COVID-19 coverage from GroundTruth & Report for America

First published March 13, 2020 | Updated May 29, 2020

The World Health Organization’s official declaration that COVID-19 is a pandemic serves as a powerful reminder for us all of how connected we are as a planet. The measures adopted in Asia and Europe inform the local response to the virus, as America starts to see an increase of cases and implements plans to slow down the rate of infection.

Our global fellows and Report for America corps members have been reporting on the pandemic from multiple angles, helping their audiences understand the scope of the pandemic and its effect on their community and lives.

The combination of global and local perspectives provide a comprehensive look at this emergency that contributes the conversation around containment and effective responses to the spread of this threat. Here are some highlights from their coverage:

Friday, May 29, 2020

  • According to the California Medical Association, about 13 million residents, or one-third of the state, could lose access to their primary care health providers if state and federal governments do not take action to lessen the economic hit from the pandemic, reports ChrisAnna Mink for The Modesto Bee. People have stopped going to the doctor’s office out of fear of the virus, putting not only their health at risk but the sustainability of the facilities, with almost 95% of practices worried about financial stability. Read more.
  • Emily Woodruff reports for The Advocate that 10 autopsies of African Americans who died from COVID-19 in New Orleans revealed that their lungs were full of blood clots, providing more evidence that the virus’s damage is not limited to the respiratory system. The LSU Health Sciences researchers say each patient had a severe case and an underlying health issue, matching recent research from around the world that correlates blood clots to the severely-ill. One pathologist says the findings may help explain the greater complications and higher number of deaths in the black community. Read more.
  • For WCAI, Eve Zuckoff tells the story of Alex Davies, one of 20 AmeriCorps Cape Cod members who were given a two-week notice to find new housing before being sent home almost two months early from their service year due to COVID-19. Davis was sick with the virus for a month and now must grapple with finding housing and a job in the middle of a pandemic. Read more.
  • Connecticut arrests are at a record low, revealed by newly released data indicating how the coronavirus has impacted the state’s criminal justice systems, reports Kelan Lyons for The Connecticut Mirror. The number of arrests in March was the lowest the state has seen since it started collecting data in 2008, and arrest rates in April dropped by 55% from one year prior. Read more.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

  • Fatal drug overdoses in Fayette County, Kentucky have increased by 42% since last year and the syringe exchange program has more participants than ever, reports Alex Acquisto for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Health and law enforcement officials in more than 10 counties in the state report a similar trend. Many say the pandemic is one factor, as universal stressors, like unemployment, and lack of in-person meetings contribute to relapses or first-time use. Read more.
  • Spokane County health officials confirmed its highest daily count of cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic on Wednesday. Health officials attribute the 23 new confirmed cases to an increase in testing, an outbreak at a nearby pasta production facility and gatherings over the holiday weekend, which may lead to similar numbers in the next couple of weeks. Washington state has recorded 1,095 COVID-19 related deaths.  Read more.
  • Lautaro Grinspan reports for the Miami Herald that in-person naturalization services have been suspended at least until June 4 as a precaution against COVID-19, leading to more instability for immigrant families and a greater chance of missing out on the benefits of citizenship, like job openings during the current economic downturn, student financial aid or the eligibility to cast a ballot in the presidential election. Lawmakers and officials are advocating for virtual ceremonies. Read more.
  • Nashville’s first responders will continue to receive COVID-19 patient information from the city’s public health department despite the state halting its data-sharing policy, reports Samantha Max for WPLN. The Tennessee Department of Health shared names and addresses of residents who have tested positive to 70 local police departments to alert officials before entering the homes of patients in an attempt to preserve the limited supply of PPE, but has ended the highly criticized policy as PPE has become more available. The city never signed onto the state’s program and local officials claim it is saving lives. Read more.
  • For the Albuquerque Journal, Theresa Davis reports Navajo Nation healthcare facilities may have reached their COVID-19 hospitalizations peak in late April, several weeks earlier than originally projected. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez credits the early peak in hospitalizations to cooperation with public health orders. The number of daily reported cases has not yet declined, mainly because only 15% of the population has been tested so far, according to Nez. As of Tuesday, Navajo Nation had 4,800 cases and 158 deaths. Read more.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

  • GroundTruth: At Manhattan mosque, an imam eases a pandemic’s grief
  • For Boise State Public Radio, Rachel Cohen reports that Butte County is one of 10 in Idaho without any confirmed cases of COVID-19. The rural county has a higher rate of testing than the entire Southeastern Idaho Public Health District, so locals credit the area’s success against the virus to the community’s willingness to follow precautionary guidelines. Read more. 
  • The pandemic has increased the number of accidents and incidents in Washington County, Utah making 2020 the busiest year on record so far for its search and rescue team, reports David Fuchs for KUER. The team attributes the rise to the extra time people have because of the pandemic. They ask that everyone take steps to minimize the chance of an accident whilen medical workers are already at high risk. Read more.
  • New Mexico midwives have seen an increase in mothers giving birth at home or at birth centers rather than at hospitals that present new dangers amid the pandemic, reports Katherine Lewin for the Santa Fe Reporter. Midwives are struggling to obtain PPE while also adapting to new practices, like an increase in telehealth visits and the inability to stay with mothers if they are transferred to a hospital. Read more.
  • Samantha Max reports for WPLN on the return of live music to Nashville since a ‘Safer at Home’ order in effect in March. The city is in phase two of reopening, which allows for two musicians to be onstage at a time while keeping 15 feet from the audience without  open dance floors. Following such guidelines has created challenges for venues and artists struggling economically. Read more.
  • One thousand art kits are being delivered to Chicago families hit hardest by the pandemic, to provide a creative relief for their children, reports Pascal Sabino for Block Club Chicago. The kits are donated by SkyART, an arts education nonprofit of the Far South Side, which has the city’s only free art center. The organization was forced to close its studio, and virtual art classes are not accessible for most families the nonprofit works with. The kits will allow students who are currently facing instability to continue to learn socially and emotionally as their families work to provide their basic needs during the crisis. Read more

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

  • For Wyoming Public Media, Savannah Maher tells the story of the Wheeler family on the Wind River Reservation, who lost three of their members to COVID-19, while 14 more tested positive and five were hospitalized. A dozen relatives pay tribute to Larry and Gloria and their daughter, Dawn, who all died on April 20. Listen.
  • Families of inmates in Connecticut’s corrections system have to pay for the calls made by the prisoners, but those who have lost income to the pandemic are struggling to afford the high cost of the calls with their loved ones, reports Kelan Lyons for The Connecticut Mirror. At a time when communication is crucial to stay connected and to receive updates as the coronavirus spreads, advocates are calling on Gov. Ned Lamont to make the calls free. Read more.
  • Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 can donate the liquid part of their blood, known as convalescent plasma, to help treat patients with severe cases, reports Arielle Dreher for The Spokesman-Review. Not yet approved by the FDA, the treatment is part of a clinical trial by the Mayo Clinic that hospitals around the country can opt into. Read more.
  • For The City, Eileen Grench reports an increase in the number of young people in New York City’s two secure juvenile detention centers. The rise follows the state’s decrease in jail populations after inmates were released as a precaution, which led to a drop in the number of detained youths by one-third in early April. Read more.
  • Schools across the Navajo Nation have canceled their graduation ceremonies to limit the spread of COVID-19, reports Kate Groetzinger for KUER. Nonetheless, the feat is a big deal for the students in Monument Valley who have overcome many obstacles to finish high school. Almost half are considered homeless under federal law and many don’t have internet access, creating additional challenges to virtually celebrate as the reservation battles a higher infection rate than any state in the country. Read more.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

  • According to a national poll, 70% of Latinos said they would soon be unable to afford food, rent, utilities, mortgage payments or other basic expenses, reports Carlos Ballesteros for the Chicago Sun-Times. That number is closer to 80% for those living in Illinois, who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, making up 30% of positive cases in the state but only 17% of the population. Read more.
  • For The Connecticut Mirror, Kelan Lyons reports nursing home providers are giving some residents sponge baths in bed rather than showers in an effort to conserve the state’s limited supply of PPE, as equipment can become compromised when wet. Nursing homes have had to make case-by-case decisions without concrete guidance from the state or federal government or the CDC. Read more. 
  • Nearly a third of non-citizen women in California have lost their jobs, making them the group of workers most affected by the pandemic, according to a study by UC Merced Community and Labor Center, reports Jackie Botts for CalMatters. The study comes days after Gov. Newsom released a budget proposal that cuts $14 billion from social services and lacks plans to extend benefits to undocumented workers and seniors. Families of undocumented workers do not qualify for most state or federal COVID-19 relief. Read more.
  • Angie Jackson contributed to a Detroit Free Press report on the record flood caused by the breach of two nearby dams that cost about 10,000 mid-Michigan residents their homes on Wednesday. No one was killed by the flooding, but the emergency comes at a time when the state has lost 5,000 residents to COVID-19 and a third of the state is unemployed. As neighbors step up to support sheltered evacuees, they are reminded to maintain social distancing. Read more.
  • Students learning remotely on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County received about 1,500 books, donated by a Florida-based literacy program, reports Zak Podmore for The Salt Lake Tribune. Teachers chose titles based on interest and reading level for each student and will distribute them as part of their regular deliveries of meals and educational materials. Families in remote parts of the reservation are more isolated than most with unreliable phone and internet service, or sometimes no electricity altogether. Read more.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

