The World and Everything in It — April 30, 2020

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

COVID-19 closures are creating serious financial hardships for performing artists.

NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll tell you how some are trying to adapt.

Also churches are stepping up to aid communities hit hard by meat packing plant closures.

Plus, a look back at the Spanish Flu of 1918.

BASHAM: It’s Thursday, April 30th. 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 has today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Fauci: experimental drug will be “standard of care” after successful study » A study run by the National Institutes of Health may have a breakthrough in treating the coronavirus. 

At the White House on Wednesday, top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the drug remdesivir shortened patients’ average recovery time by four days. And he added, the results will likely improve. 

FAUCI: We think it’s really opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating. And I can guarantee you, as more people, more companies, more investigators get involved, it’s going to get better and better. 

He said “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” and he added, “This will be the standard of care.”

Fauci said researchers plan to combine remdesivir with other drugs to try and find ways to further boost its effectiveness. 

The study tested remdesivir against usual care in more than a thousand hospitalized coronavirus patients. The drug is the first treatment to pass such a strict test. 

President Trump said Wednesday that he wants the Food and Drug Administration to move as quickly as it can to approve remdesivir as a standardized treatment. 

Stocks rise despite dismal Commerce report » News of an effective treatment against the coronavirus lifted spirits on Wall Street. Stocks rallied, and the S&P 500 gained almost 3 percent Wednesday. 

Investors also responded to assurances from the Federal Reserve that it will continue working aggressively to boost the economy. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday…

POWELL: We’re committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy in this challenging time. We’re going to use them, as I mentioned, forcefully, proactively and aggressively until we’re confident that we’re solidly on the road to recovery. 

The Fed has already announced emergency programs to lend money and buy up debt. Congress has given the Treasury Department more than $450 billion to fund those programs. And Powell said the Fed will leave interest rates at nearly zero for the foreseeable future.  

He spoke as new numbers further illustrated how the pandemic has slammed the economy. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy shrank at a 4.8 percent annualized rate. That’s the worst since the Great Recession in 2008. 

And the numbers from the current quarter are expected to be much worse. Many economists predict we’ll see the gross domestic product fall at an annual rate of 30 percent. That would be a drop not seen since the Great Depression. 

Pug is likely first U.S. dog to test positive for human coronavirus » A dog in North Carolina has tested positive for the human coronavirus. 

Heather McLean told CNN that her pug, Winston, recently began displaying mild symptoms. 

MCLEAN: So we think he had a mild cough, and then there was certainly one morning he didn’t want to eat his breakfast. 

Duke University researcher Chris Woods said “To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which the virus has been detected in a dog” in the United States. 

McLean and her family were participating in a Duke study in which researchers tested all members of the family, including their pets. 

Several family members tested positive along with Winston. The family owns two other pets, which were negative. 

Other animals have tested positive for the virus including two cats in New York, two dogs in Hong Kong, and eight lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo. 

But health officials say there is no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to their owners. 

Rep. moves toward third party White House bid » A sitting member of Congress has taken a big step toward launching a third party White House campaign. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan announced that he’s launching an exploratory committee for the 2020 Libertarian Party’s presidential nod.

The Republican-turned-independent was first elected to Congress in 2010. He’s been an outspoken critic of President Trump. And he said on Twitter that the country was ready for new leadership.

Amash wrote that Americans are—in his words—“ready for a presidency that will restore respect for our Constitution and bring people together.”

Amash announced last July that he was leaving the Republican Party, saying he had become disenchanted with partisan politics and was—quote—“frightened by what I see from it.” He drew ire from President Trump when he agreed with Democrats that the president had engaged in impeachable conduct.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

NCAA moving to allow athletes to earn money from endorsements and more » The NCAA is moving forward with a plan to let college athletes earn money for endorsements, personal appearances, social media content, and more. 

The NCAA’s Board of Governors has okayed the change. The next step is for members to draft legislation by October 30th. Plenty of details still need to be worked out, including how to ensure sponsorship deals aren’t used to entice recruits. 

Schools will vote at the next convention in January, and new rules will go into effect by the end of next year.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: performing artists adapt to longterm theater closures.

Plus, Cal Thomas on the exploding national debt.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Thursday the 30th of April, 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 up: the performing arts.

Theaters and concert halls seat thousands of people. They were some of the first venues to close as the coronavirus began to spread. 

And they’ll likely be among the last to re-open.

BASHAM: That’s creating serious financial hardships for performing artists and the studios and companies that pay them. 

Across the country, two-thirds of performing artists are out of work. 

WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports now on how some are trying to adapt.

JULIANNA RUBIO SLAGER: I think we were all just in a state of shock. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Julianna Rubio Slager is the director and choreographer of Ballet 5:8, a Christian dance company based in the Chicago area. On March 19th, the group was just about to launch its spring tour. And then COVID-19 shut everything down.

RUBIO SLAGER: I think as soon as we recognized where things were headed, we felt very strongly, like OK, we need to try to get as much of our work on film as we possibly can.

They turned the dance studio into a black box theater, grabbed a couple of iPhones, and spent the next three days filming.

Ballet 5:8 isn’t the only group having to adjust.

REBA HERVAS: I think we understand that we, that we’re just part of the casualty but we’re not the only casualty.

Reba Hervas runs a Christian theater company called Overshadowed Theatrical Productions. Right now, she’s scrambling to reschedule the rest of the shows she had planned for this year. Because you can’t just perform a show whenever you want. You have to get permission to do that specific show at that specific time. That means getting in touch with the company that owns the rights to the show, which, these days, is a little difficult.

HERVAS: Because you have to remember that I’m just one little theater company, and there are hundreds of thousands of people all over the United States who had a summer planned and so they’re all asking can we move our dates can we move our dates can we move our dates.

Hervas is also trying to figure out what to do with already-sold tickets. She thought most people would ask for their money back right away, but that hasn’t happened.

HERVAS: They all seemed to be for the most part pretty content with the idea that as long as we eventually have the play, that they understand that and they’ll wait until we have it which is also a huge blessing.

Because of that, some really dedicated donors, and low operating costs, Hervas says the company is doing OK financially. That’s not the case for everyone in the arts.

ALYSSA TONG: I’m a member of two professional orchestras in the area, and I was subbing with another one.

Alyssa Tong is a violinist. She usually gets paid about $275 for a week of rehearsing and performing. With all performances canceled, that’s a lot of lost income.

TONG: I actually am directing an online summer program camp festival for string musicians. That’s hopefully gonna put me back in the black.

You can teach a class online … but you can’t move an entire orchestra online. Being physically close together is crucial. You can’t even have a socially distanced orchestra with musicians playing 6 feet apart.

TONG: Just physics, literally the physics of it is a little bit different and the time that it takes for sound to travel father. 

In an orchestra, the winds sit in the back and the strings in front. The winds are taught to play slightly ahead of the strings. 

TONG: So that by the time the sound hits the audience, it sounds together. And I think that would be magnified if an orchestra were to sit far apart from each other and play like that.

Artists of all kinds are looking for ways to adapt. The dancers at Ballet 5:8 had to figure out how to do ballet for film.

LAURA WILLIS: We’ve done season promotional videos and those have been fun, but again, they were more like video projects, not like, “Let’s film an hour long ballet.”

Laura Willis is a company dancer at Ballet 5:8. She says filming was hard: They did the piece four or five times, getting close ups, wide angles, facials, detail shots.

WILLIS: And there was sometimes where we would be on the third take. And I’d just look at the guy next to me and say, Don’t mess up. I don’t wanna do this part again, this has to be perfect. 

Julianna Rubio Slager says she’s grateful for technology, but she’ll be happy when she and her dancers can get back in a theater.

RUBIO SLAGER: I think I can speak almost unilaterally for performing arts. We would rather be in a theater. That’s our home and that’s where we thrive. 

But she’s starting to realize that the main goal can’t be just getting back on stage.

RUBIO SLAGER: I think at this moment in time, the art community really has to let go of that for the present moment and recognize that our job right now as artists is to bring healing and hope, peace, and a look past circumstance.

Reba Hervas says the arts are more important now than ever before. And she believes live theater will come back some day.

HERVAS: I think people need theater. I think it makes us forget, I think it makes us laugh, I think it inspires us, and I think it’s necessary. So I think in some way or another, it’s gonna come back. I just don’t know when, and I don’t know how.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: meeting spiritual needs for those who process our food.

Throughout April and as the coronavirus spread among workers, meat-packing companies closed more than two dozen processing plants. The Smithfield Foods pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was one of them. 

The company shut it down three weeks ago after 80 workers tested positive.

MEGAN BASHAM: The plant is now one of the largest virus hotspots in the country. Nearly 800 employees are infected. And most of Smithfield’s workers don’t have much of a financial cushion. 

WORLD reporter Sarah Schweinsberg now on how some local churches are helping them make ends meet.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: This is not the first crisis Claude Tambatamba and his wife Jolie have been through. 

