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101 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About Coronavirus

Amidst the tragedy, there is also hope

Tane Hunter

The COVID-19 pandemic has come at an unimaginable cost. Hundreds of thousands have died, amidst untold grief, and the devastating economic trauma will last a generation. The scope is planetary, the stakes are overwhelming, and with no end in sight it’s easy to feel despair. However, while pandemics cause immense pain and suffering they also teach us a great deal. Pandemic. Pan and demos. All the people. They show us that we’re all in it together. They force us to sit up and acknowledge that we’re sharing a planet with each other, and with other species. Most importantly, they show us that humans aren’t awful.

Humans: Kind

Volunteers thank members of a medical assistance team at a ceremony marking their departure after helping with the coronavirus recovery effort, in Wuhan, China, on March 19, 2020. Stringer/AFP via Getty Images

1. From the earliest days, people have been coming together. While Western journalists focused on the Chinese government’s authoritarian measures, they didn’t report on the invisible networks of family, neighbours and friends who shared food and medicine, supported the sick, and helped each other survive. Buzzfeed

2. In Turkey, people started to leave food packets on the road for the poor and the needy who could not earn during lockdown, in Pakistan, people paused outside grocery stores to offer zakat, the traditional Muslim charity tax, and in Italy, people hung up ‘solidarity baskets’ of food for the less fortunate.

3. Hundreds of people in Ireland launched a charity drive to help Native American tribes in the United States, raising almost $6 million to repay a debt dating back to 1847 when the Choctaw and Navajo people helped the Irish during the Great Famine. GoFundMe

4. Inspired by Mother Teresa, a former Kenyan safari operator switched his entire operation to feeding thousands of families in Nairobi’s informal urban settlements. His team of volunteers, who call themselves Team Pankaj, have now sent out more than 75,000 food parcels, each one feeding a family of four for 10 days. Reuters

5. Captain Tom Moore captivated the British public by walking 100 laps of his garden in England to celebrate his 100th birthday. He raised $33 million pounds for the NHS, was knighted by the Queen, and his version of You’ll Never Walk Alone topped the UK music charts, making him the oldest person to achieve a number one hit. ABC

Centurion Captain Tom raised millions for NHS frontline workers. Image credit: Splash

6. Since March, World Central Kitchen has served over 15 million meals in America and Spain. They are currently working with more than 2,000 restaurants to cook meals in their communities.

7. In Thailand, Natalie Bin Narkprasert, a French-Thai businesswoman, pulled together more than 450 volunteers, reaching more than 30,000 people with care packages and freshly cooked food. She said, “I can always make money later, but I just want to keep helping people for now and then we will see how it goes.” SMH

8. In India, The Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in Delhi has been feeding 75,000 people every day, and in Bangalore, a restaurant has been feeding 10,000 people a day. At first, it was family and friends, but as word spread across the city and local police, NGOs and volunteers have stepped up to help bring relief.

9. A group of 1,500 volunteers in Egypt started cooking food for those less fortunate. On the boxes, messages in Arabic saying ‘“Be well” and “Together, we will get through this.” Their secret ingredient? Love. AP

10. In Poland, #gastropomaga — “gastronomy is helping” started trending, as restaurants provided tens of thousands of free meals for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, with uplifting messages written on the boxes like, “You are our heroes.” AP

11. “We can’t be one people, if some of us are hungry.” A South African charity delivered 4 million meals in 11 weeks to people living in vulnerable communities. One People

12. Sikh volunteers dubbed the ‘Turbans 4 Australia’ cooked tens of thousands of meals in Melbourne and Sydney for the elderly, and sent thousands of care packages with basic staples for those in self-isolation. SBS

13. In Brazil, cartels went from running drugs to pushing medication, sanitizer, curfews, social distancing and food handouts for the neediest, and warring gangs in South Africa laid down their weapons and redeployed their distribution skills to get food to people in lockdown.

