MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Some states are getting ready to reopen for business, and we’ll talk about how test, trace, and isolate are the watch-words.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
And we’ll talk to one of our own about his experience with the coronavirus.
Also today Australia requires tech titans Google and Facebook to pay up for news content. That’s on this week’s World Tour.
And WORLD Founder Joel Belz on how Christians might reallocate resources in the coming months.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, April 22nd. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Up next, Jill Nelson has the news.
JILL NELSON, NEWS ANCHOR: Congress reaches deal on relief package » Senate Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement Tuesday to replenish aid money for small businesses.
MCCONNELL: At the core of our agreement is $320 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program, which is already saving millions of small business jobs, and helping Americans get a paycheck instead of pink slips.
The measure passed with unanimous support.
Last week, Democrats blocked attempts to replenish the program because they wanted more funding for hospitals, local governments, and food assistance.
But the Senate, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, were able to reach a compromise for another almost $500 in relief.
Two-thirds of the pot will go toward the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses. The rest of the new relief package will go to aid hospitals and expand COVID-19 testing.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure Thursday.
States reopen, file lawsuits » Meanwhile, three states with Republican governors are moving to jump start their economies. Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina have all announced similar plans to begin allowing non-essential businesses and public spaces to reopen.
Some health officials worry reopening businesses and public gathering sites too soon could lead to a second wave of infections.
But South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said he believes people will continue social distancing practices to avoid spreading infections.
MCMASTER: So in light of the great common sense being shown by the great people of South Carolina, we are ready to take some steps that will help South Carolina ensure that our economic health is as strong as our public health.
And, Missouri announced yesterday it’s taking legal action against China.
Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit alleging China suppressed information that led to “death, suffering, and economic losses” inflicted on the world and Missourians.
The state is seeking restitution for damage to its economy, and the more than 200 state residents who have died of COVID-19.
President Trump suspends immigration » President Trump announced plans to roll out a major immigration policy change to help restart the U.S. economy. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg has that story.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The president first made the announcement on Twitter late Monday night.
He wrote, quote, “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”
At yesterday’s Coronavirus White House press briefing, the president gave more details. He said the executive order will bar family members of U.S. citizens and foreign workers from moving to the United States for the next 60 days. At the end of that period, the president will either lift or extend the ban based on economic conditions.
The order will not block foreigners coming into the country on temporary visas for work or travel. That means seasonal workers employed by farms and other businesses can still enter.
Immigration advocates point out that much of the immigration system has already come to a standstill with restricted travel and U.S. consulates pausing most visa processing.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring North Korea » South Korea is downplaying rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in fragile health after having surgery.
South Korea’s presidential office said Kim appeared to be in control of state affairs as usual and that it had not detected any unusual activity inside the country.
But speaking on Fox News Tuesday, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said American intelligence officials are monitoring the situation.
O’BRIEN: North Korea’s a very closed society. There’s not a free press there. They are parsimonious about the information they provide about many things, including the health of Kim Jong Un. So, we’re monitoring the developments closely.
North Korea’s state-run media outlet reported that Kim presided over a meeting on April 11th. But he missed the national celebration of his late grandfather’s birthday on April 15th. Kim Il Sung is considered the state’s founding father, and his birthday is the country’s most important holiday.
Rivals reach power-sharing deal in Israel » Israeli political rivals Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz have agreed to form a unity government, avoiding an unprecedented fourth election in just over a year.
GANTZ: [Speaking Hebrew]
Gantz told lawmakers he made the deal to “safeguard” Israel’s democracy.
Netanyahu’s Likud party won the most seats in the last election but didn’t have a majority in parliament. Under the new deal, Netanyahu will remain prime minister for the next 18 months. Gantz will take the job for the next 18 months.
The deal guarantees Netanyahu will remain in power during his upcoming corruption trial, set to start in May. It also gives him a framework for pressing ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
Gantz does not support the proposal. But he agreed to allow Netanyahu to make his case in parliament, where he may have enough support to push it through—even without Gantz’s help.
Scripps National Spelling Bee canceled » AUDIO: And this is the night Paul Leffler that the kids won the Spelling Bee! [CONFETTI CANNON]
Those of us who count on the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee to learn some new vocabulary will have to wait until next year.
