INDY Week 3.18.20

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Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill March 18, 2020



Schools are closed. Shows are canceled. Your 401K tanked, your job might vanish, you’re stuck at home for God knows how long, and you’re starting to wonder if that cough is more than a cough. Let’s talk about how we got here. P. 11

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March 18, 2020

Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 37 NO. 12

Gradually, Then Suddenly


hat happened last week was both abrupt and inevitable—like that Hemingway line about going bankrupt gradually, then suddenly. You could feel the tremors as the coronavirus spread through China and East Asia, then to Italy and throughout Europe, then to Washington state and California and Oregon and North Carolina. The earthquake was coming.


Last Wednesday, it came. The World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic. Wall Street entered a bear market. The NBA suspended its season, and the ACC and NCAA announced that their championships would be played without fans. (The next day, those events were both canceled.) Full Frame canceled. UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus shut down. Duke Performances suspended its season.


A brief history of a fast-spreading pandemic.

10 Yep, this is Trump’s fault.




Everything you wanted to know about coronavirus but were too afraid to ask.


Local art workers are struggling today and fearing tomorrow.


Mutual-aid groups are filling the gap in federal relief.

22 What to stream under quarantine.




23 How to maintain structure during the school shutdown.


24 Asian Americans face discrimination in a racialized crisis.


25 Learn to social distance from the pros.


It kept coming after that: Dreamville Festival, Raleigh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, DPAC, The Carolina Theatre, Carolina Performing Arts. On Saturday, Governor Cooper closed schools statewide for two weeks and banned mass gatherings of more than 100 people for a month. On Tuesday, he shut down bars and restaurants. Everything—everything—was canceled, closed, or postponed. As a newspaper, this presented two dilemmas. Editorially, we didn’t have any events to write about, which meant we couldn’t publish our calendars or culture sections, so we had to scrap our plans and reconfigure this issue on the fly. More urgently, this is, by far, the smallest newspaper the INDY has ever published; you’ll see it has very few ads. Our advertising revenue is linked to events that are no longer happening, concerts that are canceled, and bars and restaurants that are closed. We’re facing the prospect of weeks or months deep in the red. We need your help. Many of you have already joined the INDY Press Club, making monthly and one-time contributions to support local journalism. At the risk of sounding like a televangelist eyeballing a new 72-foot yacht, I need you to dig a bit deeper—a few extra bucks a month, another one-time donation. If you’re not a member—I cannot stress this enough—there is no time like the present. Please go to today. It’ll only take a minute. Any amount helps. (If you prefer snail mail, mail your contribution to P.O. Box 1772, Durham, North Carolina 27702.)


7 A Week in the Life

5 Op-Ed

16 1,000 Words

6 Quickbait

This week marks my fifth anniversary at the INDY. I’m extraordinarily proud of the work we’ve done, and I’m extraordinarily blessed to live in a community that supports it. I want this paper to be strong enough to give the Triangle the journalism it deserves long after I’m gone. Help me make that happen. COVER Design by Jon Fuller


Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald


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Editor in Chief Jeffrey C. Billman Arts + Culture Editor Brian Howe Raleigh News Editor Leigh Tauss Deputy A+C Editor Sarah Edwards

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Gumbs, Courtney Napier, Barry Saunders, Jonathan Weiler Contributors Jim Allen, Jameela F. Dallis, Michaela Dwyer, Lena Geller, Spencer Griffith, Howard Hardee, Laura Jaramillo, Kyesha Jennings, Glenn McDonald, Josephine McRobbie, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, Neil Morris, James Michael Nichols, Marta Nuñez Pouzols, Bryan C. Reed, Dan Ruccia, David Ford Smith, Eric Tullis, Michael VenutoloMantovani, Chris Vitiello, Ryan Vu, Patrick Wall

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March 18, 2020



It’s been some kind of week, no? The coronavirus got all the attention, what with the state effectively shutting down, but any other time, the mass protests that rapidly arose in the wake of an officer-involved shooting in Raleigh on Tuesday might have dominated the news.

In Backtalk this week, we’ll tackle both. First, MIKE HARRIS responds to Jeffrey C. Billman’s recent column on President Trump’s indifference to the coronavirus threat: “If one (dare I say it?) positive thing can be gained from the burgeoning pandemic, it just may be the changing of a few heretofore rigidly closed pro-Trump minds. We the People have seen ‘Mr. Presidential’ start out proclaiming the coronavirus ‘the Democrats’ new hoax’ at a rally, then proceed down the road of denial, downplaying the obviously dangerous virus as being little more than a bad cold from which people were ‘getting better. … Everybody is getting better.’ Facts and actual numbers were ignored by the Trump administration in favor of the Trump BS of the moment. Why break with custom now? “Trump’s go-to reaction to this crisis has been to belittle, deny, and babble BS. Vice President Mike Pence has, of course, applied his only talent—standing off to the side, looking concerned, and nodding slightly. So, as Trump (virulently—ha!) tweets and trolls BS over fact and faces an enemy that he cannot belittle and dismiss with a snarky nickname, it is just barely possible that a few more rigidly closed Trump-supporter minds will be rethinking their allegiance to that egomaniacal two-legged obscenity. Just maybe.” Next, DYLAN N. chimes in on our story about the Raleigh police shooting of Javier Torres and the protests afterward: “If a man is carrying a gun in public and threatening people enough for them to call 911, running away, and not following the directions of the officer to put the gun down, certainly the officer has the right to shoot. If we protest every single time an officer pulls the trigger, we take away the police’s legs to stand on and promote violence by taking away law and order. Certainly, there are still times where police shoot at an inappropriate time because of racial prejudices, but this is not one of them. We need discernment.”

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March 18, 2020

The Politics of Calm voices

How should a grieving community respond to brutalization? BY COURTNEY NAPIER


here’s only one wrong response to a crisis, and that’s no response. In a week’s span, Raleigh was struck by two crises: the COVID-19 pandemic and yet another police-involved shooting of a man of color—the second in just 30 days. The community’s elders, parents, students, children, and allies took to the streets last Tuesday night in response to a live-streamed video of devastated kids reacting to the incident, as well as (incorrect) social media reports that the police had shot a 16-year-old boy in the back over a stolen pizza. Rolanda Byrd of Raleigh PACT spoke out in solidarity with the victim and his family, recounting her own tragedy—the police killing of her son Akiel Denkins four years ago. The protest made its way to the police chief’s front lawn, then through the streets of downtown Raleigh, growing in number with each step. “No justice, no peace! Arrest the police!” echoed from Fayetteville Street up to the halls of the Capitol Building, and the city was finally awakened out of its slumber. When Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown finally addressed the shooting the next morning, she mostly scolded the protesters, telling them to stay calm. Contrary to Deck-Brown’s comments, Byrd and Raleigh PACT have been going through the “proper channels” of government to achieve a police accountability board with subpoena and investigatory power ever since she lost her son. City manager Ruffin Hall and the city council made a feeble attempt at justice when they finally created a board last month, but every member will be chosen by the Raleigh Police Department, and it will effectively be powerless. Yet they still press for calm amid outrageous circumstances, which prompts the question: When people are calm, whose interests are being served? Over 50 years ago at Stanford University, The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? ... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity.” The politically correct Call for Calm is a euphemism, and its true meaning is twofold. The first is the belief that impacted people’s ability to understand reality can-

not be trusted—the person calling for calm knows what’s best for them. Secondly, it means what Reverend King said—powerful people and their cronies are more concerned with the status quo than justice because their well-being and status are maintained by “calm.” The Call for Calm is the language of smoke and mirrors. It is an attempt to control the emotions of the public while the government refuses to govern—or worse, creates policies that will directly harm the most vulnerable residents. Just like the Trump administration disbanding the Global Health Security Team two years ago, Raleigh’s council disbanded the CACs, the single most consistent connection between the council, the Police Department, and Black and Brown community in Southeast Raleigh. The Call for Calm is the hallmark of the political negligence that not only ignores crises but creates them. As we have learned from both the coronavirus and the shooting, people in power believed they could protect themselves by selling out their most vulnerable citizens. They thought that the broken promises and neglected responsibilities would not come to their doorstep. They couldn’t have been more wrong. And if there is any doubt that there is, in fact, a double standard when it comes to the Call for Calm, consider state Representative Deb Butler. Back in September 2018, after House Republicans held a surprise budget override vote, she went HAM, and liberals near and far cheered her on. “I will not yield!” became the mantra of angry white Democrats fed up with Republicans’ games. But what happened on North Rogers Lane Tuesday evening wasn’t a game. Byrd and the community of protesters weren’t screaming over politics—they were crying out over bloodshed. And yet the Black and Brown community is admonished for their passion and told to be calm. Those of you who seek to shame the protesters and cast judgment on their methods, I ask you this: How should a grieving community respond to brutalization? How should children respond to the police shooting their neighbor? How should mothers respond when they hear that another person’s son is fighting for his life because of an officer’s bullet? There’s only one wrong response—no response—and those complicit in the community’s pain keep on giving it. 2 Voices is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club. Join today at

COURTNEY NAPIER is a Raleigh native, community activist, and co-host of the podcast Mothering on the Margins.

