or most parents, giving birth is a stressful and anxiety-inducing undertaking. Navigating a complicated health care system and the unrealistic expectations of friends and relatives can be challenging. Then there are the mental gymnastics that accompany the act of actually bringing a new life into the world. But what happens when that world is in a state of crisis, when the health care system you rely on is preparing to be overwhelmed by a global pandemic and when loved ones can't be there to meet this new person? For this week's episode of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard talks with Crosscut reporter Melissa Santos about the first few months of her son's life, which coincided with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and societal upheaval. She shares the difficulties and concerns that these events have brought to an already life-changing event, as well as new hopes for the world awaiting her son.
Running a small businesses is already rife with difficulties. But since the coronavirus pandemic arrived and governments placed restrictions on gatherings and commerce to help stave off an influx of infections, survival has become impossible for some. Even as the state begins easing the restrictions, the path back to solvency for those that have survived is harrowing, and the threat of a second wave of infections looms. Host Sara Bernard speaks with Crosscut changing region reporter Manola Secaira about the difficulties small businesses have faced and the prospect of a future filled with a lot more corporate consolidation and a lot less character.
Over the last three months, Americans have made drastic changes to almost every aspect of their lives to limit the spread of the coronavirus. They have transformed the way they work, the way they relax, the way they eat, the way they worship. At the center of all of this change is death, the singular thing that those changes are intended to forestall. So, naturally, death has changed as well. On this week's episode of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard contemplates what happens in this moment when a loved one passes away, whether from the virus or another cause. She speaks with reporter Margo Vansynghel who tells the story of Jessica Henry, a woman whose life was upended by the virus and who is now a part of the death-care industry. Henry shares her experiences with the changing procedures and rituals that surround death during COVID-19 and how being face-to-face with death everyday is changing the way she thinks about life.
When President Donald Trump focused his ire on mail-in ballots late last month, Twitter did something unusual. It fact-checked him. His claims that moving away from in-person voting during the pandemic would lead to widespread fraud was unsubstantiated, the company said. His tweets, and that unprecedented tweetback, were just the latest in a spirited debate over the adoption of mail-in balloting brought on by the pandemic threat. But in the state of Washington, the debate is over. For almost a decade, voters in the Evergreen state have elected their leaders and weighed in on initiatives without ever setting a foot in a polling place, all while avoiding any whiff of widespread voter fraud. For this episode of This Changes Everything, Crosscut news and politics editor Donna Blankinship speaks with host Sara Bernard about the fight over mail-in ballots and the lessons that Washington state has been sharing with other states that are weighing their options as they prepare for election season.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a host of new problems, but it has also taken some longstanding problems and made them considerably worse. Homelessness was already considered an emergency in the Seattle region before the current crisis, but the threat of infection and the massive economic contraction have put those without shelter at greater risk while moving many low-income workers living paycheck to paycheck to the edge. Government has stepped in with assistance that has kept the unemployed afloat and, in some cases, provided homes to the homeless. What happens, though, when that assistance runs out? And how will we all think about our societal safety net once we have all known, or been, someone who has benefited from it? For this episode of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard speaks with Crosscut reporter David Kroman about this unprecedented response and how it has changed the political calculus when addressing the problems facing the most vulnerable among us.
hen the coronavirus came to Washington, almost every working artist saw their plans evaporate. Theater, dance and musical performances were canceled, while galleries and bookshops were temporarily shuttered to adhere with the social distancing measures put in place in states throughout the nation. But the artistic impulse, as well as the need for a steady income, did not subside. With the help of digital media, Seattle artists pivoted quickly to reframe their existing works as digital experiences, or to create wholly new works inspired by the pandemic. This Changes Everything host Sara Bernard speaks with Crosscut arts and culture editor Brangien Davis about the blow dealt to the arts industry and how the new methods of creating and sharing art could change the way artists and audiences interact after the virus has passed.
Community is at the core of almost every organized religion the world over. So what happens to the faithful and their leaders when gathering is potentially deadly and forbidden by government? As all things in this era of coronavirus, the answer is complicated. Many religious leaders are finding new ways to conduct the rituals of their faith, from the most intimate to the necessarily communal, while adhering to public health guidelines. Then there are others standing in opposition to government orders and encouraging their followers to gather in person. The challenges to the faithful posed by COVID-19 are not unique to the United States, but in a country that considers religious freedom a cornerstone they are certainly more pronounced. For this episode of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard talks with Crosscut Report Lilly Fowler about the efforts of Catholic priests to administer sacraments while staying safe, the resistance that is cropping up among some of the faithful and the impact that the virus could have on the future of religious life in America.
As the world grapples with the spread of the novel coronavirus, another event from history has been invoked again and again: the so-called Spanish flu of 1918-19. While that pandemic, which killed an estimated 50 million people, took hold at a very different time in world history — the First World War was winding down — the similarities are striking. From a public contending with draconian public health measures to charlatans peddling unproven cures, both the Spanish flu and the novel coronavirus are tests of society’s ability to respond to a force that doesn’t easily bend to human will. But what happened after the earlier pandemic ended? Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger looks past the initial epidemic and talks about how the flu changed the culture of the United States, and Seattle in particular, for years afterward and what that might mean for a future after COVID-19.
Misinformation is nothing new. In the past few years, the spread of convenient fictions and damaging distortions has become ubiquitous in American life, as trolls and propagandists seek to confuse and mislead the American people. What is new, in the era of coronavirus, is the deadly impact of that misinformation. From the beginning of the outbreak in the United States, public health recommendations were questioned at the highest levels while doubts spread about the intentions and efficacy of social distancing. Crosscut engagement editor Mohammed Kloub talks with TCE about the current hunger for information and the troubling trends he is seeing as everyone from Fox News hosts to the president of the United States to our own relatives promote and magnify misinformation about the virus.
In the weeks since the novel coronavirus claimed its first American victim in late February, COVID-19 has come to consume every facet of daily life in the United States, as it has in countries around the globe. As the number of cases rise, many Americans have been ordered to stay at home, bringing the economy to a near standstill. But in the days before that first death, Americans were largely unaware of the virus and for six weeks it quietly spread throughout Western Washington, the first epicenter of the American outbreak. As it did so, Crosscut reporter Hannah Weinberger was tracking the story of the first reported case, growing more anxious and, it turned out, getting sick. For this first episode of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard talks with Weinberger about those early days, what she learned about our health care system's preparedness and what it was like to grapple with a new kind of anxiety before it swept the nation.