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Pien Huang

Pien Huang is a global health and development reporter on the Science desk. She was NPR's first Reflect America Fellow, working with shows, desks and podcasts to bring more diverse voices to air and online.

She's a former producer for WBUR/NPR's On Point and was a 2018 Environmental Reporting Fellow with The GroundTruth Project at WCAI in Cape Cod, covering the human impact on climate change. As a freelance audio and digital reporter, Huang's stories on the environment, arts and culture have been featured on NPR, the BBC and PRI's The World.

Huang's experiences span categories and continents. She was executive producer of Data Made to Matter, a podcast from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and was also an adjunct instructor in podcasting and audio journalism at Northeastern University. She worked as a project manager for public artist Ralph Helmick to help plan and execute The Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi and with Stoltze Design to tell visual stories through graphic design. Huang has traveled with scientists looking for signs of environmental change in Cameroon's frogs, in Panama's plants and in the ocean water off the ice edge of Antarctica. She has a degree in environmental science and public policy from Harvard.

Updated 2:20 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is making several big changes to its COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy, officials announced Tuesday, in a bid to jump-start the rollout and get more Americans vaccinated quickly.

The first change is to call on states to expand immediately the pool of people eligible to receive vaccines to those 65 and older, and those with underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

This time last year, the world was heading into a pandemic that would upend everything and cost 1.9 million lives — and counting. The promise of the new year is that vaccines are finally here and offer a way out.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

People who are ages 75 and older or frontline essential workers should be next in line to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a federal advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined Sunday.

Those groups follow frontline health care workers and nursing home residents, who have already begun receiving the limited supplies of vaccines available.

An important federal advisory committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added its vote of support for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

In an emergency meeting Saturday, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the first COVID-19 vaccine for use for people 16 or older in the U.S, expressing hope that the vaccine would help curb the spread of the disease that has killed more than 295,000 people in the U.S.

New data released by the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday gives the most detailed picture to date of how COVID-19 is stressing individual hospitals in the United States.

The information provides nationwide data on hospital capacity and bed use at a hospital-by-hospital level. This is the first time the federal agency has released the COVID-19 hospital data it collects at the facility level. Previously, HHS released data aggregated at the state level only.

Updated 5:48 p.m. ET

A federal advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday to recommend who should get COVID-19 vaccines first once one is authorized for use.

Health care workers are expected to be first in line to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available.

It makes sense: Getting a safe, effective vaccine would help keep them and their patients healthy. Seeing doctors, nurses and medical aides getting COVID-19 vaccines would also set an example for the community.

Top officials from Operation Warp Speed, the government's program to fast-track the development and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, announced they've allocated 6.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to states based on their total populations.

Health care workers will almost certainly get the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. when one is approved, according to Dr. José Romero, head of the committee that develops evidence-based immunization guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As coronavirus cases rise swiftly around the country, surpassing both the spring and summer surges, health officials brace for a coming wave of hospitalizations and deaths. Knowing which hospitals in which communities are reaching capacity could be key to an effective response to the growing crisis. That information is gathered by the federal government — but not shared openly with the public.

Dr. William Foege doesn't know how his private letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, got leaked — but he stands by its contents.

"I think we've got about the worst response to this pandemic that you could possibly have," said Foege, who served as CDC director from 1977 to 1983, spanning the Carter and Reagan administrations, in an interview with NPR.

The federal government is starting to crack down on the nation's hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data into a federal data collection system.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

Last Thursday afternoon, when Hope Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus, President Trump was aboard Marine One, on his way to a campaign fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club.

Several members of Congress and cabinet members who've spent time with President Trump in the last week were tested for coronavirus — and have announced the result was negative.

But that doesn't mean they're in the clear.

These results could be a false negative — which are common in people who've been infected with the virus during the first few days after exposure.

Updated Friday 2:15 p.m. ET to include a comment from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The federal government is preparing to crack down aggressively on hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data daily into a federal data system, according to internal documents obtained by NPR.

It's still unknown when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available in the United States. But when one is first approved, there may only be 10 million to 15 million doses available, which may be enough to cover around 3% to 5% of the U.S. population.

Michael Caputo, the top spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services and a longtime ally of President Trump's, is taking a 60-day leave of absence after a social media tirade in which he falsely accused government scientists of engaging in "sedition."

President Trump has publicly blamed the World Health Organization for being slow to sound alarm bells about the coronavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working "to build a revolutionary new data system" for COVID-19 hospital data collection that the CDC will run upon completion, according to Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Birx's comments this week come a month after the Trump administration mandated that hospitals sidestep the agency and send critical information about COVID-19 hospitalizations and equipment to a different federal database managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete and transparent and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said.

Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say.

On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus — then unnamed — to be a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." The virus, first reported in China in late 2019, had started to spread beyond its borders, causing 98 cases in 18 countries in addition to some

Updated July 16, 9:40 a.m. ET

The Trump Administration has mandated that hospitals sidestep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send critical information about COVID-19 hospitalizations and equipment to a different federal database.

From the start of the pandemic, the CDC has collected data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, availability of intensive care beds and personal protective equipment. But hospitals must now report that information to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

Updated 6:15 p.m. ET

More than 1,200 current employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have signed a letter calling for the federal agency to address "ongoing and recurring acts of racism and discrimination" against Black employees, NPR has learned.

I'm hearing a lot of talk about the coronavirus spreading through aerosols — is wearing a mask in a grocery store enough protection? What else should I do to stay safe?

Quick answer first: Going to the grocery store where you and everyone else is wearing a mask and keeping a distance from each other is still considered a low-risk activity. Go get your summer strawberries!

The World Health Organization has issued a new scientific brief that summarizes what's known about the different ways the coronavirus can transmit.

The U.S. has sent a letter officially notifying the United Nations that it is leaving the World Health Organization, starting the formal process of withdrawal that President Trump first threatened in April when he halted funding to WHO.

This story was updated on July 7 at 1:54 p.m. to include WHO's response to the letter.

By now, it's common knowledge that the coronavirus can be spread by being in close contact with someone who's infected and then breathing in their respiratory droplets. Or by touching a contaminated surface and rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth.

The world is being flooded with new terms in coverage of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Here's a glossary in case you're not up on the latest medical and testing jargon. We start with the nomenclature of the virus. Words are listed in thematic groupings (transmission and testing, for example).

Minks on two fur farms in the Netherlands began getting sick in late April. Some were coughing, with runny noses; others had signs of severe respiratory disease. Soon, they started dying.

Researchers took swabs from the animals and dissected the ones that had died.

The culprit: SARS-COV-2, the novel coronavirus causing a global pandemic.

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