Tamara Keith

Vice President Harris has announced a new initiative to bring business and economic investment to Central America's Northern Triangle countries that are driving much of the migrant surge at the U.S. southern border that she's been tasked with addressing.

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What a difference a vaccine makes (that, and CDC guidance saying vaccinated people can safely do just about anything mask-free). At the Biden White House, which remained a COVID-cautious bubble longer than many corners of the country, it's like 2019 all over again, with large and largely mask-free events in the East Room both Thursday and Friday.

Updated May 21, 2021 at 5:05 PM ET

In what appears to be a mostly symbolic step toward finding common ground with Senate Republicans, the Biden administration has lowered its spending proposal on its infrastructure and jobs proposal, from more than $2 trillion to $1.7 trillion.

Now that the United States has made strides in vaccinating Americans against COVID-19, President Biden has said he wants to marshal global resources to stamp out the pandemic in even the world's poorest countries.

It's a goal that will require convincing other wealthy nations to join in the cause. Biden has put an international development veteran at the helm of this diplomatic push: Gayle Smith, an outspoken advocate for reducing global poverty and unnecessary death from disease.

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In the effort to vaccinate as many Americans as possible for COVID-19 - and at this stage in the game, states and the federal government say they need to get creative about this. Here's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

President Biden on Tuesday is set to announce new steps to reach rural Americans in the push to get as many people as possible vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official tells NPR. This emphasis comes as rural hospitals are raising alarms about the pace of vaccination — even among their own employees.

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The average daily pace of COVID vaccinations is slowing in the U.S., so how do you persuade the unvaccinated? NPR's Tamara Keith sat in on a focus group aimed at figuring out what will change their minds.

The Biden administration is moving into a new phase of its campaign to vaccinate as many Americans as possible for the coronavirus, one where the government may not always be the best messenger to persuade people to get their shot.

So it's working to bring together hundreds of local and national groups into something it calls the COVID-19 Community Corps, enlisting people to help their friends, family and neighbors make appointments and get access to vaccines.

The Biden administration will send $1.7 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state governments and other research efforts, starting early next month to find and track coronavirus variants lurking in the United States. Already, the more contagious U.K. variant, B.1.1.7, is now the dominant strain in this country, fueling surges in Michigan and the Northeast.

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When President Biden was asked about actions he would take on gun violence prevention and said "it's a matter of timing," and pivoted to talk about infrastructure, it wasn't what Kris Brown had been expecting.

"I am disappointed, I will say, at what I heard from him," said Brown, who is president of Brady United Against Gun Violence.

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Finding the right message — and right messengers — to persuade skeptical conservatives to get the COVID-19 vaccine has become an urgent concern for public health experts pushing to contain the coronavirus.

President Biden said on Tuesday that a key milestone in the fight against COVID-19 could be reached two months faster than earlier projected. By the end of May, there should be enough vaccine doses for every adult in America, he said — a dramatic improvement to his initial timetable for late July.

A turning point in speeding up that pledge came a few weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon in early February, during a phone call with Johnson & Johnson executives that had been planned for 15 minutes but stretched for longer than an hour, two senior administration officials told NPR.

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Across the country, coal-burning power plants are closing. Wind turbines and solar farms are expanding. This transition cleans the air. It reduces greenhouse emissions. But it can also be painful. In North Dakota, some local officials are trying to keep a coal plant alive by blocking construction of new wind power. NPR's Dan Charles has more.

When the school district in Pima, Ariz., got its first round of federal pandemic relief last summer, Superintendent Sean Rickert put it toward the expenses incurred while suddenly shifting classes online at the start of the pandemic.

Now, as some Republicans in Congress question why COVID-19 aid for schools has not yet been spent, Rickert is just learning how much his district will get from a second relief bill approved in December.

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The United States hit a devastating milestone today - 500,000 people now dead from COVID-19. That's according to the tally kept by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Well, while infections have been falling and vaccinations have been ramping up, about 2,000 people are still dying from the virus in this country each day. President Biden led the nation in remembering and mourning those deaths this evening at the White House.

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Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Friday its much-anticipated, updated guidance to help school leaders decide how to safely bring students back into classrooms, or keep them there.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

When Mesa, Ariz., Mayor John Giles looks out his window at city hall, he can see tangible signs of how the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt his community.

From his perch, he can see the city's convention center, which has become a hub for those seeking help. Sometimes, there are lines a thousand cars long with people coming to pick up food from a food bank. Other days, it's people lined up for COVID-19 vaccines.

"It's a pretty sobering view from the mayor's office," Giles said in an interview with NPR.

Updated at 11:10 a.m ET

As Democrats in Congress take the initial steps to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package using a process that won't require any Republican votes, the White House is working to rack up endorsements from state and local elected officials and business groups — a strategy that it argues is making the bill bipartisan.

In his first two weeks in office, President Biden has signed nearly as many executive orders as Franklin Roosevelt signed in his entire first month. And President Roosevelt holds the record.

Adding his signature to three executive orders on immigration Tuesday, Biden has now signed 28 executive orders since taking office. FDR signed 30 in his first month.

"By sheer volume, Biden is going to be the most active president on this front since the 1930s," said Andy Rudalevige, a professor of government at Bowdoin College.

On his way out the door, then-President Donald Trump released his aides from ethics commitments that were supposed to last years after the end of his administration. The revocation of his order freed the way for staffers to cash in on lobbying gigs.

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Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Unwilling to admit defeat but with his time in office at its end, President Trump left the White House early Wednesday, skipping the Inauguration Day ceremony that generations of outgoing presidents have attended — a symbolic peaceful transfer of power that had been made all but impossible by his actions after losing the election to Joe Biden.

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