Germ Theory and Vaccines

By Dr. Kelli Criss

As our country and the world continue to address the coronavirus outbreak, our blog, Germ Theory and Vaccines, looks back to the end of the nineteenth century.  This retrospective contextualizes our current search for a vaccine and efforts to “flatten the curve” of rising infectious cases.   

1875-1900: The Discovery of Germ Theory 

During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, a scientific methodology for comprehending and addressing epidemic diseases was created and thus, opened the field of modern bacteriology.  This period was characterized by the identification of the pathogens causing myriad illnesses like typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and tetanus.  The ability to make such ground-breaking discoveries was linked to advances in medical technology like aniline stains and microscopes with high magnification ability.  These stains, developed in the 1860s and 1870s, were dyes enabling bacteria cultures to be seen under a microscope.  Likewise, new microscopes enabled high magnification of bacteria without distortion in the images.   

With a greater understanding of the bacterial and viral sources of diseases, public-health methods to control the spread of illness launched.  Among these methods, were disinfecting the environments of people infected with disease and separating ill patients in sanatoriums.  Investigation of diseases worked hand-in-hand with bacteriology and vaccine discoveries to enable the prevention of disease.  Diphtheria is one such disease.  

Diphtheria: The First Widespread Disease Prevented by Vaccine 

Diphtheria was a challenge to diagnose, and therefore, study.  Having the same symptoms as other diseases, diphtheria was not easily diagnosed.  In 1884, the diphtheria bacillus was identified; however, another decade passed until any breakthrough in prevention occurred.  By the middle of the 1890s, a diphtheria vaccine was developed through the identification of the diphtheria antitoxin.  States like Illinois showed a major drop in the death rate from diphtheria with the advent of the vaccine.  To be exact, Illinois’s death rate fell from an 1886 rate of 113 people per 100,000 to a 1902 rate of 22 individuals per 100,000.  After such success, bacteria became the focus of the medical community and accelerated advances in public health. 

Our Guide into All Truth 

People are experiencing desperation and confusion globally as we face the current coronavirus pandemic.  We need God’s help greatly and grapple with maintaining our faith-centered focus.  Like us, the disciples struggled to reconcile the stress and bewilderment of the events Jesus foretold about his crucifixion with their need for Christ’s physical presence in their lives.  When Jesus was preparing the disciples for his crucifixion and resurrection, he promised them that he would send the Holy Spirit as a guide and comfort to them, saying  

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13 (New American Standard) 

Throughout history, God’s Spirit has revealed truth to humans and been Immanuel, God with us.  We thank God for all the wisdom and understanding we have been given.  As the faith community, we pray for God’s truth to light our path concerning the coronavirus and we ask for wisdom for our leaders, healthcare providers, and researchers.   

For more information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, check out our website or sign-up for our newsletter.   

Timeline of Events 

1862 – Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French scientist, demonstrated airborne bacteria were the source of fermentation.  Due to these findings, scientists move away from believing disease is connected to environmental sources and embrace the notion of “germ theory.” 

1876- Robert Koch (1843-1910), a German scientist, while investigating anthrax in sheep and cattle, proves that particular pathogens or disease-causing agents like bacteria and viruses, cause disease.  

1882- Koch discovers the tuberculosis bacillus or bacteria. 

1879 – Louis Pasteur identifies how to use the bacilli or rod-shaped bacteria at the source of various illnesses in vaccinations.  The work of Edward Jenner (1749-1823), a British doctor, who discovered the smallpox vaccine, was instrumental in Pasteur’s innovation.   

1889 -1891 – 40 % of world’s population infected with influenza during epidemic. 


Hooper, J. (1999, February).  A New germ theory.  The Atlantic.  Retrieved from  

Tompkins, V. (1997).  American eras: Development of the Industrial United States, 1878-1899.  New York, NY: Gale 


Lecture 14: The Germ Theory of Disease from History 234: Epidemics in Western Society since 1600, an Open Yale Course

COVID-19 Update: Confronting Fear

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Faith and information are your friends in these uncertain times.  We take time to reflect on both in today’s blog, COVID-19 Update: Confronting Fear.  Although we grieve the illness and loss of life around the world as the direst consequences of this viral outbreak, we limit today’s discussion to fears around the economic impact of COVID-19.    