CLAUDE: We left our country Congo because of war. 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been mired in tribal conflicts for decades. Militants kidnapped Claude twice.

CLAUDE: I was being really tortured a lot. Without clothes, without food, it was a bad condition. 

After the second kidnapping, the family fled to Kenya. In 2014, they came to the United States as refugees and settled in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

They found work and started a church. Claude has two jobs. One as an interpreter at Lutheran Social Services. And his wife, Jolie, works at the Smithfield Pork Plant. Her job is to trim the skin off of meat. 


CLAUDE: It was really tired especially in the right handed shoulder. She was feeling painful in the right shoulder.

It’s hard work, and Claude says he didn’t want her to do it. But Jolie insisted. 

CLAUDE: Cause they pay good check, that good money. [Laughs]

Jolie and eight others in their church worked at the plant. When it closed, they all took a financial hit. Thankfully, none of them have tested positive for the virus. 

Smithfield paid employees partial wages for two weeks after the closure. But Claude says families in his church are still struggling financially. Other family members have also lost jobs at other businesses. 

Claude spends his days calling each family in his church, asking about needs and praying with them. His church has been able to help families buy groceries, medicines and cleaning supplies, but next month many of them will need help paying rent. 

CLAUDE: In one family there is three people who worked in Smithfield. All of them, they don’t work. 

Hunegnaw Bekele pastors the Ethiopian Christian Fellowship in Sioux Falls. 

BEKELE: We are about 50 members. I think over half of our church members, they work at Smithfield. 

Bekele says many of the people who worked in the plant are struggling with fear of the virus. Especially because language barriers make it difficult for them to read the latest news and educate themselves. 

BEKELE: The virus is about dying. For example if I tell you about One of my church member right now, she has five children, and they are growing. And then she was tested positive and she has to quarantine herself in her room. And she used to be the leader, providing and working hard… and now she has fear of dying. If she die what could happen to her mom and children. 

Bekele calls this woman in his congregation daily to pray and provide words of hope. He also posts encouraging messages for his church on Zoom. 

So far, with Smithfield’s partial pay, Bekele says people in his church are doing OK financially.

BEKELE: At this point, our church is OK but from now onward we may not enough resource to keep up with church and support. 

Both pastors are reaching out to other churches for help. So far they’ve both received $25-hundred dollars from other churches in their Mennonite Brethren denomination with more money on the way. 

Pastor Rick Eshbaugh along with other pastors helped coordinate those grants. Denomination churches are also providing livestream technology how-to guides and government aid training. 

ESHBAUGH: For some of our immigrant groups, our families, they are experiencing a little bit of confusion about how to access some of the resources available through our government. In some ways they are not as able to connect with technology. So they’re kind of struggling quite a bit, and I think about our responsibility to take care of those in our land and our responsibility to our fellow Christian.

On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure meatpacking and egg plants keep running. 

But as of yesterday, it’s not clear when the Smithfield Foods plant could reopen. 

Claude says when the plant does reopen he wants more health protections for his wife and other workers, including social distancing on the meat lines. 

While there are so many financial and health uncertainties, Claude says God has never let his family down before. Why would this time be any different? 

CLAUDE: I trust God is Provider. God is our provider Dad.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

NICK EICHER: One of the nice things about working from home is that you usually don’t have to dress up—unless of course you’re a television news reporter for ABC! 

Reporter Will Reeves was on “Good Morning America” this week with a story on drones delivering medications.

Reeves reported from his home office, with a natty dress shirt and a blue buttoned jacket. But it’s what he wasn’t wearing that provided more than a few unintentional laughs for viewers.

Everything appeared normal at first. An image known as a chyron or a “lower third” at the bottom of the screen covered Reeves from the waist down. 

But that chyron disappeared toward the end of the report, viewers saw the reporter’s bare legs.

Many viewers thought Reeves got caught in his skivvies, but he has since clarified he was wearing a pair of workout shorts.

He said he went live on ABC after completing his morning workout and he thought the camera only framed him above the waist.

Noting his newfound online fame, Reeves tweeted “I have ARRIVED – in the most hilariously mortifying way possible.” And he added that he hopes “everyone got a much needed laugh!”

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Thursday, April 30th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. 

After weeks of stay-at-home orders in most parts of the country, public announcements like this one from Maysville, Kentucky, don’t really stand out to us anymore:

RASSMUSSEN: The State Board of Health of Kentucky hereby issues its proclamation closing all places of amusement, schools, churches and other places of assembly and advises against, and discourages, all unnecessary travel and social visiting in this commonwealth until the epidemic is over.

But that newspaper story is not recent. It’s from October 7th, 1918.

EICHER: Coming up next, we consider the 19-18 Spanish Flu and the world-wide response. 

WORLD’s history buff Paul Butler has the story.

JENKINS: In similar ways to what we have today. They try and encourage, or demand, the use of masks. 

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Philip Jenkins is professor of history at Baylor University.

JENKINS: They worked very hard to keep public places closed… 

The Pascagoula Mississippi Chronicle ran this story on October 12th, 1918:

PIERCZYNSKI: It is hereby ordered, in connection with the present influenza epidemic, that all moving picture shows, churches, public schools, soda fountains, and pool rooms be closed, and public gatherings of any kind prohibited until further notice.

But even with those restrictions in place, influenza spread rapidly—killing more people than the First World War that preceded it. As Jenkins points out, the war actually led to the greatest spread of the illness. 

JENKINS: Now, here’s the big problem…by definition there are tens of millions of men…in the battlefields of particularly Europe. And no, you can’t have social distancing, if you’re in the middle of a trench. 

The disease thrived in troop barracks, transport ships, and on military installations. 

JENKINS: In fact, the decisive thing and spreading the disease is when millions of American soldiers abroad…and what they bring with them is many weapons, and many, many disease organisms and that’s critical in the fate of the war.

While infected soldiers spread the disease, it was the war information departments controlling the news that ended up putting additional millions at risk. 

JENKINS: You have to remember that it’s a very different world in terms of publicity and transparency before people could become focused on it. If you think of it, this is the middle of a bitter war. Where security and secrecy are all. So there’s a period of a couple of months where the influenza is raging wildly in many countries, and no one can talk about it because it might provide a propaganda tool for the other side. 

In fact, that was one of the reasons it became known as the Spanish Flu.

JENKINS: One of the few countries that is not in the war is Spain. And so then the media report freely on this disease that is hitting their country. And then when other people hear about this, they say, aha, that must be just a Spanish thing…In fact, it’s hitting all the other countries, they’re just not admitting it. 

From January 1918 to December 1920, more than 50 million people died from the Spanish Flu. That, on top of the gruesome war, led some pastors to preach about the end of the world.

JENKINS: They started speaking the language of the, the apocalypse, of the end times. And certainly, by the time you get to 1918, you have all the four horsemen in place. You have, famine, death, war, and of course 1918 brings plague in the form of influenza.

But others in the church rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

RASSMUSSEN: The Fargo Forum. October 19, 1918. The Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorehead, Minnesota, has been converted into a hospital for flu patients. A call was issued for women to act as nurses in caring for influenza patients. 

In light of restricted gatherings, churches were just as creative in 1918 as they’ve been today. 

PIERCZYNSKI: October 19, 1918. On account of the closing order of the board of health…the Second Baptist Church services and auxiliary meetings were discontinued with the exception of the morning services which were held in the open air.  

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, churches published sermons in the paper and encouraged people stuck at home on Sunday morning to read them aloud, along with select Scripture passages and prayers. Women from various churches in Worcester, Massachusetts, took care of “epidemic orphans”—providing food and clothing, as well as recreation and instruction. 

Newspapers from the time featured pastors and priests arguing in articles and columns that churches should be reopened as “essential services”—with mixed results. In Canaan, Connecticut, churches reopened after just four weeks, while the Federated and Christian Churches of Idaho remained closed until January 1919. 

While the Spanish Flu and COVID-19 are very different diseases, Jenkins believes there are still lessons we can learn today from how the world responded to the pandemic of 1918—especially now that the curve is trending downward in some Western countries.

JENKINS: I think we also need to think very hard about a global response. Where we don’t think in terms of, “Well, that’s wonderful. The United States is fine now, Europe is fine now, we can rest in our beds.” Because the disease will likely rage across Africa and Asia for a long time and probably kill a great many people. 

But Jenkins is also hopeful, because history reminds us of the important role diseases have played in human civilization.

JENKINS: For many years, we’ve almost been allowed to forget this, but through history, various plagues and pestilences have been absolutely crucial to driving human civilization, human culture. And I can absolutely bet you that COVID-19 will not be the last.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.

Susan Olasky’s two-part coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Spanish Flu: Part One, Part Two

And an article by Philip Jenkins.

MEGAN BASHAM: Coming up next, an excerpt from tomorrow’s Listening In. This week, Warren Smith talks with Christian author Jim Denison, who offers suggestions on how to prepare for life after the pandemic.

WARREN SMITH: [2:04] The new normal is not going to be like the old normal. In other words, a lot of people are saying, I can’t wait till we get back to normal and you are bringing up the likelihood that that normal is going to be real different. 

JIM DENISON: It really is going to be different. It’s on three levels. We think on one level there are things that we weren’t doing before that we’re doing now that we like and so we’ll keep doing them. 

You’re, for instance, going to see small towns have a renaissance as people are deciding that they really can work at distance and they can pay less for a house, have a smaller cost of living and be able to commute on a telecommuting kind of a platform. So we’re going to see all sorts of changes that are happening around that kind of phenomenon on kind of a permanent basis. 

On the worst side of the three kinds of ways you could look at this, we’re going to see industries changed abruptly, if not going out of business. Gold’s gym, which is one of the leading, uh, gym companies in Dallas has closed its doors with no intention to reopen. We’re hearing the tourism’s going to be 50% next year.

Then in the middle we’re going to see a new normal in the sense of things that we wish weren’t this way, but we’re adjusting as we have to. We’re discovering that we can do tele docking and telecommuting with our doctor, even though we’d rather see them in person. We can do this as a second best kind of an option. 

Within healthcare, we’re having to make some changes that may be permanent in terms of the degree to which we test people before we see them. The degree to which we have personal protective equipment more available to us, even though it’s burdensome and not very cost effective because we don’t know if this virus is going to mutate in ways that will be beyond the vaccines that’ll eventually come, so, there are going to be some really difficult new normals. They’re going to be some really positive new normals and they’re going to be some new normals in the sense of things we’re aware of now that just don’t exist on the other side of all of this.

EICHER: That’s Jim Denison talking to Warren Smith. To hear the complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow wherever you get your podcasts.

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Thursday, April 30th. 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. On Monday’s program, you heard David Bahnsen talk about the historic levels of red ink flowing from Washington. 

And later today at you’ll see Harvest Prude’s coverage of this same topic in her regular report called The Stew. She writes on lawmakers who came to Washington promising to rein in spending, but who are singing a different tune today. 

Commentator Cal Thomas has been thinking about this, too.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: The Wall Street Journal is generally conservative when it comes to economic issues. That’s why it was a bit surprising to see it publish a front-page story on Monday with this headline: “Coronavirus Means the Era of Big Government Is Back.”

Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff for President Obama and a former mayor of Chicago, comments in the story. He says—quote—“The era of Ronald Reagan, that said basically the government is the enemy, is over.” 

Emmanuel didn’t mention Bill Clinton’s famous remarks after Republicans took control of the U.S. House in 1995. 

CLINTON: The era of big government is over. [applause]

This is from Clinton’s State of the Union address on January 23, 1996. 

CLINTON: But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves. 

That has always been a false choice. The issue is: What is government’s responsibility and what is the individual’s responsibility? 

The Founders wanted government to be limited so the people would be unlimited in their pursuit of whatever made them happy. Today’s government thinks it can make people happy by dishing out gobs of cash. 

No, we don’t want everyone to “fend for themselves,” but if government is to be involved in the lives of the poor, for example, the objective should be to help them become self-sustaining so they no longer need government. 

The Journal story reminds readers of previous crises, when government expanded to meet military and civilian needs, but only partially returned to its constitutional boundaries when the threats ended. That’s partly the blame of we the people—who became hooked on government as a cash machine. 

The result is politicians who seek to outbid each other to prove their quote-unquote “compassion.” But as Marvin Olasky’s research and writing has shown, that kind of “compassion” often hurts the people it’s intended to help. 

Meantime, the federal debt explodes. Massive government debt has contributed to the collapse of great empires in the past, and there is no reason to believe the United States will escape the same fate. 

Right now, some of the very same Republicans who came to Washington as part of the tea party wave—promising to restore fiscal sanity—are arguing for more deficit spending than we have seen in our lifetimes. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is one of the few exceptions. 

If we don’t do something to reverse the debt, America as we know it may cease to exist. We cannot afford to be silent about this grave threat. 

I’m Cal Thomas.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: When it comes to assault allegations, the media are applying a much different standard to Joe Biden than they did to Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

We’ll talk with John Stonestreet about that on Culture Friday.

And, a review of a new series from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

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.

Thessalonians reminds us to examine everything carefully, and hold to that which is good.

I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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