups.

And while these men have been referred to as members of a “militia,” that term has also resurfaced a debate about whether groups like this should actually be referred to as domestic terrorist groups, says Kathleen Belew, an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago who studies paramilitary and white power groups.

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Pandemic ‘Profiteers’: Why Billionaires Are Getting Richer During An Economic Crisis

“Excess” profits during wartime have been subject to tax at several points in American history. Writer Anand Giridharadas argues we are at similar point today as billionaire wealth has continued to grow in spite of the pandemic. He is the author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.

Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies notes U.S. billionaires rebounded quickly from the economic collapse earlier this year.

Alan Murray, CEO of Fortune Media, argues that business leaders today are more conscious of social injustice and inequality than the billionaires of the past.

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Millions Of Americans Can’t Afford Enough To Eat As Pandemic Relief Stalls In D.C.

Two years ago, about 12% of American households reported they didn’t have enough food. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, that number has nearly doubled. It’s even more severe for Black and Hispanic families.

Texas Public Radio’s Paul Flahive reports on a giant food bank in San Antonio that can barely keep up with the growing demand.

Experts say the problem of food insecurity in America needs bigger, longer-term solutions. Erthain Cousin, former U.S. Ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, tells NPR’s Michel Martin the country needs to think bigger than food banks and start investing in businesses that can improve nutrition in low-income communities.

And Jim Carnes of Alabama Arise, an organization working to end poverty in Alabama, explains that food insecurity goes hand in hand with poverty. And the main factor driving poverty in the U.S.? Medical expenses.

Listen to a special episode of All Things Considered all about food insecurity during the pandemic.

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President Trump’s COVID-19 Treatment Reveals Unequal Burden Of The Disease

President Trump told the country Tuesday: “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.” This was in a video published after the president’s return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. During his nearly 72-hour stay, Trump received care from top doctors and experimental treatments that are not readily available to the millions of Americans who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Marshall Hatch, a pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Church in Chicago, lost his sister to COVID-19 and says the president’s message feels like an insult for families grieving in the wake of this disease.

While the vast majority of Americans don’t have access to the kind of care that the president received, it’s not the only example of how the pandemic is having disproportionate effects on certain groups. California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly explains a new state rule that will tie re-opening plans to improvements in its hardest-hit communities.

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The White House COVID-19 Crisis

The president, first lady, and a growing list of White House staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ever since President Trump left the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday, administration officials — including the president’s physician — have been reluctant to share clear and complete information about his health.

Zeynep Tufecki, professor at the University of North Carolina, explains how the White House cluster may have developed.

The president’s niece, psychologist Mary Trump, tells NPR that her family has a hard time confronting the hard reality of disease. Trump is the author of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

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The President Has Coronavirus. What Happens If He Gets Sicker

News broke overnight that President Trump and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus. The White House says they have mild symptoms.

Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, calls the diagnosis “a nightmare.”

NPR’s Rob Schmitz reports on reaction abroad.

John Fortier spoke to NPR about what could happen if the president gets sicker. Fortier is the former executive director of the Continuity of Government Commission, a group set up in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

For more on this story, follow our NPR politics team on their podcast and listen to Up First Saturday morning for the latest.

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As Social Media Giants Plan For Disinformation, Critics Say It’s Not Enough

Facebook and Twitter have plans for an election season rife with disinformation on their platforms.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg explains what lessons the company learned from 2016 and what they’re doing differently this time. She spoke to NPR’s Audie Cornish about that, and about the burden of work falling on women during the pandemic. Hear more of their conversation here.

Critics say the social media giants are too large to realistically enforce their own policies.

NPR’s Life Kit has a guide to voting by mail or in-person this election season.

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Trump’s Baseless Attacks On Election Integrity Bolstered By Disinformation Online

President Trump used Tuesday night’s debate to attack the integrity of the upcoming election with false claims about voter fraud and mail-in ballots. National security officials say claims like those are being amplified on social media by foreign countries — including Russia — and by bad actors in the U.S.

NPR’s Shannon Bond and Greg Myre report on how government officials and tech companies are handling that disinformation.

And NPR’s Pam Fessler explains why the President’s false claims about voter fraud have election experts worried about conflicts at the polls.

NPR’s Life Kit has a guide to voting by mail or in-person this election season.

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