Gabrielle Emanuel

When COVID-19 first arrived in the U.S., Jodee Pineau-Chaisson was working as the director of social services for a nursing home in western Massachusetts. By the middle of April, residents at the Center for Extended Care in Amherst were getting sick.

Growing up in Russia, Elena Muraveva was taught the importance of self-reliance.

"I really don't like to complain," she said.

But her days are now defined by debilitating pain and frequent migraines. It's the result of a years-long battle with breast cancer that has also left Muraveva, 52, unable to work.

So she was relieved last year to learn she might qualify for disability benefits. She was given a piece of paper with the address of her local Social Security Administration field office in Philadelphia.

The number of applicants for Supplemental Security Income, a federal program for people in dire financial situations, has plummeted.

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Health care workers across the country have started receiving COVID-19 vaccines, but doctors and nurses at some of the nation's top hospitals are raising the alarm, charging that vaccine distribution has been unfair and a chaotic "free-for-all."

At hospitals in Massachusetts, New York, Arizona, California and elsewhere, medical professionals say that those with the most exposure to COVID-19 patients are not always the first to get vaccinated. And others who have little or no contact with COVID-19 patients have received vaccinations.

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