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Pien Huang

Pien Huang is a health 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.

Through July and August, Julie Smith watched her husband, Jeffrey, get worse and worse from COVID-19. In early July, the healthy outdoorsman, 51, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Within a week, he was admitted to the intensive care unit at a hospital near their home in the suburbs of Cincinnati.

Health officials are preparing to roll out COVID-19 booster shots in the United States this September. According to a plan announced Wednesday, all U.S. adults who received a two-dose vaccine would be eligible for an additional jab of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine eight months from when they got their second one.

It's inevitable that when kids mix — returning from camp or heading back to school — germs spread. And in a pandemic year fueled by the delta variant, some of those germs may cause COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advice for keeping your child protected from this highly contagious version of the coronavirus now and this fall: Mask up in schools and other crowded venues, and make sure everyone age 12 and older in the family gets a COVID-19 shot.

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Alba Feliz is a little nervous about getting the vaccine. At 17, she's the first person in her immediate family to seriously consider getting it. "In my house, they never really trust the vaccine," she says. Social media has been her main source of information, and the contradictory messages have been confusing.

The summer surge in COVID-19 cases is an unwelcome surprise for health officials and experts who thought, for a brief period, that the U.S. had the coronavirus pandemic largely under control.

The first cruise set to sail from American ports in more than 15 months is headed to the Caribbean this summer.

Celebrity Cruises got approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring passengers aboard for the seven-night cruise on June 26, the company announced this week.

"CDC and the cruise industry agree that the industry has what it needs to move forward and no additional roadblocks exist for resuming sailing by mid-summer," CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey confirmed in an email.

Updated May 28, 2021 at 5:20 PM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised earlier guidelines regarding mask use and vaccinations at summer camps. The updated guidelines, released Friday, now say that at camps where everyone has been fully vaccinated, campers can sing, play sports and weave baskets mask-free – except where required by local law.

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It's been a long year for basically everyone — and especially for Dr. Henry Walke. For months on end, Walke has been pulling 13-hour work days as the COVID-19 incident response manager at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a job he took on last July.

He never expected the job to last this long. "The scale of this pandemic is mind-boggling, and it's affected all of us — every facet of our work and home," he says.

COVID-19 vaccinations are on the rise in the U.S. — and so are coronavirus cases.

After a plateau lasting several weeks, the number of cases is once again on the increase in parts of the country.

New cases, test positivity rates and hospital admissions are creeping upward. An increase in daily COVID-19 deaths is likely to follow, health officials say.

Two suicide bombers attacked a Roman Catholic church compound in Makassar, Indonesia, on Sunday morning, injuring at least 20 people, according to state officials. While no deaths among the churchgoers have been reported, police say both attackers died in the blast.

The attack happened at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral around 10:30 a.m., as a round of mass was wrapping up at the church. The bombers attempted to enter the church compound on motorbike and detonated at least one bomb by an entrance to the compound, according to news reports.

More than 500,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

This week President Biden is asking Americans to mark the 500,000 deaths with a moment of silence at sunset Monday. He's also ordered flags on all federal buildings lowered to half-staff for five days.

COVID-19 vaccines are scarce. Many people who want the shots can't get them yet, either because they're not yet eligible, according to priorities set by their state or county, or because there aren't any available appointments.

Updated September 24, 2021 at 9:24 AM ET

This page is updated on weekdays.

Vaccinating a high percentage of the population against COVID-19 is a crucial part of the U.S. strategy to curb the pandemic.

Since COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in the United States on Dec. 14, more than 387 million doses have been administered, fully vaccinating over 182 million people or 55% of the total U.S. population.

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President Biden announced a plan today to boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines. He says the government is buying 200 million more and that it's working with states to get them out efficiently. Here to talk about these plans is NPR's Pien Huang.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

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.

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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.

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