OP - E D Convenience Is Canceled The COVID-19 crisis is in front of us, not behind us BY RALEIGH MAYOR MARY-ANN BALDWIN



n less than a week, our world changed. When the state’s secretary of health and human services texted me late last Monday night, asking me to call her, I had no idea what Mary-Ann Baldwin was about to unfold. COVID-19 hit swiftly, as pandemics do. I listened as people complained about being inconvenienced, not fulling processing what was occurring. Others pondered what would happen if schools closed. They worried about our small businesses and hospitality workers. They debated the need to work from home. Some asked what they could do to help. A handful asked: “What’s the deal with toilet paper?” I’m still trying to figure that one out. Here’s the thing. Just as our world changed in one week, it’s going to change again over the next week. And the next. COVID-19 is in front of us, not behind us. And we are all going to have to do our part to respond. We are all going to be inconvenienced. That’s our new world order. In turn, we have to be flexible, kind, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and generous. And we need to find joy in small things because that brings us to life. Joy is a choice. While the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the Governor’s Office, and Wake County Human Services are leading on this critical challenge, the city of Raleigh is working closely with these and other city mayors and organizations to address our residents’ needs. Here are other actions being taken by the city:

now, all district council meetings, The Office of Emergency Management boards and commissions, and city and Special Events is working with event council committee meetings will be organizers to reschedule events such as canceled until April 15. However, we the Dreamville Festival (now August 29) are asking staff to provide options and other large gatherings. for virtual meetings. The Office of Economic Development and Innovation is convening groups such “We need to find joy in small things.” as the Small Business Alliance, the N.C. Restaurant & Lodging AssociaIn thinking about last week’s turn tion, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Midtown Raleigh Alliance, and Hillsborough of events, I’m stunned at how quickly Street Community Service Corporation life can change. I’m sure all of you are, to brainstorm ways we can support our too. Part of me feels that this is surresmall businesses. We are working on al, like I’m caught in a bad movie. Part creating dedicated parking in front of of me is energized by the impressive restaurants that will provide takeout work done by our health professionals and their calm, deliberate nature while services. The Raleigh Convention Center staff is dealing with a crisis. And the other part of me worries working with groups on conference and community cancellations and postpone- about the economic impact of all of ments at both the center itself and the this, especially on our most vulnerable. I also thank all city, county, and Duke Energy Center for the Performstate officials working on this unprecing Arts. The communications team is working to edented crisis. Some things all of you can do: distribute information from trustworthy sources. We are working with the county to deterBuy takeout and/or gift certificates mine how we might provide staging areas from your favorite local restaurants for food distribution. and retail shops. Raleigh water will not turn off any water Check in on your neighbors. If you’re and sewer services to people who cannot healthy and able, run vital errands pay their bills. for at-risk residents (those over age 65 or with secondary health issues). We are suspending ordinances that prevent deliveries to grocery stores, nonVolunteer to babysit for critical-need profit enterprises, and other businesses, workers, especially those in the so there might be noise at inconvenient health-care field. times. Send cards and thoughtful notes to isolated people in senior housing We are working with and advising our and nursing homes. nonprofit and corporate partners of immediate and long-term needs. Donate to your favorite charity. And we are looking at ways we will conMost of all, be kind. W duct future city council meetings. For

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March 18, 2020


March 18, 2020

(by State)

N.C. Unemployment Benefits Rankings (out of 51)



(in thousands of dollars)






8 7





4 3












MN WA (5)


HI (3)

NJ (2)

MA (1)

State (rank out of 51)


4 3.5 3



2.5 2 1.5 1


0.5 0

'07 '08 '09 '10 '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 '16 '17 '18 '19


North Carolina UI Revenue & Claims 1.2

UI Tax Revenue Fund Impact Claims

1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0



N.C. Net Trust Fund Balance

(in billions of dollars)


ike everywhere else, North Carolina saw a sharp spike in unemployment claims following the Great Recession. By 2013, when Governor McCrory took office, it had long since depleted its unemployment trust fund and was borrowing from the feds to pay benefits. The easy fix would have been to raise unemployment taxes on employers—an additional $21 a year per employee would have filled the hole. But such business tax hikes were anathema to the GOP. Instead, Republicans simply gutted jobless benefits. The maximum weekly amount went from $535 a week to $350—and most people don’t even get that much—and the maximum number of weeks of eligibility went from 26 to as low as 12. Just like that, North Carolina went from a middle-of-theroad state for the unemployed to one of the harshest. The trust fund got back in the black by 2015—and today has more than $4 billion and counting—but the benefit cuts remained. With the economy growing and unemployment low, however, the issue slipped off the radar. That’s about to change. The coronavirus pandemic that’s wreaked havoc on Wall Street is about to do the same to Main Street—a downturn is certain; a recession is possible. Businesses will close. People will be laid off. And as they file for unemployment, they might begin to wonder why the state expects them to get by on $300 a week while it’s hoarding $4 billion. To give you a sense of how stingy North Carolina is, we compared our state to others across a range of statistics: the average time a person is eligible for benefits; the average weekly benefit they receive; the total average benefit a person receives after the first week; the amount of money in the state’s trust fund; the state’s exhaustion rate, or the percentage of claimants who receive benefits for the maximum period allowed; and the unemployment insurance tax rate, or how much the state has employers pay into the trust fund. The short version: We’re cheap as hell, we don’t pay out for long, we don’t charge employers hardly anything, and almost half of our jobless go max out their eligibility without finding a job. We might want to think about fixing that before the next crash comes—which is, like, now.

Total Unemployment Benefits

(in billions of dollars)


Cheap AF









The Good, The Bad & The Awful

Greenville’s Reflector reported that, contrary to speculation, HOUSE SPEAKER TIM MOORE has not, in fact, applied for the East Carolina University’s chancellorship. ORANGE COUNTY SCHOOLS and CHAPEL HILL-CARRBORO CITY SCHOOLS effectively canceled classes for two weeks. DUKE pressured the ACC into calling off its championship tournament after President Vincent Price informed the conference that he was suspending all athletic competition. The NCAA soon canceled March Madness. UNC-Chapel Hill announced that it would switch to REMOTE LEARNING for the foreseeable future. The entire UNC System followed suit. OWASA and the CITY OF RALEIGH announced that they would suspend water disconnections due to nonpayment.

Seven new coronavirus cases are announced in Wake County, including a teacher in FuquayVarina. In response, WAKE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS—the lone holdout among local districts—said it would close for two weeks. Hours later, GOVERNOR COOPER issued an executive order closing schools statewide for two weeks and banning mass gatherings of more than 100 people for a month.


Mark Dorosin edged out fellow incumbent Penny Rich by NINE VOTES in the final count for an Orange County Board of Commissioners District 1 seat, reversing initial results that had Rich winning by nine. Rich asked for a recount. DREAMVILLE FESTIVAL announced its postponement until August. Durham Public Schools announced that its schools will close for two weeks as well. Durham announced that it, too, will SUSPEND WATER DISCONNECTIONS due to nonpayment.

DUKE CONTRACT WORKERS demanded that administrators provide them with furlough pay, a promise to reinstate them after the crisis abates, and clear information about whether they intend to meet their obligations toward them.



DECK-BROWN blamed “reckless and false information” for the protests that arose following the police shooting of Javier Torres. KANE REALTY announced that it had begun construction on a 35-story residential tower— the tallest in Raleigh—in North Hills. GoTriangle hired CHARLES LATUCCA, the transit development head at the Maryland Department of Transportation, to be its new director as the agency tries to move beyond the collapse of light rail.



A Raleigh police officer shot 26-year-old JAVIER TORRES following a 911 call saying that he was brandishing a weapon. Acting on social media messages suggesting that Torres was shot in the back over a stolen pizza, protesters gathered en masse at the homes of Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown and Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin before marching downtown.



(Here’s what’s happened since the INDY went to press last week)

Cooper ordered RESTAURANTS AND BARS to close, though restaurants can continue offering takeout and delivery options. His executive order also expanded unemployment insurance to account for people who will now find themselves out of work. The UNC SYSTEM ordered students off its campuses and reduced housing and dining options. As of Tuesday morning, there were 45 KNOWN CORONAVIRUS CASES in North Carolina.

d goo

The Fundraisers


Every One of You Idiots Pretending Coronavirus Is No Big Deal

As craptacular as this week has been, it brought out the best in some of us. Governor Cooper, for example, reminded us of his human strength and decency: His decision to shut down schools and large gatherings—including church services—was probably inevitable, but it was still politically courageous; his subsequent move to close restaurants and bars was even more so. There were also the bars and restaurants that shut down before they had to, because it was the right thing to do. But the best thing we’ve seen is this: Across the Triangle, communities have quickly mobilized aid, with numerous fundraisers specific to vulnerable industries. Baxter Bar + Arcade owner Nick Stroud started a GoFundMe for service workers without work. Carrboro Mutual Aid is fundraising with an eye toward affected immigrant populations. Durham Artist Relief Fund and the NC Artist Relief Fund are raising money for independent artists. Organizations like Porch, TABLE, and the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina, meanwhile, are collecting food for those who need it. Give them a hand, everyone.

You know who you are: Those of you who packed into bars and nightclubs and parties last weekend, who scoffed at the notion of social distancing, who told yourself that you’re young and healthy and this thing is basically a cold and you have nothing to worry about. So look, dummies. The thing about viruses is you can carry them even if they don’t hurt you. You can pass them to your mom or your grandma or someone else in the next place you go, and they can pass them to their mom or grandma, and that’s how things spread, and that’s how people die. Hope your good times were worth it.


f aw

Stephen Miller Duke’s best-known white-nationalist alum, who somehow is still a senior White House adviser, had a key role in crafting President Trump’s disastrous Oval Office address last Wednesday, along with Senior Son-in-Law Jared Kushner. Naturally, the hastily crafted, drably delivered speech took on Miller’s degenerate personality; Trump’s referred to the coronavirus as a “foreign virus,” and blamed Europeans and the Chinese for bringing it to the U.S., while praising himself, minimizing damage, and—astoundingly, in a scripted Oval Office speech—saying things that the White House immediately had to retract because they weren’t true. “This is not a financial crisis,” Trump said, using Miller’s words. The next day was the stock market’s worst since 1987’s Black Monday.

March 18, 2020



It’s the End of the World as We Know It

The Brief History of a Pandemic Let’s revisit how everything went nuts in just a few months BY LEIGH TAUSS

Nov. 15, 2019 The first known case of the novel coronavirus appears in a 55-yearold in the Hubei province of China, though scientists won’t know about it for several months. Dec. 31, 2019 China alerts the World Health Organization about several cases of viral pneumonia in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei. Patients have been quarantined, and health officials are working on tracing the infection. Jan. 1 The Wuhan market is identified as the source of the virus, though scientists will later come to believe this conclusion is inaccurate. Jan. 7 Having ruled out MERS, SARS, and the bird flu, China reports that the spreading illness is caused by a novel coronavirus called 2019-nCoV. Jan. 11 A 61-year-old man from Wuhan becomes the coronavirus’s first fatality. Chinese researchers post the virus’s genome, which enables virologists in Berlin to create a diagnostic test a week later. By the end of February, the World Health Organization had shipped that test to 60 countries—but not the U.S., which for unknown reasons, declined it in favor of its own test. That test initially failed, costing the U.S. valuable weeks while the virus spread. 8

March 18, 2020

Jan. 13 A patient in Thailand is diagnosed with the virus after traveling from Wuhan, the first known case of it spreading outside of China. Jan. 16 A man in Japan tests positive after visiting Wuhan. Jan. 17 A second person in Wuhan dies. Jan. 20 Wuhan reports more than 200 cases. A third person dies. South Korea reports its first case. Jan. 21 The U.S. confirms its first coronavirus case, a man in his 30s who was hospitalized after returning from China. Jan. 23 China quarantines Wuhan. Jan. 26 China quarantines cities surrounding Wuhan, a population of 41 million people. Twenty-six people have died, and more than 800 are infected. Feb. 1 Cases of the virus have been identified in the UK, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Germany, and Vietnam. More than 250 people have died in China, and nearly 12,000 people have contracted COVID-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes.

