National & International News

We follow stories about America and the world, with help from NPR.

On this broadcast of The National Conversation, a doctor takes questions about symptoms of COVID-19 and how they differ from other diseases like the flu. We'll also answer your questions about relief for small businesses, child care and how to navigate relationships.

The federal government has released new guidelines for when people in critical infrastructure roles can return to work after being exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus.

The guidance pertains to essential critical workers who have been exposed to COVID-19. For those individuals, the guidelines advise:

  • Take your temperature before work.
  • Wear a face mask at all times.

Linda Tripp, the government employee who secretly recorded conversations with Monica Lewinsky in the late 1990s about Lewinsky's affair with President Clinton, has died at age 70.

Tripp's death Wednesday was confirmed by Joseph Murtha, her former attorney. No cause of death was given, but news reports indicated she endured a brief case of pancreatic cancer.

Tripp started working at the White House in the Republican administration of George H.W. Bush and stayed for the early part of the Clinton administration.

The Trump administration Wednesday said it will crack down on exports of critical medical supplies, including N95 respirator masks, surgical masks and gloves needed to fight the coronavirus.

Customs and Border Protection, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will now detain exports of these scarce medical supplies at U.S. ports. The CBP said the agencies will determine "whether to return the PPE (personal protection equipment) for use within the United States; to purchase the PPE on behalf of the United States; or, allow it to be exported."

Coronavirus case counts are rising exponentially in Africa. Since the continent saw its first case, in Egypt in mid-February, some 10,000 cases and 500 deaths have been confirmed.

Broadway shut down in March for what it thought would be a month, but with New York at the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and with guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and the New York governor Andrew Cuomo, theaters will now remain shut until at least June 7th. The announcement was made on Wednesday morning by the Broadway League, an organization of theater owners and producers.

The nation's counties say they are facing major challenges meeting the demands of the coronavirus pandemic. Local governments are seeing a steep rise in the number of people seeking help from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

After all-night talks, European finance ministers from the 19 countries that use the euro failed to agree on a program to support the European Union's coronavirus-stricken economies.

Updated at 7:38 p.m. ET

President Trump and congressional Democrats appeared to have a ways to go on Wednesday before they could agree on details for more relief spending for the coronavirus disaster.

Originally from Cameroon, Pisso Nseke's work as a business consultant took him to Wuhan, China — where he was trapped when the city where the coronavirus first emerged sealed itself off from the world in January.

That changed on Wednesday. After 76 days, Nseke and the other residents of Wuhan are finally able to leave the city.

Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET

About a third of renters did not pay on time this month as business closures put millions of people out of work.

The National Multifamily Housing Council says 31% of renters didn't make their payment in the first week of April. Normally, about 20% of people don't pay their rent on time. The group tracks more than 13 million units through its survey.

About 1 in 3 people who become sick enough to require hospitalization from COVID-19 were African American, according to hospital data from the first month of the U.S. epidemic released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even though 33% of those hospitalized patients were black, African Americans constitute 13% of the U.S. population. By contrast, the report found that 45% of hospitalizations were among white people, who make up 76% percent of the population. And 8% of hospitalizations were among Hispanics, who make up 18% of the population.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

Some local officials are disappointed the federal government will end funding for coronavirus testing sites this Friday. In a few places those sites will close as a result. This as criticism continues that not enough testing is available.

In the Philadelphia suburbs, Montgomery County has a drive-through site that has tested 250 people a day since March 21.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, young people have been heavily criticized for not taking social distancing seriously.

How Safe Is It To Eat Takeout?

8 hours ago

Don Schaffner had Thai takeout for dinner a few nights ago, just as he did occasionally in the weeks and months before the current COVID-19 pandemic.

That's worth knowing. Schaffner is a distinguished professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey whose expertise includes quantitative microbial risk assessment, predictive food microbiology, hand-washing and cross-contamination.

