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2020 Coronavirus Crisis

On Plugged In…
Cracks appearing…
In the global economy…
as the coronavirus pandemic …
terrorizes the world.

Millions of people …
staying home ...
to practice safe social distancing ...
and billions of dollars lost …
as stores close …
and services are suspended…

How will nations meet..
The overwhelming challenges…
of keeping populations healthy …
while limiting this economic tsunami?

We’ll hear from …
a health expert
and an economist...
on this episode of Plugged In:
The 2020 Coronavirus Crisis.


Hello and welcome to Plugged In, I’m Greta Van Susteren.

I am speaking to you from my house - just part of the adjustments all of us around the world and here at Plugged In are making as we respond to this unprecedented event.

As you are no doubt aware, coronavirus infections are still rising and the disruptions are worldwide and they’re enormous.

Among the latest and largest events to be affected - the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

(Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister)

“I propose to postpone for about a year and IOC President Bach responded with 100% agreement. We also agreed that we will hold the Olympics, and the Paralympics in the summer of 2021at the latest.”

About 10-thousand athletes and 600-thousand spectators were expected to visit Japan for the games. Japan has already invested more than 12-billion dollars on the 2020 Olympics.
The Japan Times reports estimates show the country’s economy could shrink 1.5% this year without the Olympics.
Leaders of every country are now facing decisions about what to do to protect the health and the wealth of their people. And there is one sector of the economy that’s doubly worried: agriculture.
And on the eve of planting season VOA’s Kane Farabaugh took the temperature of American farmers about coronavirus.

(Food Supply & Demand - Kane Farabaugh reports)

As the COVID 19 virus spreads, social distancing isn’t a problem for Illinois farmer Scott Halpin.

((Scott Halpin, Farmer))

“Fortunately, we’re just a family farm, and it’s just a few of us so we don’t have a great deal of exposure. But we still have to get up and feed these animals, and they really don’t care if we’ve got COVID-19 or not.”


The COVID-19 crisis exploded while Halpin was on a farm trade mission to Kenya and Israel. Now, he is waiting the crisis out on his farm in rural Illinois.

((Scott Halpin, Farmer))

“I’m not worried at all. This pandemic that’s going on, we have to be careful, we need to be cautious, we need to try to limit our exposure, but especially in the farming we have to continue. Our livestock needs [[to be]] fed and our products need [[to be]] moved. We are just a few weeks away from planting right now.”


Uncertain demand weighs on Halpin. In the wake of a “Phase One” trade agreement in which China agreed to import more U.S. crops, Halpin was hoping to see increased profits by sending his soybeans overseas. That was before China battled the coronavirus.

((Scott Halpin, Farmer, Gardner, Illinois))

“At a time when we were hoping to ramp up our sales and we were supposed to get some increased sales to China, things are at a screeching halt.”

((Scott Gaffner, Farmer, Greenville, Illinois))

“I hope this coronavirus isn’t just a way to make an excuse not to do this [[adhere to trade agreement]].”


The impact of the spreading COVID 19 virus was a key concern among farmers attending a March 10th “Soybean Summit” in Springfield, Illinois, one of the last such gatherings before COVID-19 forced restrictions on large groups.

With China emerging from the worst of the outbreak, farmer Scott Gaffner believes their demand for U.S. crops should increase.

((Scott Gaffner, Farmer, Greenville, Illinois))

“We know that the African Swine Fever has also impacted the amount of soybeans they need. But sure, if they are buying it from other sources they need to redirect that to us.”


The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports there were no U.S. shipments of soybeans at all to China in the second week of March.

((Joe Camp, Manager, Agrivisor))

“The Chinese are getting their bean needs from producers in Brazil and Argentina, at least for now.”


Agricultural risk management consultant Joe Camp with says the lack of foreign purchases is impacting U.S. crop prices.

((Joe Camp, Manager, Agrivisor))

“Prices are down sharply over the previous two months and since the signing of the trade deal.”


Camp says COVID-19 is rapidly changing the economic landscape for farmers.

((Joe Camp, Manager, Agrivisor))

“There’s fear of recession, there’s fear of some extra negativities gripping in the grain markets besides what we are normally talking just the factors of supply and demand.”


Back on his farm in Gardner, Halpin’s greatest concern isn’t getting COVID 19, but that, when China is ready to increase U.S. imports, the international supply chain won’t be able to deliver his crop.

