When the first fire of the season broke out on the Hoopa Valley Reservation in Northern California in July, Greg Moon faced a dilemma.

As Hoopa’s fire chief and its pandemic team leader, Moon feared the impact of the blaze on the dense coniferous forests of the reservation, near Redwood National and State Parks, where 3,000 tribal members depend on steelhead trout and coho salmon fishing. He was even more terrified of a deadly viral outbreak in his tribe, which closed its land to visitors in March.

“We’re a high-risk community because we have a lot of diabetes, heart disease and elders that live in multigenerational homes. If a young person gets it, the whole household is going to get it,” Moon said.

Eventually, the three major blazes that burned nearly 100,000 acres around Hoopa were too much for the tribe’s 25-member fire team. Moon had no choice but to request help from federal wildland rangers and other tribal firefighters.

Native American tribes are no strangers to fire. Working with flames to burn away undergrowth and bring nutrients and biodiversity back to lands is an ingrained part of their heritage. But epidemics

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Note to Readers: Sarah Jane Tribble spent more than a year and half reporting on a small town in Kansas that lost its only hospital. This month, KHN and St. Louis Public Radio will launch “Where It Hurts,” a podcast exploring the often painful cracks growing in America’s health system that leave people vulnerable — and without the care they need. Season One is “No Mercy,” focusing on the hospital closure in Fort Scott, Kansas — and what happens to the people left behind, surviving the best way they know how. You can listen to Episode One on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

David Usher is sitting on $1.7 million he’s scared to spend.

The money lent from the federal government is meant to help hospitals and other health care providers weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet some hospital administrators have called it a payday loan program that is now, brutally, due for repayment at a time when they still need help.

Coronavirus cases have “picked up recently and it’s quite worrying,” said Usher, chief financial officer at the 12-bed Edwards County Medical Center

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Maria Duenas, 60, has kidney failure and is on the kidney transplant list. But until she finds a match, she will administer her own dialysis treatment at home.

NIPOMO, Calif. — After Maria Duenas was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about a decade ago, she managed the disease with diet and medication.

But Duenas’ kidneys started to fail just as the novel coronavirus established its lethal foothold in the U.S.

On March 19, three days after Duenas, 60, was rushed to the emergency room with dangerously high blood pressure and blood sugar, Gov. Gavin Newsom implemented the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order.

Less than one week later, Duenas was hooked up to a dialysis machine in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles, 160 miles from her Central Coast home, where tubes, pumps and tiny filters cleansed her blood of waste for 3½ hours, doing the work her kidneys could no longer do.

In the beginning, Duenas said she didn’t understand the severity of COVID-19, or her increased vulnerability to it. “It’s not going to happen to me,” she thought. “We’re in a small little town.”

But she was unable to find a spot in a dialysis clinic in, or

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Who thought it would be a good idea to move thousands of teenagers and young adults across the country to college campuses, where, unencumbered by parental supervision, many college kids did what college kids do?

Actually, Nigel Goldenfeld and Sergei Maslov, two University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign physics researchers, thought they had it figured out. They created a predictive model for the campus, which showed that with a robust, twice-a-week testing program for students, faculty and staff who are regularly on campus, a mask mandate and an app for contact tracing, COVID-19 cases could be kept below 500 people for the whole semester. They even accounted for close interactions among college students.

But that model failed to take into account that kids who test positive for the virus, whether sick or asymptomatic, might continue to party. From Aug. 16, when campus reopened, to Sept. 14, more than 1,900 new cases of COVID-19 were detected, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. One thousand cases occurred in the first two weeks of the fall semester.

“What is not in the models

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More than 20 states either don’t release or have incomplete data on the rapid antigen tests now considered key to containing the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 6 million Americans. The lapses leave officials and the public in the dark about the true scope of the pandemic as untold numbers of cases go uncounted.

The gap will only widen as tens of millions of antigen tests sweep the country. Federal officials are prioritizing the tests to quickly detect COVID-19’s spread over slower, but more accurate, PCR tests.

Relying on patchy data on COVID testing carries enormous consequences as officials decide whether to reopen schools and businesses: Go back to normal too quickly and risk even greater outbreaks of disease. Keep people at home too long and risk an even greater economic crisis.

“The absence of information is a very dangerous thing,” said Janet Hamilton, executive director of the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists, which represents public health officials. “We will be blind to the pandemic. It will be happening around us and we will have no data.”

The states that

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Dr. Chris Kjolhede is focused on the children of central New York.

As co-director of school-based health centers at Bassett Healthcare Network, the pediatrician oversees about 21 school-based health clinics across the region — a poor, rural area known for manufacturing and crippled by the opioid epidemic.

From ankles sprained during recess to birth control questions, the clinics serve as the primary care provider for many children both in and out of the classroom. High on the to-do list is making sure kids are up to date on required vaccinations, said Kjolhede.

But, in March, COVID upended the arrangement when it forced schools to close.

“It was like, holy smokes,” he said, “what’s going to happen now?”

Schools play a pivotal role in U.S. vaccination efforts. Laws require children to have certain immunizations to enroll and attend classes.

But this academic year, to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, many school districts have opted to start classes online. The decision takes away much of the back-to-school leverage pushing parents to stay current on their children’s shots,

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