  • Rachel Cohen reports for Boise State Public Radio about Idaho’s first long-term health care facility focused entirely on caring for COVID-19 patients. The 80-bed center, which opened in late April in Twin Falls, will only treat patients who have been exposed to the virus or who have symptoms. By grouping patients and staff at only one location, the company in charge of the facility aims to reduce the incidence of a future outbreak. Read more. 
  • A veteran who recovered from COVID-19 died after returning to the Spokane Veterans Home, writes Arielle Dreher for the Spokesman-Review. According to the administrator of the veteran’s facility, the toll the virus extracted on his body “was simply too great.” As of Tuesday, 10 residents at the Spokane Veterans Home who have tested positive for COVID-19 had died, either from the virus or other medical conditions. Spokane County has 412 cases and 31 residents have died. Read more.  
  • Businesses across New Mexico await the news on the status of their applications to the $2 trillion Federal Paycheck Protection Program, as they try  to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic, reports Katherine Lewin for the Santa Fe Reporter. So far, 19,842 loans in the state have been approved, bringing in over $2 billion, but many owners have been left out, either because they don’t fit the guidelines of the program or because they’re not citizens. And some of the beneficiaries say this help will not be enough. Read more. 
  • The Aloha Free Clinic in Kalihi will assist Hawaiians who have lost their jobs and health insurance to the pandemic, reports Eleni Gill for the Honolulu Civil Beat. Since March, more than 220,000 Hawaiians have filed for unemployment. While the temporary pop-up clinic is not a COVID-19 treatment center, telemedicine and volunteer doctors and nurses will provide specialty services to patients while connecting them to ongoing care systems in the area. Read more.
  • Catherine Martinez, a 51 year old woman who lives in Cypress, Texas, survived COVID-19 after spending 11 days in the intensive care unit in a Houston hospital, reports Ciara McCarthy for the Victoria Advocate. McCarthy recounts Martinez’ ordeal since she first became ill on March 11 until now, when she’s still regaining her respiratory strength. As of Tuesday, the total number of infected Victoria Country residents stands at 157. Read more.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

  • For The Modesto Bee, ChrisAnna Mink reports on the challenges of foster care during the pandemic, like finding new placements for kids and the adjustments families must make, including making sure children are keeping up with their school work during remote learning, and managing limited resources at a time where essentials, like food, have increased. National trends show child protection agencies are struggling to find foster families, but the 22 children within Modesto’s Stanislaus County removed from homes since the start of the pandemic have found a new family No foster children in the county have tested positive for the virus. Read more.
  • In an attempt to reach vulnerable populations, the West Virginia National Guard tested 2,388 people in four densely populated communities in the state’s first round of free testing, reports Emily Allen for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. A task force addressing racial disparities in positive cases hopes that if the Guard can give community members more notice of times and locations, there will be a larger turnout this weekend in four more counties. Read more.
  • Wyoming had its eighth confirmed COVID-19 death on Saturday night, a Northern Arapaho tribal member from Fremont County, reports Savannah Maher for Wyoming Public Media. This is the tribe’s fifth death from the virus. While 3% of the state’s population self-identifies as Native American, Native people make up more than 30% of its confirmed cases. This is partially due to aggressive testing, but Native Americans also suffer from underfunded health services and overcrowded living conditions. Read more.
  • Several Christian faith leaders have outlined plans for reopening Chicago churches in conjunction with Illinois’ orders, reports Manny Ramos for the Chicago Sun-Times. The plans include giving every congregant hand sanitizer, gloves and a mask before entering the church, and using a touchless thermometer to take every person’s temperature. Read more.
  • For Mississippi Today, Eric Shelton photographed the reopening of barbershops, salons, gyms, parks and some stores. Gov. Tate Reeves had reopened parks and reservoirs earlier in the month and announced the reopening of salons on May 11. As of May 18, the state has had 11,432 COVID-19 cases and 528 deaths. See Shelton’s photo essay.

Monday, May 18, 2020

  • A federal lawsuit alleges that 6,000 vulnerable inmates of Mississippi’s two largest prisons have been put at risk by a lack of basic safety guidelines against COVID-19 recommended by the CDC, reports Shirley Smith for the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. The lawsuit states that the Mississippi Department of Corrections tested less than 0.05% of the more than 18,000 inmates in the state. Before the pandemic, inmates in the state’s prisons had mortality rates above the national average. Read more.
  • With 140 dead, Navajo Nation has a higher COVID-19 death toll than 13 states combined. As the community struggles to control the spread of the virus and provide food and support for its members, their leaders are expressing their concern about the efforts underway to reopen the economy of the states overlapping with their territory and the disregard for safety measures that some local politicians have been promoting, reports Zak Podmore for The Salt Lake Tribune. Read more.
  • New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development says its residences for homeless youth are all operational amid the pandemic, but users of these facilities  and advocates say otherwise, reports Eileen Grench for The City. Many shelters cannot keep young people inside during the day due to both limited resources and social distancing precautions. But because schools are closed and many have lost their jobs, they have nowhere to go. Read more.
  • For the Detroit Free Press, Angie Jackson writes that since schools have closed to limit the spread of COVID-19, “teenagers are facing a sense of loss that adults removed from the high school experience might not fully understand: the disappointment of missing out on milestones.” Michigan schools are providing mental health care to students virtually while working to bridge inequities for those with limited technological access. Peer-led support groups across the state are also helping students find a sense of community while in physical isolation. Read more.
  • For The Charlotte Observer, Lauren Lindstrom reports on how the work of three Atrium Health trauma surgeons in North Carolina has changed during the pandemic, and what has stayed the same. Read more.

Friday, May 15, 2020

  • One young person is in intensive care at Valley Children’s Hospital in California, after showing symptoms of Kawasaki Disease, a rare illness that experts around the world suspect is linked to COVID-19 in children, reports Manuela Tobias for the Fresno Bee. Read more.
  • The Tennessee ZIP code 37407 represents less than 3% of Hamilton County’s population, but has registered 10-18% of the county’s COVID-19 cases in less than two weeks, reports Wyatt Massey for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The area represents some of Chattanooga’s most at-risk neighborhoods, but community members say leaders didn’t take seriously the threat the virus represented to communities of color and failed to act in a timely manner. The state’s health department does not recognize the area as a hotspot. Read more.
  • Since a stay at home order was placed in March, more than 86,000 absentee ballots have been cast in West Virginia, compared to the 6,567 that were submitted in the 2016 presidential primary, reports Emily Allen for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. To keep up, some county clerks are working overtime. Read more.
    • Related: GroundTruth staffer Josh Coe reports on the growing concerns of the politicization of the U.S. Postal Service as voting by mail becomes a popular choice in the midst of the pandemic. Read more.
  • For the Spokesman-Review, Arielle Dreher reports on the death of a veteran living at the Spokane Veterans Home, the ninth at that facility, bringing the county’s death toll from COVID-19 to 30. So far, 46 residents and 24 staff members have tested positive. Read more.
  • After being in a medically induced coma for 13 days, Nader Ammari, a 56-year-old Italian living in Turlock, Calif., recovered from COVID-19 thanks to a unique treatment, reports ChrisAnna Mink for The Modesto Bee. Shortly after testing positive, he developed a fever, fatigue and had difficulty breathing. The specialists at Kaiser Permanente in Modesto, put him on a  treatment that uses gravity to bring more oxygen to the lungs and that has demonstrated its effectiveness against other severe lung diseases. Ammari and his wife were exposed to the virus from a passenger in their cabin on a flight home to California from Venice in late February. Read more.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

  • “COVID-19 has the potential to affect affordable housing projects at every step of the process, developers say, from securing financing to construction slow-downs,” writes Lauren Lindstrom for The Charlotte Observer. In a city where the issue of affordable housing is already dire, these challenges will increase demand while simultaneously limit funding for new projects. Read more.
  • Teachers are the most reliable source of child abuse reports, but with schools closed because of the pandemic, the majority of the reports in Hawaii are coming from neighbors and relatives, reports Eleni Gill for Honolulu Civil Beat. The number of reports, however, has gone down because social workers can’t have face-to-face visits with foster children, by which they could identify signs of abuse. Read more.
  • Lack of accurate data and government coordination with organizations serving seniors are preventing quick responses to the needs of this population during the quarantine, reports Rafael R. Díaz Torres for the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo. Only 25% of positive cases in Puerto Rico are 60 years of age or older, yet 78% of deaths from the virus are of the same age group. Read more in Spanish and in English.
  • As Maine officially enters a recession in the middle of  an “‘unprecedented’ economic downturn” as a result of the pandemic, Samantha Hogan, reporting for Pine Tree Watch, spoke with four economists and a finance professor about the state of the economy and what to make of the mixed messages from federal and state authorities about reopening businesses. No past economic events model this rate of decline, and an upturn is dependent on how long widespread unemployment lasts and consumer confidence in limiting the spread of the virus. Read more. 
  • After raising more than $10,000 in less than 48 hours, the Coachella Valley Certified Farmers’ Market will remain open for the summer, reports Risa Johnson for The Desert Sun. Farmers and vendors in the region depend heavily on this market, but had to step away to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. With the implementation of a mask requirement and other precautions, the market had 610 visitors this Saturday compared to its summertime high of just over 700. Read more.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

  • After 90% of businesses reopened in Twin Falls, Idaho, new cases of COVID-19 rose by 45% across the county – its biggest increase since the outbreak began, reports Rachel Cohen for Boise State Public Radio. Read more. 
  • UK HealthCare, Kentucky’s largest hospital system, spent almost $6.8 million to build a 400-bed field hospital to treat the anticipated overflow of patients. But, as Alex Acquisto reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the state’s infection curve plateaued over the last few weeks, meaning the facility will be deconstructed before it’s ever used. Read more. 
  • The CARES Act, which enabled the IRS to distribute COVID-19 stimulus checks, excluded taxpayers who do not have a Social Security number, as well as their spouses, even if they do have a Social Security number. A class action lawsuit against the Trump administration was filed in Chicago to include the spouses of about 1.2 million “mixed-status” American families, reports Carlos Ballesteros for the Chicago Sun-Times. Read more in English and in Spanish
  • As Utah shifts its risk level to “orange” (or moderate) and begins to reopen, some towns like Bluff are requesting to maintain a higher risk classification, reports Zak Podmore for The Salt Lake Tribune. Mayor Ann Leppanen said she was maintaining the highest level COVID-19 restrictions out of concern for the town’s workers, many of whom live on Navajo Nation, a hotspot of the virus in the state, or are seniors. Read more.
  • For Times-News, Megan Taros reports on the unique challenges the refugee community faces as Idaho’s three refugee resettlement programs navigate providing adequate resources during the pandemic. With a halt on refugee resettlement, federal funding has been reduced, creating consequences for not only the programs, but for those in crowded camps already at a high risk-level of contracting the virus. Read more.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

