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Your Saturday Update: CDC Recommendations for Protests, Some Churches Offer Coronavirus Testing, When Kids Have Questions About COVID-19

Photo: Hal Gatewood
Photo: Hal Gatewood

CDC makes recommendations for large protests

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Ahead of Black Lives Matter protests at the Orlando City Hall, here are some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These apply to any large gathering-whether it's a demonstration or social gathering like a wedding.

To begin with experts recommend you ask the following questions:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community?
  • Will you have a potential close contact with someone who is sick or anyone who is not wearing a face covering (and may be asymptomatic)?
  • Are you at increased risk of severe illness?
  • Do you take everyday actions to protect yourself from COVID-19?

Then based on this calculation of risk, if you decide to go:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or with hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Maintain at least six feet or two arms' length of distance between yourself and other people, avoiding close contact with anyone who shows COVID-19 symptoms
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering

Remember to monitor your symptoms and to take your temperature if symptoms continue to develop. Click here for the CDC's  coronavirus self-checker.

Veepstakes who are Joe Biden's potential running mates?

NPR Politics 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate, but who will it be?

NPR's Domenico Montanaro and Elena Moore take a look of some of the top contenders from a list of 12 candidates who could potentially serve as the next vice president. The coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests could shape the decision.

Read "The Pros And Cons Of 12 Potential Running Mates For Joe Biden" at https://www.npr.org/2020/05/14/854433...

To combat disparities, Black churches in Dallas offer coronavirus testing

Bret Jaspers, KERA

Families stood in line wearing masks. White pop-up tents sheltered health care workers while they drew patients' blood.

It wasn't the scene at a medical clinic, but the parking lot of a black church in South Dallas in late May. Friendship-West Baptist Church was the first of several black churches in the area to host a free weekly coronavirus testing event.

"Knowing what I know, that this disease is hitting us disproportionately and killing us disproportionately, it would be irresponsible and reckless for us not to step up and take this into our own hands," says Frederick Haynes, senior pastor at Friendship-West, who organized the event as part of the Together We Test initiative.

Neighborhoods in South Dallas, where there are more people of color, have fewer sites offering coronavirus testing than whiter North Dallas, just a few miles away. They also have less health care access more broadly.

These disparities mean the experiences people have when seeking a test can be quite different, depending on where they live, as well as their income or fluency in navigating the health care system.

Read the full article here.

Florida coronavirus cases rising as state reopens

The Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Cases of the coronavirus continue to rise in Florida as the state gradually reopens, with more than 2,500 new diagnoses reported Saturday by state health officials.

The numbers reported by the state Department of Health mark the 10th out of 11 straight days in which new cases have topped 1,000.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and local officials began relaxing rules on businesses, beaches, theme parks and gatherings in May.

There were 2,581 new coronavirus cases reported Saturday, the third straight new record. Coronavirus deaths in Florida now stand at over 3,000 out of 73,552 positive cases since the outbreak started.

Little Kids, Big Questions

StoryCorps, NPR

This week, we're fighting the COVID blues by giving kids the microphone—big interview questions from some of StoryCorps' littlest friends.

More from StoryCorps on the pandemic.

Beijing in 'wartime emergency mode' amid fresh cluster of coronavirus cases

Colin Dwyer, NPR

For nearly two months, the Chinese capital, a city of more than 20 million people, did not report a single local case of the coronavirus. But a recent spike in confirmed cases has officials in Beijing afraid they're staring down a new outbreak — and they are responding with swift and sweeping measures to contain it.

Authorities say there have been seven new cases in the past three days, all of which are connected to the Xinfadi market, the city's largest wholesale food market. Health officials said Saturday that, of the 517 samples that they took from market workers the day before, 45 tested positive for the virus.

Under China's standards for confirming coronavirus cases — which exclude asymptomatic individuals — this cluster of people won't be counted as confirmed until they begin displaying symptoms and come up positive on a separate nucleic acid test. Yet officials view the development with significant alarm — at least partly because the market employs or hosts some 10,000 workers and vendors and provides 90% of the capital's vegetables and fruit, according to state-run media.

