Rob Stein

Rob Stein is a correspondent and senior editor on NPR's science desk.

An award-winning science journalist with more than 30 years of experience, Stein mostly covers health and medicine. He tends to focus on stories that illustrate the intersection of science, health, politics, social trends, ethics, and federal science policy. He tracks genetics, stem cells, cancer research, women's health issues, and other science, medical, and health policy news.

Before NPR, Stein worked at The Washington Post for 16 years, first as the newspaper's science editor and then as a national health reporter. Earlier in his career, Stein spent about four years as an editor at NPR's science desk. Before that, he was a science reporter for United Press International (UPI) in Boston and the science editor of the international wire service in Washington.

Stein's work has been honored by many organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Association of Health Care Journalists. He was twice part of NPR teams that won Peabody Awards.

Stein frequently represents NPR, speaking at universities, international meetings and other venues, including the University of Cambridge in Britain, the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, and the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC.

Stein is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He completed a journalism fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health, a program in science and religion at the University of Cambridge, and a summer science writer's workshop at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

Federal health officials are likely to shorten their recommendation for how long people should quarantine to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus from the current 14 days to as few as seven.

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With the pandemic out of control in the United States, the nation's precarious coronavirus testing system is starting to strain again.

More than 10 million people have now been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus in the United States as the spread of the virus accelerates at an alarming pace across the nation.

The U.S. now accounts for about one-fifth of all of the 50 million infections worldwide, more than any other nation. The data comes from Johns Hopkins University.

Support for President Trump increased in 2020 in many of the U.S. counties that lost lives at the highest rate to COVID-19, according to an NPR analysis.

Of the 100 counties with the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita, 68 had a higher proportion of votes cast for Trump this cycle than they did in 2016. This includes both Republican-leaning counties and counties that supported Joe Biden.

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More Americans may be wearing masks than early last spring, but other recommended behaviors to stop the pandemic's spread haven't kept pace, according to a new federal survey. And young people are the least likely to take needed steps to stop the virus, the data suggest.

The proportion of U.S. adults reporting wearing face masks increased from 78% in April to 89% in June, according to the nationally representative survey released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its definition of what it means to be a close contact of someone infected with the coronavirus. NPR health correspondent Rob Stein has the details and joins us now.

People are getting the results of coronavirus tests in the U.S. faster than they were in the spring, but testing still takes far too long to help with effective disease control measures such as contact tracing and quarantining, according to the results of a large national survey.

Doctors and public health experts are concerned that Saturday may be too soon for President Trump to resume activities, both for his own health and the safety of those around him.

Updated 1:20 p.m. ET

The spread of the coronavirus inside the White House is a stark reminder of the danger of relying on testing to prevent outbreaks, experts say.

"I think the takeaway is clear: Testing alone is not a sufficient strategy to prevent spread of the virus," says Daniel Green, an assistant professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University.

"A negative test does not give free license to forgo all other safety measures," Green says.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

The coronavirus can be very serious for anyone at any age but is especially concerning for a man of President Trump's age, 74.

A new generation of faster, cheaper coronavirus tests is starting to hit the market. And some experts say these technologies could finally give the U.S. the ability to adopt a new, more effective testing strategy.

"On the horizon — the not too distant horizon — there are a whole series of testing modalities coming on line," says Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health. "And that gives us hope we can really expand our testing capacity in the nation."

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Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he has received death threats and his daughters have been harassed as a result of his high-profile statements about the coronavirus pandemic.

"Getting death threats for me and my family and harassing my daughters to the point where I have to get security is just, I mean, it's amazing," Fauci said.

Americans continue to wait in long lines to get tested for the coronavirus. Many then face frustration and anxiety waiting days — sometimes even weeks — to get their results.

Could technology finally solve the testing woes that have hobbled the nation's ability to fight the pandemic? The National Institutes of Health hopes so.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, public health experts had high hopes for the United States. After all, the U.S. literally invented the tactics that have been used for decades to quash outbreaks around the world: Quickly identify everyone who gets infected. Track down everyone exposed to the virus. Test everyone. Isolate the sick and quarantine the exposed to stop the virus from spreading.

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The coronavirus keeps spreading around the United States. New hot spots are emerging and heating up by the day. The death toll keeps mounting. So how can the U.S. beat back the relentless onslaught of this deadly virus?

Public health experts agree on one powerful weapon that's gotten a lot of attention but apparently still needs a lot more: testing.

A new analysis that researchers at Harvard conducted for NPR finds that more states have begun to do enough testing to keep their outbreaks from getting worse, but most are still falling short.

Like millions of other Americans, Victoria Gray has been sheltering at home with her children as the U.S. struggles through a deadly pandemic, and as protests over police violence have erupted across the country.

But Gray is not like any other American. She's the first person with a genetic disorder to get treated in the United States with the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR.

All laboratories will now be required to include detailed demographic data when they report the results of coronavirus tests to the federal government, including the age, sex, race and ethnicity of the person tested, the Trump administration announced Thursday.

The new requirement, which will go into effect Aug. 1, is designed to help provide long-sought, crucial information needed to monitor and fight the pandemic nationally.

The head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that a new analysis shows the agency's delayed rollout of coronavirus testing did not hinder the nation's response to the pandemic.

The coronavirus didn't start spreading in the U.S. until late January or early February, the CDC analysis found, and it circulated at low levels for quite some time.

As a result, the availability of earlier widespread testing for the virus would not have been able to spot it, according to CDC Director Robert Redfield.

Salvador Perez got really sick in April. He's 53 and spent weeks isolated in his room in his family's Chicago apartment, suffering through burning fevers, shivering chills, intense chest pain and other symptoms of COVID-19.

"This has been one of the worst experiences of his life," says Perez's daughter, Sheila, who translated from Spanish to English for an interview with NPR. "He didn't think he was going to make it."

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Note: The graphic in this story is no longer being updated. For more recent data, visit our new post on this topic.

To safely phase out social distancing measures, the U.S. needs more diagnostic testing for the coronavirus, experts say. But how much more?

States clamoring for coronavirus tests in recent weeks have been talking about two types.

First, there's a PCR test that detects the virus's genetic material and so can confirm an active infection. And then there's an antibody test, which looks at the body's reaction to that infection and so is useful in identifying people who have been infected with the virus in the past.

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Last night, as President Trump announced new federal guidelines on reopening the country, he said it's governors who will lead the way.

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