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I catch Patricia Stamper with a Zoom meeting going in the background and a child at her knee asking for attention. Stamper works as a teacher's assistant for special education students in the Washington, D.C., public schools.

These days, her virtual classroom is at home — and so is her toddler, who has a genetic disorder called Noonan syndrome, and her kindergartner, who receives speech therapy. Her husband works outside the home at a golf course.

Updated at 8:35 a.m. ET

Kris Snyder didn't set out to be a professional musician. She began her working life as a corporate trainer for a big retail company. But after churning through seven managers in five years, she got fed up. She gave up a regular paycheck and corporate benefits and started looking for music gigs.

"Weddings, funerals, parties — that sort of thing," says Snyder, a fourth-generation harpist.

Updated on Sept. 18 at 2:15 p.m. ET

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there were lots of stories about scrappy manufacturers promising to revamp their factories to start making personal protective equipment in the U.S.

Back in the spring, fuel-cell maker Adaptive Energy retooled part of its factory in Ann Arbor, Mich., to make plastic face shields. Now, 100,000 finished shields are piling up in cardboard boxes on the factory floor — unsold.

Athletes and fans anticipating the start of college basketball will have to wait a little bit longer.

The NCAA Division I Council announced on Wednesday that the upcoming men's and women's basketball seasons can begin on Nov. 25, roughly two weeks later than originally planned, in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he and other staff will take an unpaid furlough week, part of an effort to respond to billions of dollars in lost revenue and to show solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic shutdowns.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero as expected Wednesday and pledged to keep supporting an economic recovery that appears to be losing steam.

Most members of the Fed's rate-setting committee said they expect interest rates to remain near zero through at least 2023 as the economy slowly digs its way out of the coronavirus recession.

Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

President Trump on Wednesday again said widespread distribution of a vaccine against the coronavirus would happen before the end of the year, directly contradicting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. The CDC chief testified earlier Wednesday that a vaccine would not be widely available until next spring or summer.

Trump said he expects the government to be able to distribute a vaccine "sometime in October," though "it may be a little later than that."

The Big Ten Conference said it will return to football on the weekend of Oct. 23-24, a reversal from the conference leadership's decision a little more than a month ago to sideline its football program in the fall due to coronavirus concerns.

Updated at 9:03 a.m. ET

U.S. shoppers spent more prudently in August and retail sales grew a tepid 0.6% compared to July, as tens of millions of unemployed people stopped receiving extra federal jobless benefits and families faced a confusing back-to-school season.

Still, retail sales continued to grow, now for the fourth month in a row as people spent more at restaurants and bars and bought more furniture, electronics, cars and clothes. And for the first time in months, online stores saw no growth.

There's a saying going around these days: The future of work is now — put into overdrive by the pandemic that suddenly transformed millions into virtual workers. But the coronavirus has also accelerated a major shift to freelancing that's severing ties between companies and employees.

Two million Americans have started freelancing in the past 12 months, according to a new study from Upwork, a freelance job platform. And that has increased the proportion of the workforce that performs freelance work to 36%.

One day after a federal judge ruled Pennsylvania's pandemic restrictions unconstitutional, Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement slamming Republicans' celebratory response and urging people to take the coronavirus seriously.

"There's no sense debating a ruling that will be appealed," Wolf said on Tuesday. "But what's not up for debate is that our early and decisive action saved lives."

With so much uncertainty continuing around the coronavirus, it might be next summer before most workers for private employers in the Washington, D.C., area return to the normalcy of their offices.

Earlier this year, the Navajo Nation Reservation was a major hot spot for coronavirus cases. Now, it's seen a day without a single positive case.

It's a turning point in its battle against the virus. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez attributes that to Navajo leaders and citizens heeding the advice of public health officials.

"All we did as leaders and public health professionals is we accepted [the] recommendations from the CDC, NIH," Nez says. "We took one step more, putting those recommendations into public health emergency orders, making them law."

Household income in the United States rose sharply last year while poverty declined — fruits of a record-long period of economic growth that ended abruptly when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

An annual report from the Census Bureau shows median household income jumped 6.8% in 2019, to $68,700. That's the highest since the government started keeping track in 1967.

The poverty rate declined to 10.5% — the lowest since records began in 1959.

A decade ago, building cleaner Noh Il-soon was in the market for a new church. She had previously moved within Seoul, and when she did, she looked for a local congregation to join.

