David Schaper

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.

In this role, Schaper covers aviation and airlines, railroads, the trucking and freight industries, highways, transit, and new means of mobility such as ride hailing apps, car sharing, and shared bikes and scooters. In addition, he reports on important transportation safety issues, as well as the politics behind transportation and infrastructure policy and funding.

Since joining NPR in 2002, Schaper has covered some of the nation's most important news stories, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and other mass shootings, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, California wildfires, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous other disasters. David has also reported on presidential campaigns in Iowa and elsewhere, on key races for U.S. Senate and House, governorships, and other offices in the Midwest, and he reported on the rise of Barack Obama from relative political obscurity in Chicago to the White House. Along the way, he's brought listeners and online readers many colorful stories about Chicago politics, including the corruption trials and convictions of two former Illinois governors.

But none of that compares to the joy of covering his beloved Chicago Cubs winning the World Series in 2016, and three Stanley Cup Championships for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent almost a decade working as an award-winning reporter and editor for WBEZ/Chicago Public Media, NPR's Member station in Chicago. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems and progress — financial, educational and otherwise — in Chicago's public schools.

Schaper also served as WBEZ's Assistant Managing Editor of News, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing the reporting staff while often still reporting himself. He later served as WBEZ's political editor and reporter; he was a frequent fill-in news anchor and talk show host. Additionally, he has been an occasional contributor guest panelist on Chicago public television station WTTW's news program, Chicago Tonight.

Schaper began his journalism career in La Crosse, Wisconsin, as a reporter and anchor at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM. He has since worked in both public and commercial radio news, including stints at WBBM NewsRadio in Chicago, WXRT-FM in Chicago, WDCB-FM in suburban Chicago, WUIS-FM in Springfield, Illinois, WMAY-AM in Springfield, Illinois, and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Schaper earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications and history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master's degree in public affairs reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield. He lives in Chicago with his wife, a Chicago Public School teacher, and they have three adult children.

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." See an archive of our FAQs here.

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There's good news and bad news for Americans who have been itching to take a European vacation. Spain reopens to vaccinated tourists on June 7. Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia and other countries are opening up again soon.

But in order to go, travelers will have to show proof that they've been vaccinated, and it's not yet clear how they'll do that. That's causing a lot of confusion among those with pent-up wanderlust, as demand for air travel has been soaring in recent weeks.

Complaints about airlines refusing to pay refunds for canceled flights during the pandemic soared more than 5,500% over the previous year. Some customers are still trying to fight airlines for refunds, while others, who got credit or vouchers for future travel instead, are finding that those credits may soon expire.

And that's outraging some consumers who as taxpayers came to the rescue of the industry when airlines lost billions during the pandemic.

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Looking for a nonstop flight between Appleton, Wis., and Savannah, Ga.? It'll soon be available. Or how about Austin, Texas, to Nashville, Tenn.? Louisville, Ky., to Los Angeles? Or from just about anywhere to Bozeman, Mont.?

Those are some of the new, unconventional domestic routes that airlines are now offering as they try to capitalize on the huge pent-up demand for leisure travel and inch back toward profitability while waiting for business travel to bounce back.

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Hundreds of people gathered in the Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis this afternoon for the funeral of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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At George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, a crowd gathered earlier this afternoon when they heard that the jury had reached a verdict. And this was the sound of the reaction there as the verdict was read.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD AMBIENCE)

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A new possible problem with Boeing's 737 Max airplanes has several airlines once again pulling dozens of the troubled jets out of service.

Boeing said in a statement that it has "recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations."

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Just two months ago, airlines were warning about furloughing thousands of pilots. Now they're putting up help-wanted signs. As NPR's David Schaper reports, that's because air travel seems to be recovering more quickly than expected.

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Just in time for pothole season, the latest report card on the nation's infrastructure shows that the needs are great but funding is lacking.

Many of the country's roads, bridges, airports, dams, levees and water systems are aging and in poor to mediocre condition. And they're in need of a major federal investment to keep from getting worse and to withstand the harsh effects of a changing climate, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Recent promising vaccine news has many people hoping to finally see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, and maybe even daring to think about getting on a plane bound for snowy mountains, a tropical beach, or just anywhere.

