Allison Aubrey | KBIA

Allison Aubrey

Allison Aubrey is a correspondent for NPR News, where her stories can be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She's also a contributor to the PBS NewsHour and is one of the hosts of NPR's Life Kit.

Along with her NPR science desk colleagues, Aubrey is the winner of a 2019 Gracie Award. She is the recipient of a 2018 James Beard broadcast award for her coverage of 'Food As Medicine.' Aubrey is also a 2016 winner of a James Beard Award in the category of "Best TV Segment" for a PBS/NPR collaboration. The series of stories included an investigation of the link between pesticides and the decline of bees and other pollinators, and a two-part series on food waste. In 2013, Aubrey won a Gracie Award with her colleagues on The Salt, NPR's food vertical. They also won a 2012 James Beard Award for best food blog. In 2009, Aubrey was awarded the American Society for Nutrition's Media Award for her reporting on food and nutrition. She was honored with the 2006 National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism in radio and earned a 2005 Medical Evidence Fellowship by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Knight Foundation. In 2009-2010, she was a Kaiser Media Fellow.

Joining NPR in 2003 as a general assignment reporter, Aubrey spent five years covering environmental policy, as well as contributing to coverage of Washington, D.C., for NPR's National Desk. She also hosted NPR's Tiny Desk Kitchen video series.

Before coming to NPR, Aubrey was a reporter for the PBS NewsHour and a producer for C-SPAN's Presidential election coverage.

Aubrey received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

As schools across the country grapple with bringing kids back into the classroom, parents — and teachers — are worried about safety. We asked pediatricians, infectious disease specialists and education experts for help evaluating school district plans.

What we learned: There's no such thing as zero risk, but certain practices can lower the risk of an outbreak at school and keep kids, teachers and families safer.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated Aug. 12 at 1:15 p.m. ET

How severe is the spread of COVID-19 in your community? If you're confused, you're not alone. Though state and local dashboards provide lots of numbers, from case counts to deaths, it's often unclear how to interpret them — and hard to compare them to other places.

Millions of Americans have probably had the coronavirus without knowing it.

That's the conclusion of officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other experts.

"Our best estimate right now is that for every case that was reported, there actually were 10 other infections," Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said during a call with reporters Thursday.

One of the hardest things during this pandemic — for kids and adult children — has been staying away from their parents and grandparents.

People 65 years and older are at higher risk for getting a severe case of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 80% of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 have been in people older than 65.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization took time at its daily press conference to address another pressing issue: the wave of protests against police violence and racial injustice. The demonstrations began in the U.S. when George Floyd died on May 25 after a police officer had pressed a knee into his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while detaining him in Minneapolis.

The protests are now spreading around the world to Europe, Africa and other regions.

Protests against the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others are emboldening and expanding the movement to fight racism. But to make progress, many of us may need to adjust our thinking — and our actions. We talked to several African American and Hispanic psychologists and leaders for strategies to fight racism.

This is part of a series looking at pressing coronavirus questions of the week. We'd like to hear what you're curious about. Email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

What risks are there in attending a protest rally?

Modelers say it's difficult to assess how the protests will influence COVID-19 infections. But it's clear that a key ingredient for transmission is present at many of these rallies: close contact.

Updated July 4, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. ET

It has been months of quarantine for many of us. The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But given that coronavirus cases continue to surge in many places, what's safe? We asked a panel of infectious disease and public health experts to rate the risk of summer activities, from backyard gatherings to a day at the pool to sharing a vacation house with another household.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is clarifying its guidance to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, hoping to clear up confusion over whether a person can contract the disease by touching surfaces that have the virus on them. The agency said "usability improvements," including a headline change on its webpage about preventing viral infection, seemed to trigger news stories saying its guidelines have changed.

"Our transmission language has not changed," CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes told NPR.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Wow, some difficult scenes there from Michigan - all right, let's bring in NPR science correspondent Allison Aubrey.

Hey there, Allison.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Hey there.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated 11:35 a.m. ET

When it comes to testing for COVID-19, there are two competing narratives. The Trump administration claims the U.S. has been doing well and has enough testing capacity, for states to begin to enter the first phase of the White House plan for reopening.

But many public health officials, hospital administrators and state leaders disagree.

Earlier this week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said during a CNN interview that a lack of testing is a problem and "has been since the beginning of the crisis."