  • West Virginia’s population is 4.2% African American, according to the 2018 Census, but the community makes up 7.3% of the state’s positive COVID-19 cases, reports Emily Allen for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Limited access to health care and other social inequities disproportionately affecting black communities put the state’s African American population at a disadvantage in the midst of public health problems, including those that will persist after the pandemic, one reverend says. Read more. 
  • For WPLN Nashville Public Radio, Samantha Max investigated the COVID-19 outbreak at Tennessee’s Bledsoe County Correctional Complex. The facility has become one of the largest hotspots in the nation, with about 600 positive cases among inmates and staff. Internal documents, letters and interviews with employees and family of inmates indicate that the staff at the prison missed several opportunities to prevent the spread of the outbreak. Read more.
  • Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky announced on Monday that a 10-year-old with COVID-19 is on a ventilator. Julia Fair reports for the Cincinnati Enquirer that the boy developed an inflammatory syndrome that experts say is becoming more prevalent among children with the virus, which more than 700 residents of Northern Kentucky have contracted. Read more
  • Following The City’s report that parents with limited equipment for remote-learning have received visits from child welfare investigators, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams called for child neglect and maltreatment reports to be “‘purged,’” reports Eileen Grench. While the Department of Education says it issued guidance to ensure access to technology was not a primary reason for a report of educational neglect, Williams says responses to the pandemic have not been equitable. Read more. 
  • Officials of Fremont County, Wyoming are drafting a three-phase plan for businesses to reopen, reports Chris Aadland for the Casper Star-Tribune. At 169, the county has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, which has reported 495 total, and the lowest rate of recovery at 27%. As officials’ economic concerns grow, they argue that the decision to open or close a business should be left up to owners. Read more

Monday, May 11, 2020

  • Despite the measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus, fear of contracting COVID-19 at the doctor’s office has led to a drop in immunization rates in California and across the country, reports ChrisAnna Mink for the Modesto Bee. Doctors say this decline could lead to global outbreaks of preventable diseases. Read more. 
  • In late March, Blaine County, ID had one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the nation, taking a toll on the health and resources of the fire department. For Boise State Public Radio, Rachel Cohen reports that once the cases started to decline, the firefighters had to jump to another crisis: a spike in wildfires, linked to the severe drought the county has been suffering from for months. Read more. 
  • To combat the loss of $6.7 billion from the tourism industry due to COVID-19, Mississippi travel groups are encouraging virtual tours, showcasing the state’s restaurants, museums and music, reports Alexandra Watts for Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Read more. 
  • For The Desert Sun, Risa Johnson profiles Coachella Valley native Kayla Perez, who was living in Seoul at the onset of the pandemic. Now back in the U.S., she tells Johnson that she felt safer in Seoul because of the decisive measures implemented by the government. South Korea put unique safeguards in place after the 2015 MERS outbreak that included granting health authorities access to CCTV footage and patients’ geolocation data from their phones. Read more.
  • Delivering flower arrangements was not the business Anna and Ben Zack had in mind when they launched Zack Family Farms last fall. The initial idea was to grow and cut flowers for high-end gatherings. But since events have been canceled due to the pandemic, the couple now enjoys doing no-contact flower deliveries in the Ogden Area, having made about a dozen for Mother’s Day, reports Becky Jacobs for The Salt Lake Tribune. Read more.

Friday, May 8, 2020

  • In Tennessee, the organization Sankofa Fund for Civic Engagement is helping African American small business owners in Hamilton County cope with COVID-19 by offering $1,000 grants, reports Wyatt Massey for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Read more.
  • Tribes on Wind River Reservation in Wyoming are meeting the coronavirus head-on, having conducted close to a third of all testing for the virus in the state, reports Savannah Maher for Wyoming Public Media. Listen.
  • In March, the city of Fresno, Calif. said it would house “every single” one of the city’s 2,000 homeless people during COVID-19. Two months later, it’s only been able to find beds for 446 people, reports Manuela Tobias for the Fresno Bee. Read more.
  • In Chicago, a former mayoral candidate is planning to help distribute 5 million face masks in the city’s West and South Sides, reports Manny Ramos for the Chicago Sun-Times. Read more.
  • Rafael Diaz worked with an investigative team from Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo looking at why about 200 COVID-19 tests distributed by the government were being returned. The Department of Health of the island said some laboratories returned the tests because they were not satisfied with their quality. Phamatech, the company that manufactured the tests still has to deliver another 40,000 to the island. Read more. (Spanish)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

  • North Carolina families still recovering from the loss of their homes during Hurricane Florence in 2018 are now seeing their rebuilding efforts put on hold by COVID-19, reports Adam Wagner for The News & Observer. Read more.
  • The number of cases of hand sanitizer ingestion has risen since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., reports ChrisAnna Mink for the Modesto Bee, with a 33% increase between Jan 1 and April 19 compared to the same time last year. Read more.
  • A long-term care home in North Idaho is under fire for its lack of transparency after failing to test patients amid an outbreak in its facility, and only starting to administer tests in late April. For Boise State Radio, Rachel Cohen spoke to the daughter of a woman who died of COVID-19 while staying at Life Care Center of Lewiston. Listen.
  • Dallas is expecting revenue losses in the millions because of the pandemic. “Now the questions are how to make up some of those shortcomings and plan for the upcoming fiscal years and if federal dollars can help even more,” writes Obed Manuel for the Dallas Morning News. Read more.
  • Utah is among 13 states the U.S. Census Bureau deemed safe enough to count  homes, reports Kate Groetzinger for KUER, but the visits to households will be done without any contact. Listen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 

  • One of the 37 mobile parks in Paradise, California destroyed by the Camp Fire has finally reopened, reports Camille von Kaenel for the Chico Enterprise-Record. While the coronavirus crisis limited the public celebrations, a small crowd attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, while others watched via Facebook Live. Read more.
  • Mass testing at two Tennessee prisons has uncovered nearly 2,000 cases of COVID-19 among the inmate population, reports Samantha Max for WPLN. Officials have said most inmates who have tested positive are asymptomatic, but that could soon change for the worse. Listen.
  • On Thursday, May 7, Camalot Todd will host a Facebook Live discussion with the Director of Older Adult Services at Compeer of Greater Buffalo, Heidi Billittier, on mental health for seniors, and how to connect with others during these times of social isolation. Learn more here.
  • “If you started your walk at Ontario Mini Market, you’d think everything was business as usual. A steady stream of cars sidled up to the corner grocery store,” writes Yadira Lopez of the impact of COVID-19 on a South Oregon business strip, for the Malheur Enterprise. “But if you turned around and took the crosswalk – waiting until the car with a driver in a face mask made a left – you’d bump into a long row of empty parking spots on either side.” Read more.
  • One industry not slowing down during the pandemic? Marijuana, at least in Illinois, reports Eric Schmid for St. Louis Public Radio. The state announced this week that sales of cannabis in April reached nearly $40 million. Listen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  • In California, Pacific islanders are experiencing more than double the COVID-19 infection and death rates as the entire state, reports Jackie Botts for CalMatters. Community members are mobilizing, using community churches as testing and isolation sites, and distributing information. Read more.
  • Inmates and advocacy groups in Michigan’s most populous county have brought forward a federal lawsuit against the sheriff of Wayne County, demanding the immediate release of medically vulnerable prisoners at Wayne County Jail, where 30 prisoners have already tested positive for COVID-19, reports Angie Jackson for the Detroit Free Press. Read more.
  • Washington state began to reopen Monday, initiating the first phase of its “Safe Start” plan, reports Arielle Dreher for the Spokesman-Review. Spokane County is among those applying to be reopened more quickly as part of the plan’s regional focus. Read more.
  • In Wyoming, the economy has already started to reopen and health officials in the state anticipate an increase in social interactions, reports Chris Aadland for the Casper Star-Tribune. They’re looking to contact tracing as a means to keep a handle on the virus. Read more.
  • While most restaurants in Idaho’s Magic Valley have shuttered due to COVID-19, Megan Taros highlights the restaurants staying open for Cinco de Mayo for those celebrating – while following social distancing measures. The restaurants offer takeout and delivery. Read more.

Monday, May 4, 2020

  • In Fresno, Calif., Manuela Tobias examines why billions in federal aid are not enough to support America’s farmers in this time of crisis, as producers are struggling to make ends meet. Tobias spoke with a local farmer who fears that if the market for lamb meat doesn’t improve in the next few months, he’ll have to sacrifice some of his sheep. Read more
  • As COVID-19 paralyzes economic activity in South Florida, as well as other regions with significant Latin American populations, families south of the border who depend on the remittances their relatives send every month are starting to feel a ripple effect, reports Lautaro Grinspan for the Miami Herald. Read more
  • A new testing site in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago opened up today, promising to test 500 people a day and offer educational materials and resources in both English and Spanish, reports Carlos Ballesteros for the Chicago Sun-Times. Read more
  • Across the U.S., women have seen more job losses than men, reports Becky Jacobs for the Salt Lake Tribune – one expert observing that more women are in the service sector and are more likely to make the difficult choice of parenting over employment when schools and daycares are closed. Read more
  • In Mississippi, photojournalist Eric J. Shelton documents a protest in support of the state’s open carry law and against the closure of nonessential businesses in the capital, Montgomery. Explore his photo essay.

