Scott Simon

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I feel the need to begin this interview by asking you this question. How would you like me to say your name?

PHUC TRAN: We can go with Phuc. It's totally fine (laughter).

Americans like to think of ourselves as rolling up our sleeves to do a hard job.

But these days, we have to remind ourselves first: wash your hands!

The coronavirus has made some of our long-time slogans and clichés about confronting a crisis sound a just a little tinny.

In this time of social distancing, hunkering down and chatting remotely, we might learn some new things about each other. For example, you might know Marin Alsop as the longtime music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, one of the leading figures in classical music around the world and a frequent guest on Weekend Edition. But you might not know that back in the 1980s, she also led a swing band.

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The coronavirus pandemic has created a lot of unscheduled time for people who are sheltering in place. Some are using these unscheduled hours to spoil their pets.

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Essential workers are risking their health every day during the coronavirus pandemic to make certain that the rest of us have what we need - medical attention, food, safety and trash removal.

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If you were trying to start a music career in the early 1970s — when so many songs were aimed at the rising tide of young people — a producer probably wouldn't advise a young talent to "write a song about old people."But that's what John Prine did.

Our world has problems.

But have you heard about the planets of the Interdependency? The collapse of the Flow is at hand — that interstellar pathway of commerce between those inhabited orbs governed by the Interdependency.

Emperox Grayland II has to fight off a coup while her inamorato — or however it's said in the Interdependency — eminent physicist Lord Marce Claremont, tries to figure out how to halt the collapse of a whole system of planets and save the worlds. Note the "s."

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Nurses, doctors, paramedics, technicians and other hospital workers earn the gratitude of the world right now. They risk their lives for others — what genuine heroes do.

But, there are many other people we might overlook who are also essential in these extraordinary times.

I took a run the other morning. It was still and quiet, but I was surprised to see how many people were up, about, and still working in a city in which "nonessential workers" have been told to stay at home.

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Wash your hands, latch on your masks. Ready? Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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There's a new meme for these troubling times derived from a classic painting, a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh.

LORI DAY: With a surgical mask drooping off of just one ear.

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We've been reaching out to people from all walks of life to hear how this pandemic affects their lives. Let's hear now from Mike Kamber.

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Throughout today's program, we hear from Americans about how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting their lives and their thoughts.

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Let's ask Samantha Irby to introduce herself, with a passage from her new book, Wow, No Thank You: "I occasionally write jokes on the Internet for free because I'm the last person on Earth who still has a blog," she reads.

The losses of the coronavirus pandemic became personal for many Americans this week. More people lost jobs. More people had to worry about their health. And more people died. These names are just a few among so many who gave something to our lives.

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"Black Monday" is a comedy about the worst stock market crash in the history of Wall Street. Worst crash until this one, of course...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BLACK MONDAY")

DON CHEADLE: (As Mo Monroe) Mo is back, baby.

I miss work. I know as I say this that I'm blessed to have rewarding work as a lot of Americans suddenly don't. Working from home for most of the week has made me marvel at how much so many can do these days, on laptops and small screens.

But spending most of the workday in bedroom slippers, pondering whether to shave, shampoo or even brush my teeth — because after all, who'll see me besides my family? — also reminds me how much we can miss the walls, cubicles, hallways and, most of all, the people in our workplaces.

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Of course, the highest rate of fatalities from the coronavirus has been among older people, especially those with underlying medical conditions. Many younger people are begging older parents to stay home. Many are not listening.

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