After exploring virtual options, organizers of the elite event announced they had canceled the 2020 competition. Hundreds of students and family members usually attend the bee in Washington, D.C., at the end of May.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee began in 1925 and hasn’t been canceled since World War II. Organizers say instead of competing for this year’s $50,000 grand prize, all national finalists will receive a backpack and keepsakes in the mail.
I’m Jill Nelson. Straight ahead: plans to reopen shuttered businesses.
Plus, Joel Belz on committing to help rebuild our civic institutions.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: It’s Wednesday, the 22nd of April, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up, lifting coronavirus restrictions.
Most Americans have been hunkered down in their homes since the middle of March. That’s when schools closed. Restaurants, movie theaters, and retail outlets soon followed. Companies started laying off workers. Jobless claims soared. And Congress approved the biggest stimulus package in U.S. history.
EICHER: Despite the hardships, most people endured the stay-at-home orders as a public health necessity. But that endurance is wearing thin.
AUDIO: [Sounds of horns honking]
These are protesters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
That was just one of several rallies held across the country over the last few days urging state leaders to ease restrictions.
Plans for a gradual reopening are already underway in many places. So, what can we expect in the next few weeks and months?
Well, it’s Washington Wednesday, and we are going to try to answer that question. Because it involves so many different factors, we decided to bring in experts from two different fields. Zach Jenkins is a pharmacist and infectious disease expert. Mark Caleb Smith is a political scientist. They’re both professors at Cedarville University in Ohio.
Zach, I’d like to start with you.
The three-word catchphrase we keep hearing is: test, trace, isolate. So testing is the foundation. Explain for us why that’s the key to reopening.
JENKINS: Sure, so testing is going to be a really critical component for us moving forward. One reason that it will be important is that with antibody testing, we should be able to gain some insight as to whether people have been exposed to the virus and, theoretically, have developed some sort of immunity to it. Another element that’s going to be important with testing is to the comment about tracing, we’re going to be doing something called contract tracing where we actually will identify individuals who are positive for the virus. Then what we’ll do is we’ll trace who they’ve been in contact with and then recommend quarantine for those individuals. Now, under some circumstances, that would mean a 10 or 14 day quarantine period. But what testing does for us is it allows us to actually speed up their re-entry into their normal lives. And then we can further identify other individuals to test, isolate, trace.
EICHER: So I can understand why test is the easiest pill to swallow, so to speak. Everyone wants to know if they have this virus.
Trace and isolate, that’s completely different.
America isn’t China, in the sense of command and control of the population. And thank God for that. We don’t have the surveillance, we don’t systematically force people into mass quarantine sites.
So, how do we handle trace and isolate in a free society? What options does the U.S. health system have, Zach?
JENKINS: So, as far as tracing goes and isolation goes, what we would recommend for individuals that aren’t hospitalized that are positive for the virus is that they self-quarantine. And that would be the same recommendation for other individuals who have tested positive. And the burden is on the public health department and other health authorities to try to trace their contacts as much as possible. Now, quite honestly, that’s a huge resource cost. It would take, I think, there’s an estimation of about 300,000 people to adequately trace all these different contacts for the virus and right now our public health departments across this country I think have roughly 3,000 employees. So, you can imagine the burden that that would create. But, really, it’s strong recommendations and not necessarily forced isolation.
EICHER: What about from a constitutional perspective, Mark? The federal government has broad powers during a public-health crisis. So let’s talk about how far the feds could it go to enforce the “trace and isolate” measures.
And maybe, really, it’s more of a state-by-state matter, because that’s our system, and the president—even though he went back and forth on the question—has landed on empowering governors. How would this work constitutionally?
SMITH: When you look at Article II of the Constitution, which is what sets up executive power, the president really does not have any direct power to deal with this kind of a crisis with the sort of heavy handed approach that you might find in other countries. So, in order for that to happen, he would have to have legislation from Congress authorizing him to carry out some sort of a significant testing and tracing campaign. Even then, you could argue that it could be unconstitutional, frankly, because the federal government just is not endowed with that sort of authority. The Supreme Court, though, has kind of looked at certain situations like a war, like a civil war—for example—and they’ve allowed governments to do a little bit more during those crises than they would in a normal peace time environment. And so it could be the judicial system would give some flexibility because of the situation, but that’s an assumption. There’s no guarantee of that.
I think the second part of your question is actually closer to the truth. State and local governments have significant powers over this. Our government reserves powers, the states that include power over safety, health, and welfare kinds of issues. And this certainly falls into that. And so I think a governor, for example, could pretty easily under constitutional guidelines enforce this kind of regime that Zach’s talking about. And so if states would enter into it, I think you would see it more likely to take place, or maybe some sort of cooperation between the state and federal authorities together would provide the best constitutional shield.
EICHER: Well, as we’ve noted, people are growing weary of the lockdown. We humans are made to work, made to produce, and a lot of people are out of work. But we’re just guessing at the economic damage, because we’ve never experienced anything like this.
At first, it was all public health, no questions asked, everybody’s on board with the shutdown. But now we’re starting to count the economic cost. And so elected officials are starting to feel some pressure to reopen.
Would you say that the politics have changed, Mark?
SMITH: I think that they are starting to see some pressure in certain places. But I think you have to be careful to define what that pressure actually is. If it’s a demonstration, well, that could be a fairly small representation of your population. Public opinion polling that we’ve seen—at least at the national level—is that most Americans are pretty comfortable with the stay-at-home orders that we’ve seen. Whereas I think some Americans are frustrated. We’re all frustrated economically. I’m not sure that necessarily spills into something resembling a majority or a large group of people who would be willing to sort of engage in a kind of civil unrest. And so I think governors in particular should be careful to assume that the presence of a protest actually reflects a widespread displeasure at what’s happening.
EICHER: Well, set the protests aside: Surely they can read the economic figures that are coming out. They can see the applications for unemployment benefits. They can see retail sales cratering. They can see all of these things. That’s pressure, too, is it not?
SMITH: No question about it. I think across the country, authorities feel that kind of economic reality that’s hitting them as well. But they have to be careful. If they open up too soon and you see a resurgence in cases and in hospitalizations and even in deaths, you’re going to have a further economic problem on top of a further health problem. And so the goal now, I think, is to minimize the health problem with the goal of opening the economy as soon as possible—whenever that is. There’s real pressure. There’s no doubt there’s real pressure. It’s also very possible that some of these folks will lose their seats, depending on how they handle this over the next several months or even year.
EICHER: Zach, I’ll close with you, and I got word that we’ve lost the studio connection, so we’ll use the Skype line as we wrap up. Obviously we have a lot to learn about this virus. But researchers are now discovering that many, many more people have caught the novel coronavirus without knowing about it because they didn’t have any symptoms. We heard that from Dr. Birx of the federal task force.
How do you think that changes, or does it change, the response from a public health perspective?
JENKINS: So, I think invariably when we do discover exactly how prevalent the virus is, it will change our response in a few ways. One of which is we’ll be able to do more targeted social distance efforts. By and large what we’ve done so far is kind of the equivalent of using a club. It’s very blunt and it hits a lot of things at once but not necessarily a very precise target. So when we have some more information about those communities, that will actually make things a little bit easier moving forward. Another important thing to also consider is we’re still trying to figure out what the case fatality rate is, and that actually describes how severe this virus may be for individuals. And so as we start to discover how prevalent it is in the population, the more prevalent it is, the more likely that fatality rate is lower. The other element I’d say, too, on top of all these considerations is it helps us to recognize how significant those asymptomatic cases are by number. And so if you think about some of these recommendations that we’ve had lately as far as wearing masks, avoiding contact with individuals in such a close proximity, a lot of that is just designed to limit spread from people who don’t realize they have it. So, those things could potentially be lifted if we recognize that maybe the asymptomatic distribution is not quite as significant as we once thought.
EICHER: Zach Jenkins is an infectious disease expert and pharmacy professor. And Mark Caleb Smith is a professor of political science. They both teach at Cedarville University in Ohio. Gentlemen, thank you!
NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Hong Kong arrests—We start today in Asia.
Police in Hong Kong arrested 15 pro-democracy activists on Saturday. Chinese officials said the activists had organized and participated in unauthorized protests last year.
The sweeping arrests targeted former and current lawmakers, as well as the founder of an anti-establishment newspaper. Veteran activist Martin Lee was also arrested for speaking at several protests last summer.
AUDIO: This is the time for all the people to take to the streets on the 9th of June. This is make or break for Hong Kong.
The protesters challenged Beijing’s rule of Hong Kong, calling for free elections and a transparent legal system.
Rohingya refugees—Next, we go to Bangladesh.
AUDIO: [MAN CRYING]
Hundreds of Rohingya refugees staggered onto a beach Wednesday after 58 days at sea. Over 400 Rohingya had crammed onto a fishing trawler in early February. They set sail for Malaysia, but the country denied them access, citing coronavirus concerns.
AUDIO: [MAN SPEAKING ARAKANI]
One survivor said the refugees quickly ran short on food, water, and fuel. At least 30 died.
The Bangladeshi coast guard got a tip about the boat and searched for three days before locating it.
Nearly 1 million Rohingya have fled their homes in Myanmar. The ethnic group is the target of a brutal military crackdown that began in 2017.
Hindu nationalists blaming Muslims for the virus—Next, we go to India.
AUDIO: [MAN SPEAKING]
A group of Muslim vegetable sellers in Uttar Pradesh filed a complaint with the government last week. They said a group of men drove away their customers and accused the vendors of spreading the coronavirus.
Other Muslims in India have reported similar incidents. Muslims already faced discrimination in the Hindu-majority country. Now, some accuse them of intentionally spreading COVID-19. In early March, more than 2,000 people attended a Muslim missionary conference in Delhi. Dozens of attendees later tested positive for the disease.
Australia requires Facebook and Google pay for news—And finally, we end today in Australia.
The government will soon require Google and Facebook to pay for news content. Officials say it’s only fair: If the tech giants want to use journalistic content on their platforms, they should pay the media companies that create that content.
Josh Frydenberg is the country’s treasurer.
AUDIO: We believe this is critical for the future viability of our media sector.
Frydenberg said the government tried to negotiate a voluntary arrangement with Google and Facebook, but couldn’t reach an agreement.
AUDIO: So the government’s taken a decision to move to a mandatory code with a draft mandatory code to be released by the end of July.
The code will require Google and Facebook to negotiate with media outlets on fair compensation. The tech companies will also need to prioritize original reporting in search results, and give the outlets a heads-up before changing algorithms that affect content rankings.
France and Spain have tried similar strategies in the past, but the tech titans simply ended their news services in those countries.
That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
MARY REICHARD: The owner of a restaurant called the Sand Bar in Tybee Island, Georgia had an off-the-wall and off-the-ceiling idea to help her staff during these trying times.
Over the past 15 years, a tradition took root whereby customers would scribble a few words on a $1 bill, and then staple it to the bar’s walls and ceilings.
Owner Jennifer Knox told WTOC TV…
KNOX: We literally had money on the walls and time on our hands, and there was not a more perfect time to give back to our people.
Knox said she was thrilled to be able to help her employees in a time of need.
It took three days to pull down $3,700 from those walls and ceiling. Her six employees each received about $600.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, April 22nd. You’re listening to WORLD Radio, and we’re so glad you are! Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a firsthand encounter with the coronavirus.
More than three-quarters of a million people in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19. One of the diagnosed, active cases is our own Kent Covington, the man who brings you the news each day.
So we thought it might be good to check in with him.
REICHARD: Yes, so I was able to reach him and record a little conversation.
KENT COVINGTON: Hi Mary! How are you?
REICHARD: Well, I’m doing well, but you’re the focus here. We were all not happy to hear you got the diagnosis, obviously. Kent, I’m wondering what symptoms did you have that led you to get tested?
COVINGTON: A few days back I bent over to pet the dog and I was really short of breath at that point. I thought that does not seem normal. And then I had some chest tightness the remainder of the day. Nothing major, just if I took a deep breath I could feel the chest tightness and so those were two things I recognized. I also had a bit of an upset stomach, which is another symptom. But it was the shortness of breath and the tightness that sort of sent up the flag.
REICHARD: You’re not in a risk group, are you? As far as I know, you’re not.
COVINGTON: No. No, I’m not.
REICHARD: When you got the positive result of the test, what went through your mind?
COVINGTON: I suppose I was a little surprised just because the shortness of breath and the chest tightness, they were not very severe and they went away. That’s the only day I’ve had that happen. And I’ve not had a fever or a cough. So I was a little surprised, but I was not terribly worried about it, primarily because the one day I had experienced those symptoms they were mild and even by the time I got my results, two days had passed and I hadn’t experienced it again and I felt pretty decent.
REICHARD: How about your daily routine? Doesn’t seem like much has changed.
COVINGTON: No, not really. Not much has changed. I maybe feel a little more tired today, but, yeah, nothing has changed with the routine at all, really, for me.
