Selena Simmons-Duffin | KGOU
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Selena Simmons-Duffin

Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on health policy for NPR.

She has worked at NPR for ten years as a show editor and producer, with one stopover at WAMU in 2017 as part of a staff exchange. For four months, she reported local Washington, DC, health stories, including a secretive maternity ward closure and a gesundheit machine.

Before coming to All Things Considered in 2016, Simmons-Duffin spent six years on Morning Edition working shifts at all hours and directing the show. She also drove the full length of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 for the "Borderland" series.

She won a Gracie Award in 2015 for creating a video called "Talking While Female," and a 2014 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for producing a series on why you should love your microbes.

Simmons-Duffin attended Stanford University, where she majored in English. She took time off from college to do HIV/AIDS-related work in East Africa. She started out in radio at Stanford's radio station, KZSU, and went on to study documentary radio at the Salt Institute, before coming to NPR as an intern in 2009.

She lives in Washington, DC, with her spouse and kids.

In normal times, when you choose your health insurance plan — usually during a fall "open enrollment period" — you try to guess at what the next year and your health will be like. You look at your budget and compare monthly premium costs and deductibles.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

If you're stocking up on fever reducers and cough medicine as the coronavirus spreads around the country, you may want to hang on to those receipts.

To stop the spread of the coronavirus, health officials have a favorite refrain: After being in a city or region where there have been a lot of COVID-19 cases, spend 14 days in quarantine even if you feel perfectly fine — don't leave your house. Coming from New York? 14-day quarantine. Arriving in Hawaii?

Three major health insurance providers have now pledged to shield patients from high medical bills if they need treatment for COVID-19. Insurers Cigna and Humana announced Monday that they would waive consumer costs associated with COVID-19 treatment.

Most of the gargantuan sum of money in the coronavirus bill Congress just passed is dealing with the economic crisis, not the public health one.

"Most of the bill is on emergency relief to people and unemployment insurance," says Loren Adler, associate director of USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy. "The health care provisions are, in some sense, secondary."

When Dr. Judy Salerno, who is in her 60s, got word that the New York State health department was looking for retired physicians to volunteer in the coronavirus crisis, she didn't hesitate.

"As I look to what's ahead for New York City, where I live, I'm thinking that if I can use my skills in some way that I will be helpful, I will step up," she says.

It's Monday, March 16, there are about 4,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States. I head to work, attend meetings. My daughter's school is closed for two weeks.

Medstar Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C. is in full-on preparation mode.

On a recent visit the staff had already marked out the parking lot — painting green rectangles to mark the places where tents are starting to be set up to screen arriving patients for COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

If you or someone in your household is sick with a fever and cough, you may be dealing with another symptom: the fear that you have coronavirus.

What are you supposed to do?

First of all, don't panic. Remember that it's still flu and cold season in the U.S., and seasonal allergies are starting up, too. Unless your symptoms are getting dramatically worse or you feel short of breath, you may not need to seek medical treatment (though it's OK to call your doctor and ask).

The coronavirus funding bill signed into law by the president Friday puts much more money toward treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 than his administration requested from Congress last week.

During infectious disease outbreaks, public trust in the government and health agencies becomes critical. Officials need to convince millions of people that they are telling the whole truth, and that their guidance on what to do — and not do — should be followed.

How's that going as coronavirus has begun spreading in some parts of the U.S.?

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At the heart of a story now playing out in schools, workplaces and courts across the U.S. is a disagreement over the legal meaning of the word "sex" — and whether discrimination against gay and transgender people for being gay or transgender is sex discrimination.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Updated at 11 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there's been "confusion" about the handling of a coronavirus patient in California who is thought to represent the first case of the virus being transmitted in the general population, rather than through a known contact with someone who has been in China.

The case involves a woman who appears to have contracted the virus in California, apparently without having contact with anyone who had traveled abroad or was previously known to have the coronavirus.

If you don't have little kids, or it's been a while, let me just break down for you why kids' coughs can be a truly miserable problem that can drive you to madness.

Imagine this: Your kid's coughing — it's almost always worse at night — then they start crying because they're tired and can't sleep with all the coughing. The coughing and crying means that not only do they not sleep, but you also don't sleep — no one in the house sleeps — and this can go on for weeks.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

For a moment during the State of the Union address last night, President Trump spoke about an issue that reaches beyond party lines.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

President Trump took full advantage of the large television audience for his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to make his case for reelection in November, touting the strong economy and delighting Republicans in the room with a series of made-for-TV moments.

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