Feb. 5 The Diamond Princess cruise ship is quarantined off the coast of Japan. Feb. 6 More than 28,000 cases have been reported in China, along with nearly 600 deaths. Feb. 7 Chinese whistleblower Dr. Lei Wenliang, a Wuhan ophthalmologist dies who had warned colleagues on December 30 about a SARS-like respiratory illness on WeChat, and who was later admonished by Chinese authorities, dies from the virus after contracting it from an infected patient at the hospital. Feb. 11 The WHO declares a public health emergency, dubbing the illness the virus causes COVID-19. Feb. 14 A patient in France dies of the novel coronavirus, becoming Europe’s first fatality. Feb. 16 While there are more than 68,000 cases in China, the country’s draconian containment measures cause the infection rate to begin to drop. Feb. 19 The first cases in Iran are reported, as well as two fatalities.

Feb. 21 Three cases are reported in Italy. Feb. 23 After a third death is reported in Italy, towns are locked down. Feb. 25 Trump administration economic adviser Larry Kudlow says, “We have contained this.” Feb. 26 Trump tells the country—and the falling stock market—that he’s done a great job and everything will be over soon: “And again, when you have 15 people—and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero—that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” Moments before he said that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed him of the first know case of community spread, meaning a case not linked to travel and a sign that the virus was about to spread quickly. Feb. 29 A person in a Seattle-area nursing home becomes the first U.S. fatality. March 3 Governor Cooper reports the first case of coronavirus in North Carolina, a Wake County man who had recently traveled to the Seattle-area nursing home.

March 6 A second case is reported in North Carolina, this time a person in Chatham County who had recently returned from Italy. March 9 Five more cases are identified in Wake County, employees of the Research Triangle Park company Biogen who had traveled to a conference in Boston. March 10 Cooper declares a state of emergency and asks those who can to telecommute for the foreseeable future. To date, seven people have tested positive for the virus in North Carolina, but the state’s shortage of test kits means that number is likely a vast undercount. March 11 The NBA suspends its season, and the NCAA cancels March Madness. Duke University extends its spring break a week and cancels in-person classes for the rest of the semester. In an Oval Office address, Trump blames the European Union for failing to contain the virus and enacts a travel ban. March 12 The stock market crashes. Seven new patients test positive for the virus in North Carolina, and a wave of local event cancellations begin. Billie Eilish, however, takes the stage with a crowd of 20,000 at PNC Arena in Raleigh—Live Nation cancels wouldn’t cancel its tours until the next day. March 13 Trump declares a state of emergency, as does Wake County. J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival is postponed. Durham County closes its schools, joining the two Orange County school districts (but not Wake’s). Three new cases are announced statewide. March 14 Seven new cases are confirmed, including a teacher from Fuquay-Varina, leading Wake County to cancel school as well. A few hours later, Governor Cooper signs an executive order ordering all schools closed for two weeks and banning gatherings of over 100 people. At this point, 24 cases have been identified statewide, but only 160 have been tested.

March 15 Seven more people test positive in North Carolina, including three in Wake County. March 16 Trump says the impacts of the virus may linger until July or August and recommends avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people. Seven new cases are reported throughout the state, including a 15th person in Wake County. March 17 Cooper orders all restaurants and bars closed to dine-in patrons. The Trump administration announces it will seek $850 billion in tax cuts and bailouts for the struggling airline industry. There are more than 185,0000 confirmed cases globally, more than 4,600 in the U.S., and at least 45 in North Carolina. So far, more than 7,300 people have died worldwide, including at least 85 in the U.S. There have been no documented COVID-19 fatalities in North Carolina thus far, nor has there been a documented case of community spread. That’s unlikely to be the case for long. W

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March 18, 2020



The Buck Stops Elsewhere “I didn’t do it,” says Trump, as the U.S. races to become Italy BY JEFFREY C. BILLMAN


Your Week. Every Wednesday. 10

March 18, 2020

n six words on Friday afternoon, Donald Trump summed up not only his team’s botched handling of the coronavirus outbreak but also his approach to the presidency generally: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Surrounded by corporate execs, Trump used the Rose Garden press conference to (finally) declare a national emergency. Mostly, however, the event was designed to assure Wall Street that the White House had (finally) gotten its act together. It had the desired effect; the market rallied. Then, on Sunday, the Fed announced that it was cutting its benchmark rate to zero, and Dow futures cratered. The market giveth, the market taketh away. Naturally, Trump’s passing the buck was rooted in mendacity. He said he had inherited unspecified “rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time” that hindered his ability to ramp up coronavirus testing, which wasn’t true. Trump then disclaimed his administration’s decision to disband the National Security Council team responsible for global pandemics: “And when you say me, I didn’t do it. We have a group of people. … You say we did that. I don’t know anything about it.” Trump isn’t responsible for the fact that the coronavirus is here. There’s nothing he or any other president could have done to stop that from happening. But as the number of COVID-19 cases rises over the next several weeks—probably significantly, possibly exponentially— he will bear responsibility for thousands of avoidable deaths. The president is in over his head, his administration is flailing, and Trump can’t bluster his way out of a pandemic like he has so many self-made crises. As I write this on Monday morning—two months after the first confirmed Ameri-

can case, on January 21—the U.S. has tested about 38,000 people for coronavirus, with about 3,500 positives. Of those, 65 have died. That’s a fatality rate of 1.8 percent; for comparison, the seasonal flu’s mortality rate is below 0.1 percent. The good news is, we’re testing a lot more people now. As of Friday, we’d only tested about 20,000—meaning we nearly doubled the count over the weekend. The bad news is, as of Friday, we’d only tested 20,000 people! On February 25, the U.S. had tested just 426 people. South Korea’s first case was confirmed just a day before America’s was. By Friday, it had tested 250,000 people. Rigorous testing and rapid processing have enabled the South Koreans to isolate people with the virus, treat them early, and detect outbreaks as they emerge. The U.S.’s failure stemmed from both bureaucratic bungling and the administration’s ineptitude. The result was that there weren’t enough tests, so tests were rationed. In the last week, I’ve corresponded with a half-dozen people in the Triangle who were symptomatic but couldn’t get tested. One had just come back from Spain, which is now on a coronavirus lockdown. (On Saturday, after a week of trying, she finally got tested at an urgent care clinic; she’ll get the results later this week.) Another had returned from New York City with flu-like symptoms and tested negative for the flu. Another had been to a conference in Baltimore where an attendee had been diagnosed with COVID-19. But there was also a lack of urgency that came straight from the top. From the crisis’s earliest days, Trump—desperate to keep the numbers of sick low and fearful of spooking the markets and harming his reelection—downplayed the seriousness of the situation, assuring Americans that the

coronavirus was no big deal, and it would all be over soon. Those are weeks we’ll never get back. It’s not just that we’ll never know how many coronavirus cases slipped under the radar—perhaps nine or 10 times the official count—and how many people are spreading the virus without knowing it. It’s that we lost our chance to contain emerging clusters and isolate and treat people with the virus early on. Also, with more information about how COVID-19 was spreading, we could have proactively implemented social distancing. So instead of containing the virus, the U.S. is on track to replicate the disaster in Italy, where cases are doubling every week, hospitals are running out of ICU beds, and deaths are spiking. Here’s another thing: Trump’s dismissiveness, echoed by the right-wing media, has turned the coronavirus into a partisan issue. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this weekend, whereas 60 percent of voters believe the crisis will get worse, only 40 percent of Republicans think so. Given that Trump’s base disproportionately comprises older people who are more susceptible to COVID-19, the Trump-fueled idea that the coronavirus has been overhyped could pose a real threat to public health. No president could have stopped the coronavirus. But a more trusted one, a more prepared one—one who didn’t spend his first term dismantling the government expertise he now needs—could have offered the country clear and steady direction in difficult times. But through his dissembling and disinformation, Trump has consistently made a bad situation worse, and this crisis has made manifestly clear how ill-equipped he is for the job he holds. W



Schools are closed. Shows are canceled. Your 401K tanked, your job might vanish, you’re stuck at home for God knows how long, and you’re starting to wonder if that cough is more than a cough. Let’s talk about how we got here. BY JEFFREY C. BILLMAN, THOMASI MCDONALD, SARA PEQUEÑO, LEIGH TAUSS, AND COLE VILLENA


his sucks. Every single thing about it sucks. It sucks for the businesses that have shut down. It sucks for the people who are out of work. It sucks for the artists who are missing performances or exhibitions. It sucks for the (ahem) newspapers that are forgoing ad revenue. It sucks for the parents who have to deal with their kids all day while they’re working from home. It sucks for everyone who likes getting a bite to eat or hanging out in a bar or going to see a band or enjoying the company of others or simply not being broke. But here we are, in a state of emergency, everything closed, the stock market in the crapper, a recession lurking, mass gatherings banned, instructed to avoid groups of more than 10, watching the number of cases and deaths grow daily, now being told that this morass could last until July or August. And it all happened so quickly. When we woke up 15 days ago, North Carolina didn’t have any coronavirus cases. Perhaps you’ve read up on the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID19. Or maybe you haven’t had a chance; it’s been a hell of a week, after all. Either way, you probably have questions. Actually, we know you do. Many of the 16 questions in this package come directly from our readers. We did our best to find answers. Having answers won’t make things suck any less. But you might learn a little bit about why everything sucks, and, hey, that’s something. Right?

March 18, 2020



What is the coronavirus? Where did it come from?

There isn’t just one coronavirus. There are hundreds of them, common among pigs, camels, cats, and bats. Since 1965, we’ve known that some can make the jump from animals to humans, where they typically cause upper-respiratory-tract infections. The first four tended to cause only mild illness and are often mistaken for the common cold. But the three that have spilled over to humans in the 21st century have caused much more dangerous diseases: Severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, appeared in 2002 and lasted until 2004; it infected more than 8,000 and killed almost 800. Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, emerged in 2012, afflicting about 2,500 people and causing 861 deaths. COVID-19 arose from a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Its origin isn’t clear. Doctors first began taking note of the new respiratory infection in Wuhan, China, in late December, with many of the cases stemming from individuals who had visited a seafood market. That led scientists to believe the coronavirus came from something sold there. Lately, however, researchers have traced cases further back, to individuals with no connection to the market. The first known case, in fact, is a 55-yearold in Hubei province, whose case dates to November 17. Scientists believe the coronavirus originated in a bat and then jumped to another animal—perhaps the exotic pangolin, a scaly anteater whose scales area delicacy in China—which passed it to humans.


What does COVID-19 feel like? How do I know if I have it? How can I avoid it?

