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Pien Huang

Updated 5:48 p.m. ET

A federal advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday to recommend who should get COVID-19 vaccines first once one is authorized for use.

Health care workers are expected to be first in line to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available.

It makes sense: Getting a safe, effective vaccine would help keep them and their patients healthy. Seeing doctors, nurses and medical aides getting COVID-19 vaccines would also set an example for the community.

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Top officials from Operation Warp Speed, the government's program to fast-track the development and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, announced they've allocated 6.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to states based on their total populations.

Health care workers will almost certainly get the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. when one is approved, according to Dr. José Romero, head of the committee that develops evidence-based immunization guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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As coronavirus cases rise swiftly around the country, surpassing both the spring and summer surges, health officials brace for a coming wave of hospitalizations and deaths. Knowing which hospitals in which communities are reaching capacity could be key to an effective response to the growing crisis. That information is gathered by the federal government — but not shared openly with the public.

Dr. William Foege doesn't know how his private letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, got leaked — but he stands by its contents.

"I think we've got about the worst response to this pandemic that you could possibly have," said Foege, who served as CDC director from 1977 to 1983, spanning the Carter and Reagan administrations, in an interview with NPR.

The federal government is starting to crack down on the nation's hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data into a federal data collection system.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

Last Thursday afternoon, when Hope Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus, President Trump was aboard Marine One, on his way to a campaign fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club.

Several members of Congress and cabinet members who've spent time with President Trump in the last week were tested for coronavirus — and have announced the result was negative.

But that doesn't mean they're in the clear.

These results could be a false negative — which are common in people who've been infected with the virus during the first few days after exposure.

Each week we answer some of your pressing questions about the coronavirus and how to stay safe. Email us your questions at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

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Updated Friday 2:15 p.m. ET to include a comment from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The federal government is preparing to crack down aggressively on hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data daily into a federal data system, according to internal documents obtained by NPR.

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It's still unknown when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available in the United States. But when one is first approved, there may only be 10 million to 15 million doses available, which may be enough to cover around 3% to 5% of the U.S. population.

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Michael Caputo, the top spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services and a longtime ally of President Trump's, is taking a 60-day leave of absence after a social media tirade in which he falsely accused government scientists of engaging in "sedition."

President Trump has publicly blamed the World Health Organization for being slow to sound alarm bells about the coronavirus.

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In March, NPR reported on the tolls of life under quarantine in Wuhan, then the epicenter for COVID-19. We spoke to two visitors who'd returned to their hometown of Wuhan to ring in the Lunar New Year with their families — then couldn't leave for months: epidemiologist Lin Yang, now back in her home in Hong Kong, and Xi Lu, who's returned to London.

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