"Depending on the results [of epidemiological surveys and contact tracing], Beijing should take swift action, expand the testing pool to include all personnel involved with the market, and investigate surrounding neighborhoods," Beijing officials said in a statement outlining the contents of a high-level meeting Friday.

Authorities have shut down the market itself and parts of several others in the city, while canceling classes for at least nine schools nearby. Eleven residential neighborhoods in the city's Fengtai district now require temperature checks and are closed to outside visitors.

The entire district has been placed in a "wartime emergency mode," Chu Junwei, a Fengtai official, told a news briefing Saturday, according to a Reuters translation.

Once the epicenter of the global pandemic, China had largely seen new cases taper off in recent months, while other countries, including the U.S., surpassed it in total cases and deaths. The positive data have been attributed partly due to the country's shift to a diagnostic standard with a steep bar for confirmation and partly due to the strict lockdowns implemented by Communist Party officials.

Our Daily Breather: Bobby Bare's sage advice for taking it day by day

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. This entry concludes our series; look out next week for some roundups of favorite practices that emerged over three months of asking artists and writers how they've been coping.

Who: Bobby Bare
Where: Hendersonville, Tenn.
Recommendation: Taking it day by day

"Daddy what if the wind stopped blowin', what would happen then? If the wind stopped blowin' then the land would be dry And your boat wouldn't sail son and your kite wouldn't fly And the grass would see your troubles and she'd tell the wind And the wind would start blowin' again"

In 1973, I released a song called "Daddy What If." It was a song written by my friend Shel Silverstein. Shel had the perfect way with words and could teach both adults and children something new about life in everything he wrote. Whether it was a song or a poem, he offered a unique perspective that brought comfort and understanding in every rhyming line. ...

During quarantine, I've been mostly staying home. It's been a time of reflection for me. Time to listen to music and remember old friends. But I know many don't have that luxury. For many this is a time of hardship, and worry. The thing I've learned about this period of time is that pandemics affect everyone in some way. But while there are lots of struggles that lay before so many, both now and in the future, there are also so many things we can learn from this pandemic and apply in our lives moving forward. It has taught us the importance of conversations and family time, communication with friends and coworkers and helping out our neighbors and communities. And while we don't know what lies ahead right now, I'd say we never truly do in life. We always have a choice, every day, to either live in fear of what might be, or take it day by day. We can continue to help our friends and neighbors, we can love our families and we can get through this all together. Right now, it's easy to feel like little kids, worried about what might happen if the wind stops blowing, our kites stop flying and our boats can't sail. But know that your family, your friends, your neighbors and I will see your troubles, and together we'll all tell the wind to start blowing again. [embed]https://youtu.be/cxOE4kZEgr0[/embed]

Orange County CARES Act portal opens for a third time Monday

Danielle Prieur, WMFE The Orange County CARES Act portal will open for a third time on Monday at 8 am. The system will accept 25,000 applicants before it closes.

The number of corresponding documents that need to be submitted have decreased. Payments will now go directly to individuals and families instead of being processed through a secondary vendor. The portal will reopen again this month if residents can't get through. The county says the goal is to distribute $1,000 grants to about 30,000 people.

Obsession or just good hygiene? Keeping the coronavirus and OCD at bay

James Dawson, NPR When I was 8 years old, just about all I could think of was how I was going to die that day. No, I didn't grow up in the middle of a war zone, though many others across the world were living through that kind of nightmare in 1996. I was born and raised in a safe, small town in Idaho  where  murder  was a rarity. It wouldn't be a gun, a child predator, or a car accident that killed me, I figured. Instead, because I had a significant form of anxiety that neither I nor my parents recognized at the time — obsessive compulsive disorder — I was convinced that some kind of microscopic creature would be absorbed through my hands and infect every living cell in my body. Maybe it would be bacteria, I thought, or parasites. Or a virus. That pencil I borrowed from my second grade classmate? It had to be totally infested. The handle on the drinking fountain? Crawling with germs. When I took out the trash or cleaned our cat's litter box, my mind raced to strategize which hand I would use to turn on every light switch, open and close each door and carefully lift the lid on the garbage can to minimize my exposure to any kind of contamination. I got good at using my feet, elbows and any other part of my body that lacked opposable thumbs to avoid touching what I deemed to be the life-threatening surfaces of everyday objects. Now, 23 years later, those skills that only the most generous would have called "eccentric" in pre-pandemic times are actually useful as I try to keep myself and my immunocompromised housemate — my girlfriend — safe. But those skills come at a cost as I try to balance the need to frequently sanitize our home with the need to keep anxiety-driven compulsion at bay. Read the full article here.

This November, election night could stretch into election week or month

On the night of Pennsylvania's June 2 primary, things looked bleak for Nina Ahmad. The former deputy mayor of Philadelphia was running in a crowded Democratic primary field to become the state's auditor general in a race that could be a preview of things to come across the country in November. If Ahmad won, she'd become the first woman of color to be nominated for an executive leadership position in the state. But she trailed in the race by tens of thousands of votes on election night. Supporters began reaching out with sympathy. "People were worried; they emailed [about how I lost] and said I'm so sorry," Ahmad said. "I said, 'Just hold your horses.' " The election night results mostly reflected the totals from the western part of the state. But Ahmad's base was in the east, in vote-rich Philadelphia, which was  still counting votes. It was a full week after election day, a week that involved her and her daughters refreshing results' websites "every two minutes," before she took the lead. She declared  victory officially Thursday, nine days after election day. More than  half of all ballots cast in the Pennsylvania primary were by mail, and as states across the country transition to the historic amount of mail voting happening as a result of the pandemic,  similar stories are playing out in other primaries. Experts and election officials are already sounding the alarm that voters need to expect the same sort of delay in November's presidential election. Read the full article here.

Performing in a pandemic: Taking the high school play online

Sequoia Carrillo, NPR Among the many losses this school year was the chance for students to shine on stage in the classic end-of-the-year theater production. Yet teachers and students across the country turned misfortune into opportunity, creating memorable plays and performances that will live on — online. For many student performers, there was that one week, back in March, where everything shifted. One moment everyone was at school, going to class and hanging out with friends ... and then suddenly they were at home, social-distancing and trying to figure out online learning. At Zeeland High School in western Michigan, that was THE week. The week they were to perform — onstage — the annual spring musical. David Miller, the school's theater director, said they were one of the lucky ones. His students actually got one full show in before all the schools in Michigan shut down. He says many of his colleagues at other schools never got that far. Zeeland sophomore Ellie VanEngen says she and the other performers initially held out some they would get to perform again, but when they got off the stage it became clear the whole show was off, cancelled.

Ellie remembers everyone leaving "with piles of clothes in their arms, as much as we could carry." That abrupt end of the spring musical left Miller and his students with one big question: What about the school play? They hadn't even held auditions yet, but the students were adamant: they wanted to do something. So Miller decided to turn their on-stage version of "Radium Girls" into  a radio play.To stay true to form, they held auditions over Zoom, with the cameras off. "My dog actually came into the room and knocked my phone over!" Ellie says. "And I was so freaked out, but luckily we didn't have to be seen so I was like, 'phew it's OK,' and I finished the piece." And it did end up OK — Ellie got the part she wanted! The students rehearsed for a couple weeks until they were ready to record. For Ellie, it wasn't the big performance she'd envisioned on stage, with her parents and all her classmates there, but she says it was a cool experience to just work with her voice to convey emotion. Of course, the Zeeland High Players weren't the only students who improvised this season. At Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy in Arizona, Michael Levin's students took their plans to stage the classic Arthur Miller play "The Crucible," and turned it into a series of short horror films. Levin says he had just cast his students in "The Crucible" when their school shut down. At first, he and the students weren't sure how to frame it. After some workshopping, they began to connect with the central themes of Miller's classic: fear, anxiety, hysteria. So they set out to adapt the play. They moved it to modern times, a reflection of what it's like living through a global pandemic. Radio plays and horror films — that's not at all what the classes at either school had envisioned, but in the end, all the students really wanted was a chance to perform.

