Answering Your Coronavirus Questions: Economy, Health Care Workers And Mental Health On this broadcast of The National Conversation, a philosopher tackles your questions about the pandemic's effect on ethical frameworks. We also answer questions about the economy and mental health.

Answering Your Coronavirus Questions: Economy, Health Care Workers And Mental Health

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad.


President Trump plans to temporarily close the U.S. to immigration because of COVID-19. For Tuesday, April 21, it's THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.


SHAPIRO: I'm Ari Shapiro. Coming up, we'll answer your questions about stimulus checks...

MELANIE: What's the best, most economically efficient use for the stimulus money if we don't need it for ourselves?

SHAPIRO: ...And about how to be a good neighbor and consumer right now.

LORRAINE: Many of us are home with extra time on our hands, and we want to order things that might be able to keep us busy. Are we putting employees at risk, or is it helping to keep some businesses going as well?

SHAPIRO: We're answering your questions about COVID-19. You can ask them at Or on Twitter, use the hashtag #nprconversation.


SHAPIRO: This is THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro. And each night, we're here to answer your questions.

NICOLE SCIARRILLO: Hi, my name is Nicole Sciarrillo. I'm a therapist in Los Angeles.

NATE PAYNE POTTER: My name is Nate Payne Potter (ph).

WALTER SALZMAN: My name is Walter Salzman (ph). I have a question about writing a will in this time of possibly needing one more than ever.

SARAH: I wonder how others are dealing with vices, both their own and others.

LORRAINE: What is essential? What is nonessential? How do you define that?

POTTER: How do we support small businesses and social distance at the same time?

SCIARRILLO: I know our front-line workers need help. How do I reach out to help them?

LORRAINE: I look forward to an answer (laughter). Thank you so much.

SHAPIRO: Tonight, we have NPR journalists and outside experts on hand to offer solid facts, tell you what we know and correct some of the misinformation that's floating around. And when we don't know something, we'll tell you that, too. Send us your questions about the pandemic and the way we live now at On Twitter, use the hashtag #nprconversation. Each night, we begin by answering the question, what happened today? Well, today, President Trump announced he will suspend some immigration into the U.S. for 60 days.


TRUMP: It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad.

SHAPIRO: In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp faced criticism after he said many businesses would be able to reopen as soon as Friday. Clare Schexnyder owns a fitness club in Atlanta.

CLARE SCHEXNYDER: It's absolutely insane to open the kinds of businesses that he's talking about opening - fitness centers, bowling alleys, nail salons.

SHAPIRO: Attorney General William Barr said stay-at-home orders are causing burdens on civil liberties and said the Justice Department is open to suing states.


WILLIAM BARR: The idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest. I'm not saying it wasn't justified. I'm not saying in some places it might be still justified. But it's very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood.

SHAPIRO: The Scripps National Spelling Bee said today it won't crown a kid winner this year. And in Spain, the running of the bulls is canceled, too. In Washington, the Senate passed a $484 billion relief bill. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill will include money for hospitals and testing.


CHUCK SCHUMER: Testing is key. We're not going to be able to open up America unless we have a national testing strategy and the states tied into that. We got that in the bill.

SHAPIRO: Joining us now is Greg Ip. He is chief economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal here to answer your questions. Welcome.

GREG IP: Thanks for having me, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Let's start with what's in that package of nearly half a trillion in emergency funding. This is going to boost federal aid for small businesses, hospitals and testing. When are we expecting this to actually become law and the president to sign it?

IP: Well, the Senate has already passed it, and it's expected to be voted on by the House on Thursday. And given the urgency behind it, I would expect the president to sign it the same day.

SHAPIRO: OK. So it's going to add $322 billion into the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. That program ran out of money at the end of last week after it had been around for less than two weeks. Do you think this new package is going to provide enough assistance, or is it going to run out just as fast?

IP: I think it's probably going to be enough. Some economists at the University of Chicago actually calculated how much you would need to cover every small business under the conditions laid out in the program. That came out to just under $700 billion. Now, as it turns out, when you combine the first piece of this program and the amount that they just passed today or that they're going to pass on Thursday, that comes to almost $700 billion. So assuming the program is being administered correctly, this should get to the vast majority of small businesses who have a need for it.

SHAPIRO: Oh, that's good news. Well, let's get to some listener questions. First, we have Melanie (ph) in Pittsburgh.

MELANIE: I was wondering, what's the best, most economically efficient use for the stimulus money if we don't need it for ourselves - if it would be best to donate it or spend it on a local business? How would we best stimulate the economy?

SHAPIRO: Interesting - somebody getting a check who doesn't need to keep it to pay their own bills. How would you recommend they spend it if they want to do the most for the economy?

IP: You know, I think it's absolutely terrific and amazing that somebody like Melanie is saying, hey, how can I help somebody else with this money? I don't really need it. You know, I don't have good advice on how you want to - how you would best deploy that money as an individual. What I can say is that the concept behind this program is that everybody should receive some extra money that they need in case they themselves have been sort of, like, suffering because of the lockdowns and the pandemic or if the economy needs an extra boost when the time comes. So I would say spend it as you wish when the time comes if that restaurant down the street reopens in the next few weeks or if you get to go shopping.

But I think that this is an opportunity to talk very briefly on what Congress has been trying to do with the three or four stimulus programs they've passed now. There's a lot of money in there for just cash to people like Melanie. There's money in there for unemployment insurance benefits for people who've lost their jobs. And there's money for businesses to stay afloat, either loans or grants. And the reason that they've divided the money up these three ways is that we're dealing with a kind of an economic shock we've never really seen before where the government is basically forcing people to stay home, not spend and not work and waiting for the pandemic to pass. And we don't really know exactly what the best way to help an economy in that situation is. So, essentially, we're giving money in these three different buckets hoping that will help employers keep employees, help people who are unfortunate enough to lose their jobs and then give consumers money to spend once those businesses can reopen.

SHAPIRO: Well, if Melanie doesn't have a place to spend it this minute, I know a lot of small local restaurants and other businesses are doing gift certificates that people can redeem once business has returned to normal. So that might be a good way to invest in some local businesses upfront. Well, our next question comes from Kristen (ph) who is in California, and her question is about her daughter who recently graduated from college.

KRISTEN: My daughter recently was hired, and she's working in retail. And then she was laid off because of the coronavirus. Because I claimed her as a dependent because last year's taxes I helped her with tuition, this would be the last year that I would claim her. She's not going to get a check, and she's the one who really needs it. Luckily, I'm still working, so I'll send her my check, but I just feel like there are probably other parents in this position that maybe we'd like to be helped.

SHAPIRO: Interesting. It seems like a kind of disconnect between some people getting money who don't need it as much and others who might need it more not getting it.

IP: Yeah, that's unfortunate. It's impossible to design this big a program and target it specifically to every individual's needs. Now, I'm not a tax adviser, so let me just put that out there right now.


IP: But from the situation that Kristen described, it sounds like her daughter will not be a dependent this year. And if that's the case, then next year when she files her taxes, she should be able to claim the $1,200 then. But more generally, it is definitely the case that there are millions of people out there who won't get a check because they themselves are not independent, they're not the adult, they're a dependent on somebody else's household. For example, you're a retired senior and you're living with your children or you're a disabled person or you're a college-age child. And that's just the nature of the way the program was designed. They copied the formula that was used in 2008 for tax stimulus payments then, and they essentially copied - you know, cut and paste right over there the definition of what a - who would receive the checks. And that included children - adults $1,200 each and $500 for each child under 17.

SHAPIRO: OK. Well, if you have a question for Greg Ip of The Wall Street Journal, send it to us at Or you can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #nprconversation. We have another question here about being a dependent. This one comes from Emily (ph) in Casper, Wyo.

EMILY: Some people between the ages of 17 to 24 do not get a stimulus check because they are claimed as dependents by their parents to get a tax break. I am one of those people, but I financially support myself outside of living with my parent. Because I am claimed, I do not get a check despite not being able to work. What are your opinions on this, or are there any conflicts or discussions we can have about this aspect regarding the stimulus check?

SHAPIRO: Sounds like a little frustration there from Emily. Greg, what would you advise her?

