Jason Beaubien

The United States is home to the world's best-known technology companies, but so far the use of smartphones to fight the coronavirus has been tepid at best.

Smartphones have the potential to be a powerful tool in tracking the spread of COVID-19. They can tell you exactly how close you've been to other people, for how long and keep a detailed log of everyone you've been around for the last 14 days. Linked to testing systems, they can rapidly alert you if someone you've been in contact with tests positive.

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As millions of students return to virtual classes at their dining room tables, some parents who are also trying to work from home have decided to ship their kids off to camp.

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Coffee lovers, here's something to be grateful about. Unlike paper towels, disinfectant or yeast, coffee has never been hard to find during the pandemic.

In some places in the world right now, getting tested for COVID-19 remains difficult or nearly impossible. In Rwanda, you might just get tested randomly as you're going down the street.

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Today the Trump administration formally notified the United Nations that it is pulling out of the World Health Organization. For more on this move, NPR's global health correspondent Jason Beaubien joins us now.

Hey, Jason.

Chile looked as if it were well prepared to deal with the new coronavirus.

It's a rich country — classified as high income by the World Bank. Life expectancy is roughly 80 years — better than the United States'. It has a solid, modern health care system, and when the outbreak began spreading, officials made sure they had plenty of ventilators and intensive care beds at the ready.

Why the coronavirus appears to affect children differently than it affects adults is one of the great mysteries of the current pandemic.

And it's a question that Rosalind Eggo, an assistant professor of mathematical modeling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and her colleagues have tried to answer.

"What we found was that people under 20 were about half as susceptible to infection as people over 20," Eggo says.

Efforts are underway in Washington to revamp U.S. foreign aid in the wake of the coronavirus.

Proposals from both the White House and the Senate would shift billions of dollars in foreign assistance, consolidate control over U.S. humanitarian aid in the State Department and — according to one former top aid official — undermine the lifesaving work of USAID.

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Two new papers published in the journal Nature say that lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus were highly effective, prevented tens of millions of infections and saved millions of lives.

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This afternoon, President Trump said he is severing U.S. ties with the World Health Organization over the U.N. agency's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

The World Health Organization says it is temporarily halting its clinical trials that use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients over published concerns that the drug may do more harm than good.

The move comes after the medical journal The Lancet reported on Friday that patients getting hydroxychloroquine were dying at higher rates than other coronavirus patients.

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Over the past month, Hong Kong has averaged one new confirmed coronavirus case a day.

Taiwan has reported only one case in the past three weeks. The situation is similar in Vietnam. Although the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow globally, there are places that have managed to successfully control COVID-19.

New Zealand's triumph

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The World Health Organization's annual oversight convention will be held by teleconference beginning Monday, as the worst pandemic in modern history continues around the globe.

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You might have never heard the phrase "contact tracing" until recently.

Updated on May 13 at 12:30 p.m.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Haiti has doubled over the past week, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health.

As of May 13, there were 219 cases, up from 108 a week earlier. Cases are now being reported from all 10 departments, the local version of states, although the bulk of confirmed infections are in and around the capital Port-au-Prince.

Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore was praised as a shining example of how to handle the new virus. The World Health Organization pointed out that Singapore's aggressive contact tracing allowed the city-state to quickly identify and isolate any new cases. It quickly shut down clusters of cases and kept most of its economy — and its schools — open. Through the beginning of April, Singapore had recorded fewer than 600 cases.

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The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, says contact tracing will be vital in the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Poor countries have advice to offer.

Contact tracing is used all over the world, including in the U.S. The idea is to track down anyone in recent contact with a newly diagnosed patient, then monitor the health of these contacts. In the developing world, it's been a valuable tool in fighting infectious diseases like Ebola and tuberculosis. Public health workers there have lots of experience.

NPR's global health and development correspondent answers listener questions about contact tracing, the World Health Organization and flattening the curve.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

After getting a barrage of criticism about his own handling of the pandemic, President Trump assigns blame somewhere else. He announced last night that he is stopping U.S. funding to the World Health Organization.

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