Amy Isackson

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, for many, the dollar cost of trying to stay safe adds up. Protective masks and COVID tests — though the Biden administration is offering families a limited number for free — cost time to find and money to buy, and we're wondering how these and other COVID safety expenditures are affecting you.

How much are you spending on personal protective equipment each month? Have you had to skimp on other expenses to pay for PPE, testing or other COVID safety expenses? Or does the cost prevent you from keeping yourself as safe as you'd like?

It began with a knock on the door.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker let the man who had knocked into his synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, in the suburbs of Forth Worth, Texas.

The man was cold so Rabbi Charlie, as he's known, made him a cup of hot tea.

The Saturday morning Shabbat service started.

Rabbi Charlie stood on the bimah, the raised platform at the front of a synagogue. He began a prayer.

"I was facing away from the congregation. When Jews pray, we pray towards Jerusalem," he said.

Then, he heard a click.

Updated January 18, 2022 at 3:17 PM ET

Heather Shadley-Tovar shelled out $120 to get her daughter a PCR test.

Elisha Wright spent about $300 on her daughters' antigen tests.

And Libertad Wright-Villanueva "bit the bullet" and ponied up $346 for her son and husband's tests.

January 6, 2021, was a Wednesday. A joint session of Congress was set to convene in the U.S. Capitol to certify Joe Biden's electoral vote win. Meanwhile, thousands of Donald Trump supporters gathered near the White House to hear him speak at noon ET.

Tensions were high on Capitol Hill. Protesters swarmed lawmakers outside.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., was exasperated as protesters surrounded him on the steps of the Russell Senate Office Building at around 11:30 a.m.

"This is how I'm going to die."

That's what U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell thought on Jan. 6, 2021 as an angry mob stormed the Capitol and dragged him by the leg.

"I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, 'This is how I'm going to die, trampled defending this entrance,'" he said last July before a House Select Committee investigating the riot that disrupted a joint session of Congress as it affirmed the results of the presidential election.

The United States has been labeled a "backsliding democracy" in a new report from the European think tank International IDEA.

"I think for many of those studying U.S. democracy, this should not come as a surprise," the report's lead author, Annika Silva-Leander, said.

International IDEA measured the global state of democracy in 2020 and 2021 using 28 "indicators" of democracy based on five "core pillars."

The core pillars were representative government, fundamental rights, checks on government, impartial administration and participatory engagement.

The killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans.

A surge in anti-Asian violence across the country amidst the pandemic.

The migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

These events ignited some of the deepest discussions on race and identity in the United States in decades. Yet, many of the millions of adoptees across the country say it's been difficult for them to express their feelings about social unrest.

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Mariano Alvarado is a modern-day storm chaser of sorts, but it's not a hobby. It pays his bills. Alvarado was a fisherman in Honduras. Then droughts tied to climate change hit his industry.

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The death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust is a double tragedy.

It is an unthinkable loss for her family and for the film community in which she was a rising star.

And it has weighed on Alec Baldwin, who held the prop gun that fired the fatal shot during a rehearsal.

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It's a double tragedy - the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie "Rust" and the weight it's placed on Alec Baldwin, who held the revolver that fired the fatal shot. By his own words, he's gripped by grief and sorrow.

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Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves, as the saying goes. And our next guest, well, she wears hers on her ears.

CRYSTAL WAHPEPAH: So these are choke cherry earrings. And I love choke cherries. I love berries.

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