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Your Friday Update: Home Depot, Publix Will Offer Coronavirus Testing; Disney, SeaWorld Get the Go-Ahead to Reopen This Summer; Universal Will Reopen Hotels June 2

Photo: Park Troopers

Stay up to date on coronavirus coverage: Listen to WMFE on your radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” or “WMFE” and you’ll be connected.

Certain Home Depot, Publix locations to offer COVID-19 testing

Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

Three Florida Home Depot and three Publix locations will soon open COVID-19 test sites in their parking lots.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says a Boca Raton Home Depot site will be the first to open. As for the rest, the state is working with the companies to pick the best locations.

DeSantis says he wants more people to get tested so he’s trying to make it more convenient.

“And so if you’re shopping and you want to get a test you have the ability—very easy access—you don’t even have to leave the parking lot to be able to do it. So we think that that’s important as Florida continues to recover that it’s as accessible and as easy as possible for people,” DeSantis said.

Each Publix and Home Depot test site will be able to do up to 100 tests per day. PPE will be supplied by the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Hurricane tax holiday now underway 

Camron Lunn, WUFT

Florida’s one-week Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is now underway.

It means from now until Thursday, you won’t pay sales tax on items including flashlights, batteries, tarps, coolers, gas cans and generators.

One of the biggest challenges of assembling your kit this season is the lack of disinfectants and sanitizers on the market due to COVID-19.

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President and CEO of Federal Alliance for Safe Homes or FLASH, explains why these items are important to include in your disaster preparedness kit.

“Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer because if say the water supply goes down, or the power goes down and you can’t use the drinking water safely you’re going to have to revert to a different method to clean your hands. So those surfaces, keeping those clean, having hand sanitizer either homemade or purchased are probably going to be one of the better new editions to your kit,” Chapman-Henderson said.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season begins on Monday.

Disney, SeaWorld get the go-ahead from state to reopen this summer

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has approved Disney and SeaWorld’s plans for reopening. 

Disney parks will open July 11 through July 15 and SeaWorld properties will open on June 10. 


Visitors and employees will be required to wear face masks and submit to temperature checks. 

The governor approved the reopening of twelve smaller attractions including Fun Spot and Gatorland on Thursday. 

Universal Orlando plans to reopen resort hotels on June 2

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Universal Orlando plans to reopen its hotels to guests, more than two months after they were closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The hotels will reopen in phases beginning June 2, with a range of best practices and hygiene procedures.

Universal’s resorts include Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort-Surfside Inn and Suites.

Guests staying in the resorts will be allowed entry into the parks on June 3 and 4, before they reopen to the public on June 5.

Florida TaxWatch eyes internet sales tax, gaming compact to fill revenue hole

Gina Gordan, WFSU

Florida’s general revenue collections for April missed expectations by almost $900 million dollars – thanks to the pandemic shutting down businesses and tourism. Now, a government watchdog group is pushing ideas to recoup that money.

The shortfall in revenue was expected, says Florida Taxwatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro.

“In some ways, it’s not as bad as it could be. I don’t think we’ve still seen the bottom in revenue collections, partly because this is a lot of March activity and so forth. So we see most all of the activities of April, with some at the beginning of May, (are) gonna be pretty damaging to the revenue collections,” Calabro said.

While the state budget has a cushion of about $4 billion dollars in reserves, Calabro says Florida could easily blow through much of that before the new fiscal year starts in July. So, Taxwatch has two suggestions to bolster the state’s finances.

The first is to start collecting the sales tax on purchases made online by Floridians. Calabro is adamant – don’t call it a new tax.

“It is absolutely not a new tax. It’s been lawfully owed for decades. But with the way commerce is being conducted today, the internet is really where more and more purchases are being made. So if we were to fully participate in the remote sales tax, that would bring in nearly a billion dollars a year in the first year. That’s according to a staff analysis for the Florida Senate. By the second, third year, we’re looking at two to  two-and-a half billion dollars a year from that tax source,” Calabro said.

The issue of E-Fairness as it’s known has repeatedly been rejected by the Florida Legislature. This year’s attempt cleared two Senate committees but wasn’t heard in the House.

The idea of taxing internet purchases has long been supported by retail and business groups who say Florida vendors are otherwise at a disadvantage. They have no choice but to charge sales tax in their stores, while the same purchase online to an out-of-state vendor may be tax free and therefore cheaper to the consumer.