REICHARD: You know, Kent, I think that you were careful to abide by the CDC guidelines and social distancing and washing your hands, things like that. How do you think you got it?
COVINGTON: You know, there’s no telling. I have two teenagers and I could have perhaps gotten it—I don’t know yet. And, actually, they just got tested. But that’s one possibility. When I go out, I am extremely careful. I’ve had a box of N95 masks that I’ve had for a little while, for another reason I had those in my garage shop and so when this happened it’s like, ‘Great, I’ve got these.’ So I’ve had that and I’ve used hand sanitizer or gloves when I go out. So my guess is that I perhaps caught it in the home from perhaps one of my kids or somebody else who was in the home briefly for one reason or another. And, again, we’ll see if they test positive, but they’re both feeling pretty well.
REICHARD: Kent, did the doctor give you any protocols to follow?
COVINGTON: Yeah, well, the protocol is just seven days from the onset of symptoms you will be considered no longer contagious and, in fact, immune. If you, one, have not had a fever for at least 72 hours and, two, are seeing the symptoms lessen or if they’ve gone away entirely. And that confuses some people because they keep hearing the 14 day quarantine. The 14 days comes from the incubation period of the virus where if you’re exposed to it, you might not know it for 14 days—and, of course, we’re finding out you might not ever know it potentially. But once you’re confirmed to have it, the protocol is seven days from the onset of symptoms if you don’t have a fever again for three days and the symptoms are improving.
REICHARD: Well, Kent, we wish you good health. We need you to be in good health, so get better soon, ok?
COVINGTON: Thank you, thank you. I’ll rest up.
REICHARD: Kent Covington, our newsman. And it was your birthday, so happy birthday! At least you had yesterday off.
COVINGTON: Thanks, Mary.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, April 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Our world has changed, and Christians must respond thoughtfully. Here’s WORLD Founder Joel Belz.
JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: If I’ve asked a dozen people, I’ve asked a hundred: “What does this current crisis remind you of? The recession of 2008? Nine-eleven? The Kennedy assassination?”
“Nothing at all,” they respond. “This is so totally different.”
And the response has been unanimous. Even a few of my oldest respondents—old enough to remember the Great Depression and World War II—join the chorus. “This is radically different,” they say.
What makes them think that?
Try this explanation. These folks are joined in their response because they sense how widespread, deep, and pervasive the destruction is. They sense the enormity of the rebuilding task when this cloud passes.
I think they’re probably right. And that’s why American Christians need to be preparing to spend all kinds of “This-is-different-energy” in the extended recovery that looms on the horizon.
That recovery involves our businesses, of course. But perhaps more importantly, it will involve our churches, our educational enterprises, our missions and benevolences, and hundreds of other fronts we’ve barely thought of.
Our churches will need to be rebuilt. Never in our nation’s history has the church at large been compelled to put on a disappearing act first for several weeks, and now likely stretching into months. What makes us think that we’ll come through that aberration unscathed?
It’s not primarily that millions of dollars’ worth of pews and buildings lie empty every week. More disturbing are reports from significant and once-healthy churches that only a fraction of members are now taking advantage of live-streaming worship, while tithes and offerings are slipping. Will our churches rediscover their true Biblical mission of making and training disciples?
Our schools will need emergency aid. The transition this spring for many Christian schools, colleges, and even seminaries has been costly and unsettling: shutting down campuses for the last half of the spring semester and moving online. Thousands of Christian families will be reexamining their commitments at several levels. Don’t be surprised if some schools never reopen.
We’ll all need to rethink what role leisure time and leisure dollars play in our scheme of things. If our institutions are likely to need extra fuel for their depleted tanks later this year, it’s all but certain that we’ll find ourselves close to needy families or individuals who are newly unemployed or otherwise stressed. Is this a unique opportunity to reallocate some of what we spent last year on travel and recreation?
It’s not for me to propose specifics for WORLD readers and listeners—and my wife Carol Esther and I have to discuss a bit more what our part should be. But none of us dare fall back to what we did last year. The devastation is just too extensive.
Remember: “This is different!”
I’m Joel Belz.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Businesses are starting to reopen but will it be too late for some? We’ll talk to some small business owners about what the shutdown has meant for them.
And, we’ll talk to journalists at several small newspapers. They’re suffering from the economic crisis and facing layoffs.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!