Starting in China, reaching South Korea, Japan, Africa, Australia, Europe, and now, the United States, the coronavirus dominates the world’s headlines.  According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, 318,662 confirmed cases exist.  Globally, 13,672 deaths have occurred as a result of COVID-19. There are 94,704 people who have recovered from the virus.   

Let’s consider the impact of a viral outbreak on the economy in the short and long-term while knowing faith and information are the answers to fear in our world.  

Global Supply Chain Disruption 

February 24, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a 1,000-point drop (McCabe, 2020) and the S&P 500 plunged over 100 points as news emerged about swelling cases in Italy and South Korea. On March 16, the Dow plunged again by 3,000 points (McCabe, Hirtenstein, & Ping, 2020) in response to the expanding pandemic’s interruption of supply chains around the world.  Likewise, as of March 16, the stock market index of 500 large companies which measures stock performance on the U.S. Stock Exchange, the S&P 500, increased or decreased by 4% for 6 days in a row (Herron & Hajric, 2020), which is outrageously volatile movement. 

Why is the pandemic so powerfully impacting supply chains, in particular? China, as one of the globe’s biggest economies, is not only the center of COVID-19’s origin, but also at the center of myriad supply chains.  Whether it’s your electronic devices, your car, or your blue jeans, the globe receives products and depends on the industrial strength of China.  Apple (Wakabayashi, 2020) and Adidas (Germano, 2020), for example, have already declared their profits will be hindered by China’s supply chain disruption.  The world’s economies are intricately connected.   

Falling Oil Prices 

Like manufacturing, tourism, airlines, and energy are experiencing a slump due to the coronavirus. On Monday, March 9th, we saw 24% single-day drop in Brent crude, which is a particular oil viewed as a yardstick for global oil prices.  Catapulting the market into turmoil, this one-day plunge of oil prices was the largest since 1991 during the Gulf War (Hodari, 2020).  Again, on Wednesday, March 11th, oil prices tumbled (Faucon, Said, & Hodari, 2020).  

 Oil prices are falling because of the decreased demand caused by less travel from lockdowns globally and fewer goods being transported.  Countries, like China, are producing fewer goods so they need less oil.  It’ simple – the law of supply and demand.  Too much supply and too little demand means prices decline.  Also contributing to the fall in oil prices is the escalating Oil War between Russia and Saudi Arabia.  

This Oil War involves Russia and Saudi Arabia’s recent talks about stabilizing oil prices by reducing their production of oil.  Their negotiations have fallen apart.  Saudi Arabia responded by ramping up their oil production which of course serves to reduce prices rather than raise them. Russia responded by similarly pumping more oil. 

Here in the United States, having the world market flooded with oil will make lower gas prices at the pump right now.  In the long term, energy corporations and many nations who rely on high oil prices for revenue, will suffer.  We remember well in 2014-2016 when energy stocks plummeted and oil workers were laid off as oil prices bottomed out with the same radical plunge we’re seeing now (Thompson, 2020).   

Recovery: A History of Market Response to Viruses 

The past performance of the market to viruses can be seen in the movement of the S&P 500.  For 6 and 12 months following a virus outbreak, the S&P 500 performance indicates what we can expect in the months following the COVID-19 pandemic (DeCambre, 2020).  See the table below.  

Epidemic Month end 6-month % change of S&P 12-month % change of S&P 
SARS April 2003 +14.59% +20.76% 
Swine flu April 2009 +18.72% +35.96% 
Cholera November 2010 +13.95% +5.63% 
MERS May 2013 +10.74% +17.96% 
Ebola March 2014 +5.34% +10.44% 
Zika January 2016 +12.03% +17.45 

Although each epidemic listed in the table above varies by global region, symptoms, chronology, and context, one thing’s clear – the market recovers in the long-term after dropping in the short-term, immediately after the virus outbreak.  