((Scott Halpin, Farmer))

“I think I heard the numbers, 45 days to get a vessel over to China and if they can’t unload it, there’s really no sense in starting to send it over there. Those products and those containers are getting reloaded and coming back to the U.S. so the whole route is breaking the chain.”


All of this weighs on many farmers before most have placed a single seed in the ground, at which point the fate of their crops is at the mercy of another concern – the weather.

Kane Farabaugh, VOA News, Gardner, Illinois.

COVID-19: Fast Facts

80% of cases are mild. Young and healthy people are at low risk. The elderly and people with serious health conditions are at risk of fatality. If you have a cough, fever and shortness of breath, contact a doctor and stay away from other people. For more information visit the World Health Organization’s website: or the Centers for Disease Control’s website at


The economic disruption caused by coronavirus is still gaining momentum as millions of healthy people, many of them, unable to work isolate themselves from their communities. Many are struggling.

Some economists say the damage is likely to be extensive, leading to a global recession. Some economists say that recession has already begun.

Plugged In’s Mil Arcega spoke with economist Kathy Bostjancic about the impact of the virus on the world’s largest economies and the ripple effects on developing countries.

(Mil Arcega - Kathy Bostjancic Interview)

MA: What is behind this, the overriding fear? What is the motivation, driving all this market volatility right now Kathy?

KB: Yeah, so it's been incredibly volatile, very disruptive trading. It is down sharply since the peak before the, the coronavirus outbreak in the US, but it transcends that it goes to the corporate bond market which has really become paralyzed I would say largely by the uncertainty of this health crisis and the uncertainty of what impact is going to have on the economy. And then those individual companies, i mean we are seeing, it's just unprecedented. We're seeing lockdowns that I know other parts of the world, have already experienced, there's concerns about corporate revenues concerned about, can they make interest payments, pay their debt? Will some of these go bankrupt? Thousands and millions of people are going to be affected by layoffs or at least temporary furloughs. So this is quite a massive, massive shock to the economy.

MA: Is a global recession, essentially a foregone conclusion at this stage?

KB: Yeah, it's a foregone conclusion. I fact we're pretty sure we're already in it. You know, it started. And as you said the US and China shutting down large portions of their economy, there's only so much you can take, but that's significant and also Europe now really also really struggling with the health issues and also the lockdowns or the shutdown of activity in Europe as well. So, and this is going to start to permeate to more of the emerging market economies Latin America, South America, which may even be less prepared for this type of pandemic unfortunately.

MA: So because they're so less prepared for this kind of pandemic, because they're unprepared for these, these border lock downs, the trade is going to grind to a halt. What kind of ripple effects could some of these emerging markets experience?

KB: Well, I think, yes they they're certainly feeling the negative impact from the US economy, basically coming to a stop. China, Europe, although China's is getting back on its feet, because it was the first to be affected and of course you know the shutdown - I think the lockdown and containment in China was quite effective compared to what we're seeing, at least it appears to be in the US and Europe. So the emerging markets have to deal with the ripple effect from just the rest of the world slowing, but they themselves are going to be hit by this virus and how does that affect their consumer spending, and their, even domestic economy, domestic activity? And you add to that their currencies are depreciating very sharply

(US Economic Stimulus)

MA: Is this going to help the middle class, though? We know the corporate interests are very strong with this with this administration. Obviously they're going to receive some help. What about the middle class? Are they going to get enough of what they need? I mean many people are not able to work, especially those in the service industry, what happens to them?

KB: It's difficult. So there is a pretty sizable amount in this package is going to go to individuals and workers and even in, not just the third round but that second round the interim round, where they’re giving paid leave to workers, they're going to boost and supplement unemployment insurance. It will help. Will it be enough? Very different story, because people could be out of work for you know for anywhere from weeks to months. And that, let's say you get a check of $3000, you know per household, something like that, or maybe it's less - $1200. That's not going to really tide you over for that long.

MA: You must go through various scenarios, as an economist. Did you ever foresee something of this scale, this kind of a pandemic, shutting down the entire globe as it has?

KB: You know, you can't model ahead of time exactly what's going to unfold, but that that is something we've looked at, and then it certainly gives you a lot of downside risk. In fact, even now, there could be further downside risk to what some people see as the baseline. It really is going to depend on the number of cases, and how the state, local, and federal government decides to deal with this health crisis. That's really going to matter very greatly in how things play out.

(Economic Forecast)

MA: I'm interested in your prognosis. How long is this thing gonna last?

