Ari Shapiro

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the hardest hit areas were big cities, from Seattle to New York. But now, eight months after the crisis hit the U.S, new cases are surging in some small towns and rural areas around the country.

Colorado is among more than a dozen states that set a seven-day record for positive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

The coronavirus is now spreading through more than a dozen states, including Wisconsin. On Wednesday alone, there were more than 3,000 new infections and more than two dozen deaths. The state is averaging 2,840 new cases per day, an increase of 22% from the average two weeks earlier.

In total, 158,578 people in Wisconsin have tested positive for the virus and 1,536 people have died.

It wasn't the racist emails that bothered Issac J. Bailey.

Well, they bothered him — it was just that being a Black columnist for The Sun News, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, he accepted that he'd get hateful messages.

It was his well-intentioned white colleagues who he found more exhausting.

New Yorkers have been watching with alarm as COVID-19 cases have begun to climb in the city, particularly in areas that Governor Andrew Cuomo has called hotspots, several of which are in predominantly Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Queens.

Susanna Clarke's debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, was a sweeping page turner about ancient magic set during the Napoleonic Wars. That blockbuster book was all about escape. Now, 16 years later, Clarke is focused on feeling locked in.

Her latest is called Piranesi ­­-- that's also her narrator's name — and his whole world is a strange, labyrinthine house. His name comes from a real-life person, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an 18th-century architect and artist.

Jason Wright joins the Washington Football Team as it confronts a series of crises: allegations of sexual harassment and bullying, the COVID-19 pandemic and changing a racist team name.

On the last episode of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, British spoken word artist Kae Tempest spoke about singer-songwriter and fellow South Londoner Lianne La Havas. In particular, they described being transfixed by La Havas' command of melody after witnessing her perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

In this week's Play It Forward, where artists tell us about their music and the musicians who inspire them, we hear from the British spoken word poet and musician Kae Tempest. In last week's segment, Indigo Girls' Amy Ray and Emily Saliers talked about Tempest's ability to capture small human moments in large meditations about life and the resonant way they think about love. Ray called them "a true poet," like one of the literary greats.

We're back with season two of Play It Forward, where we talk with artists about their music and the artists they're thankful for. The band Indigo Girls has shaped a generation of singer-songwriters.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Contact tracing has been one of the key tools in the fight against the coronavirus. Now, as the virus has infected more than 5 million Americans, the U.S. has at least 41,122 contact tracers — but that's not even half what public health experts said would be needed to help contain the spread.

Mississippi is heading for a title that no state would want: It is on track to overtake Florida to become the No. 1 state for new coronavirus infections per capita, according to researchers at Harvard.

The state already faces high levels of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity.

You already know what's going to happen to the main character of Akwaeke Emezi's new novel. It's in the title: The Death of Vivek Oji.

The arrival of federal agents in Portland three weeks ago to crack down on racial justice protests fueled tensions there, and helped push the city to the forefront of coverage of the nation's racial justice movement.

As one of the whitest big cities in the America, Portland's outsize role in the nationwide protests may strike some as surprising.

"If history is written by winners," author Maria Sherman says, "music history is written by rock critics, and they don't typically get along with boy bands."

For reasons that she explores in her new book, Larger Than Life: A History Of Boy Bands From NKOTB To BTS, Sherman says boy bands don't get the same respect as other music acts, especially their rock peers.

We're all familiar with migration: Wildebeests gallop across Africa, Monarch butterflies flit across the Americas ... but did you know that forests migrate, too?

In his new book The Journeys of Trees, science writer Zach St. George explores an agonizingly slow migration, as forests creep inch by inch to more hospitable places.

In the history of commercial air travel, airlines have never had a stretch as bad as the last few months. Early in the pandemic, Delta Air Lines was losing $100 million each day. Now it's losing about $27 million a day.

While Delta is making "good headway" on reducing its cash burn, the most important factor for financial recovery is something that's largely out of the industry's control, says Ed Bastian, the company's CEO.

"The bottom line is we've got to restore confidence amongst our consumer base in air travel," he tells NPR.

When Democrats took back the House of Representatives in 2018, the Judiciary Committee hired Norm Eisen to be special counsel.

He'd been a White House ethics czar and a U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic during the Obama administration. And when he showed up to work for Congress, he started preparing for the possibility that the House might impeach President Trump.

Less than a year later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an official impeachment inquiry.

One of the country's leading business schools — the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — has never had a woman or a person of color as its dean since it was founded nearly 140 years ago.

Until now.

Erika James was named as Wharton's 15th dean in February and officially started the job earlier this month.

The business world has been slow to reflect the gender and racial makeup of America today, but James says that's not due to a lack of ability to make it happen.

In the inaugural season of Play It Forward, we've followed a musical chain of gratitude across genre, regions and time. First up was Dan Snaith, the Canadian indie-electronic auteur who records as Caribou.

Sophie Mackintosh wrote her first novel, The Water Cure, while she was also working a full time office job. It was a success — longlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2018. So she left the day job to write her second novel, Blue Ticket. And as she did in her first book, Mackintosh has created a world in Blue Ticket that explores themes of gender, power and family.

The surge in COVID-19 infections throughout Alabama is forcing Gov. Kay Ivey to rethink plans to reopen the state.

For the last seven days, Alabama has logged an average of nearly 1,000 new daily coronavirus cases, with hospitalizations at their highest level since the pandemic began.

In the last installment of Play It Forward, the series in which musicians give thanks for the artists who have inspired them, Ari Shapiro spoke with saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin.

In the two-and-a-half weeks since police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, the question of how to change policing has eclipsed almost every other topic of debate.

Some of the loudest voices opposing dramatic change are from police unions.

Last time on Play It Forward, our musical chain of gratitude, R&B singer and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow raved about the saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. They share a few things in common: Both studied together at The New School's School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, both tap a similar spiritual vein in their music and as Muldrow sees it, both are "sangin' " even if it's through different mediums.

For white people who have just recently recognized their own complicity in America's racist systems and are looking to "fix" that — it's not going to happen overnight.

"It's a little bit like saying 'I want to be in shape tomorrow' ..." says author Robin DiAngelo. "This is going to be a process."

The coronavirus pandemic set a new record this weekend: More than 136,000 new cases around the world were reported on Sunday, the highest number in a single day.

The statistic comes from the United Nations, the global body the world often turns to in a crisis.

Louisville, Ky., has been a center of protests after police shot and killed Breonna Taylor in March. A lot has happened in the city since then.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

David McAtee, owner of Yaya's BBQ, was a beloved fixture in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville, Ky., remembered as a pillar of the community and known to give out his food free of charge, even to local police officers.

His death at the hands of law enforcement has come as a shock to those who knew him.

McAtee, a chef, was killed early Monday morning at his barbecue business when Louisville Metro Police Department officers and National Guard troops responded to reports of a crowd gathered after the city's 9 p.m. curfew near the corner of 26th Street and Broadway.

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