COVID-19 is characterized by fever, fatigue, and a dry cough, as well as headache, shortness of breath, aches and pains, nasal congestion, and sore throat in some patients. Most of the time, these symptoms are mild; in fact, some infected people don’t have any symptoms at all. About one in six people, however, becomes seriously ill and has trouble breathing. This is particularly common among older people. In some cases, COVID-19 can lead to pneumonia. In other words, it’s not unlike influenza, which is why you have to have a negative flu test before you can be tested for the coronavirus (see below). The 12

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primary difference between the two is that, while they’re transmitted in similar ways—through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing, or talking—the coronavirus is more contagious. Like the flu, the coronavirus can likely be spread days before symptoms appear; unlike the flu, coronavirus might be spread in an airborne manner, meaning tiny droplets containing the virus might linger in the air and cause disease after the infected person leaves the area. In addition, because the novel coronavirus is, well, novel, humans have no immunity to it, nor have we developed antivirals or a vaccine. You’re probably tired of hearing this, but the best way to avoid the coronavirus is to practice good hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and/or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoid touching your face; cough and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand; stay home if you feel ill; clean and disinfect surfaces that you regularly touch daily; and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Meanwhile, social distancing—deliberately increasing the physical space between you and others—will help slow the virus’s spread. (More on that in a second.) Soap, in case you’re wondering, works so well against pathogens because of its molecular structure: Each molecule has a hydrophilic head that bonds with water and a hydrophobic tail that sheds it, instead preferring oils and fats. Coronaviruses have molecules wrapped in lipid membranes. When you wash in soap and water, you surround the pathogens on your skin with soap molecules; when the soap molecules’ hydrophobic tails try to flee the water, they wedge themselves into the viruses’ lipid membranes and tear them apart. Hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content similarly kill viruses by destabilizing them at the molecular level, but they do not remove microorganisms from the skin, as you do when you rinse your hands after washing.


How many people have this thing? How many have been tested for it? For that matter, how many tests are available? As of Monday night, more than 181,300 people around the world had confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins Institute’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering tracker, and more than 7,100 had died. In the U.S., there were 4,464 confirmed cases and 78 deaths. As of Monday morning,

the U.S. had 3,500 cases and 65 deaths, so things seem to be accelerating, though that increase could be due to more widespread testing. North Carolina had 45 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning—15 of which are in Wake County, the most in the state—one hospitalization, and, fortunately, no known deaths from COVID-19. The state has no documented occurrences of community spread, or transmission from one member of a community to another. It’s very unlikely that none exists, however. More likely, a lack of testing means we simply don’t know about it. As of Monday, 369 people had been tested by the state lab, according to state Senator Jeff Jackson, and more—though we don’t know how many—had been tested by academic or private labs. Currently, the state lab has the capacity to perform about 1,300 more tests; the non-state facilities can likely do many more. To qualify for a test at a state lab, you need to have a fever of 100.4 degrees, shortness of breath or a dry cough, and a negative flu test. Even then, your doctor has to contact the county department of health for permission, which may be denied because there aren’t enough tests available. You can get a non-state test from a commercial lab or hospital that has the capability to perform it with a doctor’s order.


What’s the point of social distancing?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “flattening the curve.” The idea is this: If we don’t take preventative measures, including closing everything down and isolating ourselves, the coronavirus will spread so fast that we’ll overload the system. The number of cases will spike, hospitals will get overcrowded, doctors will become sick, there won’t be enough ventilators—the epidemic will burn out faster, but a lot more people will die. With social isolation and proper hygiene measures, the epidemic might last longer, but it will spread in a slower and more manageable manner, and our medical system should be able to keep up. Without strict social distancing and the quarantining of those with COVID19, according to a new report from British researchers, the U.S. could suffer 2.2 million deaths from the coronavirus this year. With quarantining alone, the number of deaths is likely to fall in the high hundreds of thousands, if not more.


What exactly has closed?

On Saturday, Governor Cooper closed K-12 public schools for two weeks and banned mass gatherings of more than 100 people—including festivals, concerts, religious services, and sporting events—for a month. The week before that, Duke University closed its campus, moving to remote learning. UNC-Chapel Hill did, too, followed by the rest of the UNC System. Some restaurants closed, while others transitioned to takeout or delivery-only service. Over the weekend, a handful of bars began to shut down, as well. They were getting ahead of the inevitable. On Tuesday, Cooper announced that he was closing bars and restaurants as well, though restaurants could continue to offer takeout and delivery options.


Why did everything start shutting down after only a dozen people in North Carolina got sick? Because we could see what was coming, and because we know that pandemics like this spread exponentially. As Megan McArdle explained in The Washington Post last week, “When something dangerous is growing exponentially, everything looks fine until it doesn’t. In the early days of the Wuhan epidemic, when no one was taking precautions, the number of cases appears to have doubled every four to five days.” Right now, the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. closely tracks where Italy was about two weeks ago. Italy, of course, is now completely shut down, with overwhelmed hospitals and a sharply climbing death toll. If we waited too long to act, the same would happen here.


If we’re closing down every confined space, what about people behind bars? Indeed, jails notoriously incubate and amplify infectious diseases. Each day, about 600,000 people, most of whom haven’t been convicted of a crime, are held in one of 3,000 local jails across the country, often in the kinds of overcrowded, unsanitary conditions that pathogens love. What’s more, prisoners are coming and being released regularly, bringing in viruses from the outside and taking them out from the inside.

North Carolina had 45 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning.

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office has responded to the threat by suspending in-person and even video visitation. Visits will now have to take place remotely, which requires “visitors” to fill out an online form and download an app (preferably on an Android device). In addition, the DCSO says it will begin medically screening all new prisoners for symptoms of the coronavirus and quarantine new inmates for 24 hours before moving them to the general population. Inmates will be screened again on their way out. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office’s prescreening plan involves asking new detainees if they’ve recently traveled outside of the U.S. or been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19. The Wake jail has four quarantine cells to house infected inmates, and, as of Friday, the WCSO said it was considering limiting jail visits. On Friday, Governor Cooper announced that visits to all state prisons were being suspended, save for legal and pastoral visitors (who will have to be screened by medical personnel). Also, newly arrived offenders will be screened, and those will symptoms will be isolated. To offset the suspension of visitation, the Department of Public Safety said it would allow inmates to make more phone calls.


Now that the universities have closed, what will happen to contractors, such as the food-service staff? What’s going to happen to international students who don’t have anywhere to go? Earlier this week, Duke’s contract dining workers sent a letter to the university’s president demanding to know how the university plans to fulfill its obligations to them, including furlough pay and a promise that their positions will be reinstated

when operations resume. In hurricanes and snow events, the workers noted, they’ve been treated as “mandatory staff.” At UNC-Chapel Hill, Carolina Dining Services employees are contracted through Aramark Corporation. The university says it is paying employees for remote work when possible and providing paid administrative leave for up to 30 days for those who can’t work remotely, but for contractors, it’s up to their employer. Aramark did not return the INDY’s phone call seeking comment. Duke’s international students can return to their home countries and finish classes online. If they choose to stay in North Carolina and live on campus, Duke’s website instructs them to fill out a housing registration form and says a staff member can follow up. Students can also live off-campus, of course, but they need to notify the university. UNC-Chapel Hill hasn’t released specific guidelines for its international students. On Tuesday, the UNC System ordered students off of its campuses and reduced housing and dining options. N.C. State told students that if they have no place else to go, they should fill out a Special Circumstances Housing Request Form.


Last week, when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, it praised China and South Korea for their containment efforts. What have those countries done that others haven’t? While China has by far the most cases of novel coronavirus, it has reduced the number of new cases by an astounding 90 percent through a system of vigorous testing and rigid isolation that might not be possible in a less authoritarian country. It wasn’t just that Hubei province—with


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March 18, 2020


nearly 60 million people—was put on lockdown mere weeks after the new respiratory illness emerged. It was that China was willing to do whatever was necessary to contain the epidemic, to the point of placing hundreds of millions of people in isolation and wrecking its economy. Chinese officials took the temperatures of those entering government buildings, apartments, and offices. Anyone with a fever was dispatched to a mobile coronavirus clinic, each of which could diagnose hundreds of cases a day. Even those with mild infections with quarantined away from their families in mass isolation centers inside stadiums. South Korea wasn’t so draconian, but it did put in place the world’s most aggressive coronavirus testing regime, assessing some 10,000 people a day, a total of about 250,000 by Monday. With the widespread testing, the Koreans tracked the movements of those who tested positive to an almost granular level—e.g., where they sat in a movie theater—and posted them (without their names) on the internet.


How long is this going to last?

We don’t know. But it won’t be over as soon as you’d like. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said life wouldn’t get back to normal for “several weeks to a few months for sure.” On Monday, President Trump—who’d heretofore downplayed the coronavirus threat—went further, saying the crisis might last until July or August.


How will the coronavirus affect the census?

Yes and no. Come hell or high water, the government will complete its constitutionally mandated headcount, even if that means sending people to your doorstep in protective gear. North Carolina’s census team has been instructed to work from home for the time being, says state census liaison Bob Coats. Surveys have already gone out en masse through the postal service. North Carolina did not plan to start its ground game until early April; that’s been pushed back two weeks. Residents should be receiving surveys in the mail. To make everyone’s life easier, just fill it out and put it back in the mail, or go to to complete it. 14

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Goldman Sachs forecast that GDP would contract by 5% in the second quarter.

The more people do this, the fewer census workers might be exposed to the virus later. While some universities have already submitted counts of their students, others had to shut down before completing the survey. Students who are now staying off-campus are asked to respond as if they’re still living in their dorm, Coats says. State and federal leaders are still discussing what precautions may be necessary to ensure the safety of census employees, who typically go door-to-door in neighborhoods where they have not received responses. “What we don't know is, will these people have things like masks? Will they be wearing gloves? I think the Census Bureau is still looking for guidance on that nationally,” Coats says.


Is there any way the coronavirus could affect the November elections? We don’t know. Following the cancellation of state primaries in Georgia and Louisiana, local elections officials are scrambling to figure out how to conduct a safe election if we’re still in the throes of the pandemic come November. Step one has been to give State Board of Elections executive director Karen Brinson Bell special emergency powers during the crisis, which will allow her to change protocols as needed. Bell immediately announced that she would extend the reporting period for precincts by a month and add extra precautions in the event of a recount. Elections employees have also been given the option to work from home, and board members have been encouraged to meet via phone. The most pressing issue is the runoff in the 11th Congressional District, scheduled for May 12. Right now, elections officials aren’t sure what to do; a task force will meet on the subject this week. No matter what, absentee-by-mail requests must be submitted by the federal deadline of March 28.

However, relying on the postal service could be a logistical nightmare, says Gerry Cohen, a member of the Wake County Board of Elections, requiring a gargantuan amount of paperwork and additional staff. The easier path would be to delay the election, but that won’t happen without congressional and judicial approval, which is unlikely.


Why is the stock market imploding? Are we going to have a recession?

