KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Martha Bebinger

Updated January 19, 2022 at 3:03 PM ET

Fans of Athens Pizza in Brimfield, Mass., learned the restaurant's beloved owner was sick via Facebook.

"The [pizzeria] will be closed for the rest of the week," reads the post from Nov. 30, 2021. "Unfortunately we have been exposed to Covid."

Get-well wishes poured in, but Athens Pizza will not reopen. Tony Tsantinis, 68, died at Harrington Hospital, in nearby Southbridge, on Dec. 10.

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All right. Let's stay with the pandemic and this record number of new cases. While there is evidence that many of the new infections are milder - meaning people won't need to go to the hospital - in some places, hospitalizations are surging.

The multibillion-dollar bankruptcy settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family is grounded in an opioid crisis that has injured or killed an untold number of Americans.

July Fourth was not the celebration President Biden had hoped for when it comes to protecting more Americans with the coronavirus vaccine. The nation fell just short of the White House's goal, which was to give at least a first dose to 70% of adults by Independence Day.

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One evening in late March, a mom called 911. Her daughter, she said, was threatening to kill herself. EMTs arrived at the home north of Boston, helped calm the 13-year-old, and took her to an emergency room.

Heroin started rewiring and taking control of Will's brain in the early 2000s, as he turned 40.

"Back then, if you used drugs people didn't want anything to do with you," Will recalls. "People gave up on me."

Will lost almost everything: jobs, his driver's license, his car, his marriage and his home. He found enough temporary work to pay rent on a room, ate at soup kitchens, and stole and resold goods for cash.

"Feeding that addiction," he says. "Feeding that monster."

In March, just weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, the incident command center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston was scrambling to understand this deadly new disease. It appeared to be killing more black and brown patients than whites. For Latino patients, there was an additional warning sign — language.

Patients who didn't speak much, if any, English had a 35% greater chance of death.

Clinicians who couldn't communicate clearly with patients in the hospital's COVID units noticed it was affecting outcomes.

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It was low tide on the north shore of Boston when Steve Kearns felt the mosquito bite that would land him in a hospital with West Nile Virus disease for a week.

"For at least six months after that, I felt like every five minutes I was being run over by a truck," Kearns says. "I couldn't work, I couldn't walk very well and I couldn't focus. I wondered for a bit if I'd ever get better."

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