IP: Right. So this is sort of similar to the situation we were describing with respect to Kristen and her daughter. So my colleague Rich Rubin has reported that there's around 20 million Americans who won't get a check for one reason or another. And often, it's because of situations like Emily has described. You're one of those non-child dependents who doesn't qualify. And the philosophy behind that as was explained when the original stimulus passed was if you're a dependent and by definition somebody else is bearing the bulk of your - of the financial responsibility for you - not all of the responsibility as is clearly the case with Emily but certainly some. And so the law was designed to make sure that those who carry the bulk of that financial responsibility get the check. Now, that said, there are some folks out there who believe that this is probably inequity that needs to be addressed. And you may hear talk in coming weeks or months as Congress discusses whether more stimulus is needed if there should be, you know, provisions made to address that group of people.

SHAPIRO: But that would be for the next package, not this one.

IP: Correct. There was nothing for those people in the package that's being debated this week.

SHAPIRO: All right. Our next question has to do with the connection between reopening state economies and testing. This comes from Kevin (ph) in Columbus, Ohio.

KEVIN: Plans for reopening the economy seem to list a declining number of new cases as a requirement for starting to open back up. I worry that this gives an incentive to minimizing testing. How should plans for reopening the economy be designed so that they don't give an incentive to minimizing testing? Thanks.

SHAPIRO: Interesting Greg, we've got just about a minute left. What do you think?

IP: Well, I don't think there's any governor out there who's deliberately trying to minimize testing in order to give them a reason to reopen the economy sooner. I think that mostly they think that they don't have a lot of cases yet and therefore that makes it safer to reopen. And I think as the testing continues, they may change their mind about that. Perhaps the best way to deal with this misincentive problem, though, is for the federal government itself to take a much more assertive role in both funding and arranging the testing. And indeed, there are provisions in the bill that is expected to pass this week to do precisely that.

SHAPIRO: Certainly, there's been a lot of pressure from Congress and from governors to do that and some insistence from the federal government via the White House that they have all they need already.

IP: Exactly.

SHAPIRO: That is Greg Ip, chief economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal. Great to have you with us tonight. Thank you for answering these listener questions for us.

IP: Oh, thanks for having me, Ari.

SHAPIRO: And you can hear much more of our extensive coverage when you download the NPR One app. Go to the explore tab and click on the coronavirus outbreak for a curated stream of stories. If you have questions, we want to help. Go to On Twitter, use the hashtag #nprconversation. Up next, we'll answer your ethical questions about the pandemic and help resolve some of your moral quandaries.




SHAPIRO: This is THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro. The coronavirus has tested almost every part of our lives - hospital systems, the economy and our empathy. It has also tested our ethical framework, posing the kinds of moral quandaries that might be best solved by a philosopher. Well, in this segment, we have one. David Chan is professor and chair of the philosophy department at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and he's here to answer some of your tough questions. Thanks for joining us.

DAVID CHAN: It's my pleasure.

SHAPIRO: Before we get to listener questions, I'm curious - when you think about the pandemic, do you see this as a kind of philosophical problem? It does seem like a moment where we all have to think seriously about the individual versus the whole, the collective, the community.

CHAN: Yes. I think it raises so many of the moral quandaries that we may come across in daily life, but we don't usually think it's very important to consult philosophers. But I think this time, we do have to think more deeply about some of these questions, and philosophers are there to help.

SHAPIRO: Well, I'm glad you're here to help us. Let's get into it. Our first listener question comes from Sarah (ph) in Pennsylvania.

SARAH: I wonder how others are dealing with vices, both their own and others. My elderly neighbor across the street asked me to go to the corner store for her to buy her a candy bar. I felt conflicted and made up an excuse why I could not, but she has already lost her foot to diabetes and is in poor health. She lives with her son, who does all the shopping. On the one hand, I want to help and I don't want to judge others' decisions; on the other, I really couldn't justify it as an essential trip and don't want to contribute to someone's increased risk for health problems. How are others dealing with this, such as with shopping for elderly relatives who want cigarettes alcohol or unhealthy snacks?

SHAPIRO: Wow. There is so much packed into that question. I don't even know where to begin. David Chan, what would you say about helping an elderly neighbor who can't go shopping on her own but indulging in vices, both for ourselves and for others?

