Rob Stein

Rob Stein is a correspondent and senior editor on NPR's science desk.

An award-winning science journalist with more than 30 years of experience, Stein mostly covers health and medicine. He tends to focus on stories that illustrate the intersection of science, health, politics, social trends, ethics, and federal science policy. He tracks genetics, stem cells, cancer research, women's health issues, and other science, medical, and health policy news.

Before NPR, Stein worked at The Washington Post for 16 years, first as the newspaper's science editor and then as a national health reporter. Earlier in his career, Stein spent about four years as an editor at NPR's science desk. Before that, he was a science reporter for United Press International (UPI) in Boston and the science editor of the international wire service in Washington.

Stein's work has been honored by many organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Association of Health Care Journalists. He was twice part of NPR teams that won Peabody Awards.

Stein frequently represents NPR, speaking at universities, international meetings and other venues, including the University of Cambridge in Britain, the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, and the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC.

Stein is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He completed a journalism fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health, a program in science and religion at the University of Cambridge, and a summer science writer's workshop at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

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Salvador Perez got really sick in April. He's 53 and spent weeks isolated in his room in his family's Chicago apartment, suffering through burning fevers, shivering chills, intense chest pain and other symptoms of COVID-19.

"This has been one of the worst experiences of his life," says Perez's daughter, Sheila, who translated from Spanish to English for an interview with NPR. "He didn't think he was going to make it."

To safely phase out social distancing measures, the U.S. needs more diagnostic testing for the coronavirus, experts say. But how much more?

The Trump administration said on April 27 that the U.S. will soon have enough capacity to conduct double the current amount of testing for active infections. The country has done nearly 248,000 tests daily on average in the past seven days, according to the nonprofit COVID Tracking Project. Doubling that would mean doing about 496,000 a day.

Will that be enough? What benchmark should states try to hit?

States clamoring for coronavirus tests in recent weeks have been talking about two types.

First, there's a PCR test that detects the virus's genetic material and so can confirm an active infection. And then there's an antibody test, which looks at the body's reaction to that infection and so is useful in identifying people who have been infected with the virus in the past.

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An NPR science correspondent answers listener questions about testing for COVID-19, immunity and how testing capacity affects plans to reopen the country.

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Tonight President Trump announced new guidelines for a gradual step-by-step reopening of the country.

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Today President Trump met with coronavirus survivors at the White House. They told the president about their experiences with COVID-19, and Karen Whitsett was among them. She's a Democratic lawmaker in Detroit.

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It's the question on everyone's minds: What will it take for us to come out of this period of extreme social distancing and return to some semblance of normal life?

It turns out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working on a plan to allow the U.S. to safely begin to scale back those policies. CDC Director Robert Redfield spoke with NPR on Thursday, saying that the plan relies on not only ramped-up testing but "very aggressive" contact tracing of those who do test positive for the coronavirus, and a major scale-up of personnel to do the necessary work.

The federal government Saturday unveiled the first detailed national system for tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

The new COVIDView system will provide weekly updates aimed at monitoring the outbreak across the country, based on the results of tests for the virus, people seeking care for flu-like systems and pneumonia and those diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

One of the nation's most important medical testing companies has acknowledged that it has a backlog of at least 115,000 coronavirus tests, which helps explain why so many desperate doctors and patients haven't been able to get tested.

Quest Diagnostics of Secaucus, N.J., says the backlog occurred because a company lab in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., where the company's coronavirus testing started, got overwhelmed when testing started to ramp up.

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Meanwhile, the Trump administration keeps scrambling to try and finally make enough coronavirus testing kits available. But as NPR's health correspondent Rob Stein reports, some public health experts still have a lot of big questions and concerns.

For the first time, scientists have used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to try to edit a gene while the DNA is still inside a person's body.

The groundbreaking procedure involved injecting the microscopic gene-editing tool into the eye of a patient blinded by a rare genetic disorder, in hopes of enabling the volunteer to see. They hope to know within weeks whether the approach is working and, if so, to know within two or three months how much vision will be restored.

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Well, the United States could be entering a new phase in the battle against the coronavirus. More and more cases are being diagnosed in this country, and those numbers may grow as testing for this dangerous new virus ramps up.

Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET

Federal health officials say they have resolved a problem that has hindered wide testing for the new coronavirus in the United States, a crucial practice for fighting the spread of the dangerous new infection.

A problem with one ingredient in test kits that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distributed to labs around the country had created a frustrating bottleneck in testing, requiring most testing to occur at the CDC in Atlanta.

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President Trump, at a press conference last night, chose the person who will lead the government's response to the coronavirus.

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Updated at 8:25 p.m. ET

Federal health officials issued a blunt message Tuesday: Americans need to start preparing now for the possibility that more aggressive, disruptive measures might be needed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus in the U.S.

The strongly worded warning came in response to outbreaks of the virus outside China, including in Iran, Japan, South Korea and Italy, which officials say have raised the likelihood of outbreaks occurring stateside.

Chunlin Leonhard spends most of her time alone in her room at a hotel at the Travis Air Force Base in California, anxiously reading the latest news about the coronavirus outbreak in China.

"I'm doing about as well as can be hoped for under the circumstances," Leonhard, 55, a New Orleans law professor, says during an interview over Skype.

The Trump administration's aggressive efforts to protect Americans from the coronavirus are drawing both praise and criticism.

On Friday, the federal government temporarily banned entry into the United States for anyone traveling from China who isn't a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or an immediate family member of either.

Updated at 6:34 p.m. ET

A second person in the United States has been infected with a dangerous new coronavirus that is spreading in China, U.S. health officials announced Friday.

A woman in her 60s got infected with the virus while traveling in the Wuhan, China, area in late December and became ill after returning home to Chicago Jan. 13, according to officials from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois and Chicago health departments.

Researchers have conducted a controversial study that involved paying dozens of young women at a hospital near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to get artificially inseminated so their embryos could be flushed out of their bodies and analyzed for research purposes.

The study showed that embryos created that way appear to be as healthy genetically as embryos created through standard in vitro fertilization. Physically, the embryos appear to, possibly, even be healthier, the study found.

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When Victoria Gray was just 3 months old, her family discovered something was terribly wrong.

"My grandma was giving me a bath, and I was crying. So they took me to the emergency room to get me checked out," Gray says. "That's when they found out that I was having my first crisis."

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