The Pizzarello family in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., is among them. They love to travel. So much so that, Ed, the patriarch, has been hesitant to even bring up the subject during the pandemic so that his 14-year old daughter and 10-year-old son wouldn't get their hopes up.

Boeing will pay more than $2.5 billion to settle a criminal charge related to the two 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

The Justice Department has announced that it has reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing to resolve a charge of criminal conspiracy to defraud the FAA.

Less than a week remains until Christmas, and if you haven't ordered all of your holiday gifts yet, it may be too late to ship them in time.

A huge increase in online shopping this year has demand for package delivery exceeding capacity this holiday season and stretching the delivery supply chain thin.

The deluge of packages has many package sorting, distribution and delivery workers at the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS and Amazon busier than they have ever been before.

Updated Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET

With the FDA now authorizing the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine, a huge logistical challenge looms. That is, transporting and distributing the vaccines quickly and efficiently to those who need it most all around the world.

It's a complex task that will involve not only shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, but also airlines better known for carrying people, not cargo.

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With coronavirus vaccines closer to being authorized, the logistical challenge is transporting and distributing those vaccines quickly worldwide. As NPR's David Schaper reports, it's a complicated process.

The days of bringing your emotional support cat, pig or even a miniature horse on a plane may soon be coming to an end. The federal government is enacting a new rule restricting the types of service animals allowed on commercial airline flights, allowing only dogs that meet specific training criteria.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

After 20 months on the tarmac following two fatal crashes, Boeing's troubled 737 Max airliner has been given the green light to resume passenger flights, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday.

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The Federal Aviation Administration is getting closer to allowing Boeing's troubled 737 Max commercial jetliner to fly passengers again.

FAA chief Stephen Dickson says his agency "is in the final stages of reviewing the proposed changes to the Boeing 737 Max," adding that the agency could complete its evaluation of the fixes "in coming days" and allow the plane to return to service. Reuters is reporting that the plane could be recertified by the FAA as soon as Nov. 18.

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Not long after The Associated Press and other news outlets declared Wednesday that Democrat Joe Biden had won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes, the Trump campaign announced it would ask for a recount in the state.

The margin separating Biden and Trump in what is one of the nation's most contested swing states is roughly 20,000 votes, or less than 1%. It was absentee ballots in the cities of Milwaukee, Green Bay and Kenosha, added to county totals Wednesday morning, that appear to have put Biden on top.

Phil Brach spent the weekend putting huge sheets of plywood up over the massive glass windows of the Washington, D.C., store where he works, Rodman's Food and Drug, in preparation for Election Day.

"We'll probably go up two or three boards high," Brach says.

Across the country, there are growing concerns that the bitterness and animosity over the presidential election will not end when the polls close Tuesday night. From coast to coast, cities are preparing for possible protests, civil unrest and violence regardless of the election's outcome.

For people who are itching to travel, airlines are working hard to offer reassurance. They're requiring masks, disinfecting airplane cabins between flights and using hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems. Airlines are also touting a recent study that shows that modern aircraft ventilation systems help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and suggests the probability of spreading and contracting the coronavirus on even a packed airline flight is low.

How's this for an October surprise? Despite a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country, it appears that more people are flying on commercial jetliners than at any time over the last seven months.

More than one million people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints Sunday. It's the first time the TSA's daily traveler count has topped the one million mark since March 16.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a huge financial toll on the travel industry, airlines are trying to shift their focus from stopping the bleeding to planning for a recovery.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is expressing confidence, saying a recovery is "now visible on the horizon," even though that recovery still appears to be a long way off.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is a long way away, but this is the turning point," Kirby told reporters and analysts on a conference call on Thursday.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Public health officials in the cities and states that President Trump visited in recent days are working to contact those who were in close proximity to him, first lady Melania Trump and others who traveled with him.

Since he has tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials worry those who attended events with the president could be at risk for the virus, too.

(After a strange, shortened season with no fans at the ballparks, the Major League baseball playoffs are now underway. And this year, there's something else unusual: both Chicago teams are playing in the postseason. It's just the third time that the North Side Cubs and the South Side White Sox reached the playoffs in the same year.

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