CHAN: So I take it that the questioner is asking whether it's useful or - is helpful to support someone's bad choices. And I think the answer should be, no, it's not helpful unless there's really something worse about not supporting a choice. Even drug addict will kill herself, you don't supply the drug. Maybe there's a reason to do it. So if helping can be done with little risk or no cost to yourself, then one has to consider whether one should be paternalistic, right? To be paternalistic is to act for someone else's good, to restrict their freedom for their own good.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, so you shouldn't be eating candy bars.

CHAN: Right. So you could tell the neighbor that a candy bar is bad for her. So you're not getting it, but doing it in a pandemic I think is, like, rather insensitive, especially she's feeling alone and helpless and you're telling her that. But I think what may be decisive in this situation is really the risk of going to the store. And I guess the questioner was saying that she made up an excuse. I would actually be honest about it. You can tell the neighbor truthfully that if there's something she needs that's a real emergency, you are there to help. She can count on you. But otherwise, you just don't want to go out and risk catching the virus.

SHAPIRO: All right. OK. Let's take this next question from Mickey (ph) in Chicago, which is about caregiving.

MICKEY: I am in my late 50s and provide medical rides, shopping and meal prep for a woman in her 70s with ALS and her physically challenged husband. My housemate landlord is in her early 80s. Does the essential nature of the caregiving outweigh the risk I bring to my housemate?

SHAPIRO: So by helping one family, she risks harming someone else. And there are elderly people in both of these. What should Mickey do here?

CHAN: Yeah. I think philosophers and philosophy students immediately recognize this problem because this is an enduring ethical question, right? Is it more important to help others or do I avoid harming others? Think of the trolley problem. Some of your listeners might be familiar with it having watched "The Good Place."

SHAPIRO: "The Good Place," right (laughter).

CHAN: Yeah. So yeah is killing worse or letting someone die worse? Is it worse to harm someone or to not assist others? Many philosophers actually favor not harming or failing to help as when you don't help - right? - the harm is caused by someone or something else, whereas if you do the harm, that's caused by you. Now...

SHAPIRO: So you would not help the elderly person who needs assistance because if you do help the elderly person who needs assistance, you might harm your 80-year-old housemate. And if you do nothing, maybe some harm will befall someone, but it won't be your fault. Is that what you're saying?

CHAN: Yes. That's one way to think about it, but here's another problem, right? Philosophers also distinguish between harms that you intend and harms that you may know will happen but you do not intend. So obviously you do not intend to get your housemate infected. So it may instead be morally better to help since it's kind of a side effect, right? Your housemate get infected...

SHAPIRO: Right, a side effect, yeah.

CHAN: ...It wasn't intended. So this you might recognize as the principle of double effect, but that's also a controversial principle. Some philosophers reject that. And then another thing to consider is also what we call proportionality, right?

SHAPIRO: Proportionality.

CHAN: Right. Even though harm to your housemate is not intended, it might really be too serious to ignore. So the risk of unintended harm is certainly something that you should count very strongly against going out to help the woman.

SHAPIRO: I'm curious, professor Chan, how common is it for you to be surrounded by all of these abstract philosophical questions in very real-world terms every day in so many places? I mean, it feels to me like these abstract ideas have suddenly become frighteningly real in a way that they weren't before. But maybe you've seen them in the real world every day of your life because that's the way you look at the world.

CHAN: Yeah. As I was saying at the beginning, we don't think very hard about this in everyday life. But I think doctors will tell you this is the kind of situation they think about all the time. And the other thing is on the battlefield, soldiers have to deal with such choices - right? - whether they should let someone die, whether they should unintentionally kill people. So this is actually very pertinent to our lives, even though we don't often think of it.

SHAPIRO: OK. Well, we've just got about a minute left, but we have a question from Lorraine (ph) in Philadelphia, who is wondering about online shopping. And she says are we putting employees at risk by buying things online. Or is it better for them to have the income and helping to keep some businesses going as well?

CHAN: Yeah. This is actually another question that we should ask in normal times, right? Because, really, there's this sweatshop problem. We buy stuff because they're cheap, but they're produced through unethical and exploitative practices. And then we ask - but it's cheaper, so I - and then we tell ourselves, of course, those people working in sweatshops, they need a job, so we are helping them. So this is quite similar. We are telling ourselves, well, we are helping those workers because they - at least they have a job, right? But the fact is that they're being asked to do this. You have to ask - right? - do they have a choice about not working during a pandemic? Shouldn't they be offered paid leave? And the enticement of sale prices is actually meant to overcome your prick of conscience so that you don't think too hard about it.