“Right now, we are allowing people out of state, even out of the country – people from China – are selling into our markets and hurting our Florida businesses, our Florida employees,” Calabro says.

The second suggestion for boosting state revenue is to re-establish a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe and its six casinos in Florida. The compact was worth nearly $330 million dollars in 2018.

Last year, the tribe ended its longstanding revenue-sharing agreement with the state, partly over a dispute about pari-mutuel facilities being allowed to offer lucrative “designated player” card games.

Calabro says it’s time for a renegotiation.

“We’re talking somewhere between a minimum of $350 or $400 million dollars to as much as a billion dollars, depending on how extensively the legislation is written and what particular games are authorized,” Calabro says. “So right now, they’re already conducting those activities, we’re just not able to tap into them.”

Legislative leaders and even the governor told reporters a gambling deal with the tribe could happen during the legislative session that ended in March. But talks fizzled.

Lawmakers passed a $93.2 billion budget for the next fiscal year.

Despite April’s bleak revenue numbers, Senate President Bill Galvano doesn’t seem worried – yet. He’s eyeing $4.6 billion from the federal stimulus law known as the CARES Act, and he says since state revenues were higher than expected in the first three months of the year, that will also help buffer the current revenue losses.

Our Daily Breather: Ketch Secor is listening to music from around the globe

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that’s helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show

Where: Nashville, Tenn.

Recommendation: Widening your musical horizons


One thing about a global pandemic is that you know it’s happening to everyone. It’s a phenomenon that crosses every cultural divide around the globe, putting it at odds with other geopolitical forces, but striking a similar chord as another border jumping phenom: music.

As a Nashville musician, I have seen my business come to a screeching halt. Colleagues who just months ago were contemplating buying their first homes are instead applying for federal grants, unemployment, food stamps. Yet somehow I have faith that we’ll get through this dry spell and here’s one thing that reminds me to keep my chin up: world music. Knowing that musicians all around the earth are feeling the exact same pressures, disappointments and uncertainties, I turn to their music to feel at ease with my present out-of-work status.

Songs like “Je Mais Suis Tu Petit” by Georges Brassens puts a pep in my step as I walk my kids around the block for another endless homeschool “recess.” Sitting in the supermarket parking lot donning masks and gloves, cranking up tunes like “Yuve Yuve Yu” by Mongolia’s The HU or Songhoy Blues’ “Mali Nord,” I feel a psych mix-like charge as I gear up for the task of speed grocery shopping.

Reading powerful headlines, like last week’s New York Times’ entire front page listing of just 1% of America’s COVID-19 deaths, I mourn with songs like “Faikavu Love Song,” a soul-stirring male chorus of Tongan Islanders both somber and hopeful.

World music, primarily sung in languages I don’t comprehend, captures with sounds and tones that I have a hard time expressing in my own language, the inexpressible feeling of melancholy (and curiosity) the coronavirus brings out; “Ibu” by Indonesia’s Iwan Fals is one such song. Likewise, some music needs no words to express humanity’s shared hope and vision such as Master Vyas’ sparse, elemental “Jala-Tarang” or Naseer Shamma’s maginificent oud playing on “The Moon Fades.” Listening to aboriginal artists like Yothu Yindi and the Warumpi Band I feel that rage-to-art conversion that helps me recognize disparity in my own country. Other native groups like 1960’s Inuit rockers Sikimiut remind me that the world’s oppressed peoples can create some of the most uplifting songs.

Across Nashville, just like around the world, musicians like me wonder when we’ll get back to the business of merriment, of touring, of drawing a crowd. One thing is certain: We can’t count on anything returning to normal anytime soon. Still, unknowable forces can’t keep us from singing.

Through the hardest times music has always been there to soothe the troubled soul. And whether the business of music remains unchanged or not, we can rest assured knowing that singers from all around the globe are going to keep singing their hearts out no matter the disease or affliction. Like Kenya’s The Lulus Band shouts “This world is coming to an end, can you feel it? I can feel it! We can feel it! Oh yeah!”

Ketch Secor is a member of Old Crow Medicine Show. Each Saturday, he hosts The Hartland Hootenanny live on YouTube; the next episode, will air on Saturday, May 30 at 8 p.m.

 

Application fees waived, payments deferred for Florida’s Prepaid College Tuition Program

Tom Urban, WLRN

This Sunday, May 31st, is the annual enrollment deadline for parents who want to put their kids in Florida’s Prepaid College Tuition program. After that date, families will have to wait until next year to apply.

