Paige Pfleger

Paige Pfleger is a reporter for WOSU, Central Ohio's NPR station. Before joining the staff of WOSU, Paige worked in the newsrooms of NPR, Vox, Michigan Radio, WHYY and The Tennessean. She spent three years in Philadelphia covering health, science, and gender, and her work has appeared nationally in The Washington Post, Marketplace, Atlas Obscura and more. 

The coronavirus pandemic continues to claim thousands of lives a week — mostly people who aren't vaccinated. But that's not stopping a major gathering of anti-vaccine advocates and conspiracy theorists in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend.

The event is being orchestrated by Tennessee couple Ty and Charlene Bollinger. They have been labeled as some of the nation's biggest vaccine misinformation superspreaders.

Timothy Griffin has been having a lot of long nights.

"I probably have not slept since it happened," Griffin says, "since I woke up and the headline was Afghan president flees the country, Taliban are in Kabul."

Griffin did a tour in Afghanistan under an Obama-era program where he learned Pashto to help the Americans better communicate with Afghans. He was stationed out of Fort Campbell, an Army base outside of Nashville, Tenn.

He says he hasn't been sleeping so that he can bridge the time difference with the translators he worked with during his tour.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The pandemic has canceled a lot of events. In one Tennessee county, it took away a beloved one - a campy agricultural celebration called Mule Day. From member station WPLN, Paige Pfleger reports.

St. Louis, St. Paul, Richmond, Boston — cities across the country have dismantled, torn down or removed their statues honoring the explorer Christopher Columbus. One of the more recent and more surprising additions to that list is his namesake: Columbus, Ohio. The city once had three Christopher Columbus statues.

Construction crews recently dismantled a marble statue on the campus of Columbus State Community College, loading it piece by piece onto a flatbed truck to be put into storage.

A small Columbus statue still stands on the lawn of the statehouse.

Several large metal shipping containers are lined up in a warehouse under a large American flag. Their doors are ajar and workers stream in and out, power tools buzzing.

These are no ordinary shipping containers: They represent a huge scientific breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19.

"We're looking at the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System that we've developed to be able to decontaminate PPE for health care workers on the front-line," says Will Richter, a researcher at the Columbus, Ohio-based company.

Every day for the past week, colleges and universities around the country have made the announcement: in-person classes are cancelled due to fears over the spreading coronavirus.

Ohio State. Harvard. University of Virginia. University of Michigan. Duke. These are just some of the more than 100 universities across the country that are moving classes online.

Lecture halls will be empty. Labs closed. Concerts cancelled. Sports practices called off. Some universities are asking students to go home early for spring break, and if on break now, not to return to campus at all.

In more than 30 states, it is illegal for someone with HIV to have sex without first disclosing their status. Some are now pushing to change that, arguing that the laws are actually endangering public health.

More than 1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and their HIV status could conceivably put them behind bars. That's what happened to Michael Holder.

"I served 8 1/2 years in prison and three years after on parole," Holder says.

A diversion program for victims of human trafficking is spreading to cities around the country. The model has roots in Columbus, Ohio, where a judge decided to direct women toward rehabilitation instead of jail.

Ten years ago, Judge Paul Herbert was sitting in a courtroom when he noticed a trend. He was seeing lots of women who were abused and forced into sex work, but they were being treated like criminals.