The Weapons of Our Warfare 

Fear doesn’t just drive drops in the Dow and S&P 500.  Fear can take control of everyone whatever their beliefs.  The weapons we have to confront fear are information about what’s really happening and our faith in God.  We endeavored in this blog to arm the faith community with information about the current situation and the history of our economy’s response to viral outbreak.  The CDC and President Trump have outlined plans to help us protect ourselves and our neighbors from COVID-19.   

According to counselor, author and Hope for the Heart founder, June Hunt, fear is part of your body’s way of preparing to take action.  It sets off a chain of chemical responses created by God to increase circulation to muscles and to speed up your heartbeat so you can have the strength and speed you might need to fend off or flee a threat.  We know that God is helping us be physically ready for whatever comes our way even as we feel fear.  Thank goodness we have weapons to keep fear from making our decisions.   

We can turn our thoughts to God’s divine weapons and protection. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (New American Standard Bible) says: 

For the weapons of our warfare are . . . divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 

Indeed, we have supernatural tools for calming our minds.  We can focus on the peace and security God offers us.  Jesus’s words in Luke 12:22–25 (New American Standard Bible) help us remember how valuable we are to our heavenly Father: 

“Do not worry about your life . . . Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” 

Meditating on God’s Words 

June Hunt (2013) recommends in her book, Fear, meditation upon the 23rd Psalm by saying each line repeatedly and emphasizing one word in the line.  If there are 5 words in the line, then you repeat the line 5 times.  For instance, Psalm 23:1 (New American Standard Bible) reads “the Lord is my shepherd.”  Upon first saying verse 1, you emphasize the word, “the.”  On the second repetition, you stress the word, “Lord,” etc.  You repeat the verse until you have placed a stress on each word of the verse.   

We join the faith community in prayer for our nation, our leaders, our healthcare workers, our first responders, and families affected by COVID-19 around the world.   

For more information about Florida FFC, check out our blogs and sign up to receive our weekly newsletter.    


DeCambre, M. (2020, February 24). How the stock market has performed during past viral outbreaks. MarketWatch. Retrieved from 

Faucon, B., Said, S. & Hodari, D. (2020, March 11).  Saudi Arabia Signals Bigger Oil-Output Boost. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from 

Germano, S. (2020, February 19).  Adidas, Puma warn of Coronavirus blow. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from 

Herron, J. & Hajric, V. (2020, March 15).  U.S. stocks plunge 12% in biggest rout since 1987: Markets wrap.  Bloomberg.  Retrieved from 

Hodari, D.  (2020, March 9). Oil prices collapse after Saudi pledge to boost output. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from 

Hunt, J. (2013). Fear: No longer afraid.  Torrance, CA: Aspire Press. 

McCabe, C.  (2020, February 24). Dow Industrials close 1,000 points lower as Coronavirus cases mount. The Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved from 

McCabe, C., Hirtenstein, A., & Ping, C.K. (2020, March 16).  Dow plummets nearly 3,000 points as virus fears spread.  The Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved from

Thompson, M. (2020, March 11). Saudi Arabia doubles down on threat to flood the oil market. CNN Business.  Retrieved from 

Wakabayashi, D.  (2020, February 17). Apple signals Coronavirus’s threat to global business. The New York Times.  Retrieved from 


CDC – COVID-19 Information

Hope for the Heart, Counseling Ministries

 Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering – COVID-19 Statistics Map

Shaping the Presidency, Part II

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Last week, we discussed President Theodore Roosevelt’s shaping of the American Presidency.  Calling the office, a “bully pulpit,” he pushed the legislative branch and the country to support his agenda. Today’s blog, The Bully Pulpit, describes Roosevelt’s strategy in more detail.   