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

In New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S., no ethnic group has been harder hit by the deadly disease it causes than the Latinx community. Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out the preliminary data during a briefing Wednesday, offering one of the first detailed glimpses yet into the breakdown of patients' race and ethnicity.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET

Using the COVID-19 pandemic to score political points is dangerous and will only result in "many more body bags," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday, less than a day after President Trump criticized the WHO and its relationship with China. Tedros also revealed he has received death threats in recent months.

Tens of thousands of people streamed out of Wuhan by car, train and plane after a 76-day lockdown was lifted Wednesday from the Chinese city where the global coronavirus pandemic began.

Online child sexual abuse is rising as countries close schools and impose various levels of lockdown to contain the new coronavirus pandemic, children's rights advocates in Southeast Asia warn.

Updated at 1:11 p.m. ET

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his 2020 presidential campaign Wednesday, bowing to the commanding delegate lead former Vice President Joe Biden established.

Updated at 12:50 p.m.

Auto giant General Motors will build 30,000 medical ventilators for the national stockpile, at a cost of $489.4 million, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.

Updated at 6:44 p.m. ET

Congress is working to get more money to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but negotiations over the size and scope of another round of emergency funding could delay quick action this week.

Updated at 3:44 p.m. ET

The CEO and founder of the newly popular video conferencing service Zoom says he'll make his product harder to use, if it improves safety and security.

Zoom has taken off during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to how easy it is to join a virtual meeting on the platform by clicking on a single link.

But now Eric Yuan says, "When it comes to a conflict between usability and privacy and security, privacy and security [are] more important – even at the cost of multiple clicks."

With most schools closed nationwide because of the coronavirus pandemic, a national poll of young people ages 13 to 17 suggests distance learning has been far from a universal substitute.

The poll of 849 teenagers, by Common Sense Media, conducted with SurveyMonkey, found that as schools across the country transition to some form of online learning, 41% of teenagers overall, including 47% of public school students, say they haven't attended a single online or virtual class.

Misty Donaldson-Urriola and Edgar Urriola of Raytown, Mo., are recently divorced. But they have remained close friends as they raise their three sons together.

They generally see each other every day.

That constant contact and proximity – an aspect of family life – is being put to the test by a disease that thrives when people are close together.

The Roma are Europe's largest ethnic minority — and among the most marginalized European citizens, excluded from society for decades. With the coronavirus pandemic, now they're facing a potential humanitarian disaster.

Many of the estimated 12 million Roma in Europe live in shantytowns without access to water, electricity or sanitation — not to mention with sometimes limited access to doctors.

A springtime stroll, baking bread or binging shows can be a tonic for a life lived in lockdown. But some workers doing their jobs remotely are carrying on by partying on, virtually.

Normally at this time of year, DJ Haddad and his co-workers run raucous rounds of college basketball competitions. "We're really missing March Madness — it's kind of a big thing on our team," says Haddad, CEO of Haddad & Partners, an advertising company in Fairfield, Conn., with nearly 70 employees around the world.

Michigan's lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Tuesday as the state recorded its highest daily number of COVID-19-related deaths in 24 hours. The legislature convened despite the warnings from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and public health officials who've called for limited gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

As they entered the Capitol, each lawmaker underwent a health screening and temperature check. Many donned homemade masks while the lieutenant governor presided over the Senate wearing an "Everybody vs. COVID-19" shirt.

Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET

If you've checked your mail lately, you may have noticed there's just not much of it.

The U.S. Postal Service could be another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

"A lot of businesses have ceased to do advertising through the mail," says Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., "and as a result, mail volume has collapsed."

He says the decline could be as much as 60% by the end of the year, which he says would be "catastrophic" for the agency.

The coronavirus has dealt a body blow to U.S. workers. So far, it's women who are paying much of the price.

The Labor Department says more than 700,000 jobs were eliminated in the first wave of pandemic layoffs last month. Nearly 60% of those jobs were held by women.

Pages