SHAPIRO: David Chan, thank you for thinking through these difficult questions and problems with us. We appreciate your joining us.

CHAN: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

SHAPIRO: He's professor and chair of the philosophy department at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. And tomorrow, we'll be doing a deep dive on testing on this program. So send us your questions. On Twitter, use the hashtag #nprconversation.




SHAPIRO: It's THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro. Coming up, we answer your questions about how to prepare for the possibility of the worst...

LESLIE DAVIS: Is there a way that I could put my home into my children's names in case something would happen to me?

SHAPIRO: ...And the pressures facing health workers.


SHAPIRO: This is THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro. Treating patients with COVID-19 comes with physical risks, and there is also a mental and emotional cost. NPR reporter Yuki Noguchi has been covering the impact of these unique psychological pressures on health care workers. Hi, Yuki.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Hi, Ari. How are you?

SHAPIRO: I'm all right. Thanks. We've also got two guests who are here to tell us about their own experiences, two health care providers with different understandings of this crisis. Dr. Bruce Schwartz is a psychiatrist in the Bronx and president of the American Psychiatric Association. Good to have you here.

BRUCE SCHWARTZ: Nice to be here.

SHAPIRO: And Jennifer Binstock in Westminster, Colo., she's an emergency room nurse and recently volunteered at an ICU caring for COVID-19 patients in New Orleans. Thank you for joining us as well.

JENNIFER BINSTOCK-RIESKE: Oh, well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

SHAPIRO: Jennifer, I'd love to begin with you. Just will you tell us about your experience in New Orleans and how caring for COVID-19 patients was different from other work you've done in intensive care units?

BINSTOCK-RIESKE: When I was an ICU nurse here in Colorado, I worked mostly with our neuro patients, so stroke patients, and our trauma patients. So working with the patients down in New Orleans, they were sick from head to toe, just not from the neck up. So it was a total care of the body, and it was definitely a lot different than what I was used to. But you kind of get thrown in there, and you just have to do what you have to do.

SHAPIRO: Total care of the body where you can't actually make contact with the body because of fear of infection.

BINSTOCK-RIESKE: That is very true. That part was definitely different. Instead of being in the room every hour or every at least two hours, there was sometimes that you went into a room maybe two or three times over a 12-hour shift. So that was definitely a change in my nursing philosophy.

SHAPIRO: And you've left New Orleans. You're back in Colorado now. What have you found the impact was of that experience mentally and emotionally on you?

BINSTOCK-RIESKE: I look back on it and I'm super, super grateful for having that opportunity. I was only down there for a very short time. And the nurses and the other staff that I worked with down there had been going through it a lot longer than I have. And the staff I worked with there was absolutely incredible from top to bottom, from the physicians down to the EVS services and those who gave us all of our protective gear. And looking back on it now, it was an honor and a privilege. But it will definitely weigh on me 'cause I always feel like I could have done more even though with some of these patients there is no hope unfortunately.

SHAPIRO: Well, Dr. Schwartz, president of the American Psychiatric Association, does a lot of work with health care providers. And, Jennifer, do you have any questions for him?

BINSTOCK-RIESKE: I do. Luckily with living in Colorado, I'm able to escape a little bit. I'm actually staying at a friend's mountain home, so I'm looking outside over a beautiful lake and beautiful mountains. But what about those nurses in that urban setting, especially, like, New York and Boston, Chicago, Detroit, how are they able to self-care, especially when they're sitting at home alone because they've sent their family off because they're afraid of giving them this virus?

SHAPIRO: Dr. Schwartz?

SCHWARTZ: Yes. Well, as you were saying, in New York here - so I work in a hospital in the Bronx, and we have really been in the center, you know, of this epidemic. And staff have been called upon really to work, you know, very long hours and consecutive hours, you know, seven days on, seven days off. So staff really have been exhausted. And despite that, you know, the kind of esprit de corps, so to speak, has been really excellent as people have really worked very hard to try and help people at the time same time working, you know, under really difficult conditions with severely ill patients and in - clearly in excessive numbers, especially what we had in New York.