As data emerges on the spectrum of symptoms caused by COVID-19, it's clear that people with chronic health conditions are being hit harder.

First things first: It's not yet time to end social distancing and go back to work and church and concerts and handshakes.

Public health experts say social distancing appears to be working, and letting up these measures too soon could be disastrous. Until there is a sustained reduction in new cases — and the coronavirus' spread is clearly slowing — we need to stay the course.

Around the world, COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to grow each day. Yet, there are also more than 440,000 people globally who have recovered to date.

For those who have had the illness, recovery can be a slow journey. And even after you're feeling better, there can be a period of uncertainty. After days or weeks of isolation, you may be eager to see family again and even step foot into the outer world. But how soon is too soon? And how do you know when you're no longer infectious?

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 March 31, 8:25 p.m. ET

A few months ago, it may have seemed silly to wear a face mask during a trip to the grocery store. And in fact, the mainline public health message in the U.S. from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been that most people don't need to wear masks.

But as cases of the coronavirus have skyrocketed, there's new thinking about the benefits that masks could offer in slowing the spread. The CDC says it is now reviewing its policy and may be considering a recommendation to encourage broader use.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET

Three weeks ago, Washington, D.C., resident Rebecca Read Medrano started feeling unwell. She had a dry cough, fatigue, nausea and terrible stomach pains that had her bending over.

There was one more symptom, and it was a bit odd. Medrano had largely lost her sense of taste. "My cousin was cooking, and everything he made tasted weird," she recalls.

New preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is helping create a picture of the spectrum of illness caused by COVID-19 in the U.S.

The findings echo what's been documented in China: The risk of serious disease and death is higher in older age groups. But they aren't the only age groups at risk.

By now, you've heard the advice that to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., we need to practice social distancing. But if you're confused as to what that looks like in practice, we've got some answers.

On Monday, the White House announced new guidelines for the next two weeks, urging Americans to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people; to avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, or social visits; and not to go out to restaurants or bars.

The way the world says hello is changing. Quickly.

In lieu of the germ-rich exchange of the handshake, alternative salutations are taking hold.

In Tanzania, President John Magufuli introduced a low-touch greeting when he met with the opposition leader from Zanzibar Seif Sharif Hamad, reports Eyder Peralta, NPR's correspondent in east Africa. It takes the form of a catchy, two-part salute, using both hands and feet.

How long can the new coronavirus live on a surface, like say, a door handle, after someone infected touches it with dirty fingers? A study out this week finds that the virus can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

As the case count of coronavirus infections continues to rise in China, the number of reported infections among children is remarkably low.

"We're seeing [about] 75,000 total cases at this point, but the literature is only reporting about 100 or so pediatric cases," says Terri Lynn Stillwell, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Efforts to stem the tide of teen vaping seem to be a step behind the market. By the time Juul pulled most of its flavored pods from the market in October of 2019, many teens had already moved on to an array of newer, disposable vape products.

There's a seasonality to many viruses. Flu and cold viruses tend to peak in winter months, then die down with warmer weather.

Will the newly identified coronavirus and the disease it causes — COVID-19 — follow a similar pattern?

Before that question can be answer, let's consider how seasons and temperature influence the spread of viruses.

The common cold is a top reason for missed work and school days. Most of us have two or three colds per year, each lasting at least a week.

There's no real cure, but studies from the last several years show that some supplement containing zinc can help shorten the duration of cold symptoms by up to 40% — depending on the amount of the mineral in each dose and what it's combined with.

Two-thirds of Americans say the novel coronavirus poses a "real threat" and has not been "blown out of proportion."

And, though the majority of Americans are concerned about the potential spread of the virus within the U.S., 61% also say U.S. government officials are doing enough to prevent it.

In an era of online shopping and global shipping, some NPR listeners have written to us with this question: Am I at risk of catching the new coronavirus from a package I receive from China?

Almost certainly no, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures," the CDC concludes in its Q&A.

Updated 7:55 p.m. ET

The Trump administration declared a public health emergency in the U.S. Friday in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.

"Today President Trump took decisive action to minimize the risk of novel coronavirus in the United States," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at a White House press conference.

The risk of contracting the coronavirus is the U.S. is low — something that federal health administration officials emphasized repeatedly. "We are working to keep the risk low," Azar said.

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