Will Stone

Will Stone is a KUNR alumnus, having served as a passionate, talented reporter for KUNR for nearly two years before moving in early 2015 to the major Phoenix market at public radio station KJZZ.

An East Coast transplant, he's worked at NPR stations in Philadelphia, New York and Connecticut. He's also interned at the NPR West Headquarters in Los Angeles where he learned from some of the network's best correspondents. Before joining the public radio airwaves, he studied English at a small liberal arts college and covered arts and culture for an alternative newsweekly in Philadelphia.

He's particularly drawn to education, government and environmental reporting, as listeners became aware, he jumped on any story that got him out into the field with a mic in hand.

He enjoyed the Reno outdoors, food and cultural scene, given his liking for  hiking, fish tacos and great American poetry. While KUNR listeners miss his reporting, we're always glad to help prepare, encourage and support successful public radio professionals wherever they go.

See what Will is up to at KJZZ.

When Colin Powell died this week from complications related to COVID-19, it was a shock to many Americans.

Though scientists and federal health officials are adamant that the vaccines work well to protect against hospitalization and death, it's unnerving to hear of fully vaccinated people like Powell, or perhaps your own friends and neighbors, falling severely ill with COVID-19.

So how well do the vaccines work? How serious is the risk of a serious breakthrough infection, one that could land you in the hospital?

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

With a second pandemic winter approaching, there are promising signs that the worst of the delta surge has run its course, but in America's hospitals — already short-staffed and backlogged from the summer torrent of COVID-19 — the relief may be only short-lived.

Many are staring down a tough stretch of colder months with the threat of a potentially bad influenza season, an influx of patients trying to catch up on delayed care and a depleted workforce that has had little time — if any — to regroup from this latest wave of coronavirus infections.

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The test results that hot day in early August shouldn't have surprised me — all the symptoms were there. A few days earlier, fatigue had enveloped me like a weighted blanket. I chalked it up to my weekend of travel. Next, a headache clamped down on the back of my skull. Then my eyeballs started to ache. And soon enough, everything tasted like nothing.

The U.S. health care system is again buckling under the weight of a COVID-19 surge that has filled more than 100,000 hospital beds nationwide and forced some states to consider enacting "crisis standards of care" — a last resort plan for rationing medical care during a catastrophic event.

Booster shots against the coronavirus have already started rolling out in the U.S. for some people and millions more could be due for them soon. But as breakthrough infections become more common, many people are wondering in the meantime: Does my immune system have enough firepower to protect me right now?

With the U.S. in the grips of a frightening surge of coronavirus cases, many parents are understandably eager to know when the COVID-19 vaccine will finally be available for children under 12.

This age group accounts for about 50 million Americans and currently none of them qualify for a shot. But scientists are racing to figure out how one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available for adults could be given to this age group.

People with compromised immune systems who already got two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can now get a third shot to boost their protection from COVID-19.

This week's decision by federal health agencies is welcome news to many patients and their doctors who have been calling for this for months.

The Food and Drug Administration is authorizing an additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for certain people with weakened immune systems caused either by disease, medical treatments or organ transplants.

The move comes after studies have shown these people may not have sufficient immunity to head off the more serious complications of COVID-19 after the standard vaccine regimen.

The vast majority of COVID-19 vaccines have gone straight from drug companies to affluent countries such as the United States. Worldwide only about 1% have made it to low-income countries.

And here's what's happening all across the United States: Millions of vaccine doses at risk of spoiling are sitting on freezer shelves, with no easy way to get them to countries desperately waiting for shots.

Updated August 3, 2021 at 5:00 PM ET

The U.S. has delivered 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 65 countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia, President Biden announced Tuesday at the White House.

In Peru, Dr. Ramiro Lazo Camposano, a pediatrician, was going door-to-door seeing his patients in the capital city of Lima at a time when most health care workers in the U.S. had already celebrated getting their second shots of the COVID vaccine. But he was not vaccinated. Doses were in short supply across Peru.

Eventually, Lazo Camposano, 74, caught the virus and passed it onto his son.

"Both went to the ICU unit, and they didn't make it," says his daughter Dr. Marcela Lazo Escalante, a physician and medical researcher in Lima. Father and son died in February.

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It's still a mystery. How did the pandemic begin?

There is the leading hypothesis among scientists: The virus hopped from an animal — possibly a bat — to a human, or to some other animal, which later spread the disease to humans.

And then there is the lab leak hypothesis: The virus somehow escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

President Biden is set to announce Thursday that the United States has bought 500 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to donate to COVAX, which is distributing vaccines to countries that cannot afford to buy enough shots, a source familiar with the deal confirmed to NPR.

The news comes after Biden's arrival Wednesday in England on the first foreign trip of his presidency. He has said he wants to use the eight-day European trip to marshal a plan with other G-7 nations to help end the pandemic around the world.

Vaccines are now on their way to parts of the world where vaccines are sorely lacking.

The Biden administration is exporting an initial batch of 25 million doses from a promised 80 million for countries in need, part of the president's pledge on June 3 to "lead the world in the fight to defeat COVID-19."

When a filmmaker asked medical historian Naomi Rogers to appear in a new documentary, the Yale professor didn't blink. She had done these "talking head" interviews many times before.

She assumed her comments would end up in a straightforward documentary that addressed some of the most pressing concerns of the pandemic, such as the legacy of racism in medicine and how that plays into current mistrust in some communities of color. The subject of vaccines was also mentioned, but the focus wasn't clear to Rogers.

After more than 50 years, the federal government is lifting a roadblock to cannabis research that scientists and advocates say has hindered rigorous studies of the plant and possible drug development.

Since 1968, U.S. researchers have been allowed to use cannabis from only one domestic source: a facility based at the University of Mississippi, through a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

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As more states shed their universal mask mandates for those who are vaccinated, many Americans are weighing how much faith to put in the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in the integrity of their unvaccinated peers, who are supposed to follow the rules and keep wearing masks.

As the coronavirus outbreak recedes in many parts of the U.S., the Pacific Northwest has emerged as an outlier — gripped by a late spring surge that has filled hospitals in the metro areas around Seattle and Portland.

In recent weeks, the governors of both states have hit the brakes on reopening plans in hopes of countering the rapid spread of the more contagious B.1.1.7. variant of the coronavirus, first identified in the U.K.

After spending much of the past year tending to elderly patients, doctors are seeing a clear demographic shift: young and middle-aged adults make up a growing share of the patients in COVID-19 hospital wards.

It's both a sign of the country's success in protecting the elderly through vaccination and an urgent reminder that younger generations will pay a heavy price if the outbreak is allowed to simmer in communities across the country.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When the pandemic hit, many Americans turned to vitamins and supplements in hopes of boosting their immune systems.

Scientists also raced to study them. Vitamin D, perhaps more than any other, captured the attention of researchers.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In the year since the World Health Organization first declared a global pandemic, on March 11, 2020, millions of families have endured the excruciating rise and fall of the U.S. outbreak. The waves of sickness have left them with untold wounds, even as hospitalizations ebb and infections subside.

Some Americans have experienced tragedy upon tragedy, losing multiple family members to the virus in a matter of months.

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