So for staff, they don't have, you know, homes in the mountains that they can go to. And it's critical that you pay attention to kind of your own wellness, which means that when you do leave the hospital, you know, I've suggested to people, you know, that when you leave hospital, rather than going home and turning on the news and continue to be inundated, you know, what is really kind of bad news, you kind of need to escape. So one is limiting, you know, how much news you listen to. The other things that are very important for people to do is to get some exercise.

So several staff, they've found it very helpful when they come home from the hospital, after they've changed their clothes, to go out for a walk, even if they're going out for a walk by themselves, just to sort of clear their head as a way of kind of decompressing a bit. Following a good diet, a healthy diet, you know, staying away from sort of excessive carbs, you know, eating well and healthy is very important. The other thing is to sort of maintain as best you can normal sleep-wake cycles so that you, you know, try and go to bed at the same time to make sure that, you know, you get enough rest.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, a lot of good suggestions there.

SCHWARTZ: Yeah. So those are kind of simple things to kind of implement, but it does have an effect on one's wellness.

SHAPIRO: Yuki Noguchi, I know you've been talking with a lot of health care workers about the toll that this has taken on them. Is what you're hearing from our two guests here sounding familiar to you?

NOGUCHI: Yeah, very much so. I mean, there are lots of similar stories where the stress is not just about whether they will get sick or get their families sick, though that is a huge source of stress, too. Nurses spend a lot of time bedside, normally. You know, they administer a lot of care and not just taking blood samples and hooking you up to machines but also, you know, cleaning your face and getting you a warm blanket. And that care part, the part of their job where they get to express their humanity for the patient and their families, is taken away. You know, they can't get close to the patients, and they struggle emotionally from not being able to, you know, tell them about the compassion - how much compassion they feel and especially when - you know, like Jennifer, they're the go-between between the patient and the family. And they often take that home with them.

SHAPIRO: Yeah. I think we have time for a listener question here. This one comes from a nurse with a question about protective gear.

ASHLEY: Hi. This is Ashley (ph), a nurse from Oregon. Due to COVID-19, hospitals are ignoring previous precautions, such as only using PPE once. This puts staff lives at risk. When is it OK for me to be upset? How do I respond when people tell me that this is what I signed up for?

SHAPIRO: Dr. Schwartz, such a powerful question. When is it OK for me to be upset? We've just got about a minute before we have to take a quick pause.

SCHWARTZ: OK. Well, it's always OK to be upset. It's a normal reaction I think that, you know, for staff or leadership in an institution to really not appreciate, you know, that protocols have changed and the protocols in some instances have changed in a way because of shortages of PPE that they don't have the equipment, enough equipment, to go around. So it is definitely appropriate to sort of be upset.

SHAPIRO: Speak your mind. All right. Bruce Schwartz, please stay with us. We'll be back after a short break. I also want to thank Jennifer Binstock, ER nurse, joining us from Westminster, Colo. Thank you for your time today.

BINSTOCK-RIESKE: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.


We still have psychiatrist Bruce Schwartz and NPR's Yuki Noguchi on the line with us discussing health care workers' emotional well being. We have a question here from a physician who wants to help his staff. Let's listen.

JIM KOCJANCIC: Hello, this is Jim Kocjancic. I'm an ER physician from Erie, Pa. COVID-19 treatment guidelines are constantly evolving. How can I help my staff deal with the stress of these daily changes?

SHAPIRO: Dr. Schwartz, what advice would you give him?

SCHWARTZ: Well, new information is coming out all the time. I think one of the challenges for all physicians or any clinicians, dealing with an illness that we do not understand - clearly, this is an infection that can affect every organ in the body. And we're learning. And we're learning the hard way from experience. So there are lots of credible sources, which are continually publishing, you know, new guidelines and new recommendations in terms of advising, you know, clinicians. So if - one of the best things one could do - and actually my son is an emergency medicine resident in New York. They meet in the morning to talk about some of the new protocols that are going into effect.

SHAPIRO: So there's a regular system in place so everybody understands when the new instructions are coming out.

