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For Manas Ray, the distance from his home in Massachusetts to India, where his extended family lives, has made the coronavirus pandemic feel like a nightmare.

At least 12 friends and family members close to the biochemist have been infected since April 2020, including his mother, Bandana. Reports earlier this spring from his friends and relatives were especially bleak as the second wave devastated the country he left 33 years ago.

"It's very hard on me because I'm so far away from them and cannot help," Ray tells Morning Edition.

At this time last year, Morning Edition was looking for ways to chronicle, and through that make sense of a moment as dramatic as anything in recent memory. We turned to music almost immediately, and specifically our Song Project — asking musicians to write an original song about their experience of the tumult.

Natasha Cobbs Leonard began singing early, performing "I Believe Children Are Our Future" at a cousin's kindergarten graduation while she was still in grade school, though she had a longer road towards realizing the scope of her now-obvious gift. "After that, I literally did not sing lead in front of a crowd until I was 15 years old."

The coronavirus pandemic has been especially tough on women, who are still bearing the brunt of the demands of child care and housework.

About 400,000 more women than men have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic. The percentage of women in the paid labor force has not recovered from the steep drop in the spring of 2020.

New York City schools will reopen in full this fall with no options for virtual learning.

Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement during an appearance Monday on MSNBC, saying, "You can't have a full recovery without full-strength schools, everyone back sitting in those classrooms."

De Blasio said the nation's largest school district will meet in person five days a week, with no remote option available. New Jersey has similar plans, and other states want to limit remote lessons as well.

Restaurants are among the countless businesses trying to chart next steps given the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it's OK for fully vaccinated people to go unmasked outdoors and indoors.

An attorney for Andrew Brown Jr.'s family is disputing a North Carolina district attorney's contention that Brown used his vehicle as a deadly weapon against the deputies who fatally shot him.

On Tuesday, District Attorney Andrew Womble announced he had decided not to file charges against the Pasquotank County deputies.

Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid nearly $5 million worth of bitcoin to recover its data from cybercriminals who had hijacked the company's computer systems. The shutdown disrupted gas supplies across large parts of the South and East Coast.

The hackers used ransomware, which takes control of a victim's computer and locks them out of their data unless they agree to pay an anonymous hacker, usually in cryptocurrency. Hackers may also threaten to leak a company's sensitive data to the public unless paid to keep quiet.

Children's immunizations dropped dramatically during the pandemic, and health officials are eager to get kids caught back up on their routine shots before they return to school.

As a rapper, the Twin Cities-based artist Matt Allen goes by Nur-D – and the name kind of fits. "It's something embedded into my soul," Allen tells Morning Edition. "Comics, Dungeons & Dragons, professional wrestling...."

His positive music has made him one of the most popular artists in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. But, when George Floyd was murdered by a former Minneapolis police officer a year ago this month, Nur-D's life took a new turn.

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The opioid crisis in the U.S. has never gone away.

Almost every year, more people die of opioid overdoses than in the year before. More than a half-million people have died from prescription painkillers, heroin and illicit fentanyl since 1999. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 66,000 people died of an opioid overdose in the U.S. in the 12 months to September 2020, a huge jump from the previous 12 months.

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

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Updated May 4, 2021 at 1:11 PM ET

Facebook's independent Oversight Board on Wednesday is expected to announce its biggest decision yet: whether to uphold or reverse Facebook's indefinite ban on former President Donald Trump.

In her new book, Persist, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren returns to the call for transformational change that was her rallying cry in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. It's a book, she tells NPR's Morning Edition, she has been unwittingly writing her whole life.

"I've been writing it through every battle, through every fall, every stumble, everything I got wrong and had to come back and try to fix later on," she says.

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Early in his presidency, Joe Biden signed an executive order that aimed to reunite kids who'd been separated from their parents at the border.

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Much has been written about how the pandemic came to be, but not so well known are the details about how it was able to spread so quickly in the United States.

Author Michael Lewis has written a new book, The Premonition, that fills in those blanks. And it is a sweeping indictment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark Ramos Nishita, better known as Money Mark, is 61 and lives in LA surrounded by his massive collection of instruments – guitars and recording gear including more than 70 Casio keyboards. Nishita is sometimes called the "fourth Beastie Boy" for his songwriting and touring work with the group, including keyboard contributions you may recognize from Check Your Head and Ill Communication.

Renee Ekwoge can't remember the last conversation she had with her father. They stopped talking regularly months ago, after she moved nearly 1,000 miles away for a new job last summer.

"The last time I saw my dad, he was painting my house," Ekwoge says. "He came and helped paint all weekend. It was nice when we lived closer and had ways to hang out that didn't include nonsense videos."

Those "nonsense videos" are about conspiracy theories. They've become a major focus for her father — on topics like COVID-19 and Sept. 11, 2001. He watches them on YouTube.

The murder conviction of Derek Chauvin could represent "a huge paradigm shift," if three other Minneapolis officers charged in George Floyd's death are also convicted, says Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and activist in Minneapolis.

Former presidents typically try not to wade into politics — and former President George W. Bush has made a point of sticking to that unspoken rule.

In office, he pushed for immigration reform. But he hasn't discussed the matter in a significant way since he left office — until now.

He's doing it in a new book of portraits called Out of Many, One. It features the stories of 43 immigrants — athletes and public servants, business leaders, educators.

In a conversation with NPR, former President Bush talks about his art and immigration.

Morning Edition's Song Project is a series where songwriters are asked to write an original song about the COVID era – our newest song is from Kaoru Ishibashi, an Asian-American musician and songwriter who performs as Kishi Bashi. The song is called "For Every Voice That Never Sang," about the feeling of being an outsider in your own country.

When the Rolling Stones released "Gimme Shelter" in 1969, everyone recognized Mick Jagger. But at the time, no one knew who that voice – you know the one – belonged to.

The number of migrants crossing into the United States in March was higher than in any other month in at least 15 years.

Eight minutes and 46 seconds. That's the amount of time that former police officer Derek Chauvin was believed to have held his knee on George Floyd's neck.

In the aftermath of Floyd's death, 8:46 became part of the rallying cry in protests around the world. It appeared on signs. People chanted it. They held vigils and stayed quiet for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to mark Floyd's death.

Central to the new documentary Black Art: In the Absence of Light is a pivotal art exhibition that debuted in 1976.

"Two Centuries of Black American Art" was the first major show by a Black curator to look at the history of art produced by African Americans. Covering the period between 1750 and 1950, it featured 200 works and 63 artists, with painting, sculpture, drawing, graphics, crafts and decorative arts.

Jared Stacy is still processing his decision to leave Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va., last year. Until November, he was ministering to young parishioners in their 20s and 30s.

But in the four years since he had joined the church as a pastor, Stacy had found himself increasingly up against an invisible, powerful force taking hold of members of his congregation: conspiracy theories, disinformation and lies.

Stacy has seen the real consequences of these lies build up over the years; he says it has tainted the name of his faith.

Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste — two artists from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — met 25 years ago, in a high school orchestra class. Growing up, neither one had had much exposure to classical music; both said their parents were more likely to listen to reggae or calypso. Classical music felt like it was supposed to be for other people, which had the effect of drawing them even closer to it. Today, they play as a duo, with Marcus on violin and Baptiste on viola.

President Biden wants most K-8 schools to be ready to go back to in-person learning by the end of April. The problem is teachers and administrators don't agree on how to do it.

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