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Problems in Oregon's foster care system in recent years demonstrated the severe shortage of places to house children who have been removed from their homes.  And recruiting efforts continue, but not every adult wants to, or should be, a foster parent. 

Now the state is starting a new program called My NeighbOR, an effort to match people with skills or material goods to give with the needs of foster children in their communities.  The needs are only exacerbated by the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Oregon's Department of Human Services created My NeighbOR in partnership with the nonprofit The Contingent


We may not like it, but now we're used to daily life changing, as we try to avoid huge numbers of people getting sick from the new coronavirus. 

Getting started was one thing; now how does the lockdown end?  President Trump and other political figures have been chafing at the damage to the economy, but health workers warn of a higher disease and death toll if social distancing ends prematurely. 

Dr. Ralph Eccles is an endocrinologist and former administrator at Oregon Health & Science University. 


We find ourselves talking about home schooling a lot of late.  And that's obvious: the ONLY kind of school available in-person at the moment is home school. 

Julie Bogart has been waiting for us.  Bogart teaches writing through a program called The Brave Writer, founded a Homeschool Alliance for parents teaching their kids, and recently published the book The Brave Learner

She knows of what she speaks, having taught all five of her children at home. 


The U.S. State Department recommended recently that all Americans abroad return home, because they could be stuck in their current countries for a long time. 

Gary Poulos of Talent already knows this; he's been in Ecuador since January and desperately wants to return home.  But Ecuador is already locked down, with extreme travel restrictions. 

And the State Department is not able to offer much help to get him home. 


Coronavirus is a disease of the body; but it is likely to have lingering effects on mental health as well. 

Because the restrictions set up to thwart the spread of the virus are the most extreme in a century.  No one alive has a memory of being asked to stay home and off the streets for this long. 

Dr. Jan Jacobs is an Ashland psychologist long in clinical practice. 

Allan Ajifo, CC BY 2.0,

You just can't tell at the outset of a relationship how it's going to go.  You can feel "sure," but what does that really mean? 

Jill Andres and Brook Silva-Braga decided that if their bond was a good one, it could take some testing.  So they proceeded to run themselves and each other through a series of trials, all recounted in their book The Marriage Test: Our 40 Dates Before "I Do." 

Jenny Graham | Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival brings tourists by the thousands to Ashland every year to see its award-winning plays.  But with Covid-19 on the loose, there are no plays, no tourists, and no ticket income. 

OSF planned to reopen in the second week of April, but has now taken the drastic step of staying dark until September 8th, and cancelling five plays planned for the season. 

Redwood Coast Village

The human immune system weakens as we get older, and that gives Covid-19 several more degrees of concern for senior citizens.  Coronavirus regulations mean seniors in assisted living facilities or living independently aren't receiving visitors and their gatherings (if any) are severly limited.

Joann Schuch is part of the crew at Redwood Coast Village in Humboldt County, a non-profit that provides volunteer services and information to seniors. 

There are always many things to talk about in our monthly media overview, Signals & Noise.  But this month we've got the gigantic issue of the new coronavirus and the coverage of its spread to take in. 

News media took some heat in the early stages of the outbreak for over-hyping the information, a feeling that seems to have passed. 

Our regulars from the Communication faculty at Southern Oregon University, Andrew Gay and Precious Yamaguchi, return. 


Mention the term "geoengineering" and you could start an argument.  Because the idea of changing how the planet and its weather works often wanders into the contrail/"chemtrail" debate. 

Thomas Kostigen, the author of many works about Earth and its maintenance, takes up the issue of correcting what we've done to the world, in his new book Hacking Planet Earth: How Geoengineering Can Help Us Reimagine the Future.

The author visited with several scientists to look at methods they've devised to avert climate disaster.


Unemployment was low and wages were rising when the coronavirus became a concern.  Now the stock market has crashed, quarantines and social distancing are the orders of the day, and businesses have closed left and right.

Preliminary analysis from the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in Indiana shows perhaps one worker of every six losing work because of the virus precautions.  That compares with predictions made recently by the federal treasury secretary. 


Parents who never gave a thought to home-schooling their children are forced to at least consider it now.  Oregon schools will not open again until at least April 28th under current orders, and California's don't even have a target date for reopening. 

While school districts prepare plans for distance learning, parents who already teach their children at home are making few changes, if any. 

The Oregon Home Education Network is a resource for parents who teach their own children away from traditional schools. 


Do you remember what you had for dinner last night?  For lunch today? 

It's possible you're just shoving food in your mouth without giving much thought to what it is, where it came from, and what it can do to you. 

Sophie Egan would like to draw your attention to those issues.  She wrote the book How to Be a Conscious Eater: Making Food Choices That Are Good for You, Others, and the Planet

It's not a diet book per se, but it IS a book that will get you thinking about your own daily diet.

The Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) plan got a major green light recently.  FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, gave its approval to the plan for an export terminal near North Bend and a 230-mile pipeline running to it. 

But the decision, 2-1 from a FERC with two vacancies, came under immediate criticism from Oregon's governor.  Kate Brown pointed out that Jordan Cove still needs state permit approvals to open. 

So what happens now? 

We read and read and read and listen and listen some more, and still don't fully understand the Covid-19 outbreak. 

How could we?  Nothing like it has happened in a century.  Health workers have questions too, but some answers as well. 

Dr. Jim Shames is the medical director at Jackson County Health and Human Services

Schyler at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It will be a while before we get to see organized baseball played again, thanks to the coronavirus.  So we'll have to settle for talking about it. 

Fortunately, there are several good books out there now about the sport, and we take two of them in one sitting. 

Anika Orrock is the author of The Incredible Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, tales from the organization made famous in the film "A League of Their Own." 

And Derrick Barnes includes that story in a much broader book, Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing but True Stories!

Image of metal railing in hallway with cells in the background.
Erik Neumann / JPR

One of the larger health concerns in Jackson County (before the virus) was a mental health concern.  As the county moves forward with plans to build a new jail, some citizens want to make sure the plans include mental health care in the community, to prevent people with mental health needs from ending up in jail. 

Several community groups plan a "Care Not Cuffs" community forum on the issues.  The in-person forum has been cancelled because of virus concerns; an online forum is now being planned for April 7th. 


Work from home, we're told.  You can tele-commute with your computer.  True, but only up to a point. 

If you lack a speedy Internet connection--broadband--there could be a lot of time waiting for documents and messages to flow back and forth.  Vice reporter Karl Bode recently pointed this out in an article, "The Coronavirus Will Shine a Bright Light On Crappy US Broadband." 


Life has changed, then changed again, due to the coronavirus.  Schools around Oregon got a lengthened spring break in order to keep students apart; then the governor tacked on four more weeks, leaving schools out until the end of April.  So far. 

Health and school officials are getting many questions, only some of which they are able to answer.  Educators are scrambling to come up with ways to teach students remotely, and have them keep up with the work. 


It's one thing to watch the stock market crash because of the coronavirus pandemic.  It's quite another to watch your own bank account slide into the red because you're not working. 

Even if Congress committed right now to a cash relief program, it'd take a while for the money to arrive. 

So how handle finances in the interim?  Jill Gonzalez has few ideas from her perch at WalletHub