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More news from National Public Radio

Officials in Illinois have ordered an independent investigation into a coronavirus outbreak that killed 27 people at a state-operated veterans' home. The state's Department of Veterans' Affairs announced the decision in a statement Tuesday, pledging to "immediately address any findings from that investigation."

More votes were cast in the 2020 presidential election than in any other U.S. election in history, and the turnout rate was the highest in more than a century.

President-elect Joe Biden has now earned 80 million votes, and ballots are still being counted. That is by far the most votes cast for any presidential candidate in U.S. history. President Trump holds the distinction, however, of earning the second-most votes all time. About 74 million Americans voted for him.

Signs of a tattered, but resilient, voting system were on full display this week, as one of the most contentious elections in U.S. history rolled toward completion.

Officials in Red Rock Country were counting when they saw a metal monolith. A shiny slab, about 12 feet tall rising up from the ground. It looked like a structure in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The last time Naji Aldabaan remembers feeling like a kid — mainly concerned with whether his mom would make him do homework or let him outside to play soccer — he was 10 years old.

The year was 2011, and Syria was collapsing into civil war as nationwide protests against the government were followed by crackdowns and arrests. One day, soldiers knocked on his door. They had taken away Naji's uncles. Now they'd come for his father. No one knew why. Such was the random nature of the terror.

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After record-breaking wildfires this year, thousands of people across the West are still clearing piles of charred debris where their homes once stood in the hope of rebuilding their lives.

With climate change fueling bigger, more destructive wildfires, rebuilding offers an opportunity to create more fire-resistant communities by using building materials that can help homes survive the next blaze.

Just a few months into the coronavirus pandemic, Holly Smith had already made up her mind. She was not going to reopen her restaurant to diners until there was a vaccine. She just didn't think it was safe. When she shared the decision with her staff, they asked: Would the vaccine be mandatory?

Yes, she said. It would be.

Multiple coronavirus vaccines appear to be on the horizon, but the U.S. economy is on shaky footing, and before those vaccines are expected to become widely available, millions of Americans could first fall off an economic cliff.

Jennifer Morrell understands more than most that when voters experience new ways to vote, it's not easy to take them away.

When Morrell was overseeing elections in Utah's Weber County, it offered what was going to be a onetime, all-mail election to decide a library bond issue.

"People were surprised at turnout, I do remember that," said Morrell, now an elections consultant.

CDC Likely To Recommend Shortening Coronavirus Quarantine Period

9 hours ago

Federal health officials are likely to shorten their recommendation for how long people should quarantine to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus from the current 14 days to as few as seven.

Top officials from Operation Warp Speed, the government's program to fast-track the development and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, announced they've allocated 6.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to states based on their total populations.

For weeks now, the message from public health officials has been clear: The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is with members of your immediate household only.

Black people are disproportionately getting sick and dying of the coronavirus, but surveys suggest they're more hesitant to get a vaccine than other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

As coronavirus cases continue to surge both in the U.S. and around the world, there's promising news on the vaccine front.

Updated at 2:38 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden stressed a return to multilateralism Tuesday as he introduced key national security and foreign policy appointees and nominees for his incoming White House Cabinet, moving forward with the traditional transition process even though President Trump still hasn't formally admitted defeat.

It was Memorial Day when then-candidate Joe Biden made his first public appearance since the coronavirus shut down in-person campaigning. Before he went out to place a wreath at a veterans memorial in Delaware, Biden and his team decided he would wear a mask. It wasn't a difficult decision, an aide said when asked about the choice.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Not even the pandemic could keep the Dow from breaking a major milestone: the 30,000-point barrier.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average powered past 30,000 for the first time Tuesday after President Trump allowed the transition process to begin, even as he has yet to concede.

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After a three-year pause, Twitter is going to let you ask for those little blue check marks again.

The company said Tuesday it will start reviewing applications in 2021 under newly released guidelines.

The blue check, which means Twitter has verified a user's identity, is seen as a status symbol on the platform but the process by which the checks were issued has long been murky and inconsistent.

A lot will be missing about Thanksgiving this year. It's a holiday that's celebrated on a bedrock of bringing family and friends, near and far, together for a big meal and lots of catching up, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges: "As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with people you live with."

Have you seen Charles Darwin's missing notebooks? If so, the authorities — and some "heartbroken" librarians — would like to have a word with you.

President Trump is still not conceding that he lost the election, but he's getting closer.

Trump on Monday tweeted that he had directed the General Services Administration to begin the process of transferring the government to President-elect Joe Biden.

Until Monday, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had declined to take the formal step to allow the Biden team to begin working with federal agencies to prepare for governing. But Trump and Murphy faced increasing pressure to kickstart the transition process.

The Salvation Army's bell ringers, a longtime fixture outside malls and stores around the U.S., are a staple holiday tradition. But this year, with the coronavirus pandemic raging and many stores closed, people won't be hearing as many of those bells ringing.

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Valerie Jarrett is on the line next. She is a longtime adviser to President Obama and one of the co-chairs of the Obama-Biden transition team back in 2008-2009. Ms. Jarrett, welcome to the program.

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And now we turn to the newest campaign in space. Early Tuesday morning in Beijing, China launched a rocket to the moon. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel has more on the mission.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: The probe is known as Chang'e 5.

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India has reported the second most coronavirus cases in the world behind the United States. And its economy shrank 24% last spring. And yet, the country's prime minister is as popular as ever. Here's NPR's Lauren Frayer.

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