Florida sets daily coronavirus case record as total hits 70k

The Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Florida's number of confirmed coronavirus cases is now over 70,000 as it set another daily record.

About 1,900 new cases were confirmed Friday, continuing an upward trend propelled partly by increased testing but also by a higher percentage of tests coming back positive.

The state reported that more than 5% of tests have turned up positive the last three days, up from 2.5 and 4.5% the previous week.

About 30 more people died, pushing the total to 2,877, but down significantly from the 60 deaths per day the state was averaging the first week of May.

What we don't know about potential vaccines; protest safety

Coronavirus Daily, NPR All week we've been hearing about  rising cases in states around the country. The stock market reacted on Thursday, in part after  Federal Reserve officials predicted the unemployment rate will still be above 9% at the end of the year. There's a lot we don't know about the White House's public-private partnership to develop a vaccine, Operation Warp Speed.  Sydney Lupkin reports on a winnowing field of vaccine candidates. And during a pandemic, the most vulnerable newborns require even more protection. Plus, NPR's Maria Godoy  shares tips to minimize the risks of COVID-19 for yourself and others if you've been out protesting.

World Bank: Recession is the deepest in decades

Joanne Lu, NPR A new World Bank report warns that the pandemic has plunged the global economy into a deep recession of historic proportions, and the recovery outlook is grim, particularly for developing countries. The report,  Global Economic Prospects, published Monday, compares the current economic crisis to the 13 other recessions that have hit the global economy since 1870. This recession is the first to be triggered solely by a pandemic, and it is enormous. Here are five major takeaways from the report — four pessimistic and one guardedly optimistic: 1. Historically, this is the worst global recession in several ways. The overall global economy is expected to shrink 5.2% this year, according to the report. That puts us in the midst of the deepest recession since the end of World War II, the last time there was a comparable drop. And it's affecting more countries than any recession going back to 1870, even at the height of the Great Depression. For countries that the World Bank characterizes as "emerging market and developing economies," it is the first time they've experienced a recession as a group in at least 60 years. This goes to show "how deep, how wide and how synchronized this crisis is," says  Ayhan Kose, director of the World Bank's Prospects Group. Economists are also concerned by how quickly the economic outlook has deteriorated compared with earlier recessions. In February, forecasters were still expecting economic growth this year. But in a matter of weeks, that view changed as countries suddenly locked down and economic activity ground to a halt. By April, the International Monetary Fund said the global economy would "contract sharply" by 3%. Now, two months later, the forecast is 5.2% — 70% worse. These rapid changes could be partially due to how much more information is available to economists now than in the past, but the report says it's also a reflection of how much uncertainty remains about the pandemic — which means the economic fallout could still get much worse. In fact, another  new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is already projecting worse numbers: economic losses of 6% that will drop further to 7.6% if a second wave of coronavirus hits. OECD is calling it the worst recession in nearly a century. All this is despite "unprecedented policy support" from governments and lending institutions that has "already far exceeded" those enacted during the 2008-09 financial crisis, the report says. Many countries have implemented large-scale social safety net programs and lowered interest rates. Financing and loans from institutions such as the IMF and World Bank have also been "exceptional and out of the ordinary," says  Danny Leipziger, a professor of international business at George Washington University and former vice president of the World Bank. "So far, what we have seen on the part of policymakers has been truly extraordinary," Kose says, "but this is a truly historical contraction, however you look at it." Read the full article here.