On Monday, the S&P 500 fell nearly 12 percent—the latest very bad day in a string of very bad days, and the market’s worst day since 1987. In addition, Goldman Sachs forecast that GDP would contract by 5 percent in the second quarter, something we haven’t seen since 2008. So the short answer is yes, we’re likely headed toward a recession. The pandemic started in China, the world’s manufacturing hub, which means it wrecked supply chains, making it more difficult to get things made and on shelves. But the bigger issue is demand. Global spending is slowing, so businesses are throttling back investment. More and more, they’ll furlough or lay off workers, which will lead to even less spending. And even among the still-gainfully employed, social distancing will lead to less spending, as well. In a consumer-based economy like ours, that makes a downturn all but inevitable.


Do we know how much money these closures and cancellations are costing the local economy?

Without knowing how long the crisis is going to last, it’s hard to calculate the economic carnage. But here are a few broad data points. Last year, according to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, food and drink sales

accounted for $267 million in the downtown area alone. April is the second-busiest month of the year for that sector, after September Downtown Durham, meanwhile, counts 168 restaurants and bars serving 230,000 people who live nearby, a lynchpin of the $134 million in private investment the urban core saw in 2019, according to Downtown Durham Inc. In its 2018–19 season, the Durham Performing Arts Center sold out 163 of 240 events and brought in more than 536,000 guests. DPAC pumped nearly $3 million into city coffers. According to its most recent tax filings, the Carolina Theatre brought in more than $3.1 million in revenue in 2017, as well as about $3.4 million in 2016. In Raleigh, last year’s inaugural Dreamville Festival accounted for almost $4 million in economic impact and more than $233,000 in local tax revenue. That event will now be postponed until August. The much larger International Bluegrass Music Association, scheduled for September, generates about $61 million in economic impact, according to the DRA. Assuming the pandemic abates by the end of summer, both of those events, as well as Hopscotch, should be good to go. But the city is going to suffer regardless. May, June, and April—in that order—are Raleigh’s third, fourth, and fifth most lucrative months for the kinds of downtown events that are now prohibited, following September and October.


What’s the government doing about that?

With most recessions, the answer is to stimulate the economy by flooding it with money, through some combination of tax cuts and direct government spending. After the Great Recession hit, for example, Congress responded with both the stimulus and bailouts for banks and the auto industry. In addition, the Federal Reserve typically lowers interest rates to make it easier to borrow money. Over the weekend, the Fed lowered the benchmark rate to zero, effectively maxing out its leverage; the fix has to come from fiscal, not monetary, policy. But this recession is a little different. What’s changed isn’t that people don’t have money to spend; it’s that they have fewer places to spend it when they’re being told to isolate at home. Giving them more money isn’t going to change that equation. But there’s a ripple effect when enough people don’t take vacations or business

trips or eat out or go to the movies. Airline attendants (and then airport employees) get laid off, and they don’t have money to spend; hospitality workers lose shifts, and they don’t have money to spend. The less they spend, the bigger the ripple. On Tuesday, the Trump administration was set to propose an $850 billion stimulus package, with about $50 billion going to bail out the airline industry, $100 billion to fund paid sick leave for affected workers, some unspecified assistance for small businesses and their employees, and the rest funneled into the economy via tax cuts, likely a cut to the payroll tax. The topline amount is larger than the stimulus the Obama administration pushed through Congress in 2009—and Republicans vehemently opposed. Here, the administration is likely to run into opposition in the Democratic House over bailing out airlines and offering tax cuts rather than giving direct assistance to workers, health care providers, schools, and seniors. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s $750 billion counter would expand unemployment insurance and Medicaid funding, halt evictions and foreclosures, invest in health care, and provide loan assistance.

After all, payroll tax cuts only help if you have a job—and if you have a job, but there’s still nowhere to spend your money, they won’t stimulate the economy very much. In North Carolina, the General Assembly is working remotely until at least April 1, and lawmakers won’t be back in session until April 28; there’s no constitutional or legal provision that addresses casting votes remotely. House Speaker Tim Moore has signaled that he’s opened to some kind of stimulus, though he hasn’t said what. Democratic state Senator Jeff Jackson wants to look at tax cuts, ensuring that people can access cash immediately, and making coronavirus tests are free. He says the General Assembly should go into a special session as soon as possible. The state has also put a 30-day hold on most court proceedings, including evictions and foreclosures. Locally, the Orange Water and Sewer Authority and the cities of Durham and Raleigh have announced that they won’t disconnect water for nonpayment during the crisis.

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Besides limiting the spread of the virus, what can we do to help people in our community?

Organizations like TABLE and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina have increased their food distribution efforts while laying out rigorous cautionary health measures to ensure that food is delivered safely to those who need it most. You can also be community-focused when getting food for yourself. Don’t stockpile; buying more than you need can cause shortages. In particular, avoid buying low-in-stock WIC-eligible products—once those products are gone, people who rely on WIC go home empty-handed. Service workers are especially vulnerable during the mass closings, and a GoFundMe called Creating Social Distance: Service Industry Workers has been set up to help Triangle-area employees stay afloat. For every $10,000 raised, the organization will donate $100 to 100 service workers. You can support local restaurants that are still open directly by ordering takeout and tipping generously, or by purchasing

gift cards now to use when they reopen. In addition, musicians and artists will be hard-hit by closures and canceled shows, too. Donating to a relief fund or becoming an arts sustainer are obvious ways to help, but doing little things like buying merch or not asking for refunds will help, as well. At the end of the day, this pandemic is something we’ll have to fight together. Social distancing is good, but feelings of loneliness are bad. Check in on your loved ones, offer to help elderly neighbors get groceries, and—this is important— take stock of your own mental health. The wave of closures and event cancellations has led to a sharp decline in the INDY’s advertising revenue. Help us weather the storm: Go to and join the INDY Press Club today. Your contribution—whether $1 a month, $100 one time, or anywhere in between—will keep independent local journalism viable in the Triangle when we need it most. W

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March 18, 2020


1,000 Words


Last Tuesday evening, a Raleigh police officer responding to a 911 call shot 26-year-old Javier Torres in the abdomen. (Torres survived.) Within a few hours, sparked by social media posts (wrongly) saying Torres was 16 and the police had shot him in the back, some 300 protesters amassed downtown and marched along Fayetteville Street. Deck-Brown blamed “reckless and false information” for the demonstration. Perhaps. But years of mistrust between the community and cops fueled the fire. W


March 18, 2020

March 18, 2020



Unfortunate Events Amid COVID-19 cancellations, local art workers are struggling today and fearing tomorrow. Here’s what they’re facing and how to help. BY BRIAN HOWE


s an independent artist, I’m scared,” said Durham DJ and event curator Gemynii, summing up the anxiety and uncertainty that prevailed among the dozens of local art workers the INDY spoke with while events and audiences evaporated because of growing concerns over the coronavirus. The wave of event cancellations that began on Thursday and Friday was breaking, by Monday, from prevalent to near-universal. “I’ve had a tour canceled because sponsors froze their assets and a gig this Saturday canceled at Motorco,” Gemynii said Thursday. “I also have a gig in New Orleans at the end of the month, and I’m worried about that being cancelled as well. We have a whole community of creatives who are just as worried as I am about their survival. Some folks live check to check. I live gig to gig. No parties means no funds to pay the essentials like rent and groceries.” Among artists without academic or corporate funding, many of whom already live on a shoestring, Gemynii is far from alone in seeing not only a livelihood, but also a passion for community-building put on pause as social distancing increases in prevalence. “Many of my gigs have been cancelled or moved to a virtual video call,” says musician A.yoni Jeffries. “Most of the work that I do intersects on the fronts of being a queer Afro-indigenous woman and creating spaces that allow for people like me to break out of social norms and find means of joy to seek fulfillment together. … I know that this will affect me deeply, as this is the way I support myself day in and day out.” In a single day on Thursday, Laura Windley of Mint Julep Jazz Band says she saw the cancellation of a charity fundraiser and two gigs. Meanwhile, she was cancelling gigs she’d booked for others for the Triangle Swing Dance Society. She also 18

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learned that the pandemic would delay her payment from a recent European gig, while her husband, Lucian Cobb, lost two gigs at Sharp 9 Gallery. As of Friday, some artists were still struggling with the ethics of continuing to put on events as concerns about the epidemic grew. Durham musician Charles Latham had decided, though not without reservations, to go ahead with weekend shows in Winston-Salem and Charlotte. “I’m torn between good citizenship in the form of social distancing versus a need to both provide and experience the catharsis of live music,” Latham said. “Our bassist, Billie Feather, just brought me some latex gloves for bill-counting!” In the end, though, Latham decided to cancel the Sunday gig in Charlotte; he says he’s planning a livestreamed concert to make up for it. “It was a hard call because it put the venue in a tough spot and put us out of some good money and even better times,” Latham said. Stacy Wolfson, who has both a Pilates studio and a dance company (The Bipeds), fears that even if she and Curtis Eller continue to host their lively monthly dance-and-music event at the small studio Shadowbox, no one will come. “Social distancing is going to affect me on all fronts,” she said. “I am fully prepared to take [Pilates] clients via Skype or FaceTime if it comes down to that, but what about live shows? I fear our monthly Shadowbox sessions may take a hit with audience numbers. It is a wait-and-see game, and we are left questioning, what is the right thing to do? Is it our responsibility to cancel everything? Does the show go on? It is very tricky territory!” For artists with immune-system vulnerabilities, the calculus of continuing or

The Pinhook is one of many local venues exploring alternative funding as the coronavirus epidemic puts normal operations on hold indefinitely. PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER

cancelling is even more complicated. Marta Mickelsen is a self-employed designer who sells her wares at pop-culture conventions around the country. “If I attend these events, I’m risking my health (I’m immunocompromised) and facing lower turnout, which will most likely hurt my projected sales,” she said. “If I decide not to vend at these shows, I risk not receiving a refund for my booth fee and sitting on merchandise I’ve already purchased for these events.” Meanwhile, instead of grappling with whether to cancel, many artists are finding the choice made for them, with immediate economic repercussions and no end in sight. By Friday, Durham musician al Riggs had already lost upcoming shows at Duke Coffeehouse and The Pinhook, which is closed until April 3. (The Durham club has started a Patreon for its operations and staff to try to make up the loss.) “We’re still trying to put on [the Duke Coffeehouse show] somewhere else, but we’re not going to be paid the same amount, considering the money would be coming from Duke,” Riggs said. “That money would have been a big help!” On Facebook, Riggs asked their fans to consider buying their new T-shirt or a CD via Bandcamp instead and doing the same for any artists and service workers affected by coronavirus-based cancellations. Riggs also played a free show on Instagram over the weekend; they say almost 100 people checked in throughout the hour. By Monday, Chris Vitiello, aka Durham fixture The Poetry Fox, had lost dozens of upcoming gigs. He’s planning some online events to write poems for people live on video. “Since arts spending is always seen as an extra, organizations that hire me and others will probably be cautious for another year,” Vitiello said. “We’ll have to cut our rates just to get gigs, and then it will be harder to get paid what we’re worth. I’d guess this is a two-year setback for The Poetry Fox.” Artists are trying to figure out not just how to ask for support, but what kind of support it’s OK to ask for. Tara Henry runs the art events-and-teaching business Pedagogy Art LLC and the Authors and Art Studio in Raleigh. “March financial goals will definitely not be met,” Henry said. “New inquiries are not looking good for April. I am tempted to put every cash link I own on public sympathy. However, everyone is in the grips of uncertainty. I love my studio and the work it does for so many in my community, but folks are worried about their homes, jobs, and health.” Henry did go on to start a sustainability fundraiser on Facebook.