SCHWARTZ: Yeah, yeah. Evaluate the literature. There's a lot of it out there. There's a lot of information. It's not some double-blind placebo-controlled study. So we're all trying to learn from one another.

SHAPIRO: All right. Let's go to this other question from a listener who wants to help.

SCIARRILLO: Hi, my name's Nicole Sciarrillo. I'm a therapist in Los Angeles. And I know our front-line workers need help. How do I reach out to help them?

SHAPIRO: Yuki, you've been looking into this. Is there someplace she can offer her services to?

NOGUCHI: Yeah. Well, there are a lot of crisis centers that are staffing up right now. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is. There's a similar Crisis Text Line. Today, I talked to the Salvation Army, which has started a national emotional hotline. It calls it that. And there are others. So contacting your nearest call center and expressing your interest to volunteer for such an organization might be one thought.

SHAPIRO: And that's not something that people need special expertise or training to be able to volunteer for?

NOGUCHI: Well, there are some trainings, but I think, you know, if someone is a therapist, you know, maybe they'd be able to, you know, help out on the basis of their existing training, you know, especially if they have sort of prior experience with crisis cases. But there are also, you know, just generally more teletherapy and telehealth options that are really trying to beef up their presence right now. And hospitals - and I know Dr. Schwartz's hospital is doing this, too - are counseling not just their patients but their own staff. So if you're affiliated with a hospital, you might see if you can help that way as well.

SHAPIRO: Just briefly before we have to wrap up, Dr. Schwartz, I know that with PTSD at least sometimes symptoms don't appear until a while after the trauma. Are there things that you would advise front-line health care workers to look out for in their own lives to be aware of how they're responding to things?

SCHWARTZ: Well, the biggest flag is if one starts consuming more alcohol or drugs, you know, and if there's alterations, again, in sort of sleep-wake cycle that people really have to sort of, you know, pay attention, you know, to these things. And that can be a signal.

SHAPIRO: OK. All right.

SCHWARTZ: We know probably about a third of people are going to develop some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder.

SHAPIRO: A third of people will develop some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. That's a staggering figure. Dr. Bruce Schwartz, psychiatrist and president of the American Psychiatric Association, thank you for joining us today.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you for having me. Be well.

SHAPIRO: And NPR's Yuki Noguchi, great to have you as well.

NOGUCHI: Thanks, Ari.

SHAPIRO: After a short break, we'll be back. This is THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.


SHAPIRO: This is THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro. The COVID-19 pandemic has many of us hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Many of you have asked about how to make sure your wills and estate planning are up to date. The crisis has created some extra roadblocks to getting your affairs in order. So to help answer your questions, we have Stephanie Perry with us. She is managing partner of the law firm of Pasternak & Fidis in Maryland. They specialize in estate planning. Thanks for joining us.

STEPHANIE PERRY: Thanks, Ari. Thanks for having me.

SHAPIRO: Let's jump right in with this question from Walter.

SALZMAN: I have a question about writing a will at this time when we might need a will more than ever. How do you go about executing a will when it's so difficult to get witnesses? And how can you make a self-proving will when it's even more difficult to find a notary to notarize it?

SHAPIRO: These are challenges we wouldn't have even considered a few months ago. What do you do in this period of social distancing when you need other people present?

PERRY: That's right. That's a great question. And Walter is absolutely right. In light of this pandemic, many of us are more motivated than ever to focus on our estate planning. And in this era of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, we have to find solutions to the fact that we aren't able to meet clients in person. So we are having a lot of telephone and video conferences to meet with clients, which is terrific. The challenge that we're facing right now is how to get these documents executed.

SHAPIRO: Right, with witnesses, with notaries. What do you do?

PERRY: That's right. That's right. So, generally, like you mentioned, a will has to be executed in the presence of witnesses and a notary if you want it to be self-proving. Within the past couple of weeks, there have been executive orders issued in Maryland and in D.C. and in a number of other states allowing for remote witnessing and notarization of documents.

SHAPIRO: Interesting. Wow.

PERRY: Yeah. These rules obviously vary from state to state, so it's important to check with an attorney in your area. But remote execution is now permitted by video conference in a number of jurisdictions.