Prices are their lowest in five years, with plans starting at 44 dollars per month for a one-year university plan.

The traditional four-year university plan for a newborn now costs 177 dollars per month.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Prepaid spokesperson Shannon Colavecchio says application fees will be waived and no payments are due for new and existing plans until the end of July.

“We understand that this is a challenging time, but can you save for at least a small part of it? Every bit that you are saving, you are locking in tuition at that rate, so you don’t have to worry about it,” Colavecchio said.

“You are at least helping them avoid that much loan debt that they have to take out.”

There are several prepaid tuition options available to fit the budgets of most families, including two- and four-year plans to cover state colleges, or hybrid plans for two years at a state college and two more at a university.

Any child in Florida, from newborn through 11th grade, may be enrolled in the program.

After COVID-19, Fla. businesses prepare for hurricane season

Taylor Levesque, WUFT

Even though coronavirus is on the mind of many local businesses around the state, hurricane season is on the mind of Guanabana’s Restaurant in Jupiter, Florida.

Hurricane season starts Monday.

Vice President Jon Sullivan says the restaurant has already started preparing.

“We were able to bring in a crew to prep all of our trees. We do a lot of landscape prep for hurricane season,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan says Guanabana’s just recently reopened after being closed for seven weeks. He’s been impressed by the community’s support during this time.

“We’re seeing new customers that we haven’t seen before that are coming out supporting, tipping extra. I think the community has been absolutely wonderful,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan says small businesses are going through a tough time right now, and advises South Floridians to continue supporting local businesses wherever they can.

Florida universities prepare for hurricane season during pandemic

Anthony Montalto, WUFT

After getting the green light to open this fall, some state universities are planning for the possibility of keeping students and staff safe from two threats: hurricanes and COVID-19.

University of Central Florida Emergency Management Director Joseph Thalheimer says flexibility is important in planning.

“So hurricane season’s gonna look completely different this year than it had in previous years. We’re working on plans as it relates to how do we do social distancing and things in rideout locations and we hope to have them finalized in the next couple of weeks,” Thalheimer said.

Florida State University Emergency Management Director Curtis Sommerhoff says the university would have to keep an eye on the virus when it comes to students going home to ride out the storm. He says it could be a concern if students return to campus from a “hotspot” area.

“The university would have to again adjust to what are the current circumstances. Do we, do we have people kind of self quarantine for two weeks before returning? Return and then quarantine for two weeks? Or do we evaluate whether there’s some other screening or testing process,” Sommerhoff said.

UCF and Florida State join other universities in planning for hurricanes in a world of social distancing.

There have already been two named Atlantic storms this year. Hurricane season officially starts June 1.

Volunteers are returning to nonprofits

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Like many religious and nonprofit groups, Catholic Charities of Central Florida has responded to a rising need for food assistance as more and more people have lost their jobs.

That work depends on donations. It also depends on volunteers — those generous people in the community who give their time in service to others.

90.7’s Joe Byrnes spoke with Gary Tester, the local president of Catholic Charities, about the response of volunteers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

WMFE: So many of our volunteers being older, being senior citizens, and of course they’re hugely helpful, right? In the community, in the church. But they have been advised for health reasons to stay home. Has that had an effect on the ministries that Catholic Charities is involved with that involve a lot of volunteers?

TESTER: I would say that the initial impact was rather significant. We noticed, especially during the first three weeks or so of the safer-at-home order that our volunteer support was drastically cut and that wasn’t just for individuals who were senior citizens, but our volunteer support overall. And that in spite of the fact that demand, the demand on our food ministries increased by almost 450%.

And so we were forced to take staff members and put them into roles that normally volunteers would have played, and that lasted till about three, four weeks ago. We began to see a gradual return of volunteers, but then I would say in the last three weeks, we’ve seen almost an entire reversal. And we have a lot of folks coming out to volunteer now especially supporting the food ministries.

WMFE: Are you finding that the volunteers really get it, that they are taking measures as they’re supposed to?

TESTER: I do, I would, just a personal observation, I would say that I think the adherence, the desire to adhere to the masking and the wearing of gloves was much more significant a few weeks ago than it is now.

I do see people … it’s almost as if they need to be out, they need to be out interacting with other people, and so the masks are on. The masks may be hanging a little bit more loosely than they did before. And I think folks, for the most part, are still adhering to the protocols, but there’s just less tension.

