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Covid survivors' massive medical debt, GOP navigates post-Trump world and Space X takes recycling to new heights

India reported more than 332,000 new infections on Friday, a world record for the second straight day, as Covid-19 ravages the country.
Image: People wait to cast their votes during local panchayat elections on the outskirts of Prayagraj, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
India is grappling with a major spike in Covid-19 infections leading to a deluge of deaths and a collapsing health care system.Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

This morning we're taking a look at another awful side effect for many Covid-19 survivors: Staggering medical debts. Plus, how Republicans tasked with winning back the House and Senate are navigating the booby traps left by former President Trump. And SpaceX takes recycling to a whole new level.

Here's what we're watching this Friday morning.

An ‘ungodly’ debt: Sky-high medical expenses for Covid patients puts their futures in doubt

Illustration of a persons fist holding a single dollar bill as they drown in a pool shaped like a medical cross.
Lehel Kovacs / for NBC News

Andréa Ceresa said she may have to declare bankruptcy soon. She has paid off about $23,000 in medical bills so far, but she faces $133,000 more for a nine-day hospital stay in November.

Since she tested positive for Covid-19 a year ago, Ceresa has joined the ranks of those who still struggle with various manifestations of the coronavirus. She's also one of a growing number of Americans who can't afford their medical bills.

Medical debt has grown at a faster clip during the past year as the country faces a never-before-seen economic and labor crisis, experts say. When millions of people lost their jobs, they lost their employee-sponsored health insurance, too.

"The choices were that I either lived or died," says Ceresa. "I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. I just can't believe it's come to this."

Friday's top stories

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talk to reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House on Oct. 16, 2017.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

Trump-McConnell power struggle creates landmines in GOP quest to retake Congress

Most presidents — particularly a defeated one-termer — slip quietly away. Not Donald Trump. For congressional Republican leaders responsible for winning back the House and the Senate, the post-Trump landscape is becoming a treacherous minefield to navigate. Meantime, Trump may have left D.C., but his House allies are carrying on his beefs with the FBI and CIA. By Alex Moe, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Sahil Kapur | Read more

Divine intervention: Pastors tapped to help get skeptical churchgoers vaccinated

The thrust of a new campaign to persuade mostly white born-again and evangelical Christians who have been unwilling to get Covid-19 vaccinations is a variation on the Golden Rule — do it for others if you won't do it for yourself. By Corky Siemaszko | Read more

In India's world-worst Covid crisis, one family's traumatic quest for help

More than 187,000 people have died from the virus that is ravaging India, according to official figures, as the country grapples with the deluge of deaths and collapsing health care systems. The surge has brought pain, fear and anxiety to millions of families across the country as they desperately try to navigate the crisis. By Rhea Mogul | Read more


During this week's Into America podcast, host Trymaine Lee discusses the Derek Chauvin trial and verdict with NBC News' Shaquille Brewster and what activists hope to see next. By Trymaine Lee | Listen here

BETTER: What is the planetary diet? And can it really help?

A nutritionist and the scientist behind the planetary diet share how making changes to what we eat can help save the planet. By Erica Chayes Wida | Read more

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One fun thing

Image: Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide, inside the capsule at at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Fla.
Agustin Paullier / AFP - Getty Images

A day after Earth Day, Elon Musk's SpaceX company took recycling to new heights.

SpaceX launched four astronauts toward orbit Friday using a recycled rocket and capsule, the third crew flight in less than a year for the rapidly expanding company.

The astronauts from the U.S., Japan and France should reach the International Space Station early Saturday morning, following a 23-hour ride in the same Dragon capsule used by SpaceX’s debut crew last May.

Read the story and watch the video here.

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Thanks, Petra