A missionary introduced her to a Presbyterian church called Sarang Jeil, Korean for "love comes first." Noh says she was immediately captivated by the sermons of the charismatic pastor, Jun Kwang-hoon.

Playbill, the program magazine given out at theaters, has been around for 136 years. It's not just a program, it's a cherished souvenir. "It has become kind of the best memento of your night out at the theater," says Alex Birsh, the company's vice president.

But with theaters on Broadway and across the country shut down since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Playbill is just one of the many companies servicing the performing arts that has had to adapt.

A high school senior kneels in the forest duff, grasping a handmade bow. He moves his arm back and forth, and a high-pitched squeaking sound ricochets through the woods.

Eight-year-old Asher Wool stands a few feet away. He explains what this teenager is up to.

"So, he's rubbing the string against the spindle to make a coal that can make a fire," Asher says.

No matches. No crumpled newspaper. The teenager has worked for years to develop the skill of building a friction fire here at Earthwork, a wilderness school located in western Massachusetts.

Victor Coronado felt lightheaded one morning last month when he stood up to grab an iced tea. The right side of his body suddenly felt heavy. He heard himself slur his words. "That's when I knew I was going to have a stroke," he recalls.

Coronado was rushed to Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, the hospital nearest his home on Chicago's South Side. Doctors there pumped medicine into his veins to break up the clot that had traveled to his brain.

India's parliament reopened Monday for the first time in nearly six months, but at least 25 lawmakers were barred from entering the chamber after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Picture this: You're 17, you walk into a corner store and grab a Coca-Cola and Doritos, but the cashier refuses to sell them to you because you're underage.

That rule is expected to soon become reality in parts of Mexico, as lawmakers in several states push legislation to keep junk food away from children, partly in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before a new federal eviction ban went into effect recently, Alice and Jeremy Bumpus were on the verge of getting evicted. They live in a house outside Houston with their three kids, and they both lost their jobs after the pandemic hit. Alice worked at an airport fast food restaurant; Jeremy worked at a warehouse.

"We explained to the judge that due to everything that was going on, we just fell behind on just our one month's rent," Alice says.

After I shared my family's experience in trying to care for my 92-year-old grandmother in the pandemic, I wanted to know: How do we help older people feel safe and comfortable — and happy — in these times?

Drugmaker AstraZeneca announced Saturday that its COVID-19 vaccine studies have resumed in the United Kingdom, though not yet in the United States. The vaccine trials had been placed on hold around the world earlier in the week after a U.K. participant in one of the studies developed a neurological illness.

Over the centuries, Europe has suffered through plagues, pestilence and the Black Death.

When Italy became the first Western country to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Florence discovered that one of its unique architectural quirks was perfect for coronavirus-era social distancing.

During normal times, the concrete alleyway behind the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in downtown Sacramento, Calif., goes mostly unnoticed.

Cars and delivery trucks pass through, crows fly over at dusk and homeless people sleep there at night.

But since July, when California banned indoor religious services in many counties in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, this alley has been a place of worship.

As we get closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, it's exciting to imagine a day when the virus is gone. But a vaccine will not be a magic bullet. In fact, it may be only about 50% effective.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief of the National Institute of Health and Infectious Disease, has tried to set realistic expectations when discussing the importance of a vaccine. "We don't know yet what the efficacy might be. We don't know if it will be 50% or 60%," Fauci said during a Brown University event in August.

Adults who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant within a two-week period prior to becoming sick, according to a new study from Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

The study looked at 314 adults who had showed symptoms of COVID-19 and had sought testing at one of 11 facilities across 10 states in July. Of the participants, 154 tested positive for COVID-19, while 160 tested negative and served as a control group.

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."

If you're wondering when it will be safe to date again — or how to do it — you're not alone.

Via social media and email, NPR readers have sent in questions about dating and relationships in the age of COVID-19. Some of the queries:

Coming back to school this fall has presented new challenges for students, their families and educators. But for Cathy Cluck, it has presented an opportunity.

A controversial rule backed by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and meant to reroute millions of dollars in coronavirus aid to K-12 private school students, has been shut down, at least temporarily.

The U.S. Education Department announced Wednesday that the rule is no longer in effect after a federal judge determined that the department had not only "acted beyond its authority" but misinterpreted the will of Congress.

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