14. In the Philippines, local officials dressed as Star Wars characters enforced quarantine measures while also handing out relief packages, and in Bolivia a schoolteacher gave virtual classes dressed as a superhero. The classes became so popular that siblings fought for the laptop screen to watch and learn.

Image credit: Ted Aljibe/AFP via Getty Images

15. In Turkey, a guy named Burak Soylu started driving around in a Beetle dressed as a superhero, buying milk and groceries for the elderly, and delivering it to their doorsteps. When asked why, he said “My superpower is doing good for the neighborhood.” India Times

16. A taxi driver in Madrid spent months giving free lifts to medical staff and coronavirus patients at the Ramon y Cajal hospital, and was rewarded with a surprise reception from staff for his efforts. Independent

17. Almost every day since the beginning of May, a young architect in Mexico City has been roaming the streets with a ‘wandering microphone’ and broadcasting stories to children, who gathered at their windows to listen. AP

18. In Brazil, a care home created a ‘hug tunnel’ to allow residents to embrace their loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic. Independent

19. In New York and New Jersey, the Chinese-American community united to fight the pandemic, creating vast networks on WeChat and rallying their contacts in the US and in China to procure supplies for doctors and nurses in need. NYT

20. In Spain, a group of neighbors in Córdoba kept busy during lockdown by crocheting 50 meters of LGBTI flag for pride month. It now covers and shades an entire street. El Pais

A 50m rainbow flag crocheted in lockdown for pride month in southern Spain’s province of Córdoba

21. In Ohio, the famously conservative Amish community teamed up with the Cleveland Clinic to produce close to 100,000 masks a day. With raw materials difficult to secure, Amish seamstresses came up with a more efficient mask design. NYT

22. Thousands of graduation gowns that would have gone to waste due to the pandemic were upcycled into PPE for frontline workers by a new graduate who missed his ceremony. CNN

23. The Pope’s charity sent money to a group of transgender sex workers in Rome, after they begged the Vatican for help. NY Daily News

24. To combat blood supply shortages, mosques across the United States teamed up with the Red Cross and opened their doors for blood donations during Ramadan. The Hill

Welcome to the Anthropause

The Himalayas stand clear to view from Pathankot, in the Punjab.

25. By monitoring data from over 300 stations around the world, researchers discovered that noise levels in 2020 have fallen by 50%, the quietest Planet Earth has been since humans developed the technology to listen. They’re calling it ‘The Anthropause’. Vice

26. Scientists and artists took advantage of the drop in noise pollution to celebrate the world’s birds, creating the first global sound map of their mellifluous dawn chorus. We definitely suggest listening. Guardian

27. A large scale study of 34 countries around the world showed that on average, lockdowns reduced nitrogen dioxide pollution by 60% and particulate matter levels by 31%. PNAS

28. A study by the Yale School of Public Health found that China’s ban on traffic prevented over 12,000 premature deaths from air pollution — three times the number of lives lost from COVID-19. About two-thirds of avoided deaths were from avoided heart and lung diseases. Phys

29. COVID-19 has ushered in the biggest retreat for global meat-eating in decades. Global per-capita consumption in 2020 is set to fall to the lowest in nine years. We’re already at peak pasture; thanks to the coronavirus, it now looks like we may have reached peak beef.Bloomberg

30. The Rímac River in Peru, the main supplier of water to the capital Lima, is normally a dumping ground for garbage and waste. But local officials have been reporting that its waters appear to be clearer since the country introduced its coronavirus lockdown. Newsweek

31. Two months of lockdowns did what successive governments could not do in 25 years, cleaning up one of India’s biggest rivers, the Yamuna. Native and migratory birds, such as the Grey Heron, Ibis and Storks, have been returning in droves to the river’s cleaner waters. NDTV

32. In Mexico City, indigenous farmers have brought back Aztec-Era ‘floating gardens’ to fill the demand for fresh, local food in the wake of the pandemic. Altas Obscura

33. In a survey of 11,000 people in Australia, Belgium, Chile, Uganda, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Greece, Canada, Brazil and Ireland, purchases of ready-made meals were down in every country, and shoppers have spent far more on fruit and vegetables. Reuters