DeSantis explains rise in coronavirus cases

Blaise Gainey, WFSU Last week, Florida health officials confirmed more than 9,000 new coronavirus cases. Friday saw a record for the month of June when officials announced more than 1,900. Governor Ron DeSantis says the spike could be a result of more widespread testing.

"The prisons they’ll have big time population and they’ll test positive. So we made a decision about three weeks ago to have all the local county health go into these communities and test, test, test. So you’re seeing part of it is that. Another part of it you're seeing now is we’re almost done testing all residents and staff at long-term care facilities," DeSantis said. DeSantis says testing is also more widely available at places like pharmacies and drive-up sites, and often getting a test no longer requires a doctor’s note too.

Coronavirus 2nd wave? Nope, the U.S. is still stuck in the 1st one

Nurith Aizenman, NPR Just weeks after parts of the U.S. began reopening, coronavirus infections are on the  upswing in several states, including Arizona, Utah, Texas and Florida. Dramatic increases in daily case counts have given rise to some unsettling questions: Is the U.S. at the start of a second wave? Have states reopened too soon? And have the recent widespread demonstrations against racial injustice inadvertently added fuel to the fire? The short, unpleasant answer to the first question is that the U.S. has not even gotten through the current first wave of infections. Since peaking at around 31,000 average new daily cases on April 10, new daily cases dropped to around 22,000 on average by mid-May and have stayed almost steady over the last four weeks. Nationwide more than 800 people continue to die day after day. Prominent forecasters are predicting a slow but steady accumulation of additional deaths between now and Oct. 1 — more than 56,000 by one estimate, around  90,000 by one another. "We really never quite finished the first wave," says Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor of global health at Harvard University. "And it doesn't look like we are going to anytime soon." That said, forecasters say, we could still be due for a true second wave later in the year, citing growing evidence that colder weather could lead to a surge in coronavirus cases. Read the full article here.

How Puerto Rican scientists hacked the COVID-19 response

Latino USA, NPR In late February, the government of Puerto Rico was in denial over COVID-19. Top health officials were saying that the coronavirus would not reach the island—but the pandemic did arrive in early March. With hospitals that are still recovering from hurricanes and earthquakes, there was concern that the spread of COVID-19 would overwhelm a fragile health system. To prevent that from happening, a group of Puerto Rican scientists banded together to ramp up testing. In this episode, two scientists show us how Puerto Rico went from one of the U.S. jurisdictions with the least testing to over 100,000 COVID tests.

Jacksonville's history complicates Republican convention on top of coronavirus

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — When Republicans descend on Jacksonville, Florida, in August to officially renominate President Donald Trump for a second term, it will be a well-choreographed affair awash in red, white and blue.

It will unfold against the backdrop of a military town, a bastion of conservatism and a must-win battleground state.

But the environment outside the arena could be far more complicated.

When he accepts his party’s nomination for another White House bid, the president will be doing so amid the political and racial divisions deeply ingrained in his host city.

Duval County where Jacksonville is located is also experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus FAQs: Convertibles, dishwashing, dog's paws, bowling, travel with kids

Isabella Gomez Sarimiento, NPR Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. And we ask readers to send in their queries. Some of the questions we get are a little ... unusual. They may not be the most critical health questions. Yet they are definitely interesting. So this week, here is a sampling of both frequently and infrequently asked questions. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at  goatsandsoda@npr.org  with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." I protested. Now what? Over the last two weeks, many thousands of people across the United States — and the world — have taken to the streets to demonstrate solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and demand an end to police brutality.  Last week's FAQ broke down some preventive measures to lower COVID-19 exposure while attending a protest. But some readers ask: How soon after protesting should you get tested to see if you might have been infected? Dr. Joyce Sanchez, an infectious disease specialist who teaches at the Medical College of Wisconsin and directs its Travel Health Clinic, says symptoms develop on average 3 to 7 days after exposure. So the first week after attending a demonstration is the peak time to monitor your health and look into obtaining a test through your primary care doctor or a local public health department or clinic.

