Week In The News: Coronavirus Crisis Upends Health Care, Politics And Daily Life

Mar 20, 2020

Taking stock of an incredible week in a global pandemic. We’ll have the latest facts and figures, the science and politics, and how we’re all coping with the coronavirus crisis.


Rick Berke, Co-founder and executive editor of STAT, a media company focused on health, medicine and science. (@rickberke)

Kimberly Atkins, senior news correspondent for WBUR covering national politics. (@KimberlyEAtkins)

Hana Baba, host of Crosscurrents, a daily magazine show on KALW. Co-host of the podcast “The Stoop.” (@radiohana)

David Folkenflik, NPR media correspondent and host and editor of On Point. Author of “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires.” (@davidfolkenflik)

From The Reading List

The New York Times: “Can Smart Thermometers Track the Spread of the Coronavirus?” — “A company that uses internet-connected thermometers to predict the spread of the flu says it is tracking the coronavirus in real time — something that had been impossible, given the lack of testing for the disease.

“Kinsa Health has sold or given away more than a million smart thermometers to households in which two million people reside, and thus can record fevers almost as soon as consumers experience them.

“For the last few years, Kinsa’s interactive maps have accurately predicted the spread of flu around the United States about two weeks before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own surveillance tool, the weekly FluView tracker.

“The thermometer data ‘acts as an early warning system for illness spreading,’ said Inder Singh, the company’s founder. The C.D.C.’s system lags because it relies on weekly reports from hundreds of doctors’ offices and hospital emergency rooms about what symptoms they are seeing in patients.”

CNN: Trump signs coronavirus relief legislation into law” — “President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law a coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for Covid-19 and paid emergency leave.

“The Senate had earlier Wednesday approved the House-passed bill. The move allowed the upper chamber to devote its full attention to passing the next relief package in response to the coronavirus crisis.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans had been critical of the House-passed legislation, but emphasized that it is urgent to get relief to the American people amid the coronavirus crisis.”

The Associated Press: “How long will Americans be fighting the coronavirus?” — “In a matter of days, millions of Americans have seen their lives upended by measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Normally bustling streets are deserted as families hunker down in their homes. Many of those who do venture out try to stay a safe distance from anyone they encounter, even as they line up to buy now-precious commodities like hand sanitizer. Parents juggle childcare as schools close, perhaps for the rest of the school year. And restaurants and bars sit empty as more and more convert to delivery-only options.

“How long will this last? Scientists say there isn’t a simple answer.

“‘In many ways, this situation is unprecedented – we’re trying to take some actions to curb the spread and timing of this pandemic,’ said Stephen Morse, a disease researcher at Columbia University in New York.”

This article was originally published on

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit