LISTEN: WTBU News Brunch, Episode 6: March 31, 2020

Good morning, and welcome to your WTBU News Brunch. We’re on week three of Zoom broadcasting, or what we like to call zoom-casting, and while we haven’t been coming to you from our typical studio space, we’ve been making the most of- and having fun with this virtual adventure. Thanks for sticking with us, and we hope you enjoy today’s show.

New York City remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with confirmed cases of COVID-19 reaching more than 37,000. Officials say that nearly 100 people living in the city’s main homeless shelter system have tested positive and that in the city’s prisons, 170 inmates and almost 140 staff members have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In some good news, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said more than 4,200 people in New York State have been discharged from hospitals and that while the number of hospitalizations continues to grow, the rate at which it is growing is tapering off.

After the United States, Italy then Spain have the most reported cases, then China. Across Europe, countries are declaring lockdowns and other extraordinary measures to try and control the spread. Germany has had an unusually low mortality rate, with only around 650 deaths of the 67,000 infected. In London, one of the world’s largest convention centers was transformed within a week into the Nightingale Hospital, which is set to open in the coming days. 

WTBU reporter Sofie Isenberg spoke to Carol Kemble, who had been sailing around the world before getting stuck in the port of Cartagena, Spain. Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus outbreak, now with over 54,000 cases and over 5,000 dead.

More than 50 volunteers have stepped up to help the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Boston University’s Medical Campus to help develop and implement a unique COVID-19 test that can return results in less than 24 hours. The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency-use authorization for a five-minute test from Abbot Labs. The medical device company plans to supply 50,000 tests per day, starting Wednesday.

345 employees at four of Boston’s largest hospitals have tested positive for the coronavirus, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center, adding strain to the system as the city approaches the peak in its COVID-19 curve. Gov. Charlie Baker said that the state expects to see a surge in cases between April 7 and April 17. In anticipation of healthcare needs, some medical students will be granted temporary licenses to help manage the influx of patients.

Boston University, like most colleges, will not be holding a graduation ceremony in May. In an email to the Class of 2020 and their families, BU announced that the ceremony in May would be postponed until late summer or early fall. Northeastern University has also postponed their commencement until a later date, while Emerson College has opted for a virtual graduation. WTBU’s Frank Hernández talked to some grads about what this means for them.

While the transition to online classes for college students is underway, many elementary school teachers have had to make even bigger adjustments to how they interact with their students. WTBU’s Hannah Harn spoke to elementary educators about how distance learning has affected their classrooms.

As people in the UK begin what may be several months of nationwide lockdown, they’re figuring out how to translate social activities online – whether that be beers over Zoom or YouTube workouts in the living room. WTBU London reporter Katharine Swindells talked to members of the gaming community to find out how social isolation is impacting them.

Social media has been essential during this global pandemic. Shared videos and recirculated posts keep us connected and entertained with our family and friends. But, according to WTBU commentator Ina Joseph we still need to be mindful of its drawbacks.

3.3 million people have filed for unemployment after workplaces across America shut down to ease the spread of the COVID-19 virus. CNBC reports predict the unemployment rate in the U.S. will skyrocket to 32%. Thousands of businesses have closed, and small businesses are particularly at risk of closure turning permanent. An abundance of small businesses thrive on day to day profit and if federal aid can’t suffice, we won’t see these businesses re-open.

Marijuana shops across Massachusetts fear they could go out of business after Baker deemed recreational purchases of marijuana nonessential. Some agree with the decision, arguing against smoking during a pandemic that attacks the respiratory system, while others see marijuana as a necessity, especially during trying times filled with anxiety and stress. Ironically, recreational marijuana shops are labeled nonessential in some states, but liquor stores remain open. California, Washington and Oregon are among the states deeming marijuana as essential. 

WTBU’s Kendall Tamer explored the arts community this week and spoke with a few people on how COVID-19 has affected their lives, work and futures. 

At trying times like these, many people often visit churches, temples and mosques for solace. 38% of Americans go to a religious service weekly. But unlike in other times of crisis, that is no longer an option … at least not in person. Gathering spaces for religious services are closed, so many people are replacing in-person practices with technology.

This edition of WTBU News Brunch was produced by Emily Wilson, Frank Hernández, Hannah Harn, Katherine Swindells, Kendall Tamer, Sofie Isenberg and Ina Joseph. Our Technical Producer is Danny Roa.

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