KB: So our base case is, this is very deep and substantial in terms of pullback, particularly the second quarter. We're looking at probably declines to annualized growth rate of double digits, far outstripping what we saw in 2009-2008 in the financial crisis. We do look for a moderate rebound in the third quarter - more so in the fourth quarter of this year. Now that's based on the assumption that you know the outbreak is contained,

MA: Have we learned anything from this experience, from what we've seen so far?

KB: I think there'll be many lessons to be learned. But right now I think we're in, you know, kind of survival mode, and still have to deal with I think you know,what we're hearing is really the next 45 days right? That’s where the virus will peak, at least in the US. So I think the next, you know 45 days are going to be very critical for all of us in terms of health, and also the impact on the economy. And we will get through this. And our forecast, I should say is, while there's tremendous uncertainty and downside risk - our forecast is eventually we should get past this virus. And when that happens, economic activity will rebound, perhaps, in a bit of a different form, maybe. But we will get past this and you will see a resumption of activity.

COVID-19: Fast Facts:

Wash your hands with soap and water – before you eat, after using the toilet, after touching anything many other people touch – like a seat on a public bus. Scrub thoroughly for 20 seconds. If you cannot wash your hands use a hand sanitizer. Taking these steps can prevent not only coronavirus, but also cold and flu and other viruses.


Working from home may work for some people. But many any cannot because their businesses depend on social interaction: barbershops, restaurants, shopping malls.

VOA’s reporter Henry Ridgwell is in London where everyone has been ordered to stay home.

(Global EconomicToll – Henry Ridgwell reports)

Strict rules on limiting movement have come into effect in Britain, which means that journalists must also limit their travel. So today, I'm sticking close to home. And I'm looking at the huge impact that many aspects of the government restrictions will have on the British economy. From London's 650 billion dollar annual economic output, to the small businesses up and down the country that collectively employ millions of people. And there are growing fears of mass redundancies as the economic impact bites.

For five centuries, the Bull Pub in Ditchling, Southern Britain has offered a place to eat, drink and be merry. It has survived wars and revolutions. Now, in 2020, the coronavirus has closed its doors. Manager Molly Raftery doesn't know when it will reopen.

(Molly Raftery, Manager The Bull Pub, Ditchling)

“People's trade, it fell off the edge of a cliff overnight. And for a place like us and many others that are consistently busy, it was terrifying. That was the biggest worry. We've got over 35 staff on the payroll here. That's a huge lot of people to worry about. So we worked hand in place where we could still operate very quickly within sort of a 48 hour timeframe. We managed to turn around the take away menu.”

(Molly Raftery, Manager The Bull Pub, Ditchling)

Many British businesses have already laid off staff. Raftery is determined to keep hers on.

(Molly Raftery, Manager The Bull Pub, Ditchling)

“Our concern would have to be what happens afterwards as well. So, initially, laying off your staff or where does that leave you, when this is all over in two or three months time? You know, we couldn't operate back to normal capacity overnight if you lay your team off.


Britain severely tightened restrictions Monday, ordering the closure of all non essential shops and services.

(Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister)

“No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage that this disruption is doing, and will do to people's lives, to their businesses, and to their jobs.”


Britain has pledged almost $400 billion in loans to help businesses. 80% of employees wages will be paid by the state, up to $3,000 per month. Such unprecedented moves are being replicated across Europe.

(Michael Hewson, CMC Markets Chief Analyst)

“We're likely to see a significant economic shock from the demand side as consumers retrench. That is rippling out now not only in airlines, but also in retailers, hotels, and pretty much across the entire services sector.”


At Britain's Heathrow Airport, the planes, sit idle. Globally, the COVID-19 economic damage will be brutal.

In China, retail sales fell by 20.5% during January and February, compared to the same time last year, while industrial output was down 13.5%. In Europe, the full economic impact will not be known for some time. Retail sales will be hit hard as people stay home. In Italy, daily foot traffic is down by more than 70%. Forecasts for Britain vary with accountancy firm KPMG predicting the economy will shrink by 2.6% this year, while Capital Economics warns of a possible 20% contraction over the next three years. Central banks across the world have made emergency rate cuts and launched quantitative easing - essentially printing money to pump into the economy. It may not work.

(Michael Hewson, CMC Markets Chief Analyst)

“If there is no demand for lending because people are staying at home, not spending money, worried about losing their jobs, worried about paying the mortgage, worried about electricity bills, because there's a good chance that they could find they could be made redundant - they're not going to go out and spend money.”


