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Special Report: What You Need To Know About Coronavirus

People arriving on a flight from Europe at Logan International Airport in Boston, ahead of a travel ban, on Friday, March, 13, 2020.

The new strain of coronavirus that has raced around the world, sickening and killing thousands of people, is now disrupting daily life across the United States. The White House has declared a national emergency, and nearly everyone has questions: How does the virus work? How should my school or business respond? What can I do to protect my household?

This special NPR report provides some answers.

Scientists say there's still a lot to learn about how this coronavirus behaves. It can be transmitted person to person, but also can live on some surfaces. NPR's Maria Godoy reports that about 80% percent of the cases are mild, with fever and cough as the most prominent symptoms. In some, that respiratory infection becomes more complicated and even fatal.

Experts in the U.S. are keeping an eye on what has worked – or hasn't – in other countries to help gauge an effective response. As school, religious services, conferences and sporting events are canceled nationwide, NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports that health officials are dipping into a huge national stockpile of medical supplies to help.

Meanwhile, many Americans have been stockpiling supplies, arming themselves against the virus with hand sanitizer, dust masks and respirators. Do those things work? NPR's Joe Palca says they may, but not if you don't know how to use them.

Host Lulu Garcia-Navarro shares some of NPR's most practical and explanatory reporting on the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, to tell you what you need to know about this growing threat.

Click the "Listen" button above to hear this NPR special. Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit