MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!
The coronavirus has brought much of the world to a standstill. But construction crews are pressing ahead with work on the southern border wall.
AUDIO: I can tell you right now that we remain confident that we are on track to 400 to 450 miles that are either completed or under construction by the end of 2020.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also restrictions on public gatherings have forced churches and Christian colleges to turn to online solutions for learning and ministry.
And we’ll take you to Houston, where cancellation of the world’s biggest livestock show and rodeo left some hard-working students very disappointed.
WHITENER: And we’re all in line with all these other hundreds of trailers, you know, waiting to check in and that’s when word started trickling down that the rodeo was going to be closed…
BASHAM: It’s Thursday, March 19th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
BASHAM: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Trump announces emergency powers » President Trump on Wednesday invoked new emergency powers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
TRUMP: We will be invoking the Defense Product Act, just in case we need it. I think you all know what it is, and it can do a lot of good things if we need it.
The law dates back to 1950, during the Korean War. It gives the president authority to compel industries to expand production and turn out vital materials.
The move gives the administration new powers to potentially overcome shortages of face masks, ventilators, and other supplies as healthcare workers prepare for an onslaught of cases.
And speaking at the White House, the president announced more relief measures.
TRUMP: The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.
He also said his administration is expanding the nation’s testing capacity. And the military is deploying a Navy hospital ship to New York City, which is rapidly becoming an epicenter of the pandemic. Another hospital ship will dock somewhere on the West Coast.
U.S. Rep. Diaz-Balart tests positive for COVID-19 » Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart announced Wednesday that he has contracted the coronavirus. The 58-year-old Republican lawmaker is the first member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19.
But shortly thereafter, 45-year-old Democratic Congressman Ben McAdams of Utah announced that he has also tested positive.
Both lawmakers said they are self-quarantining, and urged all Americans to follow CDC guidance to stay safe and avoid spreading the virus.
Canada, U.S. closing border to non-essential traffic » The United States and Canada agreed Wednesday to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement.
TRUDEAU: Travelers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism. In both our countries, we’re encouraging people to stay home. We’re telling our citizens to not visit their neighbors if they don’t absolutely have to.
However, trade and other traffic across the border deemed essential will continue.
President Trump said Wednesday that his administration is also prepared to immediately return to Mexico all people caught illegally crossing the southern border.
Automakers, retailers shutting down » Major automakers are ceasing operations at U.S. plants. WORLD’s Leigh Jones reports.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Ford and General Motors said they will shut down all of their factories in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Fiat Chrysler will reportedly do the same.
The shutdowns would idle about 150,000 workers, who are likely to receive supplemental pay in addition to unemployment benefits.
And America’s largest operator of shopping malls is locking the doors at its retail centers nationwide. Simon Property Group began closing its malls last night. That comes after numerous retailers announced they’re temporarily shutting down. Those include Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, The Gap, and Apple Stores.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.
COVINGTON: Senate passes House aid package, continues work on additional aid » President Trump signed a roughly $100 billion coronavirus aid package into law on Wednesday. He signed it just hours after the Senate approved the bill on a vote of 90-to-8. The House passed the bipartisan package last week.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons said the bill will do several things to help Americans affected by the coronavirus. It provides free testing, emergency food supplies, and…
COONS: Paid emergency leave for workers at companies below 500 employees for two weeks of sick leave, and up to 10 weeks of additional paid family and medical leave.
But that places an expensive burden on small businesses when most are receiving less or no income at all. With that in mind, senators say they’re working to get cash in the hands of individuals and small businesses quickly.
Senator Marco Rubio chairs the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee. On Wednesday, he said plans now on the table would provide federally guaranteed loans to many small businesses designed to help cover critical expenses for about six weeks. And he said those loans would be forgiven, essentially becoming grants as long as funds are used to maintain payroll and keep the lights on. Rubio said the measure will contain safeguards against fraud and abuse…
RUBIO: But listen, the overwhelming majority of the people who are going to seek these out are going to use it for purposes of paying their employees and keep their rent or their lease or mortgage up to date so they don’t get evicted, because if we don’t do that, it’s going to spread into the real estate market as well.
The estimated price tag of that loan program is $300 billion. It would be part of what senators are calling “phase 3” of the coronavirus relief package at a cost of up to a trillion dollars.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to keep the Senate in session until that bill is passed.
Chinese health official: Japanese anti-flu drug effective in treating coronavirus » A top health official in China says a Japanese drug used to treat new strains of the flu looks to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Zhang Zinmin is the director of the National Center for Biotechnology Development. In a news conference, he said officials are encouraged by the results of two clinical trials with the Japanese-made anti-flu drug Avigan.
He said trials showed patients taking Avigan tested negative for the coronavirus after a median of four days—compared to a median of 11 days without it.
Researchers also reportedly found that the drug improved lung conditions for most patients.
Zinmin said the drug is safe, and he is formally recommending it to treat patients with the coronavirus.
A Chinese firm got government approval last month to begin mass-producing the medicine.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a visit to the southern border.
Plus, what happens to show animals when the world’s largest rodeo gets canceled.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Thursday the 19th of March, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First: an update on border wall construction.
Throughout his campaign, President Trump promised supporters he would build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
BASHAM: Despite strong opposition from Democrats, wall construction is underway. WORLD reporter Sarah Schweinsberg recently visited one section to check on progress.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The sun is setting on another day of border wall construction just outside the border town of Douglas, Arizona.
Construction crews work to set panels of steel bollards into a concrete foundation. The steel beams rise 30 feet above the desert landscape. There’s enough space between each post for an unobstructed view of the Mexcian side of the border and its dark mountain silhouettes.
This section of new border wall is part of President Trump’s push to install 450 miles of steel-bollard panels before the end of the year. In January, Acting U.S. Homeland Security Chief Chad Wolf said crews had completed the first 100 miles.
WOLF: This is a milestone achievement for the president, the department and more importantly for our country.
And he added, construction will continue to ramp up.
WOLF: I can tell you right now that we remain confident that we are on track to 400 to 450 miles that are either completed or under construction by the end of 2020.
The uptick in construction comes after more than two years of struggling to secure funding from Congress for the project.
TRUMP: So the order is signed and I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office and we will have a national emergency…
So far, the declaration has allowed the president to divert nearly $10 billion from the Department of Defense to border wall construction. That has provided enough to fund the project.
When all is said and done, the Trump administration wants to erect around 700 miles of barrier.
Customs and Border Patrol says building just two-thirds of the new wall will cost $11 billion. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Christian Alvarez told NPR that the price tag includes more than just a wall.
ALVAREZ: The border wall system will include a 150-foot enforcement zone, lighting, cameras, other technology. So it’s not just gonna be the barrier itself.
But some lawmakers and construction experts question whether getting another 300 miles of wall up by the end of the year is possible.
So far, crews have mostly installed new barriers in places where old structures already existed. The new wall outside Douglas, Arizona replaces old World War II, Normandy-style barriers. And as construction continues, private landowners, 19 states, and environmental and immigration groups are waging legal battles. That could slow the process.
Ed Zarenski is a construction economics analyst who has studied the wall. He says the remote locations and terrain along the U.S.-Mexico border will also make installing some sections difficult.
ZARENSKI: Take a look on the map in Arizona. Some of the roads that it would take to get to areas along this road are backroads. They aren’t highways. And you would have to travel, bring all your materials in on these backroads.
In November, President Trump appointed his son-in-law and policy adviser, Jared Kushner, to oversee the wall’s installation. Last month, Kushner told POLITICO that border barrier construction is on track to complete the 450 miles by the end of the year.
Mike Howell is with the Heritage Foundation. He says cutting all of that red tape will prove challenging.
HOWELL: It is massively complicated when you get into this environmental, government contracting, private land type deals. So it’s going to take a ton of people working on this project and some really great leadership coming out of the White House.
This week, Customs and Border Protection awarded another contract to build 15 miles of wall in Texas. No border barrier has ever existed in that sector. CPB also announced another 74 miles of wall is set to go up in Arizona.
Mike Howell says even if all 450 miles of border wall aren’t finished by 2021, voters who support the project will be encouraged it’s moving forward. And that could give the president a boost at the ballot box come November.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Douglas, Arizona.
NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: colleges, churches, and coronavirus.
MEGAN BASHAM: College students, like everyone else, are having to adjust these days. Churches likewise have had to make big changes in the way they conduct services, minister to members, and share the hope of Christ with the wider world.
Joining us now to talk about these changes is Michael Reneau. He’s WORLD’s deputy editor. Good morning, Michael!
MICHAEL RENEAU, REPORTER: Good morning, Megan.
BASHAM: Let’s start with colleges. The first challenge they faced had to do with faculty and students traveling or studying abroad. You talked to leaders at one international school that had some especially challenging circumstances. Tell us about that.
RENEAU: Yeah, so earlier this week, Megan, I spoke with the president of LCC International University. Now, that’s a Christian liberal arts school situated right on the Baltic Sea in Lithuania. The school’s spring break was last week and when the week began, administrators there were hoping that students who are predominantly from all over Europe—75 percent of their students are from outside of Lithuania—administrators hoped that students would just stay far away from Italy when spring break began, but then by the end of that week, the coronavirus situation across the continent had changed drastically. Much of the continent was on lockdown and they had students coming from France, Germany, the Netherlands, other places. And by the time the week ended, they had decided to transition classes to online only for the rest of the semester.
EICHER: The next wave of challenges came last week as state and federal officials began to limit the size of public gatherings. That made it impossible for students to continue to meet in classes. Almost all of them are now taking classes online, but some schools were more prepared to make that transition than others, right?
RENEAU: Sure. I mean, some colleges and universities have a more robust online education program than others. But what really seemed to make a difference was just the schools’ emergency preparedness planning. So, I spoke with Tim Gibson, who’s the president of The King’s College in New York City. Now, administrators there had been watching the COVID-19 situation for awhile. They already had a plan for operating online in case of inclement weather and as the situation developed over January and February, they simply adapted that plan that they had to fit the situation. So this week is spring break for The King’s College students, but administrators there last week made the decision to go ahead and transition to online only education. And they were able to do so fairly smoothly, given the circumstances.
BASHAM: Now, one of the best-known Christian colleges has faced some criticism over its response. Tell us what happened at Liberty University.
RENEAU: Sure. Liberty University is situated in Lynchburg, Virginia and up until Monday of this week, its president Jerry Falwell Jr. had announced that the school was not going to shift to any kind of online education. It had canceled some foreign trips that students were taking, some study abroad programs. But, really, last week as college after college began transitioning plans and putting into place online education protocols, Liberty stood fast. On Sunday, Jerry Falwell Jr. tweeted in a series of tweets that they didn’t think it was the right move to send students home to places where there might be older adults who might not handle COVID-19 as well as young college students. At one point a parent on Twitter questioned Jerry Falwell Jr. and he responded with his rationale but also called the parent a dummy in his tweet. Now, the situation changed for Liberty on Monday after the governor of Virginia banned public gatherings of 100 or more people, which really forced Liberty to transition. And as of now, it is transitioning to online-only education for the rest of the semester.
BASHAM: Like colleges, churches have also been turning to online options for services and ministry. Tell us what you’re hearing and finding out about those.
RENEAU: Sure. Our colleague Jamie Dean, our national editor, put together a good story at the end of last week. Thursday of last week is when so many things began to change and churches began to change along with that. We saw some large churches announce changes to their worship services, that they were going to be live streaming services online and a lot of those churches have the resources to be able to do that. Smaller congregations may not have some of those resources. Yet, people are finding ways to do that. We’ll be posting a story later this week on wng.org kind of explaining some practical tips how churches can do that if they’re not set up for that already. Churches are adapting. This can be done.
EICHER: We talked about the difference between larger churches that are more prepared for this than smaller ones, but let’s go even smaller than that, Michael. What about some of these small gatherings like Bible studies and home-based fellowship groups. How are they doing?
RENEAU: Sure. Well, when President Donald Trump on Monday of this week advised Americans not to gather in groups of 10 or more, it really did put community groups or fellowship groups or Bible studies in a tough spot. I can tell you my church group, my community group, we’re emailing with each other more. We’re passing along resources, the pastor is giving us devotions every couple of days via email and text messages. So these are new times. These are different times when the church really has to figure out how to do this, but keep in community with one another during this pandemic. It’s not an option. We have to keep doing it.
BASHAM: We do, and we’re doing it in our Bible study with WhatsApp. Michael Reneau is WORLD’s deputy editor. Thanks for your work and for joining us today.
RENEAU: Stay safe out there, Megan.
SEINFELD: This is kind of embarrassing … I don’t have a square to spare!
NICK EICHER: Seems that life these days is imitating Seinfeld, and it may well be that missing toilet paper is the enduring meme of the COVID-19 era.
But one man in Southern California decided to do something about it. Johnny Blue stood at a busy intersection near San Diego, and held up a sign that said, “Share your toilet paper.”
He told his story to the local San Diego Union Tribune.
BLUE: I’ve seen pictures of people loading up carts, all these rolls of toilet paper, and all other kinds of supplies. And now that there’s a limited supply of that, we need to share that with people in our community.
So he set up a street corner toilet paper exchange.
BLUE: People would drive by holding it out the window. People would come up to a stoplight and toss it to me. And then, people rolled their windows down and said like, this is really great, I actually need some. And so I would say, well, I’ve got a bunch here!
Blue says he’s planning to keep encouraging “ people to be better” during these difficult times.
You know, these days we all have a spare to square!
Words to live by!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Thursday, March 19th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Last week the City of Houston shut down the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and I think you know why, coronavirus.
In a typical year, the event can draw two-and-a-half million visitors. In 2019, it generated $391 million in economic activity for the city.
BASHAM: The rodeo typically features Texas students who showcase, sell, or auction livestock they’ve raised for the last year. Canceling the show meant rounding up and sending home thousands of students and animals.
What investment have they lost? Anywhere from $700 per chicken to $6,000 per steer.
EICHER: WORLD correspondent Bonnie Pritchett spoke to those affected by the cancellation and a couple buckin’ to make things right.
BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: Brooke McCrumb is a sophomore and Future Farmers of America member at Dickinson High School near Houston, Texas. Over the last nine months, she’s raised two sheep and a white Charolais steer that looks almost as broad as he is tall.
MCCRUMB: It takes 30 minutes to work them and exercise them. Another 30 minutes to work them in the area, and another 30 minutes to bathe them. And another 30 minutes to feed them and make sure, and then you have to clean their pens and clean all around. It’s just a very lengthy process…
For thousands of Texas youth like McCrumb, months of hard work and financial commitment culminate at livestock shows. The world’s largest happens here every year: The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
According to McCrumb, there’s nothing like it.
MCCRUMB: This would have been my sixth year to go to Houston…It’s a very big deal…It means a lot if you place. And it also means a lot even if you just go…
Livestock shows let students showcase their work and provide a means of recouping some of the money invested in their animals. Some will make it to auction where students can earn more than they spent. Animals that don’t make it to auction will go to market and students will get a check for the fair market value.
That check won’t recoup all their investment. But it can off-set the cost for the next livestock project or be put aside for college.
Fifteen of McCrumb’s classmates were also prepared to show and sell their livestock. Last week 2,000 students traveled from across Texas to bring their heifers to the show.
NEWS ANCHOR: And plenty of reaction tonight from the mayor’s decision to cancel the rodeo today to try and contain the spread of the virus. The first time that’s happened in 83 years. We have…
Aaron Whitener is the Dickinson High School FFA adviser. From his office—with its light dusting of dirt and heavy aroma from the adjacent barn—he recounts their experience.
WHITNER: We actually left the barn at 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning to, with, nine heifers. And we drove up to the staging light to wait in line to be checked in at the rodeo. And we’re all in line with all these other hundreds of trailers, you know, waiting to check in and that’s when word started trickling down that the rodeo was going to be closed…There was people that came down from Lubbock that had to turn around and leave and go home…
AUDIO: [PEN GATE, BLEETS]
The steer show was scheduled for this week. Between 2-thousand and 25-hundred students like Brooke McCrumb didn’t get to show their livestock. No show, no auction, no sale.
So McCrumb’s broad, stocky, 1,100-pound steer remains at the ag barn with her two sheep. It looks like her parents’ might not recoup their $5,000 investment.
NEWS ANCHOR: Students in the Brazos Valley who were not able to show their animals at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo now get a second chance
But not all is lost. When the Houston Rodeo closed, hearts—and wallets—opened.
REPORTER: That’s right Crystal. Students have been putting in hard work to compete….
Brian and Caroline Rogers own BCR Ventures in Bryan, Texas, about 100 miles northwest of Houston. They raise and sell Red Angus and Angus show cattle. Their primary customers are youth who, like Whitener’s students, were in line to check into the rodeo when it shut down.
CAROLINE ROGERS: And Brian and I were on the phone and he kind of jokingly said, ‘Hey! Let’s have a show at BCR tomorrow’ It would give them one more chance to walk through the ring. We had nothing, we have nothing extravagant, as far as any kind of show facilities. But we’re like, oh, we can make it work. We’ll do something for the kids…
The Rogers made a few phone calls. And then, like a stampede, the idea took off. A flier was circulated at the rodeo as participants packed up. Twenty thousand Facebook users shared the event. Donations poured in: generators, lights, dumpsters, portable toilets, cash, and other material prizes. About 100 volunteers stepped up.
Twenty hours after the Houston rodeo closed, the Rogers’ livestock show opened—with 450 entries. All of them students with breeding heifers turned away from the rodeo the day before.
Fifteen hundred family members and friends attended the nine-and-a-half-hour event. The Rogers said each participant will receive a portion of the $40,000 in donated cash and prizes.
BRIAN ROGERS: We had so many families here that they had no clue who we were…And they would throughout the day come and find us and, you know, come and hug us, cry. You know, it was just over-the-top amazing to me…
More impromptu livestock shows are popping up across Texas.
There’s one more chance for Brooke McCrumb and her fellow students to show and sell their animals. The Galveston County Livestock Show and Rodeo is scheduled for April 11. But, if it’s canceled, McCrumb may be stuck with an 11-hundred-pound side of beef.
MCCRUMB: I don’t think I could ever eat my own animals! So (laughs) I don’t know where they would go from there…His only real value right now is to be eaten. Or to have as a pet. And not a lot of people want steers as pets…
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett in Houston.
NICK EICHER: Coming up next, an excerpt from this week’s Listening In.
MEGAN BASHAM: This time, Warren Smith visits with evangelist, author, and missiologist: Leighton Ford. He’s best known for his more than 30 years of ministry with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For two decades, he chaired the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization.
EICHER: Today, at 88 years old, he’s still active in ministry as a mentor to younger Christian leaders. Here’s a short excerpt of his conversation with Warren Smith.
WARREN SMITH: What role does failure and doubt and setback play in our lives and specifically in your life?
LEIGHTON FORD: I think that, though, is a kind of intellectual temptation that we’re all subject to. Some more than others. For me, my faith is a gift from the Lord, as faith is. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had doubts. I’ve gotten them through my studies earlier, what can I really believe about the Bible about Christ?
But that’s…those things have made me stop and examine my heart and my mind even more. So I think we make a mistake when we say to young people: “just don’t doubt, just believe.” God can even use our doubts, to make us doubt ourselves, so that we can really listen to the God who is really there. But I think sometimes God has to shake us up a bit, to take us right back to the center—which is Jesus Christ.
Let me put it this way when, when our son died, I thought of Pilgrim and Pilgrim’s Progress. When he crosses the river, he says: “I have felt the bottom and it’s sound.” And I have to say Warren, for all of those questioning times in my life, I felt the bottom and it’s sound. That sound is the God who really is God, and who really is there. That’s come to me in Jesus Christ.
EICHER: That’s Leighton Ford talking to Warren Smith. To hear their complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow wherever you get your podcasts.
MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Thursday, March 19th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Commentator Cal Thomas now on the chance we all have to refocus our priorities.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Some years ago, I wrote a book titled The Things That Matter Most. It was a critique of the continuing impact the 1960s generation has had on the country.
The coronavirus pandemic, too, offers us an opportunity to consider what matters most—both in our nation and individual lives.
Authorities say to stay indoors, not travel, and avoid crowds of more than 10 people. Scores must now work from home. Some are being laid off or have had their hours reduced.
With no sports, entertainment seems limited to the few things worth watching on TV.
Rather than lament this—and there is plenty to lament—how about seeing it as an opportunity? During Lent, some people give up certain things to practice self-discipline and demonstrate their devotion to God.
Now, there is a big difference between voluntarily giving up something and being forced to do so—and also a difference between a religious practice and an infectious virus. But the principle remains the same.
What are you now giving up that you could do without? Put another way, what are you now focusing on that did not get your attention before the coronavirus?
Being forced to stay indoors and spend more time with your spouse and kids offers an opportunity, not a burden. Maybe you are a workaholic who has made money your primary goal in life. Could God be offering you a chance to re-order your priorities?
If you crave status, does that matter as much while you focus on hand washing and other virus-preventive measures? How often did you even think about washing your hands before the virus?
Last Sunday President Trump called for the nation to pray that God might remove the threat of the coronavirus and protect us from it. This brings to mind President Franklin Roosevelt’s call to prayer on D-Day in 1944. Like today, he knew the power of government was insufficient to overcome such a serious challenge.
Could this present a similar opportunity for those so inclined to seek a closer relationship with the God who made us?
Last question. When the virus is no longer a threat, will you return to your old ways? Will you again focus on money, things, status and work, or has this virus taught you a lesson about what matters most for you, your family and the nation?
As pastor Lon Solomon likes to say: “Not a sermon, just a thought.”
I’m Cal Thomas.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Culture Friday. We’ll talk to John Stonestreet about whether the gravity of a pandemic might act as a check on cultural excess.
Also tomorrow, Megan will tell you about a new Jane Austen adaptation. The film had been in theaters—empty theaters. Now it’s streaming online. That’s new.
We will have that and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
Paul encourages us with this thought: since God didn’t spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, will he not also with Christ graciously give us all things?
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!