Our coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic examines the disease's effects on Houston and the surrounding region, both now and once the outbreak is over.

In Houston, the new normal should include more efforts to reduce air pollution

Once Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s order to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus went into place in late March, Gunnar Schade, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University, started studying the air quality. With less daily driving, smoggy cities under similar orders across the world saw their skies start to clear. Schade wondered about Houston.

Snapshot taken of Houston just before pandemic shows the inequalities COVID-19 would exploit

What’s the biggest problem facing people in the Houston area today?

If asked that question in the past month and a half, it seems like easy money to bet every response would involve the economy or health.

But back in late January and early March of this year, when interviews for the 2020 Kinder Houston Area Survey were conducted, congestion on the city’s streets and freeways was the most-common concern. (It was the top response in the previous three years as well.)

How coronavirus infection rates in Texas metros compare to nation’s largest areas

Last weekend, the Sacramento Bee published an analysis of COVID-19 infection data from the nation’s 53 largest metropolitan areas, all of which have a population of over 1 million. The seven-county Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had an infection rate — cases per 100,000 — of 62.1, the lowest among the country’s largest metros.

Already vulnerable neighborhoods are hardest hit by COVID-19 job losses

It has been more than one month since Harris County issued its initial stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. In that time, the number of confirmed cases in the county has grown from 134 on March 24 to more than 6,100 as of today. While this growth seems to indicate a widespread outbreak, the virus is not affecting all areas equally.

Amid the pandemic, lessons in what we’ve overlooked

By now, everyone has a list of things they once took for granted but now miss dearly or things they’ve discovered and fallen in love with during this period of staying at home and maintaining safe distances from those outside of their quarantine circle.

These are the people, places and things for which we have a newfound or renewed appreciation. We’re sorry we didn’t appreciate them before the pandemic and we swear to ourselves we won’t make that mistake again when things return to normal-ish.

Dear cities: Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remake and retake streets

As businesses begin to reopen and more and more people leave their homes more often, we’ll have to continue to be vigilant about good hygiene and physical distance. Guidelines for grocery stores can include signage and announcements reminding shoppers to avoid touching their faces and leaving space between themselves and others as well as sneeze-guards at the checkouts.

Update: COVID-19 Registry shows racial disparities in economic impact of pandemic

Between 7% and 10% of all households report having difficulty paying rent or other bills. Those numbers are on par with the first round of results, which were released on April 22 and were based on responses from around 2,100 participants. However, when broken down by race, the latest registry data reflect economic disparities.