Martha Bebinger

The multibillion-dollar bankruptcy settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family is grounded in an opioid crisis that has injured or killed an untold number of Americans.

Copyright 2021 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

July Fourth was not the celebration President Biden had hoped for when it comes to protecting more Americans with the coronavirus vaccine. The nation fell just short of the White House's goal, which was to give at least a first dose to 70% of adults by Independence Day.

One evening in late March, a mom called 911. Her daughter, she said, was threatening to kill herself. EMTs arrived at the home north of Boston, helped calm the 13-year-old, and took her to an emergency room.

In March, just weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, the incident command center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston was scrambling to understand this deadly new disease. It appeared to be killing more black and brown patients than whites. For Latino patients, there was an additional warning sign — language.

Patients who didn't speak much, if any, English had a 35% greater chance of death.

Clinicians who couldn't communicate clearly with patients in the hospital's COVID units noticed it was affecting outcomes.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It was low tide on the north shore of Boston when Steve Kearns felt the mosquito bite that would land him in a hospital with West Nile Virus disease for a week.

"For at least six months after that, I felt like every five minutes I was being run over by a truck," Kearns says. "I couldn't work, I couldn't walk very well and I couldn't focus. I wondered for a bit if I'd ever get better."