SHAPIRO: All right. You know, we have a question that you may have just answered, I'm not sure, from Sally Walker (ph) who tweeted us saying she's the executor to her dad's will. Sadly, he died this month, though not of COVID-19. And she writes, I can't go to the bank, get notary signatures, cash checks, et cetera. Any advice to executors in this situation given the shutdowns across the country? Might some of these remote options be available to her?

PERRY: Well, possibly. So the remote notarization is one that would be open to her - right? - if it's available in her state. But you're right, getting these things done is going to take more time and effort under the current circumstances. But they can be done. Banks are open with limited staff and hours. We talked about the remote notarization and, you know, things like checks can be deposited online through your phone app. We really do have to now more than ever embrace the technology that's available to us and help in getting these kinds of things done.

SHAPIRO: All right. Let's go to another listener now.

DAVIS: Hi, my name is Leslie Davis (ph) and I'm calling from the beat of Abita Springs, La. Is there a way that I could put my home into my children's names - they are all of age - without them having to go through a secession in case something would happen to me? You know, and I - and I've thought about this in the past, but now that this is happening with the virus, it makes me think of it more now.

SHAPIRO: I think so many people are thinking urgently about stuff they might have just kind of mulled over in the past. What advice do you have for Leslie?

PERRY: Well, absolutely, I mean, I'm seeing that more now than ever, that people are giving their estate planning just a lot more thought these days. And, of course, with these stay-at-home orders in place, they have more time on their hands than they otherwise would. And, you know, my advice - this is not intended to be self-serving - is really to get in touch with an estate planning attorney. Leslie's question is very specific, and it's impossible to give that kind of advice without knowing more about her situation. But you want to get in touch with an attorney. Engage an attorney in your area to assist you.

SHAPIRO: All right. Let's go to another caller here.

CORRINE SPANGLER: Hi, my name is Corrine Spangler (ph). I'm calling from Chapel Hill, N.C. And I have questions about how to safely and easily and without an attorney get a living will done and also how to get all the information my sister would need if anything were to happen to my mother and I, like bank account numbers and passwords and things like that.

SHAPIRO: OK, well, she specified without an attorney, so that adds an extra hurdle.

PERRY: Well, that's OK. We won't hold that against her.


PERRY: So, you know, often a state's attorney's general office or secretary of state's office provides access to health care directives and living will forms. And those forms really don't require any attorney time to prepare them. You can simply complete them. Download the form, complete it in accordance with your wishes and have it executed in accordance with the state's execution requirements. It really is that easy to execute some of these advanced health care directive forms.

SHAPIRO: She also talks about having bank account numbers, passwords and the like in one place. That seems like a useful thing to think about ahead of time.

PERRY: It is. It certainly is. And I often tell my clients that you don't necessarily need to provide all of that important and sensitive information to your family right now. But you do need to tell them where they can find it. So I recommend that she consolidate all of that information and store it in a safe and secure place and that she tell her sister where she can find that information if she needs it - for example, you know, in the top left drawer of the desk in my office.

SHAPIRO: Good advice from Stephanie Perry, managing partner of the law firm Pasternak & Fidis in Maryland. Thank you for joining us tonight.

PERRY: Ari, pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.


SHAPIRO: Finally, tonight, it takes a lot of practice to get dozens of musicians to play as a group when they're in the same room. The Chicago Sinfonietta did it remotely.


SHAPIRO: Music director and conductor Mei-Ann Chen introduces the group, calling them...


MEI-ANN CHEN: The most diverse orchestra in North America.

SHAPIRO: This piece is called "Plink Plank Plunk" by Leroy Anderson. The musicians are utterly in sync with each other while comfortably ensconced in their own homes. A dog wanders through a violinist's living room. The timpanist bangs a huge set of kettle drums in his driveway.


SHAPIRO: The clarinetist wears a big cloth bandana over her head. And a triangle player looks forlorn counting out the measures until it's time for her to play. She fixes her hair in the mirror. She puts on lipstick. And finally, at the end of the piece with a big grin, she plays her note.


SHAPIRO: I'm Ari Shapiro. We'll be back tomorrow to answer more of your questions. We're going to be talking about technology and remote connections during the pandemic. If you have questions about Zoombombing or secure teleworking, send them our way at or tweet us with the hashtag #nprconversation. You're listening to THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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