A pedestrian wearing a protective mask stands on Mission Street in San Francisco, California, on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. California is monitoring 8,400 people for signs of the virus after they traveled to Asia.
Enlarge / A pedestrian wearing a protective mask stands on Mission Street in San Francisco, California, on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. California is monitoring 8,400 people for signs of the virus after they traveled to Asia.

With the dizzying international spread of the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization Friday announced that the global threat of COVID-19 has increased. The risk of spread and risk of impact has now risen from “high” to “very high” on a global scale, according to the organization’s latest assessments.

Between Thursday and Friday, five additional countries identified their first cases—Belarus, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand,

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 29:   U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and Surgeon General Jerome Adams listen during a news conference at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House February 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Department of Health in Washington State has reported the first death in the U.S. related to the coronavirus.
Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 29: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and Surgeon General Jerome Adams listen during a news conference at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House February 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Department of Health in Washington State has reported the first death in the U.S. related to the coronavirus.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

Health officials in Washington state reported three grim new features

Starliner touches down in December.
Enlarge / Starliner touches down in December.

NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

On Friday, during a detailed, 75-minute briefing with reporters, a key Boeing spaceflight official sought to be as clear as possible about the company’s troubles with its Starliner spacecraft.

After an uncrewed test flight in December of the spacecraft, Boeing “learned some hard lessons,” said John Mulholland, a vice president who manages the company’s commercial crew program. The December mission landed safely but suffered two serious software problems. Now, Mulholland said, Boeing will work hard to rebuild trust between the company and the vehicle’s customer, NASA. During the last decade, NASA

Artist's conception of spacecraft over the Earth.
Enlarge / A video still showing a rendering of an Exploration Upper Stage in flight.

NASA is close to finalizing a plan to land humans on the Moon in 2024 and is expected to publicly discuss it next month. While the space agency has not released its revised strategy publicly, a recently updated “mission manifest” for the Space Launch System rocket may provide some clues about the new Artemis Program.

According to a planning document circulated at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center this week, titled “Moon 2024 Mission Manifest,” the space agency has set target launch dates for its first

Image of anti-vaccine protestors in Connecticut's Legislative Office Building. They formed a prayer circle and said the Pledge of Allegiance and the Our Father before chanting “Healthy kids belong in school.”
Enlarge / Image of anti-vaccine protestors in Connecticut’s Legislative Office Building. They formed a prayer circle and said the Pledge of Allegiance and the Our Father before chanting “Healthy kids belong in school.”

The battle over vaccinations ramped up in Connecticut this week as state lawmakers narrowly advanced a bill—with last-minute amendments—aimed at banning religious vaccine exemptions for children.

If passed, the measure will no longer allow parents to cite their religious beliefs as a valid reason not to provide their children with life-saving immunizations, which are otherwise required for entry into public and private schools and daycares.

The legislature’s

A harried man in an open-collar suit points at a graph on a sheet of paper.
Enlarge / Team leader of the joint mission between World Health Organization (WHO) and China on COVID-19, Bruce Aylward shows graphics during a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on February 25, 2020.

Fresh off a plane from China, epidemiologist Bruce Aylward sat before members of the press at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday and laid out key insights from the coronavirus front lines.

Aylward, a nearly 30-year veteran of outbreak and emergency responses with the WHO, had just led a joint mission through the COVID-19 trenches to appraise the outbreak and China’s