“We went from a solid, comfortable coast through the rest of the 2019-20 concert season to up shit’s creek indefinitely in the blink of an eye.”


hen an artist loses a gig, the effects ripple out beyond the artist. Durham beat-music collective Raund Haus is suspending its popular parties until May, according to Nick Wallhauser. This nixes its first collaboration with The Floor, which would have taken place at The Fruit on March 21. Wallhauser says Raund Haus might explore streaming events if there’s demand, and The Floor has set up a GoFundMe to try to pay the cancelled party’s support staff. “I think artists who supplement their income with service-industry jobs and hospitality jobs—this goes from bars and restaurants to the CrossFit trainer who is also an artist—will have the worst of all of this,” Wallhauser said. “The staff of events places are in big jeopardy here.” Rebecca Fox and Rebecca Jackson-Artis, who collaborate as The Rebecca Show, indefinitely postponed their sketch-comedy show What if I’m the Becky? on the day of its opening at Pure Life Theatre in Raleigh. “Even though it was a painful decision, it was not a difficult one,” Fox says. “Considering we wrote an entire show around the concept of being ethical, even when it’s inconvenient, we knew this was the right decision. If we can prevent contributing to overcrowded ICUs, why wouldn’t we?” But Fox acknowledged that she and Jackson-Artis were not dependent on the show, which was supported by a Manbites Dog grant, for their livelihood, and that for others, the choice of social distancing could be more consequential. “The most painful thing for us is that we have to postpone paying our stage manager,” Fox said. “She has been incredible, and the plan was to pay her a percentage of the door. In addition to that, we’ve paid for the rental of Pure Life, for time-specific advertising, and of course have put in lots of work. Public safety is more important than our posters, though.” Shana Tucker is a performing and teaching cellist and singer and a small-business owner; she employs other musicians and support staff whose travel costs and performance fees and agents only get paid if she does.

“In a matter of minutes this morning, thousands of dollars disappeared from my anticipated income for the months of March and April,” Tucker said on Thursday. “Much of that income was from university-associated venues that closed because of the umbrella institution. Other income was coming from venues where their primarily older, financially-capable-though-retired audiences opted to social distance.” Like several artists we heard from, Tucker is frustrated less by the necessity of social distancing than by the uneven distribution of access to it. “I’m writing all of this to be reminded that this shit is real, that exemption/relief from the hardship and the virus is a luxury reserved for the wealthy,” she said. “I have every right to be frustrated and disappointed and concerned about the state of my industry, my livelihood, and my financial and physical health. ... We went from a solid, comfortable coast through the rest of the 2019-20 concert season to up shit’s creek indefinitely in the blink of an eye.”


hile large venues and organizations with strong funding foundations will likely weather the crisis, it poses an existential threat to small or burgeoning ones that already operate on the edge of financial possibility. One such Durham organization is the barely-one-year-old (but already essential) NorthStar Church of the Arts, which has no endowments or corporate sponsors; it operates on donations, ticket sales, usage fees, and grants. “As a seedling of an organization, losing any amount of revenue is a strain on our capacity to grow sustainably,” said NorthStar’s executive director, Heather Cook, who has been working full-time on a parttime salary while trying to build a sustainable five-year model. “I believe we can do it but pushing pause on programming for two months is certainly an unpredicted and unprecedented hit,” Cook said. “Cancelling through April looks like us losing potentially $15,000 in revenue. Considering that our operating budget in 2019 was

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March 18, 2020


$70,000, it’s a huge setback in moving us toward a more sustainable financial model.” There’s also the sheer workload of managing cancellations to contend with. “Cancelling what would have been the busiest season to date for us is taking tremendous hours of labor in rebooking with artists, volunteers, sound engineers, vendors, rental companies, etc.” Cook said. “It’s roller-coaster of unprecedented chaos.” Cook is also worried about less-tangible long-term consequences, such as the tightening purse strings of donors as the economy craters and the loss of momentum for young, growing institutions, especially those that serve marginalized populations. “Putting the brakes on it all in this moment has me worried that we’ll find ourselves on the other side of this pandemic looking like a sad week-old party balloon,” Cook said. “You’ll be able to see what was and what could have been, but we’ll all be too damn tired and deflated to be useful. Without some significant financial relief efforts (read: government and institutional funds), it’s going to take the Durham arts community a long time to spring back from this.” While small institutions such as NorthStar might face greater permanent damage than large ones such as Full Frame, the cancellations of the latter have trickle-down effects on the former. Dave Wofford of letterpress studio and gallery Horse & Buggy Press says that without a Full Frame program guide to design, which he’s done for years, he’s out a few thousand dollars and the chance to advertise his new PS 118 gallery and event space next to Chet Miller on Parrish Street. “Who knows if people will feel comfortable going to visit galleries?” Wofford wondered. “I sure hope so. We are wiping down door handles and other common things people touch.” He carried on with the closing reception for a Horse & Buggy exhibit on Saturday afternoon, though he later closed both spaces. (Online viewing begins March 25, before the galleries—Wofford hopes— reopen April 1; visit Horse & Buggy’s website for details.) The arts institutions best positioned to weather the storm are those with models reliant on public and private grants and sustainer programs rather than revenue. Saxapahaw performance lab Culture Mill is the prime example. “I think this crisis exposes what many of us in the arts already know,” co-director Tommy Noonan said. “The arts are not, nor should they be, goods and services. The arts should not be subject to the same market forces as the rest of the economy.” If there were ever a time to face and act on this truth, it’s now. At the INDY, we often talk about the need to support artists so they can make the art that enriches our personal lives and civic landscape. But this is different: At the most vulnerable end of the spectrum, we’re talking about the need to support art and service workers so that they can just live. Let’s hear from The Pinhook’s Kym Register in the thick of the crisis, and then dive into how we can help: “If you were going to an event at The Pinhook or NorthStar and are now instead staying home, think of donating to your local music venues so that they can pay their staff. Those of you that have salaried jobs and might not be hit by this financial crisis as badly as others—think of reaching out to your favorite bartender or sound person and seeing if they need anything. It’s time for community response. People who live paycheck to paycheck need your help. We can’t rely on the government or corporations to step in and give us money or banks to give us breaks on loans or mortgages. We already know that. That’s not what capitalism is. So talk to your friends, neighbors, bartenders, service workers, sound techs, and musician friends and see what they need. We can only do this together.” W 20

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W H AT CA N YO U DO TO H E L P LOCA L A RT WO R KE RS ? DONATE TO A RELIEF FUND. Find links to the Durham Artists Relief Fund, the NC Artist Relief Fund, the Orange County Arts Support Fund, and more in the online version of this story. BUY MERCH. If there’s a piece of art you’ve been eyeing, an album you’ve been streaming, or a book you’ve been thinking of pre-ordering from a local retailer, now’s the time to buy. Many dance and theater companies have gift certificates and/or sustainer programs, too. BECOME A SUSTAINER. Chances are better than not that your favorite arts organization, and maybe even individual artist, has a sustainer program. Check the websites of the people and places that add the most to your life. Venues we know of with active fundraising campaigns include The Pinhook, NorthStar Church of the Arts, Nightlight, and Arcana. AGGREGATE RESOURCES. Artists are essentially freelancers, and resources for freelancers are always vital and usually scarce. Now more than ever, consolidation is key so that people who need help and people who want to help can connect. Search online for “COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources blog” for a good start. SUPPORT SERVICE WORKERS WHO MAKE THE ART EXPERIENCE POSSIBLE. Consider donating to the “Creating Social Distance: Service Industry Workers” fundraiser. If you eat out, tip extra to compensate for income loss and safety risk. If you were planning to go to something, consider donating what you would have spent on tickets, food, and drinks. DON’T ASK FOR REFUNDS. I mean, if it’s a Live Nation tour at a corporate venue, get that money. But for independent venues, presenters, and artists, think about whether you can afford to just take the L before asking for a refund and clogging up their communications with unanswerable questions. I’d extend this courtesy to academic presenters, too—at Carolina Performing Arts, Full Frame, Duke Performances, and others, consider making your ticket price a tax-deductible gift. PUT YOUR HELP WHERE IT’S MOST NEEDED. I’m thinking of it this way: I know can afford to spend the money I was already planning to spend at restaurants, bars, and shows, so I’m going to spend it anyway. But when you’re thinking about where to put your discretionary income, consider whether your favorite artist has a large following, corporate support, or a stable salaried job. If they’re already being flooded with donations and purchases, maybe it’s time to try something new, or go to one of the artist relief funds above so you can trust that your money will go to help the most vulnerable. STAY ENGAGED. Many local artists are talking about testing the demand for virtual events, from performances to classes, and they need people to show up for them. And maybe they just need to hear from you in general. In addition to financial support, “Reach out and let them know how much you dig it,” Charles Latham said. “If you were planning to come to a show that’s been cancelled or aren’t feeling safe enough to come to one that hasn’t, tell them you’ll catch them next time. Sometimes those simple messages of support and encouragement are the fuel you need to continue on what can often feel like an uphill climb.”


