Ailsa Chang

For the first time in nearly three decades, the state of Georgia voted to put a Democrat in the White House. Then it added two U.S. senators from the Democratic Party. And one person central to turning Georgia blue is the voting rights activist and former state legislator Stacey Abrams.

Abrams tells All Things Considered that the Democratic swing was "extraordinary," but "not wholly surprising," adding that the "numbers had been moving in our favor" in recent years.

Dr. Paul Stoffels, the chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, told NPR on Friday that the topline results from the company's coronavirus vaccine study fail to tell the full story about just how effective it actually is.

Johnson & Johnson said that 28 days after vaccination, its vaccine is 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. But Stoffels says that Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is very effective where it matters most: preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

The Navajo Nation has lifted a strict weekend curfew that has been in place for months to expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

A few months ago, South Dakota was in the news for its rising coronavirus case numbers and deaths. It's a rural, less populous state. But the disproportionately high caseload strained the health care system.

Now, as daily case numbers continue on a downward trend nationwide, the state is notable again, but for a different reason: the success of its vaccine rollout.

Home: It's where a lot of us have been spending our time since March 2020. For Mike Milosh, leader of the R&B music collective Rhye, the word has taken on new meaning — he's gone from life on the road to a more permanent idea of home at his house outside Los Angeles, where he created his latest studio album. But the sound of this record was conceived well before the pandemic: It began with the idea of wanting to include a choir, which led to Milosh inviting the Danish National Girls' Choir to come to the U.S.

Health care workers across the country have been under tremendous strain as they grapple with surging coronavirus caseloads — with no end to the pandemic in sight.

This month, the U.S. hit a staggering new record of more than 302,500 new cases daily, according to Johns Hopkins University. Just this week, the country reached an all-time single-day high of 4,462 deaths.

Lydia Mobley, an intensive care unit nurse, has witnessed the abysmal human toll firsthand.

In Los Angeles, COVID-19 cases continue to soar at an astonishing rate. In the first seven days of the year, for instance, roughly seven people died each hour.

As surging coronavirus cases push intensive care units across Los Angeles to the breaking point, Mayor Eric Garcetti says what's needed more than hospital space and safety equipment right now is trained health workers and more vaccine doses.

"The toughest thing right now isn't just space — though it's pinched — it's really personnel and getting enough people to be there for the shifts to save lives," Garcetti tells All Things Considered. "That's increasingly where we are feeling the crunch."

The Food and Drug Administration has found that there are "no specific safety concerns" that would stop the agency from approving the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use.

Career scientists at the FDA analyzed the data from the ongoing Pfizer trial to form their own conclusions about its safety and efficacy.

Stephen Hahn, who heads the FDA, says the public analysis is a "very, very important part of our promise to the American people that we won't cut corners in how we assess the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine."

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All right. We know you readers love NPR's Book Concierge. It's got this cool way to sort by topics. You get to click on these gorgeous covers, all to find the best books from 2020. Well, one of my favorite books on that list was actually written for kids ages 10 and up. It's called "Everything Sad Is Untrue" by Daniel Nayeri. And it hooks you right from the opening line.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

DANIEL NAYERI: (Reading) All Persians are liars, and lying is a sin.

For weeks now, the message from public health officials has been clear: The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is with members of your immediate household only.

Dr. Joel Zivot stared at the autopsy reports. The language was dry and clinical, in stark contrast to the weight of what they contained — detailed, graphic accounts of the bodies of inmates executed by lethal injection in Georgia.

With soaring synths, spiked hair and studded leather jackets, the Psychedelic Furs were the quintessential '80s rock stars. But once the '80s ended, so did the band. Now, 29 years after the group's last album, the Psychedelic Furs is back with a new record called Made of Rain. Singer Richard Butler says this time, the band made it on its own terms.

Historically Black colleges and universities have an extra factor to consider as they plan on how to operate this next school year: Black communities are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

According to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, Black people are dying from the coronavirus at two and a half times the rate of white people.

COVID-19 has now killed more than 148,000 people in the U.S. On a typical day in the past week, more than 1,000 people died.

But the deluge of grim statistics can dull our collective sense of outrage. And part of that has to do with how humans are built to perceive the world.

Across the country, students of color have been demanding change from their schools. At one Denver school, the push for a more inclusive and diverse curriculum came last year, from a group of African American high school students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College.

Pirette McKamey is fighting for anti-racist education.

Over her more than 30 years as an educator, the principal at Mission High School in San Francisco spent a decade leading an anti-racism committee.

In the wake of ongoing protests for racial justice, young people in America are demanding change from their schools.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The decision is often framed as a landmark decision that transformed education for Black students, allowing them equal access to integrated classrooms.

Arizona is one of just five states that has seen new coronavirus cases climb by the thousands each day in the past couple of weeks.

The state's governor, Republican Doug Ducey, in May lifted a stay-at-home order he put in place in March so the economy could begin reopening. But a week ago, Ducey ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to shut down again for 30 days as daily caseloads topped 3,000.

Questions of how to reform law enforcement in America have dominated Washington this week.

Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt has been a voice in that debate. He represents the family of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man who was pursued by three white men and then fatally shot while jogging in a South Georgia neighborhood in February. He is also co-counsel for the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Over her decades-long career, Tracee Ellis Ross has starred in beloved shows such as Black-ish and Girlfriends. But as she sees it, her latest role is her most daunting one yet. In The High Note, available to stream on Apple TV on May 29, she plays a superstar singer named Grace Davis, who's facing career stagnancy. Meanwhile, Davis' personal assistant Maggie (played by Dakota Johnson) has musical ambitions of her own as an aspiring producer.

"Immunity passports" have been proposed as one way to reboot economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The theory is this: The approval of the so-called passports would rely on the positive results from an antibody test of your collected blood sample. If you have antibodies to the coronavirus after recovering from an infection, you might be immune from future infection and therefore could be authorized to work and circulate in society without posing a risk to yourself or others.

At least, that's the idea.

Moses Sumney spent years searching for the sound on his new, double album grae. It began in 2013, when he first tried to break into the Los Angeles music scene — and got interest from record labels almost immediately.

School hasn't ended yet in most places around the country. But educators are already grappling with what the next academic year will look like, as the future spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. remains unclear.

This week, California State University — the largest four-year public college system in the country — announced it plans to suspend in-person classes for its roughly 480,000 students for the semester beginning in August and move most instruction online.

The university system consists of 23 campuses, covering an 800-mile swath of the state.

Coronavirus fatalities in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for at least one-third of the deaths in 26 states.

The coronavirus outbreak has thrown hospital systems throughout the U.S. into crisis — both medical and financial. The cost of treating coronavirus patients, combined with the loss of revenue from canceling elective procedures, has left many hospitals in desperate financial straits.

Some estimates suggest hospitals are losing $50 billion a month, says Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

To test for the coronavirus, you need a swab.

But only two companies in the world manufacture the specialized instrument used to collect a sample from noses.

The limited supply has led to a shortage in the U.S. and a scramble by those two manufacturers to produce more.

One of those companies, Puritan Medical Products, based in Guilford, Maine has ramped up its production to more than 1 million swabs per week, according to Timothy Templet, the company's vice president of sales.

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

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As the U.S. Senate solemnly considers the fate of a president, Twitter has been somewhat less solemn, considering another question. Can you drink milk on the Senate floor?

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

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Twenty-four hours over three days - that's how long each side gets to make its case in the Senate impeachment trial.

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