Health, Science & Environment

Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, will phase out the use of plastic bags in its stores by 2025.
Rogelio V. Solis / AP

A Republican-backed bill to prohibit communities from banning plastic bags and other disposable containers passed the Senate on a mostly party-line vote, following a significant change related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do public hearings over Zoom unfairly suppress opponents' comments, or allow even more people to engage?

That's just one point of dispute as the Trump administration pushes ahead with some of its most controversial environmental policy changes this spring despite the coronavirus pandemic. November's vote is driving momentum, since policies finalized too late could be overturned more easily should President Trump lose re-election or Democrats gain control of the Senate.

The world's top health officials are warning that there could be a "second peak" of coronavirus infections during the current outbreak, separate from a second wave expected in the fall. As cases decline, officials worry that some countries are lifting restrictions too quickly — the U.S. among them.

What's key to understanding the different patterns emerging around the globe is recognizing that "this coronavirus is not the flu," said Dr. Margaret Harris, a member of the World Health Organization's coronavirus response team.

When President Trump took office in 2017, his team stopped work on new federal regulations that would have forced the health care industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19. That decision is documented in federal records reviewed by NPR.

House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) speaks to masked reporters after session on May 13, 2020.
Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

Gov. Mike DeWine changed his initial mask mandate as a condition of businesses reopening, instead requiring masks for employees but not for customers. While mask wearing has become something of a partisan symbol, DeWine said it shouldn’t be.

Restaurants and businesses on Grandview Avenue on May 14, 2020.
David Holm / WOSU

Ohio bars and restaurants finally got to let customers back inside their businesses Thursday, more than two months after closing to limit the spread of coronavirus. 

The Trump administration is asking local Planned Parenthood affiliates around the U.S. to return millions of dollars in loans received through the federal government's coronavirus relief package.

On April 1 Teasha Tennyson gave birth to a six-pound, five-ounce baby at Good Samaritan Hospital. She'd already had a less than ideal birthing process there with her first child.

Registered Nurse Janice Tatonetti, right, takes the temperature of Harry Pearson before he votes in Ohio's primary election at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Across Ohio, public health departments are investigating the spread of COVID-19 with the help of contact tracers. These “disease detectives” are tasked with locating people who may have also contracted the coronavirus, but don't know it yet.

A coalition of Democratic committees representing governors, attorneys general, senators and members of Congress released a strategy memo Tuesday outlining that their collective strategy for the 2020 elections is to focus on health care.

Emerging data from COVID-19 cases show skin symptoms are potentially associated with coronavirus infection.

Cleveland Clinic dermatologists Drs. Sarah Young and Anthony Fernandez recently published a study detailing several common skin symptoms in COVID-19 patients, such as hives and rashes. They looked at research from Europe.

Fernandez said he's seen some of these symptoms in patients at the Cleveland Clinic as well.

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)
Paul Vernon / Associated Press

The Democratic leader of the Ohio House, state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), says the state has not done enough to address the disproportionate effect COVID-19 is having on black Ohioans.

Much like Columbus' other self-driving shuttles, the LEAP vehicles can seat 12 and include one operator overseeing the technology.
Nicole Rasul / WOSU

Smart Columbus has ended its investigation into a February 20 incident in which a self-driving shuttle vehicle in Linden suddenly braked and caused a passenger to fall to the floor.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Americans should oust President Trump from the White House and elect a leader who will support – rather than undermine – public health experts who are battling the COVID-19 pandemic, British medical journal The Lancet says in a newly published editorial.

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