WMFE: I know my volunteer experience working with a nun that she always greeted me every day with a hug. And I imagine that’s not possible now. Is that something lost in all of this?

TESTER: I think it is, Joe. I think, definitely, you see a different interaction. You might see a bumping of the elbows. You might see a virtual high-five. But I think people are still quite mindful of the safe social distancing protocols and are inventing other creative ways of being able to say hi without the traditional handshake or hug.

WMFE: So, Gary, someone listening to this, they say, I want to help. What can they do?

TESTER: Really, three things. One is look for volunteer opportunities with Catholic Charities in Central Florida or your favorite nonprofit agency, because there’s still a lot of volunteer opportunities out there.

Two, of course, is the traditional monetary donation, certainly helping us to buy food and things that we need in order to support the folks who are coming to us.

And three, and probably the most important and the easiest to do is pray, pray for the people who are in need, pray for the staff and volunteers who are serving, and pray that we’ll all weather this together in faith.

Florida Department Of Health bringing on more contact tracers

Alexander Gonzalez, WLRN

The Florida Department of Health is bringing on more contact tracers to keep track of COVID-19 cases.

Doctor Shamarial Roberson is the agency’s deputy director. She says the state is hiring an external vendor to supply 600 tracers in the next few weeks.

“Since we are a fully integrated public health system, we can move contact tracers across the state to target the areas of need. So we’ll watch the numbers and based on the cases we have, we’ll assess our needs and we’ll make changes accordingly,” Roberson said.

Dr. Roberson says so far the state has recruited more than 1,500 contact tracers.

Health officials say contact tracing is crucial to slow the spread — and in turn keep economies open.

Trump ally Stone won’t need to go to prison quarantine site

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone will start his prison sentence without needing to comply with a Bureau of Prisons directive that newly-sentenced inmates be sent to a quarantine site.

The agency said last week all newly sentenced inmates would be sent to three quarantine sites before a federal detention facility. But that won’t be the case for Stone.

Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Sue Allison tells The Associated Press that Stone will surrender to prison and will not be required to go to a quarantine facility.

The move is likely to ignite inquiries from lawmakers and prison advocates who have suggested the agency is loosening its rules for high-profile inmates.

Boston Marathon canceled, will be a virtual event because of coronavirus

Austin Horn, NPR

The 124th annual Boston Marathon has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Boston Athletic Association announced the move in a statement on Thursday, saying that the marathon will instead be held as a virtual event.

All participants who were set to run in the event initially slated for April 20 and later pushed back to Sept. 14 will be offered a full refund of their entry fee and have the opportunity to participate in the alternative.

This is the first time the in-person event has been canceled since the race’s inception in 1897, according to ESPN.

According to the statement, participants will be required to complete the full 26.2 miles in six continuous hours or less with proof of timing. The distance can be run any time between Sept. 7 and Sept. 14.

The Boston Athletic Association added that the virtual race will be supplemented with exclusive events such as panel discussions and interviews with past champions.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the decision “allows all of us to celebrate the meaning this race has.”

“This is a challenge, but meeting tough challenges is what the Boston Marathon is all about,” Walsh wrote in a tweet. “It’s a symbol of our city and Commonwealth’s resilience.”

University of Miami economist says it’s too soon to compare impacts of the Great Recession with those of the COVID-19 pandemic

Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

An assistant professor of economics at the University of Miami says it’s too soon to tell whether the current economic crisis will have as much negative impact as the Great Recession did.

Part of Rong Hai’s research focuses on inequalities in income, housing, opportunities and the labor market.

She explains people who graduated during the Great Recession have lower initial wages, longer unemployment spells, and more feelings of depression when compared to others graduating in better times.

“And this kind of effect actually would last for 10 to 15 years. So it’s a very long lasting impact, negative impact,” Hai said.

But she says it’s too soon to tell whether the same thing will happen to students graduating during the coronavirus pandemic. Hai explains that because the current pandemic is still happening there is too much uncertainty to draw any comparisons right now.

How I Built Resilience: Live with Kyle Connaughton and Daniel Humm

How I Built This, NPR

Kyle Connaughton’s restaurant has been impacted by wildfires, floods, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic. Kyle spoke with Guy about keeping SingleThread Farms afloat while giving back to his community with free meals.