Volunteers unload supplies on Ocracoke during the Hurricane Dorian response. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIL CHRISTENSEN

DIY Disaster Relief Impromptu mutual-aid groups try to fill the gaps in federal aid BY SARAH EDWARDS


nce you factor in the ferry ride, a round trip between the Triangle and Ocracoke takes about 22 hours. The composer and keyboardist Jil Christensen has come to know this flat, quiet drive down I-64 well over the past two years. Christensen is the executive director of Day One Disaster Relief, a nonprofit that she founded during Hurricane Florence to aid disaster-affected populations in North Carolina. During Florence, she quickly mobilized volunteer pilots and NGOs to transport supplies to the coast. Last week, though, the aid flowed in the other direction, as Eastern North Carolina funneled donations into the Triangle. On March 9, Christensen found herself driving to a potato factory on the coast to pick up supplies donated by a community partner. After unloading the contents of an old semi-trailer into her vehicle, she was back on the road to Durham, where Day One has organized a fundraising campaign for Durham’s critical needs, which include N95 masks and ventilators. Rebekah Miel, who has previously initiated rapid-response fundraisers in Durham—including the community fundraiser after last year’s Brightleaf explosion—is co-running efforts. “Now we’re faced with the whole reason why I started this, which is that I thought we were going to have a disaster in the Triangle,” Christensen says. “And now we do.” In just a few days, the rapid spread of the coronavirus has changed the nature of disaster relief. Unlike a forest fire or an earthquake, the virus isn’t isolated to a clearly defined region. With the federal response coming so late, numerous mutual-aid groups—impromp-

tu, volunteer-led resource-sharing organizations—are stepping in to fill the gap. Some are more specific to organizing: The Facebook group “COVID19 / Coronavirus Mutual Aid in Durham, NC” contains a “Neighborhood Pods How-To” with information on how to become a neighborhood “point-person.” As contact between strangers becomes increasingly dangerous, it becomes more important for neighbors to have creative communication lines. A template for flyers posted in this group has detailed information about the virus, with hotlines and various neighbors’ contact information. A Google Doc collects brainstorming about how to keep different neighborhoods or streets in the loop: WhatsApp? Text chains? Phone buddies? It’s still early, but caretaking systems are forming. Mutual Aid Carrboro is partnering with NC Piedmont DSA to fundraise for workers who have been sent home without pay. A solidarity fund goes to the emergencies faced by these workers—evictions, utility shut-offs, missed payments, and the like. This mutual-aid is particularly far-reaching: Applications can be found in Spanish, English, and Chinese, and there are phone lines with interpreters available for Karen, Burmese, and Kinyarwanda speakers. On a Duke campus now mostly emptied of students, displaced students and contingent workers remain. The Duke Mutual Aid group was organized on March 13, following Duke’s announcement that it would finish the semester remotely. This group, which is led by first-year student Lily Levin and which has swelled to 1,438 members in four days, is modeled on a similar mutual-aid group in Chicago. Its need assessments are comprehensive: A detailed Excel document provides information for those offering and in need of housing, travel assistance, food, or money. A fundraising initiative has raised more than $9,000 since Saturday, and Levin says that distribution is operating on a careful “honor system” basis. “I think it’s a pretty anti-capitalist mutual communal practice,” Levin says of organizing efforts. “The people who are the most involved in it are folks who are

already pretty active on campus [with] anti-Palantir and anti-ICE organizing. It’s been interesting to see how the skills transferred over. It’s brought out the best in the Duke community.” Levin emphasizes that the group is not just targeting students: Organizers are actively reaching out to contract workers at Duke, many of whom don’t have health insurance and have not had paid work extended. Some mutual-aid groups in the Triangle are specific to vulnerable industries, such as the Durham Artist Relief Fund and the NC Artist Relief Fund. (Between the two, more than $17,000 has been raised for independent artists and organizations facing mass cancellations of their events.) Over the weekend, The Baxter bar and arcade owner Nick Stroud launched the GoFundMe “Creating Social Distance: SIWANC - The Triangle,” which is raising money for service industry workers who no longer have hours; for every $10,000 raised, 100 service workers can apply to receive $100 each. Wade into any of these group’s documents and you’ll find a hive humming with resources and a sense of community and hope. Churches and schools and food banks are also rapidly organizing aid. The efforts outlined here only represent some of the grassroots efforts from the first week of this crisis. Traveling is a danger; contact with other people is a danger. These things do not make for a friendly organizing climate. It’s not easy to process the collective grief and need hanging over our heads. Still, efforts forge on. They’re creative and straightforward and anarchic and generous. No one is counting on this administration to take the full measures required. But the animating premise of mutual aid work—that helping neighbors out helps everyone—holds fast. “In terms of where we are in the face of this disaster, we’re no longer in the prevention. We’re in the mitigation phase, transitioning into the response phase,” Christensen says. “This virus doesn’t understand what a town is. We have to respond as a state.” W

March 18, 2020



Couch Potato

Little America

Where: Apple TV+ Seasons: 1 What it’s about: Easily the best show on Apple’s new streaming service, Little America is an eight-episode anthology series telling the stories of American immigrants. The first episode, about a young boy who continues to run his parents’ hotel after their deportation, is at once heart-warming and gut-wrenching. Like that? Try this: Modern Love (Amazon Prime)

Ten shows to stream while you’re hunkered down in isolation BY JEFFREY C. BILLMAN


isten here. As a natural recluse, I’ve been practicing social distancing before the term existed, and I’ve got a few suggestions to get you amateurs through it. Sure, you could catch up on your reading or do some work around the house, and that’s all well and good. But if you want to binge your way through the boredom, I’m here to help. Below, I’ve compiled 10 suggestions for shows you can stream right now, avoiding the behemoths of the prestige era— Games of Thrones, Succession, Watchmen, Fleabag (don’t tell me you haven’t seen Fleabag)—and steering you toward gems you might have overlooked. Pour yourself a drink, plop your ass on the couch, and watch the old boob tube until your eyes bleed. Before you know it, you’ll be able to go out in public again— though you may not want to.

Bitter Daisies (O Sabor das Margaridas)

Where: Netflix Seasons: 1 What it’s about: A limited series set in the Spanish town of Murias, Bitter Daisies focuses on a rookie cop investigating a girl’s disappearance. As might be expected, all is not as it seems. But Bitter Daisies isn’t a typical mystery, and you won’t see the end coming. Like that? Try this: Locked Up (Vis a Vis) (Netflix)

Black Spot (Zone Blanche)

Where: Netflix Seasons: 2 What it’s about: A paranormal mystery-thriller set in a picturesque French town with no cell service and an insanely high murder rate, Black Spot is full of 22

March 18, 2020



intrigue, clever plot twists, and an almost Lynchian commitment to weirdness. Like that? Try this: The Break (La Trêve) (Netflix), The Valhalla Murders (Netflix)

Dead to Me

Where: Netflix Seasons: 1 What it’s about: Perhaps the most bingeable show on this list, the poignant, darkly funny Dead to Me centers on a recently widowed woman who goes to a grief-therapy group and befriends a woman who might have had something to do with making her a widow. Like that? Try this: Russian Doll (Netflix)

The Expanse

Where: Amazon Prime Seasons: 4 What it’s about: Probably the smartest sci-fi around, The Expanse explores a universe in which humans have colonized the solar system, Earth and Mars are locked in a cold war, and the miners who inhabit the asteroid belt are struggling for political recognition and economic freedom. Like that? Try this: Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access), For All Mankind (Apple TV+), Devs (Hulu)


Where: HBO Now Seasons: 1 What it’s about: It would be easy for a penis-heavy show about drug-addled high-schoolers to end up in R-rated Afterschool Special territory. Euphoria does not do that, at least most of the time. Centered on a girl just out of rehab and her trans best friend—Raleigh’s own Hunter Schafer—it’s about searching for meaning in a chaotic world. Like that? Try this: Friday Night Lights (Hulu), Sex Education (Netflix)

Killing Eve

Where: Hulu Seasons: 2 What it’s about: A spy series that focuses on an at-times clumsy British intelligence agent tasked with capturing a peerless assassin, both of whom become increasingly obsessed with each other as the show progresses. Like that? Try this: The Americans (Amazon Prime), The Night Manager (Amazon Prime)

Where: Netflix Seasons: 2 What it’s about: A London detective with a collapsing home life who suffers unexplained blackouts is recalled to help with an 11-year-old investigation into a serial killer. During one of her blackouts, her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s lover is murdered. Like that? Try this: Luther (Netflix), Broadchurch (Netflix), Shetland (Britbox)


Where: Netflix Seasons: 1 What it’s about: A meta French horror series about a horror novelist who returns home to discover that the characters she writes are real—and one of them isn’t ready for her book series to end—Marianne is smart, intense, and scary as hell. You won’t be able to watch more than an episode or two in one sitting. Like that? Try this: The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix), Castle Rock (Hulu)

The Righteous Gemstones

Where: HBO Now Seasons: 1 What it’s about: A delightfully outlandish send-up of prosperity-gospel-style televangelism, Gemstones is very much a Danny McBride comedy, for better and worse. But it’s also anchored by John Goodman’s performance as a protective family patriarch who’s nonetheless not entirely comfortable with his family’s opulence. Like that? Try this: Eastbound & Down (HBO Now) W

SOCI A L DISTA NCI NG Stuck at home? and Eno River State Park. Scavenger hunts and brown-bag collection are great on hikes. Make your own checklist or find one online. You might also think about starting your home garden early. Build planter beds or plant some seeds. And then there’s one of my personal favorite pastimes, geocaching. There are hundreds of small treasures hidden all around the Triangle that your kids will love finding. Download the geocache app and start hunting. You’ll get addicted quickly. A family walks through The Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park at NCMA. PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

School’s Shut. Now What? How to keep your kids healthy, happy, and learning through the school closure BY JEDIDIAH GANT


ith school cancelled across the state, thousands of parents suddenly find themselves in a new reality, juggling parenthood and professional life with the task of being a teacher. Many aren’t able to stay home, and grandparents, friends, and neighbors are forming new bonds and working together to get through this stressful time. It’s going to take a village. Here are some ideas of how to fill your family’s time, create routines, and escape the cabin fever until Governor Cooper gives us the all-clear to head back to school— hopefully before summer break begins. Make a schedule. Kids thrive on routine, which they usually get at school. At home, life gets looser, so post a schedule and try to stick to it. Start with a morning walk—replicating your walk to the bus stop or school— followed by some academic time, some creative time, lunch, chores, quiet time, more fresh air, and of course, a little free time for the kids. This can be done solo or in a small, set group that will stick together in weeks to come, minimizing the exposure risks of larger, more porous groups. Choose themes. Ask your kids what they’re learning in science, math, and literature at school. Maybe it’s weather, government, Women’s History Month, or geology. Create home experiments or interactive learning

on the topics. There are plenty of online tutorials for DIY experiments using materials around your house. Find a craft or recipe related to the theme. Do you have friends or family members who are professionals in the field? Schedule a video chat with the expert. Thirty minutes of their time will make a unique impression on your child, and they will see this person in a new way. There are also lots of great online videos for a deep yet entertaining spin on most subjects. TED Talks, Vox Atlas, Netflix Explained, VICE, The New York Times, and other popular media outlets have a trove of excellent educational videos. There’s a massive spreadsheet of educational resources that companies are offering for free during school closures (, and Scholastic has released a “Learn from Home” website with articles, activities, videos, and fun learning challenges. Find yourself in nature. The Triangle is full of outdoor activities that allow you to keep a safe social distance. The Raleigh Greenway has more than 150 miles of trails for biking, running, and walking as a family. The NCMA trail is a great addition. And there’s Umstead State Park, Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest, Dorothea Dix Park, Lake Johnson Trails, Yates Mill Pond,

Get your game on. The classics are always a hit. Especially the ones staring at you from that closet, which the kids have never played. Puzzles, board games, Legos, Go Fish, Clue, Twister, Apples to Apples, Sorry, Chess, War, Rummy. Grab what you’ve got and have some fun. Art together. Love art? Don’t love art but love cool tech? Museums around the globe offer virtual tours, from The Guggenheim to The British Museum and The Van Gogh Museum. With many museums now closed, it’s like having a VIP pass to see some of the most famous art by the masters. On a similar note, the Cincinnati Zoo is highlighting one animal each afternoon on its “Home Safari” live video streams.

