Laura Ungar
Laura Ungar
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Musicians Improvise Masks for Wind Instruments to Keep the Band Together

Musicians Improvise Masks for Wind Instruments to Keep the Band Together

This story also ran on .Trombonist Jerrell Charleston loves the give-and-take of jazz, the creativity of riffing off other musicians. But as he looked toward his sophomore year at Indiana University, he feared that steps to avoid sharing the coronavirus would also keep students from sharing songs.“Me and a lot of other cats were seriously considering taking a year off and practicing at home,” lamented the 19-year-old jazz studies major from Gary, Indiana.His worries evaporated when he arrived on campus and discovered that had invented a special mask with a hole and a protective flap to...

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Laura Ungar
Oct 16
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Moved by Plight of Young Heart Patient, Stranger Pays His Hospital Bill

Moved by Plight of Young Heart Patient, Stranger Pays His Hospital Bill

Sep 25Heart disease bankrupted him once. Now Michael Fentress faces another $10,000 medical bill.Even with insurance, Matthew Fentress faced a medical bill of more than $10,000 after a heart operation. A cook at a senior living community in Kentucky, he figured he could never pay what he owed — until a stranger who lives 2,000 miles away stepped in to help.“The system still failed me,” said Fentress, 31. “It was humanity that stepped up.”Karen Fritz, a retired college professor in Las Vegas, saw part of his story on “CBS This Morning,” which partners with KHN and NPR on the crowdsourced...

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Laura Ungar
Oct 8
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Heartbreaking Bills, Lawsuit and Bankruptcy — Even With Insurance

Heartbreaking Bills, Lawsuit and Bankruptcy — Even With Insurance

September 25, 2020Matthew Fentress was just 25 when he passed out while stuffing cannolis as a cook for a senior living community six years ago. Doctors diagnosed him with viral , heart disease that developed after a bout of the flu.Matthew Fentress was just 25 when he passed out while stuffing cannolis as a cook for a senior living community six years ago. Doctors diagnosed him with viral , heart disease that developed after a bout of the flu.Three years later, the Kentucky man’s condition had worsened, and doctors placed him in a medically induced coma and inserted a pacemaker and...

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Laura Ungar
Sep 25
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Politics Slows Flow of US Pandemic Relief Funds to Public Health Agencies

Politics Slows Flow of US Pandemic Relief Funds to Public Health Agencies

This story also ran on .As the coronavirus began to spread through Minneapolis this spring, Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant tore up her budget to find funds to combat the crisis. Money for test kits. Money to administer tests. Money to hire contact tracers. Yet even more money for a service that helps tracers communicate with residents in dozens of languages.While Musicant diverted workers from violence prevention and other core programs to the COVID-19 response, state officials debated how to distribute $1.87 billion Minnesota received in federal aid.Jun 29A series examining how the...

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Lauren Weber
+1
Aug 17
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Maryland County Pledges Investigation of Health Worker’s Coronavirus Death

Maryland County Pledges Investigation of Health Worker’s Coronavirus Death

This story also ran on .Officials in Maryland’s Prince George’s County say they “will spare no time or expense” investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a veteran public health worker who died of COVID-19 after relatives and co-workers believe she contracted the coronavirus on the job.The probe follows two weeks ago focusing on the worker, Chantee Mack, a 44-year-old disease intervention specialist at the Prince George’s County Health Department who union officials said was among at least 20 department employees infected by . The outbreak underscores the stark dangers facing...

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Laura Ungar
Aug 4
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Essential and in Danger: Coronavirus Sickens, Even Kills Public Health Workers

Essential and in Danger: Coronavirus Sickens, Even Kills Public Health Workers

This story also ran on .As a veteran public health worker, Chantee Mack knew the coronavirus could kill. She already faced health challenges and didn’t want to take any chances during the pandemic. So she asked — twice — for permission to work from home.She was deemed essential and told no.Eight weeks later, she was dead.Mack, a 44-year-old disease intervention specialist, lost her life this spring after COVID-19 struck the in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. The coronavirus infected at least 20 department employees, some of whom had attended a staff meeting where they sat close...

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Laura Ungar
Jul 22
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As Deaths Mount, Coronavirus Testing Remains Wildly Inconsistent In Long-Term Care

As Deaths Mount, Coronavirus Testing Remains Wildly Inconsistent In Long-Term Care

This story also ran on .Mary Lanham’s assisted living complex in Florida tested all residents for COVID-19 — once in March and again in April — even though no one showed symptoms.The preventive measure put her daughter’s mind at ease, since testing can detect the invisible enemy before it sickens, kills and spreads.“We’re all struggling with this virus right now,” said Paula Lanham Hahn, whose 80-year-old mom lives at Dayspring Senior Living in Hilliard, a town near the Georgia border. “I’m sure families would feel a lot better if the residents were being tested everywhere.”But they’re...

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Laura Ungar
May 12
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Millions Stuck At Home With No Plumbing, Kitchen Or Space To Stay Safe

Millions Stuck At Home With No Plumbing, Kitchen Or Space To Stay Safe

May 12, 2020In nearly half a million American homes, washing hands to prevent COVID-19 isn’t as simple as soaping up and singing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing.In many of those homes, people can’t even turn on a faucet. There’s no running water.In 470,000 dwellings in the United States — spread across every state and in most counties — inadequate plumbing is a problem, the starkest of several challenges that make it tougher for people to avoid infection.That’s according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of data from the Census Bureau and the in Washington, D.C. The analysis reveals...

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Laura Ungar
May 12
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COVID-19 Crisis Threatens Beleaguered Assisted Living Industry

COVID-19 Crisis Threatens Beleaguered Assisted Living Industry

This story also ran on .David Aguirre jumped in his truck and drove toward the hospital in the predawn darkness the minute he got the news: His 91-year-old mom was being rushed from her Texas assisted living facility to the emergency room.Estela Aguirre would be one of five residents to die and six others to be sickened by the novel coronavirus at The Waterford at College Station, part of a financially strapped chain of assisted living sites called Capital Senior Living.“My mom was a sweet, kind person. People really felt like they’d known her for 100 years. She was just that kind of soul,”...

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Laura Ungar
Apr 9
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Looking For Answers After Coronavirus Contact? Welcome To The Gray Zone

Looking For Answers After Coronavirus Contact? Welcome To The Gray Zone

[UPDATED at 10:04 a.m. ET on March 14] ST. LOUIS — Liz Lucas got a call Tuesday afternoon from a friend she’d interacted with closely at a journalism conference in New Orleans days earlier who had tested presumptively positive for coronavirus. She wondered what this meant for her and those around her, so she reached out to local and state health officials in Missouri for guidance.But like many others across the nation with similar concerns, she didn’t get the answers she sought and had to decide for herself what to do.“It was very frustrating,” said Lucas, data editor for this organization,...

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Laura Ungar
Mar 13
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