Friday, May 1, 2020

  • Two weeks ago, Norton Healthcare in Kentucky started testing all pregnant women admitted for delivery for COVID-19, reports Alex Acquisto for the Lexington Herald-Leader. The stress of pregnancy on the body’s immune system increases the risk of contracting the highly contagious respiratory disease. Other Kentucky hospitals are poised to follow Norton’s lead and deploy their own testing methods for vulnerable groups like expectant mothers and patients admitted for elective surgeries. Read more.
  • This week, Connecticut’s prison population dropped to its lowest numbers since 1992. For the Connecticut Mirror, Kelan Lyons takes an in-depth look at the impact of COVID-19 on the prison system. Read more.
  • For Chalkbeat Newark in New Jersey, Devna Bose shares resources for families to find free food – from student lunches by public schools to donated fresh vegetables – available to those in need amid the pandemic. Read more.
  • Ahead of the reopening of some areas of Illinois’ economy, Manny Ramos spoke with Chicago-area business owners who were preparing their stores for getting back to business, albeit not as per usual. Read more.
  • A 76-year-old woman who was among the first people hospitalized in Victoria County, Texas has been returned to a long-term care facility, but her family fears her stay at the hospital ended too soon, reports Ciara McCarthy for the Victoria Advocate. Read more.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

  • This week, Michigan saw two lawsuits related to the handling of COVID-19 by correctional institutions in the state: one brought forward against Wayne County by a former juvenile detention center employee, the other by prisoners suing the Department of Corrections. Angie Jackson has back-to-back coverage. Read More.
  • Julia Fair, for the Cincinnati Enquirer, examines the case of a  Northern Kentucky nursing home, where residents account for a fourth of COVID-19 cases and 65% of related deaths in its county. Read more.
  • Long-term care homes across Spokane County, in western Washington, will receive personal protective equipment by the dozens from county health officials, reports Arielle Dreher for the Spokesman-Review. Read more.
  • Connecticut shelters are finding new ways to house the homeless following a state order to move occupants, an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, reports Report for America corps member Chris Ehrmann with AP. Read his On the Ground dispatch.
  • The peak summer tourism season in southern West Virginia has been hampered by the crisis and the physical distancing measures enacted by the state government – including closing local nature trails, reports Emily Allen for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, creating challenges for the local economy. Read more.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

  • While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised public school teachers for their flexibility as students and families adapt to remote learning, Eileen Grench writes for The City that some school staff reported parents to the state child neglect and abuse hotline, after students failed to attend online classes in the early stages of learning from home. Read more.
  • As Tennessee begins to reopen its economy, Wyatt Massey reports for the Chattanooga Times Free Press that a group of some 2,000 concerned physicians across the state are urging residents to continue to maintain physical distance in order to stop the virus. Read more.
  • “Waiters in face masks, limits to how many people can shop in department stores, free admission to some museums and gyms that require reservations,” are among some of the new realities of life in North Carolina when the state reopens, reports Lauren Lindstrom for The Charlotte Observer. Read More.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program, created to help small businesses across the country cope with COVID-19, dried up in less than two weeks and 80% of applicants were still without a loan. But not in Johnson County, Wyoming, where Mara Abbott with the Buffalo Bulletin reports that banks saw most of the requests submitted locally were approved. Read more.
  • In New Mexico, as across the U.S., distilleries that once made hard alcohols like vodka are now converting their spirit distillation into sanitizer production. For the Santa Fe Reporter, Katherine Lewin spoke with a head brewer who’s now making alcohol you should not drink, but instead wash your hands with. Read more.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020:

  • Many seniors have found themselves in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing their risk for developing health problems, reports Eve Zuckoff for WCAI. Councils on Aging, among other local organizations, have increased outreach to those at risk, and meanwhile some seniors are using technology to maintain aspects of their social life. Read more.
  • The “Remain in Mexico” program allows migrants to request a non-refoulement interview if they experience violence or persecution as they await their cases to play out in U.S. immigration court. However, as Mallory Falk reports for KERA News, these interviews are being postponed as part of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, which also includes the restriction of immigration and the suspension of asylum programs. Read more.
  • After the death of a worker from COVID-19, tortilla producer El Milagro shut down one of its factories in Chicago for two weeks. With two more employees testing positive and an additional four showing symptoms, the facility will be sanitized and all workers paid. Supply chains are already seeing the effects as the company is projected to lose 75% of its tortilla production, reports Carlos Ballesteros for the Chicago Sun-Times. Read more.
  • The Northern Arapaho Tribe hired a company to build temporary housing for isolation and health monitoring of the transient population of Fremont County, Wyoming, reports Chris Aadland for the Casper Star Tribune. This population contributed to a recent, steep increase in reported COVID-19 cases in the area, but officials recognize that convincing those who participate in high-risk behavior to stay put has been challenging, putting elders and the rest of the tribe at greater risk. At the same time, they announced they have stopped breaking down cases by municipality because of reports of harassment on social media. Read more.
  • For KUER, David Fuchs reports that, starting May 1, nonessential businesses in Washington County will have the option to reopen if they follow certain precautions. The rest of Utah will also reduce its COVID-19 restrictions around the same time, Gov. Gary Herbert announced. The district has seen its infection curve plateau since its first case. Read more.
  • SEVA Selfless Service, a volunteer-based nonprofit organization, is supporting the elderly and other at-risk populations for COVID-19 in Sacramento and Yuba City, reports Theodora Yu for the Sacramento Bee. About 24 volunteers, all with full-time jobs, have delivered groceries to about 10 senior citizens daily. Read more.

Monday, April 27, 2020:

  • Miami funeral homes have changed the way they operate to limit the spread of COVID-19, reports Lautaro Grinspan for the Miami Herald. The Vior Funeral Home is strained for resources and capacity; meanwhile, its co-owners are adjusting to less intimacy with their clients, whose mourning is made more difficult without family and friends. Read more. 
  • For the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Wyatt Massey writes that, in “the most-churched city in America,” ministry work is adapting to social distancing measures, straining the relationships necessary to provide care in times of trouble. And residents continue to be hit by numerous challenges: after coronavirus cases quickly increased by mid-April, a series of tornadoes killed 11 people on Easter night, injuring dozens and destroying hundreds of homes. Read more.
  • The Intensive Care Unit at Saint Anthony Hospital in North Lawndale has been at 120-140% capacity, leaving patients with respiratory failure to be intubated and hooked up to ventilators in other areas of the hospital, reports Pascal Sabino for Block Club Chicago. As a safety net hospital serving populations more vulnerable to COVID-19, a facility that was already limited in resources is disproportionately affected. Read more.
  • Financial strains during a crisis often contribute to an increase in domestic abuse. Victims of interpersonal violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, are shut off from resources or other help outlets, as social distancing measures allow abusers to control victims’ environments, reports Megan Taros from Twin Falls for the Times-News. Idaho support services rely on the community to speak out on behalf of victims as those measures are extended. Read more.
  • Because of COVID-19 precautions, Donna Wozniak spends 23 hours a day in her cell at the federal Danbury prison, having to choose between a walk in fresh air or calling her family in her single hour of free time. Her husband, Greg, is “desperate” for information as policies continuously change about who may or may not be released early from their sentences, Kelan Lyons reports for The Connecticut Mirror. Read more.
  • Relationships are becoming more meaningful among group members in Women in Ranching, an initiative of the New Mexico-based Western Landowners Alliance, via their weekly Zoom check-ins and email updates. The ranchers share conversation, work opportunities and resources as they navigate life during the pandemic, reports Theresa Davis for the Albuquerque Journal. Read more.
  • From GroundTruth: The chaplains caring for the caregivers on the front lines of COVID-19

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Friday, April 24, 2019

  • Just as Paradise, Calif., was starting to get back on its feet after the devastating Camp Fire of 2018, the COVID-19 pandemic swept in, forcing the closure of already scarce businesses and community activity. Report for America corps member Camille von Kaenel reports how residents are using what they learned in the aftermath of the fire to adapt to new challenges. Read more.
  • “Health care workers have been lauded as heroes in Louisiana and across the U.S. since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak,” reports Emily Woodruff for the Advocate. “But in Louisiana, one of the hardest-hit states, no one is tracking how many health care workers are infected.” Read more.
  • Following a COVID-19 outbreak at a Tyson beef processing facility in southeastern Washington in which 100 people were infected, the plant is closing and local health staff will test more than 1,400 employees, reports Arielle Dreher for the Spokesman-Review. Read More

Thursday, April 23, 2019

  • Following on his story from earlier this week, Chris Aadland reports that  the virus is no longer contained among the original two family clusters found in the Northern Arapaho Tribe reservation. Authorities confirmed that at least one of the four deceased tribe members contracted the virus before the county officially registered its first case on March 13. Read more.
  • Researchers in Kentucky are working to create a home-grown COVID-19 testing method that could provide insights on immunity to the virus, reports Alex Acquisto for the Lexington Herald-Leader. From there, recovered patients with a strong “immunoresponse” can help treat other patients as plasma donors. Antibody testing and live virus testing could be key to relaxing restrictions, but authorities caution that it is just one factor in deciding whether to reopen the state. Read more.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state filed its first charges against companies investigated for their role in the opioid crisis, reports Camalot Todd for Spectrum News Buffalo. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties have seen increases in overdoses, but not all deaths can be attributed to opioids until toxicology tests are applied. Todd maintains a list of available mental health resources in the state during the crisis. Read more.
  • Not all classes can adapt effectively to remote learning. An exercise assessment class at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville is one such experiential learning class that faces obstacles in proper skill-building for students. Science courses combat similar dilemmas with the cancelation of labs, as do art courses when it comes to supplying students with costly materials, reports Eric Schmid for St. Louis Public Radio. Read more.
  • Mother and daughter Cora and Brenda, who began a Nambé Tewa language revitalization program at Nambé Pueblo in New Mexico, have not only had to end in-person classes, but document the language with greater urgency as many of the elderly people who speak the dialect are at high-risk for COVID-19, reports Katherine Lewin for the Santa Fe Reporter. The Tewa language is considered severely endangered by UNESCO, as there are only 30 fluent speakers left. While many Albuquerque students have been able to continue their Native language studies from home, some pueblos are hesitant or unable to embrace the technology. Read more.
  • On April 28, community members of Sacramento will distribute food packages for residents and workers on Stockton Boulevard after many lost their jobs due to the closure of businesses to limit the spread of COVID-19. The drive-through event will provide enough packages for about 350 families, Theodora Yu reports for The Sacramento Bee. Read more.
  • From GroundTruth: Women in Muslim countries prepare for ‘least, most’ Ramadan