President Roosevelt operated through four tools: a) well-placed experts in the executive branch, b) an active legislative and labor role, c) a masterful media plan, and d) a group of informal advisors.   

Expert Research and Actively Legislating 

To address the emerging needs of a rapidly changing society, President Roosevelt sought out specialists in their respective fields and recruited them to serve in the executive branch.  While this practice is commonplace today, government’s emphasis on hiring people with expertise in a given area was a strikingly novel idea in the early twentieth century.  Strategically placing experts tended to concentrate power in the federal government generally and, more specifically, in the agencies and departments of Roosevelt’s executive branch. 

Some of these new government “experts” conducted legitimate research in areas such as public health, national defense, and more.  Other research and resulting policy outcomes were misguided at best—even racist and misogynist.  Prior to World War I, for example, at the height of concern over sexually transmitted disease in the armed forces, any woman in the United States could be required to submit to public health exam is she were even suspected of being infected—an absurd violation of her rights under the Constitution. 

Nevertheless, these new government experts used their findings as a guide, writing legislation to deal with the problems they had studied.  This process was similarly used by the more progressive portions of the Republican Party who pushed for labor and other reforms.  President Roosevelt thus adopted a significant element of the emerging progressive movement, frequently alienating conservative Republicans. 

President Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit” and exceedingly outgoing personality served to keep the Party together, barely. The activist president actually helped to write bills himself and to get them through Congress.  When Congress resisted, Roosevelt turned to the media.   

Labor Dispute Mediation 

The United Mine Workers (UMW) walked out in 1902, beginning a strike that lasted through spring, summer and into the fall.  As the cold winter months approached, the government and the country’s fears about having enough coal for winter increased.   

At this point, President Roosevelt stepped in as a negotiator, making him the very first president to mediate a labor dispute personally.  Previously, federal troops had been used to stamp out strikes and force miners back to their work.   

True to his usual form, Roosevelt skirted the boundaries of his Constitutional authority by warning the UMW and the coal industry that he would employ troops to work the mines and allow the government to take the profits.  Such threatened use of troops and funds may have been unconstitutional, but it successfully forced an agreement between the UMW and the coal industry.  The two sides agreed to allow a presidential commission to negotiate an agreement and to enable the workers to return to the mines while the negotiations occurred. 

If all this sounds incredibly familiar, it’s because President Trump’s personal involvement in issues such as building a wall on the Southern border, trade battles with China, and arm-twisting Congress, strongly echo President Roosevelt’s immersion in running the country.  

Outside Resources: The Media, the People, and Informal Advisors 

Roosevelt reached outside of the executive office to the media, the public, and informal advisors to accomplish his goals.  His media skills enabled him to challenge Congressional opposition to the legislation he supported by meeting with reporters regularly.  Writing articles for the magazines of his day was another strategy he employed.  Speaking tours to engage the public helped him lay out his agenda all over the country.  Roosevelt also had a set of informal advisors who were young men like Gifford Pinchot, the 1st Chief of the United States Forest Service, and James R. Garfield, the Secretary of the Interior.  This informal set of advisors joined Roosevelt to play tennis or ride horses as they talked over policy issues.  The media referred to these informal advisors as the “Tennis Cabinet” because of the sports enjoyed by the politicians and the President during critical conversations. 

Presidential Power 

President Roosevelt set the course of the Presidency for over one hundred years through the increased power he obtained for the executive branch.  Now, the Chief Executive of our Republic wields all of the power of the Presidency either for faith or for godlessness.  As we see from the example of Roosevelt’s Presidency, the American Commander in Chief has the authority to set the course of our highest elected office and the nation for generations.   

Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition (FFC) bands together with the faith community to support candidates and issues aligned with a Biblical worldview.  Let’s work together to ensure we elect a President who appoints conservative judges, protects life, and preserves family!   Check out more about Florida FFC’s efforts to support President Trump and find ways to volunteer by visiting our website. We’ll see you again for next week’s blog.   


Greenberg, D. (2016, January).  How Teddy Roosevelt invented spin. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Gould, L. L. (1991).  The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.  Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.  

