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Coronavirus

Scottadito Osteria Toscana Restaurant is a typical Brooklyn neighborhood spot, with high ceilings and dark wood. Inside the front door is a table with a white cloth. It's piled with round plates, wine glasses, and two silver pitchers of water. There are also clear plastic pump dispensers of hand sanitizer and a thermometer.

"When people come in, we take their temperature," says owner Donald Minerva. "It's a pretty big imposition to put people in. But this is what we have to do."

This week I got vaccinated with Sputnik V, the COVID-19 vaccine that Russian President Vladimir Putin is promoting as the best in the world.

As a resident of Moscow and a journalist, I'm entitled to the two-dose vaccine. So on Wednesday morning I walked up the street to City Polyclinic No. 5, a nondescript brick building in central Moscow, where I'd scheduled an appointment at 10:48 a.m.

Tom Sweitzer knows firsthand how social isolation and loneliness are real side effects of living through a pandemic — just as mental health professionals have warned.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Friday its much-anticipated, updated guidance to help school leaders decide how to safely bring students back into classrooms, or keep them there.

Peter Prater's family wasn't thinking about COVID-19 when the call came that he had been taken to the hospital with a fever.

Officials in Australia's state of Victoria mandated a five-day stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the area's growing number of coronavirus infections.

But the tennis must go on.

Tennis Australia, the organizers of the Australian Open, had allowed 30,000 fans to attend matches thus far. But under the new restrictions, the stands will sit empty.

President Biden has finalized deals to buy 200 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of July, increasing the likelihood of delivering on his promise to have all Americans inoculated by mid-summer.

Mary Barnett is one of about a dozen seniors who got a COVID-19 vaccine on a recent morning at Neighborhood Health, a clinic tucked in a sprawling public housing development on the south side of downtown Nashville, Tenn.

"Is my time up, baby?" Barnett, 74, asked a nurse, after she'd waited 15 minutes to make sure she didn't have an allergic reaction. Barnett, who uses a wheelchair, wasn't in any particular rush. But her nephew was waiting outside, and he needed to get to work.

"Uber, I'm ready," she joked, calling him on the phone. "Come on."

Congressional forecasters are projecting a federal deficit of $2.3 trillion this fiscal year, even without the additional $1.9 trillion in spending that President Biden has proposed.

That would mean a smaller deficit than the record $3.1 trillion in 2020, according to the forecast issued by the Congressional Budget Office on Thursday. But at $2.3 trillion, the budget gap in 2021 would still top 10% of the overall U.S. economy — making it the second-largest deficit since World War II.

Elected officials in Florida are reacting strongly against media reports that the White House is considering imposing domestic travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19.

"It would be unconstitutional. It would be unwise and it would be unjust," Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday at a vaccination site in Port Charlotte, on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is now blocked from Instagram after he repeatedly undercut trust in vaccines. Kennedy has also spread conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, accusing him of profiteering off vaccines and attempting to take control of the world's food supply.

"We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines," a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told NPR on Thursday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her government's decision to extend a COVID-19 lockdown into March, as she issued a stark warning that new strains of the coronavirus "may destroy any success" already achieved in keeping the pandemic in check.

With two COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States and more on the way, things are starting to look up. But virus mutations being detected around the world mean the vaccines may one day need updates to ensure they stay effective.

The Food and Drug Administration is already working on a playbook for how it could greenlight vaccine changes.

When Black business owner Jennifer Kelly applied for an emergency loan for small businesses through a major bank last spring, she found herself shut out.

Kelly, who runs a clinical psychology practice outside Atlanta, was not the only one. Businesses owned by Blacks and Latinos were often at the back of the line last year as the government rushed out hundreds of billions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans. The money was intended to help small businesses keep their workers on the payroll during the pandemic.

Japan may have several million fewer coronavirus vaccine doses than originally planned because the country does not have the appropriate syringes. It's another setback to one of the slower vaccination rollouts among developed economies.

The Pfizer vaccine normally contains five doses per vial. But a special syringe known as a low dead space syringe, which expels more medicine from the space between a syringe's needle and plunger, can eke out six doses per vial.

The president of the European Commission admitted to mistakes Wednesday in the bloc's approach to inoculating its 447 million people against COVID-19, acknowledging that it was late to approve a vaccine and that officials held unrealistic expectations about how quickly one could be deployed.

As a result, "We are still not where we want to be," Ursula von der Leyen told European Parliament lawmakers in Brussels.

Why has it been so hard to get a COVID-19 vaccination? One reason may be the software that almost all medical records in the U.S. are built on.

It makes up the systems nurses and doctors type patients' vital signs and prescriptions into — whether they're getting a routine physical or going to the emergency room with a broken arm.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new research on Wednesday that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks. Those findings prompted new guidance on how to improve mask fit at a time of concern over fast-spreading variants of the virus.

The Biden administration is promising to finally solve the nation's chronic shortage of COVID-19 tests. But is the new administration doing enough, especially with the more contagious coronavirus variants now looming?

Many public health experts are encouraged by the new administration's commitment to the importance of testing. But some are concerned officials are moving too slowly.

At a recent mass vaccination clinic run by Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle, Steve Baruso, 57, sat in a chair, recovering after getting his shot.

When asked what made him eligible to get the vaccine, he replied that he actually wasn't.

"I hit the 'other' on the form," he said. That was the option for people who were not currently eligible but wanted to join the waitlist anyway.

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