Wednesday, April 22, 2019

  • On Monday, four Northern Arapaho Tribe members died after testing positive for COVID-19, reports Christopher Aadland for the Casper Star-Tribune, in Wyoming. Three victims were of the same family. At least 24 of Fremont County’s 51 confirmed cases are on the Wind River Reservation, but because of restrictions, the tribe is unable to mourn the losses as a community. Read more.
  • For KUER, Kate Groetzinger reports that students living on Navajo Nation are no longer permitted to hand in paper assignments as the COVID-19 infection rate increases, leading to a struggle for families without internet access at home. Utah schools have ordered 200 internet hotspots for most high school students on the reservation. Until then, one family continues to take their school-provided Chromebooks to a parking lot for the Wi-Fi connection. Read more.
  • From GroundTruth: Online activism keeps Earth Day alive during the pandemic
  • Because of social distancing precautions, Multi-Agency Resource Centers are not an option. While these hubs are typically used to provide help to communities in the midst of a crisis, Rachel Cohen reports for Boise State Public Radio that a new non-profit, Blaine Recovery, will be providing resources, like support for online school and assistance to small businesses. Read more.
  • The Pueblo Relief Fund has been established to support New Mexico’s 19 pueblos by purchasing masks, food and cleaning supplies to be donated to the tribes, Theresa Davis reports for the Albuquerque Journal. While Native Americans represent about 11% of the state’s population, they make up nearly 41% of the state’s COVID-19 cases. Read more.
  • For the Buffalo Bulletin, Mara Abbott reports that a Johnson County health officer extended exemptions to three local businesses in the wake of Gov. Mark Gordon’s executive order to close businesses as a precaution in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Protocols have been put into place for businesses that are reopening, however, most counties are not accepting similar requests for such exceptions. It remains unclear as to whether or not the state is beginning to experience a decline in cases. Read more.
  • For Block Club Chicago, Pascal Sabino provides guidelines and infographics from the Active Transportation Alliance and the Cook County Department of Public Health on how to stay safe while walking or riding a bike. Read more.
  • From GroundTruth: Indonesian Muslims brace for somber Ramadan amid pandemic restriction

Tuesday, April 21, 2019

  • William Garrison was to be released from prison after spending 44 years incarcerated, serving a juvenile life sentence that had been resentenced in 2016. Weeks before coming home, however, Garrison died from COVID-19, reports Angie Jackson for the Detroit Free Press. Advocates say recent deaths emphasize the need to decrease the prison population during the pandemic. Read more.
  • For The Charlotte Observer, Laura Lindstrom reports on an expansion of the staffing cuts at Greater Charlotte’s YMCA, confirming furloughs for over 3,700 employees, pay cuts for 200 employees and the elimination of 55 jobs. Last month, nearly 75% of nonprofits in Charlotte reported that COVID-19 had significantly impacted operations. The demand for economic relief is greater than what the local and federal governments offer. Read more. 
  • Gov. Ned Lamont announced that Connecticut is the first state to partner with the app that allows residents to report their symptoms, information that would be useful when the state starts to reopen, reports Chris Ehrmann for the Associated Press. More than 19,800 residents of the state have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, Lamont is considering signing an executive order making infected workers eligible for compensation benefits. Read more. 
  • The Stanislaus County Office of Education’s Migrant and Seasonal Head Start centers, which provide child care for agricultural workers, are making arrangements to reopen in time for the spring season, reports ChrisAnna Mink for the Modesto Bee. Protocols are being developed for all attendees and personnel returning to the centers. Read more.
  • A recent analysis from the Salt Lake Tribune reveals the high number of  COVID-19 updates from Navajo Nation, 1,127 confirmed cases and 44 deaths as of Saturday, can be explained as a result of the increased access to testing on the reservation, compared to surrounding jurisdictions, reports Zak Podmore. Disproportionate testing means rates of infection should be cautiously compared. Still, the reservation lacks resources to combat its high death toll. Read more.

Friday, April 17, 2020

  • Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest hospital network, says it’s likely to lose as much as $130 million over the course of March and April because of the COVID-19 outbreak, reports Emily Woodruff for the Advocate. The costs associated with expanding the number of beds available and the suspension of other, less urgent, medical procedures have hit the finances of the company. Read more.
  • A church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is suing the city for what it alleges to be an attack on its constitutional rights: banning their “drive-in services,” reports Wyatt Massey for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Read more.
  • Photojournalist Eric J. Shelton documented how Southern Mississippi residents were picking up the pieces in the wake of a local natural disaster – an onslaught of 13 tornadoes – amid the national health crisis. See his photo essay for Mississippi Today.
  • In a joint statement Thursday, seven governors from across the Midwest said they were working together to reopen parts of the economy. But one of those leaders, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, did not give a clear indication of when the incremental reopening would begin, Alex Acquisto reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Read more.
  • To allow Dallas County residents to purchase the necessary supplies to create handmade masks, county commissioners voted to reopen local craft stores, reports Obed Manuel for the Dallas Morning News. This follows an order by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins that residents wear masks during specific activities in public. Read more.
  • As of Friday, seven rural counties in North Carolina had zero confirmed cases of COVID-19. For the Raleigh News and Observer, Adam Wagner looks at the factors that might be slowing down the spread of the virus in these communities. Read more.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

  • From GroundTruth: Confronting the emotional toll of covering COVID-19
  • For the Lexington Herald-Leader, Will Wright reports on the consequences of a series of power outages on vulnerable populations that are following the shelter in place order.  More than 62,000 homes and businesses have been left without electricity across Eastern Kentucky in the last week. Those who rely on oxygen or breathing treatments worry about extended outages while social distancing has made it difficult to find housing for power company workers. Read more.
  • Becky Jacobs reports for the Salt Lake Tribune that those seeking help from nurses or advocates after a sexual assault can continue to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals across Utah are still collecting rape kits while providing care and support. Experts worry that a potential reemergence of controversial DIY rape kits may deter survivors from seeking professional treatment. Read more.
  • Newark, New Jersey has sometimes struggled to provide services to families of students with special needs in the district. For Chalkbeat, Devna Bose reports that remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic may increase these challenges. Under federal law, students with disabilities are still entitled to the same services they may have been receiving before remote learning was ordered, yet barriers include limited access to technology and the underpreparedness of parents to instruct their children at home. Read more.
  • While Americans across the country have been ordered to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19, Theodora Yu reports for the Sacramento Bee that discriminatory acts against Asian Americans are still on the rise. In two weeks of data collection, 1,100 discriminatory incidents related to the virus were reported. Health experts say the social stress of being subjected to microaggressions can weaken the immune system. Read more.
  • Over 500 casinos shut down across the country to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including those of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes. Tribal governments are abruptly losing revenue with no tax base to fall back on and insufficient federal aid, Savannah Maher reports for Wyoming Public Radio. Listen.
  • With limited access to testing sites and resources in Spanish, the majority-Latino areas in Illinois are becoming hotspots for the virus. For the Chicago Sun-Times, Carlos Ballesteros reports on the Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative, a collective of officials and health experts working to creatively inform the state’s Latino community about the virus. Read more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

  • For the Chicago Sun-Times, Manny Ramos spoke with two employees at two Chicago nursing homes claiming that they were fired after demanding more personal protective equipment. SEIU Healthcare Illinois says nursing home owners have disregarded the concerns of union members on multiple occasions during the pandemic. Read more.
  • In response to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order to ban elective medical procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates filed an emergency lawsuit to allow women to continue to get abortions, reports Samantha Max for WPLN Nashville Public Radio. Read more.
  • Julia Fair reports for the Cincinnati Enquirer about a federal lawsuit filed against  Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and other officials, accusing them of violating religious freedoms with restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to the lawsuit, the police placed quarantine notices on the cars of parishioners who attended Easter Sunday services in defiance of the governor’s orders restricting the gatherings of large groups. This is the second lawsuit in northern Kentucky challenging COVID-19 orders as unconstitutional. Read more.
  • Street Corner Resources, a New York nonprofit dedicated to decreasing gun violence in Harlem, has taken on a new mission: helping people protect themselves against COVID-19. Eileen Grench reports for The City how this group is using their grassroots structure to spread knowledge about the virus and safety measures across the neighborhood. Read More.
  • Navajo Nation has been disproportionately hit by the virus, with more than 830 cases and 33 deaths so far and their hospitals have lacked enough gear for their workers to battle the disease. Theresa Davis reports for the Albuquerque Journal how that situation inspired a group of members of the community to organize successful donation drives of homemade masks and gowns and a GoFund me campaign that has raised more than $3,000. Read more.
  • Four Argentinian tourists are stranded in Miami after travel restrictions prevented their return to Buenos Aires, reports Lautaro Grinspan for the Miami Herald. Having depleted their savings, partially due to high foreign transaction surcharges, the friends are living in an abandoned house in Liberty City that’s infested with cockroaches and rodents and sleeping on mattresses they found in the trash. Since Argentina’s final repatriation flight at the end of March, more than 1,000 Argentinians have been stranded in Miami – and about 10,000 worldwide – with no help from their government. Read more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

  • Kelan Lyons, reporting for The Connecticut Mirror, highlights the first death of an inmate from COVID-19 in the state’s prison system. The man, who was in his 60s with underlying health conditions, was approved for discretionary release in March, but stayed in prison after authorities could not find a home sponsor. Read more.
  • Weeks after testing facilities were opened in the Metro East and Missouri regions, East St. Louis’ first coronavirus testing site will be functioning by the end of this week, Eric Schmid reports for St. Louis Public Radio. Mayor Robert Eastern attributed the delay to a lack of federal guidelines and distribution of resources to more densely populated areas, pushing back against suggestions that the wait was because the city is predominantly black, reports Schmid. Early research shows that COVID-19 is more prevalent and fatal in the African American community. Read more.
  • Planning for the distribution of $1 billion in federal grants towards home repair or economic development after the 2018 California wildfires has been delayed due to coronavirus, reports Camille von Kaenel for the Chico Enterprise-Record. Read more.
  • For KUER, David Fuchs reveals the pushback on ABC News stories depicting life as “relatively unchanged” by the pandemic in Washington County, Utah. Local officials are speaking out, saying that while the rural county’s responses are different than that of urban areas in the state, they are taking coronavirus precautions seriously. Read more.
  • While coronavirus precautions increase staffing needs at Cook County Jail, home to one of the nation’s largest virus clusters, correction officers must work double and triple shifts to cover for sick co-workers. This has led to more errors and less sanitation, reports Pascal Sabino for Block Club Chicago. Read more.
  • According to Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz, social distancing measures are flattening the county’s curve, reports Arielle Dreher for the Spokesman-Review. As of Monday, Washington state had registered 10,538 cases of COVID-19 and 516 deaths. Read more.