Cameras can roll in Hollywood again

Mandalit Del Barco, NPR  The cameras are once again allowed to roll in Los Angeles starting Friday, months after the coronavirus pandemic shut down Hollywood. State and county officials gave the green light for film and TV productions to resume as long as they follow new health and safety protocols. Beyond social distancing, face coverings and testing for the coronavirus, only essential cast and crew are allowed on set and on location under new rules issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. That means for productions in Los Angeles, sets and props must be disinfected, and actors must wash hands and "be as silent as possible to avoid spreading droplets through talking." There will be no craft service buffets, and fight scenes and "intimate scenes" are discouraged. In addition, casts and crews would need to work in small "zones," monitored by health and safety staff, according to new COVID-19 guidelines written jointly by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the basic craft unions. The latest COVID-19 safety guidelines, released Friday, are even more detailed than an industrywide protocol "white paper" they sent to governors in New York, California and other states. "People are both excited and nervous about returning to work," said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA's chief operating officer and general counsel. He also heads the union's safety and industry reopening initiative. "Being out of work has had a huge impact on so many people in the industry. But people don't want to return to work if it might cost them their lives." Crabtree-Ireland said the protocols have been verified by epidemiologists consulting with the unions, and that frequent testing for the virus is crucial. "That should give comfort not just to the cast and crew who are there on set," he told NPR, "but also to the producers who care about keeping people who work for them safe, and care about making sure their production doesn't have to be called to a halt right in the middle because of an outbreak of [the] coronavirus." Read the full article here.

Skipped the census? A knock on your door may be coming as early as July

Hansi Lo Wang, NPR Door knockers are preparing to start visiting homes that have yet to fill out forms for the 2020 census as early as mid-July, the Census Bureau  announced Friday. As part of other revamped plans for the national head count since the coronavirus outbreak, the bureau says the counting of people experiencing homelessness — both at shelters and outdoors — has been  rescheduled for late September, and census workers will continue in-person counting in remote Alaska Native villages, which  began in January, through August. For past counts, in-person visits by the bureau's workers have helped boost census participation among communities of color and other historically undercounted groups who are less likely to take part on their own in the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country. But the COVID-19 pandemic had halted those kinds of interactions and upended the bureau's earlier plans to start in-person visits to unresponsive homes in April and finish by the end of July. Faced with stay-at-home orders and public health concerns, the bureau had previously announced it was planning to wait until August to send out door knockers.

But in a press release on Friday, the bureau says it's now planning a "soft launch" next month to "ensure systems, operations and field plans work as they should." The bureau is expected to announce by the end of this month which six areas of the country may first see census workers at their doors, wearing personal protective equipment and trained in social distancing, for the nonresponse follow-up operation. As early as Sunday, a smaller group of workers is set to return to parts of northern Maine and southeast Alaska to interview residents in remote areas that — unlike most of the U.S. — have not received any Census Bureau letters or postcards about the count because they do not have regular mail delivery. By Aug. 11, door knockers will be fanning out across the country to follow up with unresponsive homes through the end of October, when the bureau says it plans to stop collecting responses. Earlier this week, however, the  U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report warning that these door-to-door visits to complete the once-a-decade count "may be less effective" in a "post-COVID-19 environment," given concerns that close interactions could increase the spread of the coronavirus. Read the full article here.

Trump administration revokes transgender health protections during pandemic

The Associated Press

Washington (AP) — The Trump administration has finalized a regulation that overturns Obama-era protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care including during a pandemic.

Friday's action is certain to be challenged in court by LGBTQ groups and others.

The policy shift, applauded by the president’s religious and socially conservative supporters, means sex discrimination protections will be enforced according to a person’s biological sex.

The Obama regulation was based on a broader understanding of gender as a person’s internal sense of being male, female, neither or a combination.

About 1.5 million Americans identify as transgender. The Trump administration has taken a series of actions to revoke newly won protections for LGBTQ people.

Like what you just read? Check out our other  coronavirus coverage.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.