Good news for our planetary roommates, too

A newborn baby turtle makes its way to the sea on Kalamaki Beach, Zakynthos, 22nd June 2020

34. Loggerhead turtles in Greece are thriving thanks to lockdowns and a lack of tourism. A key breeding population on Zakynthos, a Greek island, has just had one of its best years on record for births. Telegraph

35. The pandemic has also been good news for the world’s largest turtle, the endangered leatherback. Conservationists from Thailand and Florida, are seeing unprecedented numbers returning to breed on abandoned beaches. The Independent

37. The reduction in road traffic in the United States resulted in far fewer wild animals being killed, with some estimates suggesting that as many as 200 million animals have been spared. WaPo

36. Lockdowns gave a pair of pandas in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park enough alone time to have a cuddle. Two resident pandas, Ying Ying and Le Le, managed to successfully mate — something they’ve been struggling to do for a decade. Pandamonium! BBC

38. The Chinese city of Wuhan banned the consumption of all wildlife in response to COVID-19. This follows similar bans in the cities of Beijing, Shenzhen and Zhuhai. HSI

39. Germany’s meat industry is undergoing radical transformation in the wake of the crisis. The government will ban subcontractors and issue fines of €30,000 for breaching labour regulations — a ‘historic moment’, according to campaigners. Guardian

40. It’s looking increasingly likely that the pandemic will lead to the collapse of bullfighting in Spain, as the industry (already on life support) is unlikely to receive government bailouts. Euro News

41. Vietnam announced a ban on all wildlife imports and closed wildlife markets in response to renewed concerns about the threat from diseases that can jump from animals to humans, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. ABC

42. The EU is stepping up efforts to control wildlife trading and make factory farming more sustainable, given that both issues have played a role in the coronavirus pandemic. “Healthy ecosystems lead to a healthy society and therefore it is not too high a price to pay to fix them.” Reuters

43. Albania’s beekeepers have been buzzing over the unparalleled honey harvest thanks to busy bees that had a respite from pollution and pesticides. France 24

44. Fungie, a famous solitary dolphin living off the west coast of Kerry, Ireland, became lonely without any human interaction during the pandemic, and so a kind-hearted fisherman has been undertaking daily trips to keep him company. Independent

45. As a result of the coronavirus crisis, commercial fishing fleets around the world have been tied up, giving marine life a once in a generation chance to recover. Japan Times

46. Citing the pandemic, Iceland, one of three remaining whaling nations, announced that it would no longer be hunting whales. National Geographic

47. Rhino poaching in South Africa has halved since the beginning of the year, thanks to lockdowns and disruption to international flights. Guardian

48. Dolphins were spotted in Lisbon’s Tagus River in numbers not seen in decades, thanks to improving water quality and the availability of more fish, and brown bears were spotted in Spain for the first time in 150 years. (finally, the region has become bearable). Guardian

The New Superheroes

Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue illuminated to look like a doctor on Easter Sunday, in a tribute to front-line healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic around the world.

49. Around the world, millions took up the practice of applauding healthcare workers. Part balm, part defiance, part celebration — we’re still here! — the practice migrated from the Chinese epicenter of Wuhan to the medieval villages of Lombardy, from Milan to Madrid, onto Paris and London. There have been standing ovations, too, in Istanbul, Atlanta, Buenos Aires and Tamil Nadu. WaPo

50. As doctors have gotten a better handle on the disease, death rates of patients in ICUs have fallen by nearly a third in North America, Asia and Europe. Overall, ICU deaths on these continents fell from nearly 60% at the end of March to 42% by the end of May. Medical Xpress

51. A variety of countries and organizations pledged $8.8 billion to GAVI, the vaccines alliance. The deal will help secure enough COVID-19 vaccine doses — when the shots have been developed — for poor countries to immunise healthcare workers and those at high risk. WEF

52. Germany pledged to increase its financial support for the World Health Organization to more than €500 million this year to fight COVID-19. WHO