Monday, April 13, 2020

  • At least one COVID-19 test being used in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and could give false negatives, increasing the risk of those infected spreading the virus, reports Lauren Lindstrom for The Charlotte Observer. County health officials and officials at clinics using non-approved tests disagree over the effects of using non-approved tests in the community. Read more. 
  • As the effects of COVID-19 lead to an increase in emotional distress at a health and social services center in southeast Michigan, national hotlines have also seen a spike in calls. Angie Jackson, for the Detroit Free Press, reports that health organizations are relying on telehealth to treat their patients and spoke with a behavioral health expert who shared information about children’s behavior that may indicate anxiety and depression. Read more. 
  • “And while adhering to Gov. Andy Beshear’s social distancing mandates requires personal sacrifice from virtually everyone, it can pose an especially dangerous threat to those in active recovery, who know idle time and solitude to be some of their worst enemies,” writes Alex Acquisto for the Lexington Herald-Leader, sharing how those recovering from addiction are struggling from the lack of in-person meetings. Read more.
  • While farmers have to throw away excess produce, a lack of resources is forcing food pantries to turn families away and restaurants are shortening their menus. For the Fresno Bee, Manuela Tobias reports on the intertwined effects of COVID-19 in the food industry. Read more. 
  • For WCAI, Eve Zuckoff reports on the measures Cape Cod taxi companies are considering as they try to keep drivers and riders safe. Some are giving masks and wipes to drivers while others are opting to shut down as social distancing orders continue. Listen.
  • For the Malheur Enterprise, Yadira Lopez compiled a list of locals spreading positivity during the coronavirus pandemic. Community members are sewing masks, distributing free lunches with encouraging notes inside and offering their photography skills to help fundraise for a local food pantry. Read more.

Friday, April 10, 2020

  • For WPLN, Samantha Max spoke with family members of teens held in Nashville’s juvenile detention centers. With visits on hold to contain the spread of the virus, Max asked how the detainees were coping with the added layer of isolation. Listen
  • In San Jose, Calif., Erica Hellerstein reports that Santa Clara County has set up a COVID-19 relief hotline to meet the local need for information related to social services, amid economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Read more
  • For the Chicago Sun-Times, Carlos Ballesteros reports that members of the House are calling on the Trump Administration and federal agencies to distribute health guidelines and other information pertaining to COVID-19 in languages other than English. Read more
  •  Katherine Lewin, for the Santa Fe Reporter, covered a Facebook Live town hall Thursday, where Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez shared the latest numbers illustrating the virus’  impact on the tribe: 488 cases and 20 dead. Read more.
  • Teresa Renkenberger only thought she was helping a homeless friend when she created Shower Power,” writes Eric J. Shelton for Mississippi Today. Today, the mobile unit now offers showers to some 65 people in Jackson’s homeless community. Read more
  • In Utah, a roadside restaurant left empty because of the COVID-19 outbreak has been turned into a relief center for out-of-work food service workers, reports David Fuchs for KUER. With the help of a GoFundMe campaign, the owners of Xetava Gardens Cafe have raised $22,000 to buy food and supplies for fellow industry members left unemployed by the crisis. Listen.

Thursday, April 9, 2020:

  • For the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Wyatt Massey reports on a Catholic priest’s weekly house visits. From the street, or the sidewalk, he and accompanying clergy members pray with faithful English- and Spanish-speaking families and bless them. The Tennessee basilica is now live streaming its services due to coronavirus concerns. Read more.
  • Before the mobile testing program was shut down as a COVID-19 precaution, Miami’s LGBTQ community center Pridelines offered the majority of its HIV tests at college campuses or outside nightclubs. Lautaro Grinspan reports for the Miami Herald on what this means for the immunocompromised community of Southern Florida and those working at HIV testing centers. Read more. 
  • For Spectrum News Buffalo, Camalot Todd has been frequently updating a list with  resources for New Yorkers that address the mental and behavioral fallouts of the pandemic, including a free emotional helpline staffed by volunteer mental health professionals. Read more. 
  • Seriously ill patients who require long-term care have been exposed to a COVID-19 outbreak at a speciality hospital in Texas, reports Ciara McCarthy for the Victoria Advocate. Experts are calling the outbreak the “‘worst-case scenario,’” with at least 36 cases linked to this facility, but credit the hospital for quickly responding to the situation and transforming into a COVID-19 treatment facility exclusively. Read more. 
  • As a part of Connecticut’s response to a lawsuit that called on authorities to release inmates to limit the spread of coronavirus, most inmates with COVID-19 will be held at Northern Correctional Institution, reports Kelan Lyons for The Connecticut Mirror. While a dedicated COVID-19 medical staff will be on each shift, infected inmates will be held in the same confinement conditions that were ruled unconstitutional last year by a federal judge. Read more.
  • Students with cognitive delays, physical disabilities, or hearing and vision impairments face more obstacles than other children while using devices for distance learning. ChrisAnna Mink for the Modesto Bee reports on the efforts by schools in Stanislaus County, California to develop distance learning plans for special education students during the school’s closure. Read more.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  • While the Navajo Mountain community of Utah has its own zip code, residents don’t have traditional addresses and get their mail from post office boxes in Arizona, reports Zak Podmore for The Salt Lake Tribune. As the community grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak, reporting cases in the correct state is complicated by a lack of physical addresses. Read more.
  • For the Malheur Enterprise, Yadira Lopez reveals the economic strife of small Oregonian businesses across Malheur County and the growing interest in the new federal Paycheck Protection Program. The program aims to provide small businesses with a loan to stay afloat as operations are curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
  • For The Dallas Morning News, Obed Manuel reports that Dallas County commissioners are seeking full reimbursement from the federal government for a $5 million pop-up hospital through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The pop-up hospital will treat patients who have been released from hospitals but are not yet ready to be out of medical care. Read more.
  • Maine plans to expand its hospital capacity through a 250-bed federal medical station, reveals Samantha Hogan for Pine Tree Watch. The Maine CDC intends to divide the station into five modules as alternate care sites, setting up the first 150 beds by next week, while the Maine Emergency Management Agency works to fill the stations with supplies. Read more.
  • After a significant number of Blaine County’s health care workers tested positive or had been exposed to COVID-19, St. Luke’s hospital in Ketchum, Idaho closed for two weeks. Twin Falls County has not experienced a similarly large surge of cases. Doctors say it may be because social distancing measures are working, reports Rachel Cohen for Boise State Public Radio. Listen. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

  • For Block Club Chicago, Pascal Sabino reports on Cinespace Film Studios’ donation of a 20,000 square foot facility to the Greater Chicago Food Depository to store and pack groceries for families impacted by COVID-19. Before the donation, the depository had to limit the number of volunteers per session. Now, with the space to maintain social distancing requirements, the depository is asking for more volunteers. Read more.
  • After returning from the hospital for treatment of a frequent nosebleed, Burt Keen was locked out of his apartment at the Riverview Retirement Community, reports Arielle Dreher for Spokesman-Review in Eastern Washington. The 97-year-old verteran had to quarantine with his daughter for two weeks, despite having been screened for COVID-19 at the hospital. Keen is now looking for a facility that will accommodate him. Read more.    
  • For Mississippi Today, photojournalist Eric J. Shelton reports on Shower Power, a food truck converted into a mobile shower for the Jackson homeless population that also provides toiletry bags and home-cooked meals. Creator Teresa Renkenberger and her son, Jarred Couch, operated every Friday pre-COVID-19. Now deemed essential, they operate on Tuesdays, too. Read more.  
  • Hundreds of kids across Monument Valley, Utah, have weak signals or no Internet at all, which has complicated the efforts of the local school system to assign homework and assure that they are being homeschooled during the crisis. Kate Groetzinger reports for KUER on this digital divide and the struggle of kids and parents to find a way to connect. Read more.   
  • Every year, more than 12,000 low-income families in Miami-Dade County rely on more than 500 IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers to help them file their returns for free and receive their refunds. This year, the pandemic has disrupted that process. For the Miami Herald, Lautaro Grispan reports on how the tax preparers are looking for new ways to reach out to these families and ensure they file and are eligible for the stimulus checks. Read More.
  • As people turn to baking during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chico baker Altynai Stauss is sharing her sourdough starter for free with the community, reports Camille von Kaenel for the Oroville Mercury-Register in California. Read more.

Monday, April 6, 2020

  • For the Detroit Free Press, Angie Jackson shares the story of Jennifer Thompson, a woman who gave birth to her son in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. Not allowed a support person in the delivery room due to hospital protocol, her husband watched the labor via video chat. Read more
  • Carlos Ballesteros, reporting for the Chicago Sun-Times, highlights the job crisis facing undocumented immigrants in Illinois, who cannot claim unemployment insurance, nor receive benefits from the federal government’s stimulus package despite having paid into the system for years. Read more.
  • Covering rural public health for the Victoria Advocate, Ciara McCarthy reveals how the local county is adjusting to the pandemic. Public health experts caution that, although there were no new confirmed cases as of Saturday, it is likely that the community has more cases than the count indicates due to limited testing. Read more.
  • From San Juan, Víctor Rodríguez Velázquez reports for Centro de Periodismo Investigativo that an increase in COVID-19 cases in areas with a higher concentration of Puerto Ricans in the U.S., in addition to limited preventative health measures taken at airports, could make the island particularly vulnerable to the virus. Read more. 
  • Dairy is Idaho’s biggest industry, and even during a pandemic, its predominantly Spanish-speaking workers continue to do their jobs, exposing them to the virus every day. In Twin Falls, Megan Taros reports for the Times-News on the efforts of a group of educators to produce COVID-19 information in Spanish, to help dairy workers slow the spread of the virus in their communities. Read more.
  • It’s wildflower season in California, and while people are advised not to travel during the pandemic, they can now enjoy the flowers virtually. For The Desert Sun, Risa Johnson reports on the “HWY62flora” Facebook page, a source of photographs and information on the California wildflowers growing along Highway 62. Read more.