When Eleven Madison Park closed its doors on March 21, nobody expected chef Daniel Humm to turn the Michelin 3-star restaurant into a commissary kitchen. Daniel spoke to Guy about serving 5,000 meals daily and what the future of fine dining could look like in a post-pandemic world.

These conversations are excerpts from our How I Built Resilience series, where Guy talks online with founders and entrepreneurs about how they’re navigating these turbulent times.

Aging and resilience webinar combats isolation, loneliness among nursing home residents during the pandemic

Amber Amortegui, WLRN

The South Florida Institute on Aging hosted a webinar Thursday morning called “Aging and Resilience: Where Do We Go From Here?”.

During the pandemic, many older residents are isolated in their homes or in nursing facilities. Some of them can’t go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or even see their families.

Shelley Benizri is the senior programs and development manager of the Israeli-American Council of Florida.

She stresses the importance of volunteers coming together for one of South Florida’s largest populations.

“It takes a village to take care of our elderly population, and we’re going to need to have a lot of partnerships between individuals and various social organizations to bring that together and create that village,” Benizri said.

David Jobin is the President and CEO of the Our Fund Foundation. It supports philanthropy for South Florida’s LGBT community.

He says people shouldn’t diminish an elderly person’s capabilities during the pandemic.

“We have an opportunity here in Broward County, and I think we are addressing it, to turn that stigma into a celebration. The fact that we have all these seniors there is safety and security in numbers,” Jobin said.

Other speakers discussed how the elderly population is adapting to technology and communication during the pandemic.

14 million people in Latin America, Caribbean at risk of hunger, U.N. report says

Austin Horn, NPR

The coronavirus pandemic has put nearly 14 million people in the Caribbean and Latin America at risk of missing meals, according to a report released Wednesday from the U.N.’s World Food Programme.

The virus has spread quickly in the region in recent weeks, with Latin America surpassing Europe and the United States in its daily numbers of new coronavirus cases reported.

The Americas have become the “epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Pan American Health Organization said earlier this week.

Health officials have even warned of a potential humanitarian crisis in Haiti due to a rising number of cases.

Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, now has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world.

The White House recently restricted travel from Brazil into the United States. The country’s health minister resigned from his post earlier this month amid disagreements with the president on how to handle the crisis.

Financial hardship is increasing throughout the region, including in Colombia. As John Otis reported for NPR, residents in a slum near Bogotá are hanging red cloth from their homes to signal to neighbors that they need food.

The WFP estimates that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity in the region will increase from 3.4 million to 13.7 million over the course of 2020.

This is likely to hit those who rely on daily earnings in the informal sector hardest. The report points out that in Bolivia, that group comprises about 60% of the population.

The region’s economy is expected to contract by 5.3% this year, according to a recent report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

A WFP survey of nine countries in the region showed that around 69% of people in the region have seen a drop in their income because of the pandemic. Roughly the same number said they are worried about not having enough food.

The impact in urban areas is expected to be particularly brutal. Seventeen percent of respondents in urban areas said they were having one meal per day or less.

In Haiti alone, the WFP says in its report that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity could more than double — rising from 700,000 to 1.6 million. And hurricane season is just around the corner.

One Tallahassee COVID-19 test site opens, another closes

Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

The Leon County Health Department will be testing residents at Kenwood Place Apartments from 9 am to 12 pm this Friday. The testing is only for residents. About 100 so far are scheduled for appointments.

In a written statement, the department says this is part of the first batch of mobile community test sites to reach underserved residents. It’s part of an effort to bring testing to vulnerable communities throughout the area.

More than 13,000 people in Leon County have been tested for COVID-19. About a third of them got tested at the drive-thru Northwood Centre test site, which is slated to close May 29th.

It’s been in operation for more than two months now.

Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare released a statement saying the decision was partly based on the availability of additional sites as well as greater access to more personal protective equipment.

Fried argues Cabinet ‘left in dark’ during pandemic

Tom Urban, WLRN

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried asserted Thursday the governor and state Cabinet members should have been jointly coordinating the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday’s cabinet meeting was the first in nearly four months.

Fried, who has increasingly locked horns with Gov. Ron DeSantis during the pandemic, appeared in the Cabinet meeting room for Thursday’s meeting, while the other three statewide officials participated remotely.

Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, has unsuccessfully asked DeSantis to schedule updates for the Cabinet from state agencies, as the virus has killed more than 2,300 Floridians, tax revenues have plummeted, the unemployment rate has soared and people have been frustrated in trying to get unemployment benefits.