53. Thousands of Mexican medical and support workers crossed the border — and back again — every day to help southern California’s overwhelmed hospitals during COVID-19 (so much for the wall). Reuters

54. Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, used to be a doctor before becoming a politician. He re-registered and started working one shift a week to assist during the outbreak. Sky

55. In Los Angeles, an artist painted 1,800 individual flowers, one for every employee of a hospital hit hard by the pandemic. Washington Post

56. In Latvia’s capital, a large statue was unveiled to honour healthcare workers battling the coronavirus around the world. Independent

57. The Canadian government announced it will provide an extra $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low income essential workers. CBC

58. Banksy created a new artwork showing a young boy discarding his Spiderman and Batman figures in favour of a new favourite action hero — an NHS nurse. The artwork was given to a hospital in Southampton, with the note “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white.” BBC

anksy artwork painted during lockdown fo NHS workers, entitled ‘Game Changer.’ Image credit: Stuart Martin

59. In Kenya, an innovative organization called Hewatele breathed new hope into the fight against COVID-19, working to ensure all patients — even in remote areas of the country — have access to oxygen supplies that are needed to keep the most critically ill patients alive. Gates Notes

60. In Afghanistan, a long-shut, privately owned oxygen factory reopened to help thousands for free. A breath of fresh air, as the country struggled with shortages of medical oxygen during the pandemic. VOA

61. In France, frontline healthcare workers were given pay rises worth €8bn, and in the UK, 900,000 public sector employees received a pay rise — not just healthcare workers, but teachers, police officers and soldiers. Independent

62. A high school freshman in Texas used crowdfunding to source 12,000 masks for local healthcare workers with the help of family, friends and her community. After being treated in hospital in 3rd-grade, she said she had never forgotten the kindness of the doctors and nurses. ABC

63. Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer donned a doctor’s coat on Easter Sunday, to honour frontline workers around the world battling to stop the spread of coronavirus. SBS

64. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Superbowl winner and the first med school grad to ever play in the NFL, returned to Quebec to work on the frontlines, cleaning out bedpans and prepping medication trays in a long-term care centre. Vice

65. In India, rose petals fell from the skies as military helicopters paid a floral tribute to frontline healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic. Gulf Today

An economy built for people AND the planet

The sun sets behind an idle pump jack near Karnes City, Texas, April 8, 2020 (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

66. The coronavirus pandemic has set off the most devastating downturn in the 150-year history of the fossil fuels industry, one from which, ultimately, it may never recover. Medium

67. Meanwhile, renewable power has taken up a record share of global electricity production since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Renewable energy has become more dependable and grid operators have proven they can successfully manage larger loads of fluctuating energy flows. Reuters

68. BP’s CEO said the crisis had “convinced him more than ever” to shrink the oil giant’s carbon footprint to zero, and that BP should learn from, and embrace, the collapse of oil markets amid the global pandemic. iNews

69. Nearly 40 mayors representing more than 700 million people in cities across the globe have called for a transformative recovery, signing a statement of principles for the “transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon, inclusive and healthier economy for people and the planet.” Common Dreams

70. The EU unveiled what it is billing as the biggest “green” stimulus package in history. The total financial firepower the European Commission says it will be wielding is almost €2tn ($2.2tn). BBC

71. As part of its recovery efforts, Pakistan hired displaced workers to plant trees, creating more than 60,000 jobs and announced the creation of 15 new national parks, creating almost 5,000 ‘guardians of nature’ jobs for young people. Tree-huggers unite!

