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AIDS began as a frightening medical mystery, with clustered outbreaks in California and New York City. Dr. Paul Volberding, who later helped San Francisco General Hospital open a dedicated AIDS ward, remembers seeing his first AIDS patient on July 1, 1981, although he didn't know it at the time.

As coronavirus numbers have ticked steadily upwards in some U.S. states and cities, officials have watched one specific figure to see whether they're facing a flattening curve or runaway outbreak: the doubling rate.

Simply put, it's how many days it takes for the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations or deaths to double. The shorter the time frame, the steeper the curve and the faster the growth.

In some religions, chanting helps to settle the mind and prepare it for meditation. As much of the world lives in isolation due to the coronavirus outbreak, many have suggested using the time to meditate and be in the here and now.  

Buddhists believe the path to enlightenment requires periods of detachment from the world — so self-quarantine offers an opportunity.

Updated at 2:51 p.m. ET

The White House's coronavirus response task force convened a briefing Friday afternoon as the conversation in Washington turns toward how America could reactivate after going dormant to slow the pandemic.

President Trump is expected to receive recommendations about when and how the nation could reopen for business. He and advisers must make difficult decisions about how to balance economic, social, public health and other priorities.

Updated at 1:44 p.m. ET

Just over a week ago, the worldwide death toll linked to the coronavirus stood at around 50,000 — a staggering sum for a virus that was still largely unknown to the world at the start of the year. Now, that death toll has doubled.

Yemen has recorded its first confirmed case of coronavirus. Aid officials warn the impoverished country already devastated by five years of war will be unable to cope if the virus spreads.

"We are bracing for the worst," Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, told NPR on Friday.

Before the case was announced, Grande said in a phone interview from the Yemeni capital Sanaa that the country would be completely overwhelmed by the spread of the virus.

Medical professionals treating coronavirus patients in Venezuela say most hospitals lack a broad array of basic necessities, often including soap and running water.

Their warning comes amid concerns that the South American country could soon face a new humanitarian catastrophe because its health system is close to collapse and cannot cope with a surge of cases.

In India, the coronavirus cloud has a silver lining: clear blue skies.

India entered the world's biggest lockdown last month and the government ordered 1.3 billion people to stay home as the number of coronavirus cases climbed.

Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Postcards From The Pandemic

5 hours ago

About The Reflections:

Over the past weeks, most us have had to adapt to a new normal. We reached out to a few TED speakers to ask how their lives have changed and what they're thinking about these days.

Who We Hear From:

More than two months after he watched his father die of the new coronavirus, Zhang Hai has yet to bury him. The 50-year-old Wuhan native wants to pay his last respects alone — but that's now against government rules.

"[My father's] work unit called and made it very clear that I have to be accompanied when I retrieve the ashes," Zhang recalled. "Maybe they are well-intentioned, but I just want to collect my father's ashes alone before burying him. I do not want to have strangers around."

When Carolynn van Arsdale, a senior at the University of Vermont, was forced to leave her campus amid coronavirus concerns last month, it caused a lot of complications. " I was forced to move out of my apartment building and move into my mother's house in a different state," she said. "I lost one of my jobs ... and I've been struggling with my mental health. All of these stresses have challenged me in being able to do my best in my college courses."

On a recent sunny morning at a remote U.S. base in northeast Syria, Rumi is sniffing around. She has white fur and black markings on her face. Some here call her "the raccoon dog."

"Rumi first started showing up in early January," says 1st Lt. Shelby Koontz. "She was really emaciated, caked in mud."

Even though the dog didn't look pretty, 25-year-old Koontz immediately fell for her.

In recent days, the Trump administration has organized dozens of flights to deliver surgical masks and other critical medical supplies around the country, working with a half dozen major medical distributors to get those supplies "to the right place at the right time."

But if your state isn't considered the right place, that system can be frustrating.

"When you look at those five or six national distributors, Montana is sure as heck not getting much luck out of them," Gov. Steve Bullock said in an interview.

Who does and doesn't get to vote in November could rest on how states, political parties and the federal government respond to the coronavirus threat to U.S. elections.

A day after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee, made an overture to progressives.

On Thursday he rolled out two new policy proposals:

  1. Lower the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60.
  2. Forgive student debt for low-income and middle-class families who attended public colleges and universities and some private institutions.

Governors across the country are banning elective surgery as a means of halting the spread of the coronavirus. But in a handful of states that ban is being extended to include a ban on all abortions.

So far the courts have intervened to keep most clinics open. The outlier is Texas, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit this week upheld the governor's abortion ban.

Tiny bits of twisted plant fibers found on an ancient stone tool suggest that Neanderthals were able to make and use sophisticated cords like string and rope.

Cords made from twisted fibers are so ubiquitous today that it's easy to take them for granted. But they're a key survival technology that can be used to make everything from clothes to bags to shelters.

It's the question on everyone's minds: What will it take for us to come out of this period of extreme social distancing and return to some semblance of normal life?

It turns out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working on a plan to allow the U.S. to safely begin to scale back those policies. CDC Director Robert Redfield spoke with NPR on Thursday, saying that the plan relies on not only ramped-up testing but "very aggressive" contact tracing of those who do test positive for the coronavirus, and a major scale-up of personnel to do the necessary work.

A civil rights group is demanding that Zoom do more to stop harassment on its video-conferencing platform.

Color Of Change, a nonprofit that advocates for racial equality, is meeting on Friday with Zoom's global risk and compliance officer, Lynn Haaland, NPR has learned. The group plans to raise concerns over a rise in "Zoombombing" attacks involving racist slurs and hate speech.

NPR economics and science correspondents answer questions about the staggering unemployment numbers announced Thursday, and convey the latest updates from Thursday's White House briefing.

More than 226,000 people – over a quarter of a million Ohioans – filed for unemployment in just the last week. Nearly 700,000 Ohioans have filed in the last three weeks. And a task force of state representatives met this week and will meet again Monday to talk about when to open up Ohio’s economy again.

Universities and community colleges in Northeast Ohio will receive millions in emergency funding under the CARES Act, the federal relief package aimed at helping the U.S. economy during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under the CARES – or Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – at least half the amount a university or college receives from the federal government must go towards emergency financial aid grants for its students. 

OHSAA Has A Spring Sports Plan Ready, If Schools Reopen

19 hours ago

The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) unveiled a plan Wednesday to resume spring sports – if Gov. Mike DeWine decides to reopen schools in early May.

The governor’s current school closure order expires on May 1, with classes resuming May 4. In the update sent to Ohio high schools, OHSAA said the May 4 start is optimistic, but its plan would allow spring sports seasons to begin as early as May 9.

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