Maria Godoy

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Updated January 19, 2022 at 2:47 PM ET

After months of public health experts urging Americans to start wearing higher-quality masks, the Biden administration announced they're sending free ones to pharmacies and community health centers in the near future.

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Trying to eat less meat? Make sure your meat-free meals are just as satisfying by seasoning your vegetables with the same spices you use to cook meat. It will carry some of that flavor over.

Keep your cupboard stocked with spices like cumin, paprika and ginger that enhance any meal. Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and basil can also add a nice touch.

With another coronavirus variant racing across the U.S., once again health authorities are urging people to mask up indoors. Yes, you've heard it all before. But given how contagious omicron is, experts say, it's seriously time to upgrade to an N95 or similar high-filtration respirator when you're in public indoor spaces.

"Cloth masks are not going to cut it with omicron," says Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies how viruses transmit in the air.

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America spends $3.8 trillion on health care annually, more than any other country. Yet when it comes to creating a more equitable public health system, it could learn a thing or two from some of the world's poorest nations, says Katie Bollbach, executive director of Partners in Health-U.S.

Updated December 20, 2021 at 6:45 PM ET

Here we go again.

Just in time for the holidays, federal officials announced Monday that the omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading quickly in the U.S., and it's now the dominant strain in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I've got a kitchen confession: I don't do Thanksgiving turkey.

It's not because of dietary restrictions, although I do try to limit my meat consumption. It's more a matter of soul-crushing disappointment. Years ago, my family and I decided we weren't going to serve Thanksgiving turkey anymore because it kept turning out dry and flavorless.

What's the point of getting up super-early and spending hours laboring and stressing in the kitchen if you're just going to end up with a bland bird?

I don't need that kind of holiday heartache.

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From a political and legal standpoint, the battle over whether mask wearing should be enforced in schools is still raging. But from a scientific standpoint, there's little debate: Masks really do help curb the spread of the coronavirus in school.

It's the kind of news story that keeps parents of school-age children up at night: Kids go to school, dutifully wear masks, and still half the class ends up infected with the coronavirus.

That's what happened this past spring at an elementary school in Marin County, Calif. The school seemed to be taking all the right precautions against COVID-19 transmission. Teachers and students were required to be masked while indoors. Student desks were spaced 6 feet apart. Doors and windows were left open.

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Many kids going back to school are still too young to be vaccinated, and so parents are asking what schools should be doing to minimize the risks to their children. NPR health correspondent Maria Godoy has some answers.

Which masks are best to keep kids safe? It's a question on many parents' minds as students return to in-person school amid a huge wave of coronavirus infections. Masking is a key safety measure in schools for all kids, especially for children too young to be eligible for any COVID-19 vaccine.

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At 72, Dolores Fontalvo is part friendly neighbor, part psychologist. She's also a linchpin in the state of Maryland's successful effort to narrow the vaccination gap between its white and Latino residents.

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Vaccination rates are rising among Latinos in this country. Why is that when they're stuck in other communities? NPR's Maria Godoy went to Langley Park, Md., to find out what's been working there.

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A small new study offers a glimmer of hope that giving organ transplant recipients a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine could boost their protection against the coronavirus.

That's important because prior research has shown that nearly half of organ transplant recipients failed to show any antibody response even after two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

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Laura Burns was thrilled when she got her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine three months ago. The 71-year-old thought that with vaccination, she might finally be closer to being able to see her family in Europe again.

"I have not seen them now for two years, and that's including my stepdaughter. It's very, very ... that's hard," says Burns, who lives in Austin, Texas.

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You got your shot and you're ready to get back to normal life. But what does that mean anymore? While being fully vaccinated doesn't mean it's suddenly safe to party like it's 2019, most interactions pose a much lower risk than they did before you got jabbed.

Remember, you don't reach full vaccination until at least two weeks after getting your second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So what kind of precautions do you still need to take after that?

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Lots of people have questions about getting vaccinated against COVID-19. That includes the millions of Americans with weakened immune systems that put them at higher risk of severe disease if they do get infected with the coronavirus.

The numbers are stark – and startling.

Around the world, almost 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization. That number has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, WHO said.

This week, health care providers began administering the first doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. — the third vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to help stop the coronavirus pandemic.

That's welcome news in a country that still faces high levels of circulating virus in most regions, and a demand for vaccine that still far outstrips supply.

War is hell. But it's also pretty crummy on the homefront — especially if you're a woman with few options (read, a woman) in World War II-era England. But what if you could cook your way to a better life?

That's the basic premise of The Kitchen Front, the third novel from Jennifer Ryan, and the third to be set in England during World War II. As in her best-selling The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, the story concerns itself with the struggles and resilience of village women, but this time around, the action revolves around a cooking competition.

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