Health+Harvest

NPR Illinois Community Advisory Board identified the subject of food and health as important subjects for coverage in 2012. Health+Harvest provides for community engagement on health and food issues along with reporting on farm, field and fuel.  From seed to plate, from farmer's markets to GMOs, central Illinoisans need to know how to stay healthy and what they are eating.  In 2013, NPR Illinois joined a consortium of public media in the Harvest Public Media network.  The network provides broader coverage to Midwest food issues.

By examining these local, regional and national issues and their implications with in-depth and unbiased reporting, Health+Harvest fills a critical information void.

Support for Health+Harvest coverage comes from Central Illinois Farm Bureaus and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  If you'd like to support this initiative, please contact Nice Bogdanovich at 217-206-9847.

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Debbie Williams didn't have COVID-19. She died in April because of complications from a thyroid disorder. She is survived by her 34-year-old son, Andy, who lives in St. Louis, Mo., and her husband, Scott in Lebanon, Ind.

Health officials in the U.K. authorized the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, giving the nation a second option for inoculation against the coronavirus.

The government will begin rolling out the inexpensive and easy-to-store vaccine beginning Monday. It has ordered 100 million doses — enough to vaccinate 50 million residents, or three-quarters of the country's population.

The government has already given first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to more than 600,000 Britons.

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A new, highly contagious coronavirus strain has made its way to the United States.

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Back in the spring, farmers who raise pigs were in a panic. Many major customers, such as food service companies that supply restaurants, weren't buying pork. Prices had fallen sharply. Some hog farmers had no place to ship their animals because so many workers in pork processing plants got sick from COVID-19.

"Our folks need a lifeline," said Nick Giordano, top lobbyist for the National Pork Producers Council, on a call with journalists in May. "Unless there is a large cash infusion from the federal government, we're going to lose a lot of producers."

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It would be the last hike of the season, Jessica Newton posted on her social media platforms. With mild weather forecast and Colorado's breathtaking fall foliage as a backdrop, she was excited — convinced an excursion at Beaver Ranch Park would be the quintessential way to close out months of warm-weather hikes with her "sister friends."

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Colorado health officials say they may have found a second case of a coronavirus variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom. Officials are currently conducting more genetic testing to determine if the variant is present.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced one confirmed case on Tuesday, marking the first time the variant has been officially documented in the United States.

In a speech addressing the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, Joe Biden acknowledged that with vaccines being distributed, "brighter days are coming." However, the speech overall had a sobering tone, with the president-elect acknowledging the more than 330,000 coronavirus deaths, as well as the potential for many more over the winter.

"We need to be honest: The next few weeks and months are going to be very tough, a very tough period for our nation — maybe the toughest during this entire pandemic," he said. "I know it's hard to hear, but it's the truth."

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The coronavirus vaccine is taking longer to reach rural America. There are big hurdles to getting people vaccinated there. Will Stone reports on how hospitals are trying to overcome those hurdles.

Organ transplants are not as simple as someone dies somewhere, and then someone else — like John Caso of Johnson City, Tenn. — gets a new heart. As Caso learned, surprising twists and turns in the system can throw you for a loop.

"You never expect to get the call that says, 'We have an organ, but ...'" Caso says.

It seemed like there was only one global health story this year: the pandemic.

But that wasn't the only topic that grabbed our audience's attention. According to NPR's data on page views, readers were attracted to all kinds of Goats and Soda stories in 2020.

The mix of content might surprise you. A 2019 story about how to teach kids to control their anger made a huge comeback. Readers loved our commentary on the Netflix reality show Indian Matchmaking — and an explainer on locusts. And photos of our beautiful planet made a big impression.

Little Havana is a neighborhood in Miami that, until the pandemic, was known for its active street life along Calle Ocho, including live music venues. There you can find examples of the quintessential ventanita serving Cuban coffee and a historic park where men gather to play dominoes.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

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In an effort to boost natural gas exports, the Trump administration has reversed longstanding federal policy and approved transport of gas by rail anywhere in the country. Opposition has come from Hollywood stars, state attorneys general and local residents who worry about the danger this poses.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET

The House voted to increase coronavirus disaster relief payments for Americans to $2,000 per person on Monday in a bid by Democrats to capitalize on political divisions among Republicans.

The virus infecting thousands of Americans a day is also attacking the country's social fabric. The coronavirus has exposed a weakness in many rural communities, where divisive pandemic politics are alienating some of their most critical residents — health care workers.

A wave of departing medical professionals would leave gaping holes in the rural health care system, and small-town economies, triggering a death spiral in some of these areas that may be hard to stop.

The U.S. is regulating greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft for the first time. But critics are saying the rules will be ineffective.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday the rules are being finalized after first being made public in July.

The rules — modeled after international standards — require aircraft manufacturers to use fuel-efficient engines that release less heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

They require all new aircraft sold to commercial airlines to meet the requirements by 2028. The EPA acknowledges many already do.

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Dr. James Phillips, the Walter Reed physician who criticized President Trump's decision to greet supporters outside the facility where he was being treated for COVID-19, has worked his last shift at the hospital. "I stand by my words, and I regret nothing," Phillips wrote on Twitter.

Health care workers across the country have started receiving COVID-19 vaccines, but doctors and nurses at some of the nation's top hospitals are raising the alarm, charging that vaccine distribution has been unfair and a chaotic "free-for-all."

At hospitals in Massachusetts, New York, Arizona, California and elsewhere, medical professionals say that those with the most exposure to COVID-19 patients are not always the first to get vaccinated. And others who have little or no contact with COVID-19 patients have received vaccinations.

As the U.S. grapples with the effects of systemic racism, some in the medical community are questioning whether the tools they use to assess patient health may be contributing to racial health disparities.

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