Friday, April 3, 2020

  • From the front lines of the outbreak in Louisiana, Emily Woodruff contributed to this story by the Advocate about a New Orleans-area nurse who died of COVID-19 this week, remembered as the “backbone of the ER” where she helped treat those suffering from the virus.
  • For Honolulu Civil Beat, Eleni Gill has been following the progression of the disease across the archipelago state, which registered its second death from complications of the virus and expects cases to surpass 300 over the weekend. Read
  • “About 60 people who are homeless have suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus— or have been exposed to someone who does,” reports Lauren Lindstrom for the Charlotte Observer
  • Covering the spread of COVID-19 in Eastern Washington state for the Spokesman-Review, Arielle Dreher reported that Spokane county is approaching 200 cases as of Friday. Read more
  • While the Salt Lake Tribune’s newsroom sits empty in response to COVID-19 – and after being shaken by a 5.7-magnitude earthquake – the Utah newspaper’s staff has persisted in covering both the “seismic health crisis” and the fallout of the quake within its community. Read Becky Jacobs’ On the Ground dispatch.
  • For the Santa Fe Reporter, producer and host of the Reported podcast Katherine Lewin shares a conversation with New Mexico University’s Chile Pepper Institute on the importance, amid the COVID-19 crisis, of locals growing their own produce – especially since New Mexicans grow some of “the best chile in the world,” she notes. Listen.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

  • Advocates are worried victims of abuse will be stuck at home with their abusers under North Carolina’s social distancing measures. Adam Wagner at the Raleigh News and Observer compiled some of the advice and resources for those suffering from domestic violence. Read more
  • Preventative measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 are shutting people out of in-person substance abuse support programs, at a moment when the nation’s alcoholic beverage sales are increasing. Camalot Todd with Spectrum News Buffalo reports on how behavioral health organizations are adapting to serve vulnerable community members in Western New York. Read more.
  • For the Cincinnati Enquirer, Julia Fair shares the story of married couple Renee and Dan Mathew from Northern Kentucky, who have been separated by the virus. While Renee, a nurse practitioner, has been hospitalized with COVID-19 and requires supplemental oxygen, Dan is working from home with milder symptoms and isn’t sure when his wife will be able to come home. Read more
  • For the Miami Herald, Lautaro Grinspan shares the struggle of domestic workers whose employers have ended their services in response to the local county’s shelter-in-place order. Because many domestic workers are undocumented, economic relief from the government is not an option. Read more
  • In New Mexico, Theresa Davis shares the story of Peace Corps member Hallie Brown who, in response to the pandemic, was sent home from Gambia nine months short of completing her 26-month service with the program. Read more.
  • The Nashville Symphony is one of many cultural institutions navigating uncharted waters because of COVID-19, reports Samantha Max for WPLN Nashville Public Radio. While no employees have been laid off or furloughed, the symphony is asking those who have bought tickets to turn them into a donation. Listen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

  • For Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, Rafael René Díaz Torres shares the stories of people who say they’ve been denied COVID-19 testing, as well as information about the locations on the island where testing is available. Read more (in Spanish).
  • Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that “more than half” of juveniles detained by the city in the past two weeks had been released to prevent the spread of the virus. But, as Eileen Grench reports, those numbers only refer to juvenile delinquents; the general population has only fallen 20%. Read more.
  • In Utah for the Salt Lake Tribune, Becky Jacobs explores the local ties of the first U.S. service member to die of the virus. Read more.
  • Theodora Yu in Sacramento reports that California’s 2020 census data collection is on track despite challenges resulting from measures against the coronavirus spread. Read more.
  • Grocery stores in Wyoming have taken precautions to help protect the state’s vulnerable elderly community against contagion, reports Chris Aadland for the Casper Star-Tribune. Read more.
  • Meanwhile, on Cape Cod, Eve Zuckoff spoke with a local specialty grocery store doing the vital work of keeping community members fed, hiring reinforcements to respond to increased demand, doubling up orders and buying an extra phone to keep up with the amount of calls-in orders for pickup and delivery. Listen.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

  • Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Woods Hole, a small town in Massachusetts, hosted more than 2,000 scientists, researchers and staff at six major research institutions. Now, only a few people remain to tend to the facilities. Eve Zuckoff reports for WCAI on years and decades of research studies that have been interrupted, their data lost. Perhaps forever. Listen
  • As the city of Dallas institutes new reporting requirements for hospitals, in order to get a handle on the city’s total number of ventilators and hospital beds, a convention center is being transformed this week into the site of the state’s first pop-up hospital amid the outbreak, reports Obed Manuel for the Dallas Morning News. Read more
  • At the Lexington Herald-Leader, Alex Acquisto shares the efforts of one outpatient clinic in Kentucky that is preparing for the state’s expected spike in cases. Read more
  • Illinois has reported the first death of an inmate from  COVID-19 at Stateville Correctional Center, during a two-week lockdown of the facility, reports Carlos Ballesteros for the Chicago Sun-Times. Read more
  • Care concerns are rising in Eastern Washington state’s Benton County, where the local health district lacks test kits for long-term care facilities, reports Arielle Dreher for the Spokesman-Review. Read more.
  • “My day consists of wondering whether or not there’s going to be an outbreak in the facility. I’m basically a nervous wreck,” one inmate told Connecticut Mirror reporter Kelan Lyons. While some prisoners are being released in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, others are being caught in the bureaucracy of the state’s prison system. Read more.

Monday, March 30, 2020

  • The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes on Wind River Reservation have enacted “some of the strictest measures in Wyoming to slow the spread” of the virus, reports Savannah Maher for Wyoming Public Media. The trouble is, however, that housing needs on the reservation have made the tribes’ “stay at home” directives seemingly contradictory. Listen.
  • Replicating a testing strategy from South Korea, a Tennessee drug and alcohol clinic set up a drive-through station to test as many people as possible reports Wyatt Massey for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Read more
  • Food pantries in Idaho’s Magic Valley are struggling to meet the demands of locals in need, reports Megan Taros, partly a consequence of panic buying and  hoarding. Read more
  • In Mississippi, Michelle Liu reports that inmates working in the state’s restitution centers will be released early as part of the prison system’s efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. Working in collaboration with the Marshall Project, Liu recently reported on Mississippi’s restitution system, which orders prisoners to work to pay off debts and fines. Read more.
  • Social distancing measures in Illinois have disrupted the ability to spread awareness about the 2020 census locally, meaning government and community organizations have had to get creative, reports Eric Schmid for St. Louis Public Radio. Read more.
  • Registered voters in West Virginia can send absentee ballots in order to vote in the 2020 primary election, reports Emily Allen for West Virginia Public Radio. While the state will be mailing some 1.2 million ballots, there will still be the opportunity to vote in-person in late-April and May. Read more.

Friday, March 27, 2020

  • Mallory Falk, reporting for KERA at the U.S.-Mexico border, spoke with medical experts who believe ICE detention centers in Texas are “tinderboxes” for the spread of COVID-19. Listen.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to derail continued efforts to rebuild Butte County, already devastated following California’s 2018 Camp Fire. Camille von Kaenel reports on residents in the area who are at the heart of the wildfires and feel it’s “double traumatizing.” Read more. 
  • For the Salt Lake Tribune, Zak Podmore writes that local health officials are calling for the Arches and Canyonlands national parks to close as undaunted tourists continue to visit despite outbreak concerns. Read more
  • Northern Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie has courted the ire of fellow Republicans, including President Donald Trump, for demanding in-person House vote on the emergency $2-trillion pandemic relief bill, reports Julia Fair for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Read more. Fair reported last week on Massie’s controversial comments on the virus. 
  • Maine has already used up its stockpile of medical equipment this week. For Pine Tree Watch, Samantha Hogan spoke with an expert who said he begged the state to invest in protective equipment and ventilators before the outbreak. Read more
  • “We are very ill-prepared for a biological event like this,” a local Mississippi official told Michelle Liu regarding readiness to combat the COVID-19 in county jails. The disparities between rural and urban jails is starke, she reports. Read more.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

  • The coal industry asked for coronavirus relief funds in the form of tax cuts, as part of the Congress’ $2 trillion stimulus package. But as Will Wright reports from Kentucky, the tax cuts they propose help fund the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which offers benefits to miners stricken with the work-related disease. “They didn’t get it in this federal stimulus bill,” wrote Wright on Twitter, “but both sides say the fight is far from over.” Read more. 
  • Teenage inmates in New York City are suing for release from detention centers as concerns over the coronavirus’ impact on the correctional system mounts, reports Eileen Grench for The City. Read more
  • In the Mississippi Delta, local schools are trying to negotiate the challenge of offering online classes to kids in areas without any Internet. Alex Watts reports on this digital divide for Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Listen to her dispatch.
  • Prison reform groups are paying bonds to get detainees freed from Cook County Jail in Illinois after reports that 17 inmates and a corrections officer have contracted the virus, reports Pascal Sabino for Block Club Chicago. Read more
  • Meanwhile, in Michigan, Angie Jackson reports for the Detroit Free Press that 13 prisoners across six correctional facilities have contracted coronavirus. Read more.
  • On O’ahu, healthcare workers are already running low on protective gear, reports Eleni Gill for the Honolulu Civil Beat, and rural hospitals across the state are being rationed by suppliers. Read more.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

  • Amid business closures across the state, New Mexico farmers are working to supply fresh produce to locals, reports Theresa Davis for the Albuquerque Journal. Read more.
  • Manny Ramos highlights an unintended consequence of the stay-at-home orders nationwide: a shortage of blood donations. “More than 6,000 American Red Cross blood drives have been canceled nationwide over the last three weeks, resulting in about 200,000 fewer blood donations.” Read more.
  • In California’s San Joaquin Valley, a local school district is providing grab-and-go meals at 23 locations, including bus stops, to help families in need feed their kids during school closures, reports Kaitlin Washburn, with The Sun-Gazette. Read more.
  • For the Malheur Enterprise, in Oregon, Yadira Lopez reports on long-term effects to the local economy due to the outbreak and closures in its wake. Read more
  • Despite calls from Connecticut advocacy groups to release some inmates early in order to  prevent them from being infected with COVID-19, Governor Ned Lamont said he’s not considering that measure. Lamont has yet to articulate preventative measures for correctional facilities, reports Kelan Lyons for the Connecticut Mirror.
  • Emily Woodruff, with the Advocate in New Orleans, worked with other reporters to speak to nine local healthcare workers on the front lines of efforts in the Pelican State to save patients’ lives and contain the virus. Read more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