“These agenda requests are made in good faith and were not acknowledged, let alone fulfilled. That’s a real shame for everyone who deserves the truth. Floridians expect our government to be united, especially during this time of unprecedented challenges to the state that we all love,” Fried said.

DeSantis didn’t reply to Fried during the teleconference meeting, but Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis jumped in to defend the governor, who has spearheaded the state’s coronavirus-related efforts.

“We will persevere, but we will be stronger and at the same time making sure that we’re looking out for the state’s finances and our taxpayer dollars,” Patronis said.

The teleconference Thursday, which dealt with a wide range of issues such as buying conservation land, was the first time DeSantis and the Cabinet have met since February 4th.

‘Food is social adhesive,’ so Questlove is hosting a virtual potluck

Elizabeth Blair, NPR

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is not letting the pandemic slow him down.

The Roots drummer, DJ, author and entrepreneur is still performing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, DJ’ing live on Instagram, and he and his Roots’ bandmate Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter recently signed a production deal with NBC.

As if that weren’t enough, Thursday he hosted Questlove’s Potluck, a virtual dinner party on the Food Network.

Even though Questlove is a cookbook author who, pre-pandemic, frequently hosted in-person potluck dinners and “Food Salons” with chefs, he says he wasn’t sure hosting a TV special was a good idea.

“I first thought ‘Questlove’s Potluck?’ Like, who wants to talk about a hoity-toity dinner party in these times, especially when you can’t do those things,” he says. But then he noticed that with everyone at home all the time, people have “ramped up” their “creativity” around food.

“There’s a bunch of my friends from work who have these creative challenges with food.” But he says, these days, they’ll tell him “‘Today I’m going to tackle this recipe,’ and that sort of thing.” Plus, Questlove wanted to raise money for a good cause, America’s Food Fund. “So it was almost kind of like a no-brainer.”

A no-brainer because Questlove’s friends include acclaimed artists and comedians like Tiffany Haddish, who made oil-less fried chicken which she calls “She Ready Chicken,” singer Patti LaBelle, who made branzino, actress Eva Longoria, who made arroz con pollo, and actress and comedian Maya Rudolph, who made a cocktail in which she shamelessly substituted Gatorade for grapefruit juice. Questlove says he told them to keep the budget for whatever they cooked to $25 or under.

That didn’t seem too difficult for comedian Roy Wood, Jr., who showed Questlove his pantry with a warning that there were “a lot of things in this pantry that don’t match, like almond milk and Oreos but they’re both vegan, so I need you to relax.”

Questlove believes “Food is social adhesive.” He says for years, as a touring musician, he rarely had family-style meals. Now, under quarantine with several other people, they have group meals together all the time, and it’s not just about the food.

“You have to bring an interesting topic to the table. You have to debate topics. And it’s not just like you eat your meal and you leave,” he says. “The rule that we have is that when we get up from this table, we have to learn something better about ourselves that we never learned before. So I love that.”

Questlove believes the pandemic is forcing people to think about who they are and what they stand for.

During his most recent Tuesday night live DJ session on Instagram, he talked about how this week’s high profile cases of racism and brutality against African-Americans left him feeling “raw.” He says he’s still processing how, as an artist and an activist, he should respond.

“We’ve seen tragedy after tragedy after tragedy, a tragedy and often times, we just see the same. The same formula of …’Oh this will soon be forgotten’, like all those times we heard of school shootings. Three days later, we’re just back to normal,” he says. “I feel like [the pandemic] … This is divine intervention, Mother Nature’s way, or whoever, whatever divine force is watching us right now as a wake-up call for all of us to really look inside of us and be about that change. … And so that’s what I’m doing right now.”

Juntos a la distancia

Radio Ambulante, NPR

En un abrir y cerrar de ojos, el mundo cambió.

Gabriela Wiener vive con su familia en Madrid, una ciudad golpeada fuertemente por el Covid-19. Nada ha sido lo mismo desde que el virus llegó a la capital española, pero ella nunca se imaginó que tendría que experimentar sus consecuencias de primera mano.


Gabriela Wiener lives with her family in Madrid, a city battered by COVID-19. Nothing has been the same since the virus arrived in the Spanish capital, but she never imagined she’d experience its consequences first-hand.

Like what you just read? Check out our other coronavirus coverage. 


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