Back in Ditchling, pub manager, Molly Raftery says she's received heartwarming local support.

(Molly Raftery, Manager The Bull Pub, Ditchling)

“Knowing that day in, day out, we're here, and we're providing a service - to suddenly have that taken away is a huge shock for a lot of people. We are confident that we can put in place the measures to be ready and fighting fit the minute this ban is lifted.”


For other businesses, the reality of the lockdown will likely mean bankruptcy. In the hills above Ditchling, the South Downs National Park, many local residents have sought escape from the crisis.

When the post Corona virus age dawns, it will likely reveal a very different economic landscape. Henry Ridgwell, for VOA News, Ditchling in southern Britain.


While we may still be weeks or even months away from developing an effective cure - researchers and health experts are learning more each day about this vicious virus. From how it spreads - to which existing drugs might be effective in treating new cases.

I spoke via Skype with Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo. She is an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health about what we can expect in the coming weeks and months.

(Greta Van Susteren – Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo Interview)

GVS: Can you give me your prognosis, where is this pandemic going?

JN: Hopefully the actions that governments are implementing will help slow the spread down. I think the goal here is really to try to reduce the numbers on any one day such that we don't you know crash our health systems, just from the increased demand that we're likely to see. That's really what the short term goal is at this point, is trying to implement these social distancing measures so that we can spread out over time the number of people who become sick. But that's really a short term goal because ultimately we need a way out of this. We obviously can't live, you know, in our houses for forever, and there are deep worries that once we let up these measures, case numbers will increase. So we really need to think of a strategy for the next phase. And there are a number of people who've been thinking about this. I think we can look to other countries - certainly Singapore and South Korea, that have been able to reduce their case numbers. You know one of the things that they've shown us is that what's probably next will require much more on the way of diagnosing patients and making sure that people can stay home isolated and then tracing their contacts.

You know, the country of China you know they took very, very strong aggressive actions to really increase social distancing. People were largely confined to their homes. And, you know, it stands to reason if sick people never leave their homes, they're not likely to infect others. But what we do know is that the impacts that those measures have are likely temporary. And so as places like China begin to get back to work and try to return to a state of normalcy which we ultimately need - the world is really, depending on the kind of products that China produces - the personal protective equipment that is in such short supply now, we very much need them to get back to work. But, you know, all eyes will be on them to see how they're able to contain the increase in cases that may occur as they do that.

GVS: Are you hopeful that the American people are taking social distancing seriously? I mean, do you have a sense when you wake up in the morning that - okay you know we're going to get there, we're going to get through this?

JM: I think for the most part people are taking it very seriously. Whether it's enough I think remains to be seen. But you know clearly as we continue to shut things down and as the case numbers mount I think concern about this is increasing. These measures are by themselves not a full strategy, it's something that we're doing right now, to try to hit pause a little bit to try to slow things down so that we can better get a handle on what should be done next.

The vaccine we've heard timetables of, you know, might be a year, it might be 18 months. That's assuming the science works in our favor. We may get to the point where we've discovered a vaccine that works, but then we still have to make it and produce it and that's going to require a commercial endeavor that we may not fully have in place now. So I would anticipate it actually be longer than that before we, longer than 18 months, before we have significant quantities of vaccine.

GVS: Why is Italy getting hit so hard? It certainly mayb, is it to come in other neighboring European countries? But what we see coming out of Italy looks like you know, it looks like it got – it is getting hit harder than any other European nation.

JN: It seems like it’s probably a mixture of a few things. One - they probably started responding a bit late, though they've taken very, very aggressive actions right now to slow the spread - it happened a bit late. Initially there was poor compliance with government recommendations for people to stay home. Additionally, they may have just a more vulnerable population that's more vulnerable to severe disease. It's one of the older countries in the world and the vast majority of the patients who have died have been elderly.

GVS: Do you anticipate that this coronavirus could go, it could be seasonal, and that we’ll see some relief, not complete relief, as the months drag on and come back with a vengeance in the Fall?

JN: It's possible again we don't really know. Other coronaviruses do show a seasonal tendency. And so there's some hope that maybe this will. But we have really no data at this point to know for sure. And we also, in terms of trying to understand whether it will be seasonal, there's a few factors that can go into seasonality. One is sometimes humidity helps reduce the spread of viruses. Also sometimes warmer weather changes our behaviors - you know, we're less likely to be indoors coughing on each other in the Summer.

