Coronavirus Special: Containment, Economy, Seniors

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The Fight to Contain the Coronavirus
On Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus. The move authorizes the release of up to $50 billion dollars in disaster relief to help state and local governments combat the spread of the virus. He also said that hundreds of thousands of tests would soon be made available by the private sector. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic this week as more than 130,000 people have been infected with the COVID-19 viral disease in at least 114 countries. In the U.S., federal officials are struggling to contain outbreaks as hospitals grapple with a shortage of masks and testing kits. State and local officials are on the frontlines of trying to contain a surge in new cases. On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health and Gov. Gavin Newsom said gatherings of 250 people or more should be postponed or canceled until the end of March.  


  • Dr. Erica Pan, interim health officer, Alameda County Public Health Department
  • Laura Klivans, health reporter, KQED

The Growing Economic Cost of the Crisis
President Trump on Wednesday night delivered a prime time address to announce a 30-day ban travelers from most of the European mainland to halt the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. He also said he would urge Congress to pass a payroll tax cut and seek financial assistance for small business owners and workers affected by the respiratory illness. Meanwhile, stock markets have tumbled this week, triggering fears of an economic recession.The service industry, which includes cafes, restaurants and hotels, has been particularly hard hit as tech companies and other large employers cancel conferences and mandate working remotely for most employees.   


  • Lauren Crabbe, CEO and owner, Andytown Coffee Roasters 
  • Jay Cheng, public policy director, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

Emotional Toll of Social Distancing for Seniors
This week, the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living released guidelines to protect the elderly from the coronavirus. Among the recommendations: restricting visitors, including family members, at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In Washington state, at least 22 people linked to a single nursing home have died from COVID-19. Measures like restricting visits or canceling activities at senior centers are intended to protect the elderly by limiting possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. But they may also increase the social isolation or depression and anxiety some seniors already struggle with. 



  • Patrick Arbore, founder and director, Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services, Institute on Aging