Tompkins, V. (1996).  American Decades: 1900-1909.  Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Inc. (n.d.). Theodore Roosevelt. Retrieved from

Shaping the Presidency

By Dr. Kelli Criss

The Radical Left invokes the end of American Democracy every time President Trump flexes his executive branch muscle. But President Trump didn’t initiate the concentration of power in the White House – far from it.  In fact, the American Presidency is an ever-evolving organism, shaping the nation and the globe. 

Now, with Super Tuesday behind us and the presidential election year in full swing, the national debate is beginning to focus even more intently upon President Trump’s use of the powers of the American Presidency.  This week our blog, Shaping the Presidency, considers how two presidents occupying the White House for little more than a decade (1897-1909) redefined the notion of executive power. 

 The Metamorphosis 

After decades of a strong legislative branch and weak executive, the transformation of the American Presidency began in the early twentieth century when President William McKinley began quietly increasing presidential powers without consulting Congress.  In particular, McKinley leveraged the Spanish American War and U.S. policy toward the Philippines. 

Heavy congressional backing for more American involvement internationally helped to put a lid on any rumblings of disapproval from Congress.  With an expanded international role, President McKinley felt the need to restructure the executive branch.  He built up the amount of executive staff to manage the increasing workload. 

Another element of his Presidency that helped to enlarge the powers of the executive office was President McKinley’s considerable involvement in the legislative process.  He actively engaged in writing and passing legislation, managing the Republican Party (in an age before the decline of the power of national parties), and steering the government as a whole.  America’s victory in the Spanish American War and an economic upturn generated public support for McKinley’s heavy-handed management of national policy. 

Tragedy Accelerates Transformation 

With the assassination of President McKinley in September 1901, 43-year-old Vice President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) was sworn in as the youngest president in the nation’s history.  While McKinley’s expanding international responsibilities and heavy legislative and party involvement shaped his Presidency, President Roosevelt’s own personality molded the executive office.  Journalist Henry Stoddard commented: “Yes—it is true that TR liked the centre of the stage—loved it in fact, but when he sought it he always had something to say or to do that made the stage the appropriate place for him.”  

President Roosevelt took the “centre of the stage” to assert his agenda during the December 1901 State of the Union address.  He affirmed his commitment to the Republican causes McKinley had supported, but also laid out his own plan to address conservation, to reinforce the military, and to improve distressing labor conditions.  This agenda represented a mix of the more progressive political left of the Republican Party and the old guard of the GOP.  In many ways, Roosevelt’s leadership helped align national policy with an increasingly complex national economy and International balance of power. 

Presidential History Matters 

President Roosevelt aimed to craft a Presidency aligned with his own image.  Ultimately, his efforts led to a significant concentration of power within the executive branch and created a pattern followed by presidents who would serve America in the future. 

Pushing the limits of his constitutional powers, Roosevelt had a reputation for using his Presidency to accomplish his legislative goals.  He called the office of the Presidency, a “bully pulpit,” from which he could press the legislative branch to support his agenda.  He built and operated his “bully pulpit” through four tools: a) well-placed experts in the executive branch, b) an active legislative and labor role, c) a masterful media plan, and d) a group of informal advisors. 

Roosevelt’s presidential moves were challenged by opponents who believed his actions tested the boundaries of the Constitution. They could do little, however, to stand in his way. 

Roosevelt’s leadership and the historical concentration of power in the executive branch is worth closer study as the Radical Left screams, the sky is falling in 2020. We’ll see you next week for our blog, The Bully Pulpit, which details President Roosevelt’s unique strategy and tools used during his 1901-1909 administration, and puts President Trump’s exercise of presidential power into the appropriate historical context.   

 To learn more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition and to sign up to volunteer in 2020, check out our website.   

At Risk: Alcohol Regulation and Florida

By Dr. Kelli Criss

In this week’s blog, At Risk: Alcohol Regulation and Florida, we focus upon the current dangers facing alcohol laws in Florida.  We believe that alcohol should remain highly regulated. While the social acceptability of this substance has increased considerably, we urge caution on its broad availability and immediate access. 

