Meg Anderson | New Hampshire Public Radio

Meg Anderson

Widespread testing for the coronavirus is key to safely reopening the country, but the U.S. has struggled for months to get to the level of testing many experts say we need — even as states and cities begin to loosen restrictions.

On the night of March 30, just before 7 p.m., Dr. Ray Lorenzoni put on his face mask, walked across the street from the Bronx apartment he shares with his wife and started his shift at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center.

Lorenzoni, 35, is in his second year of a pediatric cardiology fellowship at the hospital. But this night, the patients would be different: It was his first shift treating adult coronavirus patients — the first adults he's treated in the hospital since medical school six years before.

The Trump administration says it will now spend billions of dollars to help states make COVID-19 testing more widely available, a move meant to address months-long complaints about test shortages.

But here's the puzzle: Many labs say they have plenty of tests. So what's the disconnect?

Turns out a "test" is not a single device. COVID-19 testing involves several steps, each one requiring different supplies, and there are shortages of different supplies at different times in different places.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DON GONYEA, HOST:

Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET

Michelle Sweeney could barely sleep. The nurse in Plymouth, Mass., had just learned she would be furloughed. She only had four hours the next day to call all of her patients.

"I was in a panic state. I was sick over it," Sweeney said. "Our patients are the frailest, sickest group."

Sweeney works for Atrius Health as a case manager for patients with chronic health conditions and those who have been discharged from the hospital or emergency room.

Banks handling the government's $349 billion loan program for small businesses made more than $10 billion in fees — even as tens of thousands of small businesses were shut out of the program, according to an analysis of financial records by NPR.

The banks took in the fees while processing loans that required less vetting than regular bank loans and had little risk for the banks, the records show. Taxpayers provided the money for the loans, which were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.

Updated at 10:10 p.m. ET

One month ago today, President Trump declared a national emergency.

In a Rose Garden address, flanked by leaders from giant retailers and medical testing companies, he promised a mobilization of public and private resources to attack the coronavirus.

"We've been working very hard on this. We've made tremendous progress," Trump said. "When you compare what we've done to other areas of the world, it's pretty incredible."

But few of the promises made that day have come to pass.

The drone footage and photos circulating on social media show what appears to be the unthinkable: Mass graves on a New York City island as the city struggles in the throes of a pandemic.

But city officials say the shocking images only tell a partial story: Hart Island — located just off the coast of the Bronx — has been used for more than 150 years as a place to bury the city's unidentified or unclaimed dead, or those whose families can't pay for a burial.

The response to the growing threat of the coronavirus has varied widely in cities and counties across the country. Some are sheltering in place; others aren't.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the nation, U.S. hospital workers will be among the first to bear witness to the growing crisis.

Are you a doctor, nurse or other health care provider working in a hospital on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic? If so, NPR wants to hear from you.

Tell us about your own experience coping with the pandemic at your hospital.

Updated at 3:52 p.m. ET

The number of coronavirus deaths in the United States has sharply accelerated in recent days, now exceeding 2,000, marking a doubling of the fatality rate in the span of two days.

Updated at 5:54 p.m. ET

A person in Washington state has died of the new coronavirus, President Trump confirmed Saturday. The fatality marks the first reported death from the virus in the United States.

The patient who died was a man in his 50s with underlying medical conditions, according to Washington state health officials.

In cities around the country, if you want to understand the history of a neighborhood, you might want to do the same thing you'd do to measure human health: Check its temperature.

That's what a group of researchers did, and they found that neighborhoods with higher temperatures were often the same ones subjected to discriminatory, race-based housing practices nearly a century ago.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's been difficult to report on the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, in particular, the Abaco Islands, because journalists just couldn't get there to see what was going on firsthand. Now NPR's team is there.

Annie Haigler steps out of her home in Louisville, Ky., pulling a handkerchief out of her pocket to dab sweat off her forehead. She enjoys sitting on her porch, especially to watch the sunrise. She has always been a morning person.

But as the day progresses, the heat can be unbearable for her. On summer days like this, when highs reach into the 90s, the lack of trees in her neighborhood is hard for Haigler to ignore.

"That's what I'm accustomed to trees doing: They bring comfort. You don't notice it, you don't think about it. But they bring comfort to you," she says.

When Shakira Franklin drives from West Baltimore to her job near the city's Inner Harbor, she can feel the summer heat ease up like a fist loosening its grip.

"I can actually feel me riding out of the heat. When I get to a certain place when I'm on my way, I'll turn off my air and I'll roll my windows down," says Franklin. "It just seems like the sun is beaming down on this neighborhood."

Europe's traditional centrist coalition lost its majority in the European Union's parliamentary elections Sunday, with far-right populist parties and liberal, pro-European Union parties both gaining ground. The results suggest a complicated future for the EU, as voters look for new ways forward.

More than 50% of European voters turned out last week to vote in the parliamentary elections, the highest turnout in two decades and a sharp increase from the last election in 2014.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says he plans to sue the Trump administration the moment the president declares a national emergency to free up funds for a border wall.

Becerra was responding in Spanish to President Trump's State of the Union address to Congress. But he released his response before Trump even delivered the first words of his remarks, anticipating a speech in which the president doubled down on his demand for the construction of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Updated on Sept. 20 at 5:20 p.m. ET

The woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault revealed her identity Sunday in an interview with The Washington Post.

Bernie Sanders thinks he has a pretty good idea why Hillary Clinton and Democrats lost in the 2016 election.

"Look, you can't simply go around to wealthy people's homes raising money and expect to win elections," the Vermont senator, who gave Clinton a surprisingly strong run for the Democratic nomination, told NPR's David Greene in an interview airing on Morning Edition. "You've got to go out and mix it up and be with ordinary people."

Donald Trump, it seems, has been listening to NPR.

On Wednesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Rachel Martin spoke with former House speaker and Trump adviser Newt Gingrich on a wide range of topics concerning the president-elect's transition to the White House.

You know the drill: Trace your hand, then add the details. Two feet, a beak, a single eyeball. Color it in, and voila! Hand becomes turkey.

You know the rest too: The Pilgrims fled England and landed on Plymouth Rock. The native people there, the Wampanoag, taught them to farm the land. In 1621, they sat down together for a thanksgiving feast, and we've been celebrating it ever since.

It's a lesson many remember from childhood, but the story has some problems.

Donald Trump may be taking the old adage of keeping friends close and enemies closer to heart.

The president-elect met 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Bedminster, N.J. on Saturday, and after the meeting the two emerged with signals it had gone well.

Before Donald Trump takes the oath of office in January, there are a lot of questions about how he will decide key policy issues.

Every four years, the Electoral College creeps back into the lives of American voters. In some presidential elections, the strange, indirect system used to select the next U.S. president can feel like a formality that doesn't seem to matter much.

In other elections, it matters very much indeed. This is one of those years.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that she plans to vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in California.

"I will vote for it, but I have not made a public statement about it until right this very second," Pelosi, who represents the district that serves San Francisco, told the editorial board and reporters at the Los Angeles Times.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

Federal agents now have a search warrant they need to examine the thousands of emails found on a computer belonging to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner that could be pertinent to the investigation of Hillary Clinton's personal email server, sources familiar with the matter tell NPR's Carrie Johnson.

Weiner is the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

President Obama has a very busy week ahead of him. According to a schedule released by the White House, the president plans to campaign Tuesday through Friday next week for Hillary Clinton. He is likely to keep up the vigorous campaign schedule in the days leading up to the election.

Pages