Quail Ridge Books is offering free shipping on books for the month of March. Please visit and support your community bookstore! • 919.828.1588 • North Hills 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road, Raleigh, NC 27609 CHECK OUT OUR PODCAST: BOOKIN’ w/Jason Jefferies

Chocolate Lounge & Wine Bar Fri 3/20

Chocolate Covered Comedy

Sat 3/21

String Beings

Sun 3/22

Benefit Concert for WCOM Community Radio 2pm

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Donate your time and resources. There are many ways to give some of your extra time to a cause or brighten someone’s day. BackPack Buddies is an Inter-Faith Food Shuttle initiative in which families can pool resources to provide children from low-income households nutritious, kid-friendly groceries when free school meals aren’t provided. And Activate Good is a local organization that recruits and connects volunteers to hundreds of nonprofits and schools around the Triangle. The group has a long list of ways you can volunteer in person or virtually. Make a new friend smile. Many elderly folks in nursing homes will not be able to receive visits during the pandemic, so this is a great time for your child to write and mail a note, draw a picture, tell a joke, or any small gesture that could bring smiles to their faces. I hope that a few of these ideas will help you to create new bonds with your kids and close circle of friends over the next few weeks, and if all else fails, there’s always spring cleaning. W

businesses by purchasing gift cards, shopping online, donating, ordering takeout, and tipping more

March 18, 2020




Member Admission Price (Not Valid for Special Events, expires 01-21)

Coughing While Asian Asian Americans face a new strain of discrimination as our leaders and media rush to racialize a pandemic BY COLE VILLENA

919-6-TEASER for directions and information 156 Ramseur St. Durham, NC

An Adult Nightclub Open 7 Days/week | Hours 7pm - 2am





March 18, 2020



coughed at a Bojangles’ about two weeks ago. I know everyone hates coughing now; when the world’s facing a pandemic, it feels both personally scary and socially irresponsible to appear sick in public. But I’m half-white and half-Filipino. Even before the reality of COVID-19 had sunk in for most people, my first thought was, “Do I look Asian enough to freak people out?” I’m ashamed to have even had that thought. I’m extremely proud to be Filipino, and I know I’ve taken the same precautions that anyone else has to stop the spread of COVID-19. But because the disease originated in China, Asian faces like mine are the ones people associate with the threat to their health. At a time when a united response to the disease is the only thing that will keep our most vulnerable people safe, this is a disgrace. You don’t have to look very far for examples of anti-Asian rhetoric right now. It starts, predictably, at the top: President Donald Trump’s first formal address to the nation about coronavirus made multiple references to “the coronavirus outbreak that started in China” and efforts to “confront a foreign virus.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was even less subtle when he tweeted a guide to the “Chinese coronavirus.” And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose job is to coordinate the United States’ interactions with other countries, has settled on the term “Wuhan coronavirus.” Media outlets are still figuring out how to report responsibly, too. The New York Post ran an image of Asian people in Queens on a story about a white woman in Manhattan being diagnosed with COVID-19. The News & Observer illustrated a story about the cancella-

tion of Raleigh’s international festival with a picture of an Asian dance group. (To be fair, this seems to have been an unthoughtful use of promotional photos rather than active racism, and the paper quickly changed the image when one of our writers called them on it.) I’ve certainly noticed these trends in COVID-19 coverage. Apparently, nonAsian people have, too. In Wake County, a Chinese American said she was denied service at a dentist’s office in Apex on March 4, after a white patient complained to staff about her sneezing in the waiting room. “They didn’t ask me whether I traveled or whether I have other symptoms,” the woman, who asked not to be named, said in a phone interview. “They just said, ‘Because of the sneeze, we have to take extra precautions to protect our patients and our staff.’” Those “extra precautions” evidently didn’t involve looking up the actual symptoms of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that COVID-19 can cause fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Any sneezing right now probably has less to do with a scary new virus and more to do with the start of spring-allergy season. “I feel like this is just totally because I have this face,” the woman said. “They were panicked.” The dentist’s office did not respond to two voicemails from the INDY asking for comment. I was relieved to hear from Chinese restaurant owners in Chapel Hill that,

while business has been slow since the COVID-19 outbreak, they think it has more to do with people staying home generally than the type of food on their restaurants’ menus. When I asked David Yu of Carrboro’s Gourmet Kingdom if he was worried about the potential for anti-Asian backlash, though, he said, “Of course.” “With discrimination, stereotypes, that sort of thing, I just hope that’s not finding its new soil to grow,” Yu said. “It has

“Even before the reality of COVID-19 had sunk in for most people, my first thought was, ‘Do I look Asian enough to freak people out?’” always been there at different stages of time, but I hope it doesn’t become something because of the virus.” At the moment, he’s mainly concerned with how to pay employees during the pandemic, how to keep himself and his family healthy, and how to stay informed. Kevin Zhu of Red Lotus in Chapel Hill said he’s trying to figure out how to keep his kids—and himself—busy (hopefully, he’ll see our advice on page 23). Instead of fearing for his own safety, Yu pointed to his faith in exactly the kind of unity the United States needs right now. “At a time that a lot of things are down, it is important to be a part of our great nation’s morals, to respect each other, no matter what background,” Yu said. “That’s always the number one.” Let’s all try to prove him right. W

SOCI A L DISTA NCI NG Tweet Like No One’s Watching. To tweet is my right as an American and, more important, as a bisexual woman. To have 24 hours a day free to send my dumb little observations out into the world? Sign me up! If you’re struggling to figure out what to tweet about, here are some categories I tend to stick to: My Girlfriend How Much I Love My Beautiful Girlfriend My Girlfriend’s Beauty: Is It Overwhelming or Simply Breathtaking?

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Going the (Social) Distance Learn how to quarantine like a pro, and maybe find true love in the process BY SHEA STANLEY

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ing. While many people are happy to help reduce the spread of this aggressive virus, some are wary about too much time spent stuck inside. As a queer woman, however, this is my time to shine. I’m ready to crawl into bed, fire off some tweets, and get questionably serious with my girlfriend. Some who know me might not expect my extroverted ways to translate into weeks of isolation, and on the spectrum of queer experience, it’s true that I find myself far from the “pining for the moon while reading about arugula” end, and closer to the “getting plastered on white wine and dragging my girlfriend to sing Carrie Underwood at Pinhook karaoke” end. However, there are many aspects of my WLW experience that will help us all through this time of social distance. Here are some gay things you can do to keep yourself busy. Come, straights, let me guide you. Watch a Long Gay Movie that Makes You Cry. If you’re quarantining, you

“As a queer woman, this is my time to shine. I’m ready to crawl into bed, fire off some tweets, and get questionably serious with my girlfriend.” could be inside anywhere from two weeks to a month (or more). You’re going to have a lot of time to fill, so why not fill it like many lesbians do: crying at a long gay movie. Carol? Call Me by Your Name? Portrait of a Lady on Fire? Stream these babies and you’ll be sobbing at the screen and texting your ex about the fragility of the human experience in no time. Or, as we gays call it: any given weeknight!

You might also find your timeline to be a bit overwhelming. To ease dread about our current pandemic, unfollow everyone except for these accounts: Accounts that Post Nice Pictures of Plants Caroline Calloway Cat Accounts thate tweet lik dis My Girlfriend U-Haul with Your Girlfriend. Many queer women famously love getting suuuper serious with new partners suuuper fast. Are you dating someone? Take a note from us and spend your weeks of social distancing cuddling in bed and opening up about your traumas. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been seeing each other—a month? A week? This is your person now. Tell them about the deep depression you entered during your sophomore year of college, or what it was like to come out to your family. Unless you’re straight. Then tell them about—the time Target ran out of signs that say “Life’s Short, Dance in the Rain?” I don’t know what straight people experience. You might say, “But aren’t we supposed to stay six feet apart from each other?” Great point. Now that you’ve exposed each other to your germs, you can’t see anyone else! Guess you’ll have to stay tangled in bed discussing if you should raise your kids vegan. These tips are but a glimpse into the ways queer women are thriving in this time of isolation. I hope you can follow our lead and spend your weeks cuddling, tweeting, and crying (in the good way). At the end of the day, we can all take comfort in remembering what’s important, which is that I (Shea) have a beautiful girlfriend who I love! And that’s all that matters. W



March 18, 2020


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If you just can’t wait, check out the current week’s answer key at, and click “puzzle pages” at the bottom of our webpage.

su | do | ku

this week’s puzzle level:

© Puzzles by Pappocom

There is really only one rule to Sudoku: Fill in the game board so that the numbers 1 through 9 occur exactly once in each row, column, and 3x3 box. The numbers can appear in any order and diagonals are not considered. Your initial game board will consist of several numbers that are already placed. Those numbers cannot be changed. Your goal is to fill in the empty squares following the simple rule above.

If you just can’t wait, check out the current week’s answer key at, and click “puzzle pages.” Best of luck, and have fun! solution to last week’s puzzle


3.18.20 March 18, 2020



HISTORY TRIVIA: • On March 18, 2003, NC’s copy of the Bill of Rights was recovered in a sting operation. Union soldiers had taken the document from the State Capitol in Raleigh in 1865 and it went missing for 140 years. • On March 21, 1949, Bayard Rustin and two white Freedom Riders surrendered in Hillsborough and were sent to segregated chain gangs. In 1947, Freedom Riders had tested compliance with Supreme Court’s decision that ruled segregation on interstate buses unconstitutional on their “Journey of Reconciliation.”


Courtesy of the Museum of Durham History

919-286-1916 @hunkydorydurham We buy records. Now serving dank beer. T H E U LT I M A T E


828•299•0999 S H OJ I R E T R E AT S .C O M


DANCE CLASSES IN LINDY HOP, SWING, BLUES At Carrboro ArtsCenter. Private lessons available. RICHARD BADU, 919-724-1421,


Contact or John Hurld at 919-286-1972

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