  • While meeting-based recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous move online amid the outbreak, the isolation of staying at home and stress caused by the news cycle pose threats to recovery from alcohol and drug use, reports corps member Adam Wagner from North Carolina. Read here.
  • Due to the crisis, an embattled Kentucky judge facing misconduct charges will maintain her position and salary until the hearings, set for next month, can be rescheduled. Julia Fair reports for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the Judicial Conduct Commission decision to suspend her hearings over concerns about spreading the virus. Read more
  • How can families and friends put loved ones to rest amid a pandemic? Utah funeral homes are helping locals find ways to grieve, reports Becky Jacobs for the Salt Lake Tribune. Read more. 
  • For Boise State Radio in Idaho, Rachel Cohen looks at how districts and residents are navigating “shelter in place” and “state of emergency” declarations – a challenge for counties like Blaine, where retail stores selling basic goods do not exist, requiring locals to drive south to Twin Falls for supplies. Listen.
  • In Mississippi, Michelle Liu has been looking at how the state’s prison system is preparing for the virus, including suspending approved leave and prisoner work crews. Read more
  • With WCAI on Cape Cod, Eve Zuckoff spoke with local businesses and employees ordered to close shop by state order. Read more.
  • In California, Risa Johnson writes about the ways parents and children are adjusting to remote learning, more time at home and less time with friends, highlighting the creative approaches parents have come up with to keep their children active and engaged. Read more.

Monday, March 23, 2020

  • In Newark, New Jersey, the school system’s online format comes with an upgrade for some 7,000 students: a laptop and free internet. Devna Bose reports on how the community is trying to address disparities during the pandemic. Read more.
  • In Tennessee, Wyatt Massey reports on Chattanooga’s burdened system of shelters, which does not yet have the capacity to house everyone in need. The city is working with local nonprofits and community centers to find the means of protecting the area’s most vulnerable population. Read more
  • Similarly, Manuela Tobias, with the Fresno Bee in California’s Central Valley, reports on the local effort to shelter the homeless. Many of them  told Tobias, however, that they were concerned about the risk of being quarantined with strangers amid the pandemic, potentially raising the likelihood of infection. Read more.   
  • Before the crisis, West Virginia food pantries were already feeding some 100,000 people annually. But now,  job losses related to the pandemic are straining that system further, reports former corps member Caity Coyne. Complicating the problem, many of the food pantry volunteers are over 70, making them more at risk of death from COVID-19. Read more.
  • In North Carolina, food distributor Meals on Wheels is trying to address the issue of food delivery, and safety protocols for interactions with seniors, the most vulnerable to the virus. Read Adam Wagner’s reporting
  • Reporting for Utah’s Salt Lake Tribune, Becky Jacobs speaks with a couple trying to adapt their marriage plans to the new reality of social distancing. Read her reporting on love in the time of coronavirus.

Friday, March 20, 2020

  • For Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, corps member Rachel Cohen reports on how local businesses are learning to adapt to new containment measures. Read more.
  • In Miami, Lautaro Grinspan reported for the Miami Herald on some “eyebrow-raising” scenes at one local nursing home, where the facility has had to make its own sanitizer, skirmishes over supplies were witnessed and school closings have forced desperate employees to bring kids to work despite a visitor ban. Read more
  • Reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina, Lauren Lindstrom is covering the outbreak in Mecklenburg County, where the reported cases more than doubled overnight. Read more.
  • Across California, job losses due to shutdowns are causing community members to go hungry and ask for assistance that is already under strain, reports corps member Jackie Botts for CalMatters. “A line of 500 to 600 people standing six feet apart snaked around a parking lot and multiple city blocks in downtown Los Angeles,” she writes.
  • In Mississippi, Eric J. Shelton, a photojournalist, has been covering the outbreak’s local effects for Mississippi Today. See his latest work in this story about the impact on local food supplies.
  • Camalot Todd, who covers mental health in Western New York state, reminded her Spectrum News’ Buffalo audience that it is normal to be anxious or stressed in times like these and shared behavioral and mental health resources for those who feel that might need support.. Read more.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

  • From domestic workers to stand-up comedians, members of Chicago’s gig economy are caught in a microcosm of the crisis amid the global pandemic. As gigs decrease and disappear altogether, locals are getting creative in paying their rent, corps member Carlos Ballesteros reports for the Chicago Sun-Times. Read more.
  • Corps member Obed Manuel covers Latino issues and the 2020 census for the Dallas Morning News, and reports that the U.S. Census Bureau has suspended local field operations due to the pandemic and will reopen in April. Read more.
  • In Buffalo, Wyoming, corps member Mara Abbott is covering the outbreak’s impact on the local oil industry. Accounting for 15% of her county’s property and production taxes, the global drop in gas prices, compounded by the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia, hits home, and hard. According to the Petroleum Association of Wyoming,” she writes, “each time a dollar is sliced off the price of oil, the state sustains a $12.5 million annual loss.” Read more.
  • For St. Louis Public Radio, Eric Schmid reports that Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced statewide Medicaid expansion to cover COVID-19 infections. Read more.
  • As the outbreak spreads across the Bay Area and volunteers become scarce, the city of Sunnyvale is deploying its own staff members to help distribute food to those in need. Corpsmember Erica Hellerstein is on the ground with Mercury News. Read more.
  • Reporting for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky, corps member Alex Acquisto speaks with the local officials leading the effort to distribute the first major shipment of safety gear – surgical masks gloves and gowns – to the commonwealth’s hospitals. Read more.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

  • For the Victoria Advocate in Texas, corps member Ciara McCarthy is covering the state’s investigation into Matagorda County’s first potential COVID-19 case. Read more.
  • In Kentucky, the wide swath of residents finding themselves without work following the governor’s order to close down all dining-in at restaurants and bars is overwhelming the commonwealth’s unemployment system with thousands more claims per week, reports corps member Will Wright. Read more
  • Despite the national and local states of emergency declarations, Moab, Utah expects as many as 6,000 tourists next weekend. But as corps member Kate Goetzinger reports for KUER, the local hospital has a message for potential visitors:  “stay at home.” Read more.
  • Organizers are scrambling to help get food and other essentials to older or vulnerable people who are staying at home to protect against the spread of the coronavirus,” reports corps member Camille von Kaenel for the Chico Enterprise-Record in California’s Butte County, where there has also been an outpouring of offers from healthy residents to help neighbors in need. Read more.
  • In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Katherine Lewin asked Dr. David Scrase, secretary of Human Services of the state, about what members of the population are most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 during a one-on-one interview this week. Read more.
  • In Wyoming, Chris Aadland reports that local Native American tribes at the Wind River Reservation are responding to the virus this week by calling a state of emergency and shutting down casinos until further notice. Read More.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020:

  • After hearing about the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, two residents decided to put their time and effort into helping those in need. Reporting for the Times Free Press, Wyatt Massey followed members of We Over Me Chattanooga as they distributed food to the elderly and families with children across the city. 
  • ChrisAnna Mink reports on the third confirmed case of COVID-19 in Stanislaus County, California and the activation of the emergency services response in the area for the Modesto Bee.
  • Is it safe to swim in the ocean? In a pool? How long does the virus stay on clothing? Eleni Gill answers these and other COVID-19 related questions for Honolulu Civil Beat readers. 
  • Homeless shelters are particularly vulnerable to the spread of the novel coronavirus, given the tight living spaces and the frailty of many of those who use these services. Kelan Lyons reports on the state of Connecticut’s shelters and the anxiety felt by those who live in them for the Connecticut Mirror.
  • Julia Fair reports on the backlash against Northern Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie after he took to social media to criticize the Coronavirus Relief Bill passed by Congress and the measures adopted by the government. 
  • Given their limited budget, supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries can’t afford to stock up on food and essential items. Pascal Sabino reports for Block Club Chicago on how the wave of panic buyers and hoarders have left these people scrambling to find food for a possible lockdown. Despite not reporting any cases of COVID-19 yet, life is already changing at Malheur County, Oregon. Yadira Lopez chronicles the big and small ways this community is adapting to the pandemic for the Malheur Enterprise.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Friday, March 13, 2020

  • Reporting from Seoul, GroundTruth alumna Kelly Kasulis compiled a timeline of how South Korea, which has the third-largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the world  moved fast to respond to the emergency, keeping its death rate at the lowest level possible and offering an interesting comparison to how the U.S. has responded.
  • In this week’s AAPI newsletter, Theodora Yu at The Sacramento Bee is closely following the impact of COVID-19 on the Asian American community in Sacramento, Calif. Read more.
  • Chris Ehrmann with the Associated Press was in New York’s ‘containment area’ in New Rochelle, interviewing weary and anxious residents and shop owners, in one of the nation’s biggest clusters of coronavirus cases. Read more.
  • In Hawaii, Eleni Gill with The Honolulu Civil Beat, has been fielding questions from the community. In her latest Q&A post, she tackles why the islands haven’t yet banned cruise ships. Read more.
  • As coronavirus cases in New Orleans rise, hospital officials are worried about staffing, supplies and more. Emily Woodruff at The New Orleans Advocate has the latest. Read more.
  • Another 100 cases were reported in Washington State on Thursday, increasing the number of confirmed cases to 457, but health officials think the number is much higher. Arielle Dreher, reporting for the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, WA, highlights how the efforts to stop the spread of the virus in the state are being hampered by the delays in testing. Read more.
  • Julia Fair examines the impact the closure of schools will have on 650,000 children and their families across Ohio in her latest story for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Read More.

*Correction: In an earlier version of the April 2 update, Adam Wagner was said to work for the Charlotte Observer with a link to that publication’s version of his story, when in fact he works at the Raleigh News and Observer.