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Think Out Loud

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)

OPB's daily conversation covering news, politics, culture and the arts.

OPB's daily conversation covering news, politics, culture and the arts.


Portland, OR


OPB's daily conversation covering news, politics, culture and the arts.






Understanding How Viruses Jump From Animals To Humans

Experts believe COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease that originated in animals before it was transmitted to humans. Bats are believed to have been the source of COVID-19, as well as some other deadly zoonotic disease outbreaks like MERS-CoV and SARS. We hear from Oregon State University professor and veterinarian Christiane Löhr about how infectious diseases can jump from animals to humans.


Teaching Machines To Be As Smart As Human Toddlers

Artificial intelligence can be kind of dumb when it comes to common sense things we usually take for granted as humans. That's according to Alan Fern, the associate head of research at the Oregon State University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is working on a project to help machines learn the same way human babies do, in the hopes of making them more intuitive about the world around them.


Oregon Schools Scrambling To Arrange “Distance Learning”

With Oregon schools closed at least until April 28, schools are trying to figure out how to comply with the “Distance Learning For All” strategy just released by the Oregon Department of Education. Districts had been charged with providing supplemental educational material. Now, they are faced with a more complicated task, where equity and access is an even greater challenge. We are joined by Jennifer Patterson with the Oregon Department of Education, Bandon School Superintendent Doug...


What We Can Learn From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic

About 100 years ago, another pandemic was sweeping across the United States: the influenza pandemic of 1918. It was one of the deadliest events in history: it infected as many as one in every four people on the planet. Christopher McKnight Nichols, director of the Oregon State University Center for the Humanities, recently wrote a column in the Washington Post about the 1918 pandemic. He tells us what we can learn from 1918 pandemic to handle the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.


Tawasi Soce

Tawasi Soce is a gig driver - of people and packages - for various companies. He sent OPB recordings of what his days are like during the pandemic.


Oregon Child Welfare Agency Responds To Foster Families In Crisis

Oregon’s child welfare system was facing any number of challenges before the coronavirus pandemic hit. With Gov. Kate Brown’s stay at home order in effect, schools are closed and caseworker home visits are shut down. Many of the state’s foster parents — and foster children — find themselves in need of more help than ever. In response to the pandemic, the Department of Human Services has launched the My Neighbor program, run by its partner, Every Child. The program aims to provide immediate...


Ghost Town Artist Paints in Quarantine

As the only resident of remote Andrews, Oregon for the past 10 years, painter John Simpkins is used to the solitary quarantine lifestyle. We from Simpkins about dealing with a global pandemic in a ghost town.


St. Charles Hospital System Prepares

The St. Charles Hospital System, based in Bend, is the only acute care facility for a huge stretch of rural Oregon. Officials at the hospital have been preparing for an influx of coronavirus patients by canceling elective surgeries and freeing up available staff. We talk to Joe Sluka, president and CEO of St. Charles Health system, and Dr. Jeff Absalon, Chief Physician Executive.


Salem Homeless Face Even More Challenges During Pandemic

People who are homeless are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because many are sick or elderly. They're also less likely to be able to take preventative measures like frequent handwashing and social distancing. In Salem, the first homeless person tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Jimmy Jones, Executive Director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, joins us to talk about how homeless service providers are trying to help and the challenges they face.


Portland City Commissioner Candidate Debate: Position 1

Last year, three-term Portland city council member Amanda Fritz announced that she wouldn’t be running for re-election. Carmen Rubio, Executive Director of the Latino Network, Portland State student advisor Candace Avalos, and carpenter Timothy DuBois are all running to fill the seat.


How COVID-19 Impacts Supply Chains

As consumers clean store shelves of essentials like toilet paper, experts insist the grocery supply chain remains strong. Scott DuHadway, the Cameron Professor of Supply Chain Management at Portland State University, thinks COVID-19 will have long term impacts on how companies prepare for and respond to disasters. We hear from DuHadway about how different industries are handling unprecedented disruptions on both sides of the supply chain.


Grant County Launches Phone A Friend

Grant County recently launched an informal program for neighbors and friends in the county of 7 thousand to check on each other as the coronavirus continues to spread. Steve Fletcher, with the county’s incident management team, says as the coronavirus spreads, it’s important to have both formal and informal programs like Phone a Friend to get help to those who may need it.


News Roundtable March 27, 2020

Christy George, Scott Bruun and Naseem Rakha join us to give opinions and analysis of some of the week’s biggest news stories.


Census 2020 Continues During Pandemic

The 2020 Census is underway, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed or canceled some training and field operations. That could make historically undercounted communities even harder to count. Esperanza Tervalon-Garrett, campaign manager for We Count Oregon, tells us about the campaign’s outreach efforts during the pandemic.


Understanding Gov. Brown’s Climate Change Order

Before the novel coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, the big story in Oregon legislative politics was the walk out by state Republicans to prevent Democrats from passing a cap and trade bill. Without a quorum, Democratic lawmakers were not able to pass the bill and the 2020 session ended. In response, Gov. Kate Brown issued a 14-page executive order that directs sweeping changes to mitigate climate change. Angus Duncan, who heads the state’s Global Warming Commission, breaks down...


Asian Americans Report Rise in Harassment

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have reported an increase in racist harassment and attacks across the United States. West Linn student Summer Tan recently wrote about experiencing xenophobia in the West Linn Tidings. We talk with Tan and with Duncan Hwang, the associate director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, about how Asian Americans in the Portland metro area have been affected by the pandemic.


Fossil Mayor On How Her Town Is Handling The Pandemic

The rural town of Fossil in Wheeler County has a population of about 400. There’s only one health clinic to serve the entire county, which has the oldest population in the state. Fossil Mayor Carol MacInnes tells us how her town is handling the coronavirus pandemic.


Timbers Suspend Soccer Matches, Season Future Unclear

Last week Major League Soccer announced that it is suspending all matches until at least the beginning of May. That means the Timbers are missing games, and the season may have to be delayed. Marco Farfan is a 21-year-old Timbers defender who grew up in Oregon. He tells us what his days are like.


Domestic Violence Risks Increase With ‘Stay At Home’ Order

As Oregonians are ordered to stay home as much as possible, some are concerned that stress and isolation is increasing the risk for domestic violence. Crisis workers are anticipating an uptick in calls at the same time that resources to offer survivors are dwindling. We talk with Alexxis Robinson-Woods, who directs programs and services at Bradley Angle, a service provider for domestic violence survivors.


Oregon Governor On Life During Coronavirus

Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order Monday calling for everyone in the state to stay at home, with some exceptions for essential workers and errands like grocery shopping. We talk with Brown about how she thought about the executive order, how she’ll know when it’s time to lift it and what the future could look like for Oregonians as we all navigate the new normal.