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Allison Aubrey

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Six months ago, COVID-19 was spreading fast in this country. And there was a lot we still didn't know. Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force went on NBC's "Today" in March. And she made this prediction about the death toll.

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.

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Updated 4:10 p.m. ET

As students return to the campus of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this month, they will be tested for COVID-19. And, then they'll be tested, again.

"We are requiring testing two times per week for access to campus facilities. This is for students, faculty, and staff," explains Rebecca Lee Smith, an associate professor of epidemiology.

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As schools across the country grapple with bringing kids back into the classroom, parents — and teachers — are worried about safety. We asked pediatricians, infectious disease specialists and education experts for help evaluating school district plans.

What we learned: There's no such thing as zero risk, but certain practices can lower the risk of an outbreak at school and keep kids, teachers and families safer.

As scientists study the burden of COVID-19 around the globe, it's pretty clear that despite some cases of serious illness, kids tend to get infected with the coronavirus less often and have milder symptoms compared to adults.

"It seems consistently, children do have lower rates of infection than adults," says Dr. Alison Tribble, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Parents, teachers and students across the country are gearing up for the new school year. But what school will look like is still a mystery.

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Updated Aug. 12 at 1:15 p.m. ET

How severe is the spread of COVID-19 in your community? If you're confused, you're not alone. Though state and local dashboards provide lots of numbers, from case counts to deaths, it's often unclear how to interpret them — and hard to compare them to other places.

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Millions of Americans have probably had the coronavirus without knowing it.

That's the conclusion of officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other experts.

"Our best estimate right now is that for every case that was reported, there actually were 10 other infections," Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said during a call with reporters Thursday.

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