Ruth Talbot

Ever since the coronavirus reached the U.S., officials and citizens alike have gauged the severity of the spread by tracking one measure in particular: How many new cases are confirmed through testing each day. However, it has been clear all along that this number is an understatement because of testing shortfalls.

Now a research team at Columbia University has built a mathematical model that gives a much more complete — and scary — picture of how much virus is circulating in our communities.

Georgia Washington, 79, can't drive. Whenever she needs to go somewhere, she asks her daughter or her friends to pick her up.

She has lived in the northern part of Baton Rouge, a predominantly Black area of Louisiana's capital, since 1973. There aren't many resources there, including medical facilities. So when Washington fell ill with COVID-19 last March, she had to get a ride 20 minutes south to get medical attention.

More Americans stayed home for Thanksgiving this year compared with last year — but by relatively small margins.

An NPR analysis of mobile phone location data showed that 42% of Americans with smartphones remained home, up from 36% last year.

Updated on Oct. 30 at 9:32 p.m.

This story was co-reported by Iowa Public Radio News, the Center for Public Integrity and NPR.

The New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Waterloo. The senior high school in Fort Dodge. The Masonic Temple in Council Bluffs.

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When COVID-19 claimed its first 100,000 lives in the U.S., Hidalgo County, Texas, seemed to have avoided the worst of it. The county, which sits on the border with Mexico, had just 10 deaths when the U.S. crossed that tragic milestone on May 27.

Millions have lost their jobs during the coronavirus shutdowns, placing an unprecedented burden on public welfare programs designed to help people in these situations. For those people and others who are hurting financially as a result of the virus, it's often the case that where you live determines what kind of help is available.