GVS: Was China responsible in notifying the world, to do so in a timely fashion sense of when they were aware of it? Or do you fault China for not responding faster and notifying the world?

JN: I mean I think now we've learned that there were probably some warnings that were not heeded and possibly, you know not given full light. You know, which obviously is worrisome if somebody you know, was sounding an alarm and it was squashed then that's not great. That said, you know there was also a lot of uncertainty I mean we didn't initially know for sure whether this virus was capable of human to human transmission and so there's always a fog in responding to these things and I personally don't really see the value of trying to, you know, place blame. I mean we just we're in the situation now and we have to look forward. and I don't think we're going to be able to move forward without good relationships with China. In particular because we're so deeply dependent on the things that China produces. Like I said earlier, they are a major producer of the essential medical supplies that we need and it's very much in our interest to understand and be able to work with them to conduct the clinical trials for these medicines to understand their data so that we can figure out better how this virus may or may not impact our society. So there’s just a number of reasons why I think it's probably not in our best interest to try to place blame at this point and just to focus on kind of productive collaborative with relationships going forward.

COVID-19: Fast Facts

There is no current evidence that cats and dogs can be infected. Hand washing after contact with all animals is recommended. This protects against other bacteria, such as E-Coli, salmonella but can pass between animals and humans.


Among the hardest hit industries are the hospitality and service trades. Some hotels and restaurants have already shut down or laid-off workers as the public practices social distancing.

But a world-renowned chef is finding creative new ways to take care of customers and restaurant workers - while also helping..

families in need. VOA’s Julie Taboh has more.

(Community Kitchens, JulieTaboh reports)

((Jose Andres, Chef & Himanitarian))

“This sounds like a science fiction movie, but September 11 sounded like a science fiction movie, and it happened.”


Renowned chef Jose Andres is preparing his restaurants for a major crisis.

((Jose Andres, Chef & Humanitarian))

“Right now everything looks normal, right? But we need to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.”


The chef is temporarily closing most of his restaurants in the Washington DC area and New York to help contain the spread of COVID-19. And he’s repurposing the restaurants as community kitchens to ensure that people still have access to food by offering low-priced and even free meals to those in need.

((Jose Andres, Chef & Humanitarian))

“If we are able with these four restaurants I'm opening in downtown, show the restaurant, private industry can be part of the emergency relief, I think, in a very simple way we can keep our cities fed. The people that have money can afford to pay and the workers can afford to be getting a little salary.”


The chef will be providing bagged meals outside of his restaurant, which have been equipped with hand sanitizers, and marked in ways to optimize social distancing.

He says his concept can be used as a model of how restaurants can help the public if cities become major hot zones.

((Jose Andres, Chef & Humanitarian))

“It's better obviously to have little restaurants where people will be able to have access to a plate of food. Elderly that maybe cannot cook at home, elderly that are afraid to go to the supermarket or nobody's taking care of them, and that they need somebody to bring food to them. If we do this all across, we can be feeding one city at a time.”


This Spanish-American chef is also the founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. His teams work in hot zones all over the world bringing food and relief to people in need.

Other restaurant owners are also trying to adapt to guidelines while taking care of their customers and workers.

Gordon Banks is co-owner of several restaurants area restaurants.

((Gordon Banks, Restaurateur))

“Sunday -- you can ask any of my staff and managers -- was a very tearful day for me as I tried to make the decision between cutting jobs and doing what we thought was the right thing for slowing down the pandemic, which was closing all the restaurants.

And now we are offering takeout and delivery, trying to get 15 people back to work as soon as possible. We are a profit sharing everything, so neither me nor my partner Jackie are taking any money from this, all of it --100% -- goes to employees.”


Banks and his team have adapted - which seems to be the key during these unusual circumstances.

((Jose Andres, Chef & Humanitarian))

“If we don't adapt to the circumstances that we don't foresee, nothing will happen. World Central Kitchen has proven every time that we can adapt to every circumstance, from fires to volcanoes, to political situations, to earthquakes, to typhoons, to tsunamis, That's what we all have to do – adapting. And I hope we will be able to deliver.”

Julie Taboh, VOANews, Washington.


That is all the time we have for this edition of Plugged In.

We will continue to follow the crisis. But for the latest updates, please visit our website: at

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Greta.

Thanks for being Plugged In. We hope to see you again, next week!