Let’s consider studies about the link between alcohol abuse, lack of alcohol regulation, and social issues.  We’ll also address how recent moves by certain members of the Florida legislature to deregulate alcohol have significant public health consequences. Believe it or not, recently introduced legislation would totally deregulate Florida’s alcohol industry.  

 Drinking and Driving Deaths Increase 

Deaths attributed to drinking and driving increased between 2015 and 2016, after a long decline. Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition continues to support high visibility law enforcement presence, such as sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock devices, to reduce drunk and drugged driving. Currently, every state across the nation has some type of ignition interlock law. 

 Domestic Violence, Homicide, and Adverse Childhood Events  

Some studies continue to show a strong correlation between drug and alcohol use, domestic violence, homicide, and adverse childhood events. It must be noted, however, the correlation between alcohol and many of these adverse life events does not necessarily reflect causation. Factors such as desire and intimidation and desire for control may play an equal or more important role in IPV—Intimate Partner Violence. 

 This does not mean, however, that alcohol can be absolved of blame.  Studies indicate that alcohol remains a risk factor for incidents such as IPV because it affects both physical and cognitive ability.  It may therefore contribute to IPV and other violent acts by causing a loss of self-control and lack of judgement.[1] 

Alcohol use is frequently associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially in the face of chronic traumatic experiences. It’s logical that perpetrators of domestic violence are the first people who come to mind when considering alcohol’s role in domestic violence; however, survivors of domestic violence face trauma as well.  Considering that trauma and alcohol use are associated, studies do suggest the importance of assessing trauma symptoms and motives for drinking in order to understand alcohol use in recent survivors of domestic violence.[2]  

Poorly Regulated Youth Access  

In addition to domestic violence concerns, studies demonstrate that increased youth access to alcohol is a growing danger. For example, a University of North Carolina School of Public Health study demonstrates that disappearing alcohol purchasing and shipping regulations have increased youth access to alcohol.[3]  According to the study, “Of the 100 orders placed by the underage buyers, 45% were successfully received; 28% were rejected as the result of age verification.  Most vendors (59%) used weak, if any, age verification at the point of the order, and of 45 successful orders, 23 (51%) used none.  Age verification delivery was inconsistently conducted and, when attempted, failed about half of the time.”[4] 

 A Call to Action  

The current alcohol regulatory regime has held industry members accountable for the ways they promote and sell their products for many years. Moreover, recent polling data indicates Floridians: 1) are overwhelmingly satisfied with their current access to alcohol and, yet, 2) feel concerned about the consequences of increased availability.[5] Floridians’ concerns are well-founded because there is a storm brewing in the legislature.   

Unfortunately, legislation that would decimate Florida’s alcohol regulations was filed recently by Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini. His bill, HB 6017, totally deregulates the alcohol industry. We urge you to call Representative Sabatini’s offices in Tallahassee (850.717.5032) and Clermont (352.989.9100) to encourage that he withdraw this bad bill. 

[1] C.F. Gebara, C.P. Ferri, L. M. Lourenço, M. Vieira, F. M. Bhona, & A. R. Noto, (2015). Patterns of domestic violence and alcohol consumption among women and the effectiveness of a brief intervention in a household setting: a protocol study, BMC Women’s Health, Volume 15, Issue 78, September 2015. 

[2] D. Kaysen & T.M. Dillworth, Domestic violence and alcohol use: Trauma-related symptoms and motives for drinking, Journal of Addictive Behaviors, Volume 32, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 1272-1283. 

[3] R.S. Williams & K. M. Ribisl, Internet alcohol sales to minors. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.  Volume 166, Issue 9, Pages 808–813. September 2012. 

[4] Ibid. 

[5] What Floridians Think About Alcohol, A public opinion survey conducted by New Bridge Strategy, January 2020.