72. In Kenya, solar energy has saved the day. As the pandemic and extreme weather disrupt electricity supplies, solar energy sources have helped rural communities keep their phones and lights on. Reuters

73. Austria and Sweden shut their last coal-fired power plants, joining Albania, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway as countries without coal in their electricity mix. Who’s next? Bloomberg

Image credit: OHCHR

74. Portugal gave all migrants and asylum-seekers full citizenship rights to ensure they could access public services during the outbreak. CNN

75. In Spain, the government approved a new push for 100% renewable electricity and net-zero carbon emissions. The proposal bans all new fossil fuel projects and helps provide a pathway to economic recovery. Renew Economy

76. Spain also implemented a basic income scheme that will reach 850,000 households and 2.5 million of the country’s poorest citizens. CNBC

77. Over 7,000 people suffering from homelessness in Australia have been sheltered in hotels and guesthouses across the country. ABC

78. Rice ATMs (machines that give out free rice), were set up around Vietnam to help vulnerable families, and those who were unable to feed themselves. CNN

79. Pakistan launched the largest social protection effort in the country’s history with plans to pay close to $1 billion dollars to the country’s poorest in an effort to counter the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. CNN

80. The pandemic caused a substantial drop in the US prison population. Between March and June this year, over 100,000 people were released from state and federal prisons — a drop of 8%. AP

81. More than one million people in the UK have given up smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic. More people quit smoking in the year to June 2020 than in any year since surveys began in 2007. BBC

82. The suicide rate in Japan fell by 20%, the biggest drop in five years, thanks to falling stress levels. People were spending more time at home with their families, fewer people were commuting to work and delays to the start of the school year are seen as factors in the fall. Guardian

83. A survey of fathers in Canada has revealed that 60% of dads feel closer to their kids as a result of COVID-19 lockdown measures, which have provided them with more time together. CTV

84. In South America’s capitals, from Bogota to Buenos Aires, rising numbers of residents got on their bikes, driving officials to expand bike lanes and promote cycling as a safe way to travel. Reuters

Bike routes have been expanded in many major cities, including Bogata, Colombia, to encourage people to avoid crowded public transportation. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

85. Bicycles increasingly muscled aside cars on Europe’s city streets, as the COVID-19 accelerated a shift toward pedal power. BBC

86. German auto-execs, politicians and environmentalists agreed on the need for an ‘eco-scrappage program’ to promote the uptake of hybrid and electric vehicles, helping to boost the country’s post-pandemic economy and pave the way for a greener future. Electrek

87. Eamon Ryan, leader of Ireland’s Green Party, and a former bike shop owner, secured a commitment from Ireland’s government to dedicate 20% of the transport budget to walking and cycling over the next five years. Forbes

88. Austria boosted its financial incentives for buying electric vehicles and bicycles, and has tripled grants for charging points, as part of its economic rebuilding efforts in the wake of the pandemic. Reuters

89. Melbourne said it would remove hundreds of parking spaces over the next two years to make way for 40 kilometres of bicycle lanes, following large increases in the number of people cycling into the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Age

Pray now, for science

A research technician uses a centrifuge on blood samples from volunteers in the laboratory at Imperial College in London on July 30, 2020. | Photo Credit: AP

New York Times journalist Farhad Manjoo says it better than we ever could:

Let us pray, now, for science. Pray for empiricism and for epidemiology and for vaccines. Pray for peer review and controlled double-blinds. For flu shots, herd immunity and washing your hands. Pray for reason, rigour and expertise. Pray for the precautionary principle. Pray for the NIH and the CDC. Pray for the WHO. And pray not just for science, but for scientists, too, as well as their colleagues in the application of science — the tireless health care workers, the whistle-blowing first responders, the rumpled, righteous public servants whose long-ignored warnings we will learn about only when the 12-part coronavirus docu-disaster series drops on Netflix. Wish them all well in the fights ahead. Their weapons, the weapons of science, are all we have left — perhaps the only true weapons our kind has ever marshalled against encroaching oblivion.

90. Globally, there are now 165 vaccines in development, and 27 in human trials around the world. It’s the biggest scientific collaboration in human history, and by far the fastest progress on any vaccine. NYT

91. Doctors around the world, from New Orleans to London to Dubai, say they now have a clearer grasp of the disease’s side effects, like blood clotting and kidney failure, a better understanding of how to help patients struggling to breathe, and promising new treatments like convalescent plasma, antiviral drugs and steroids. “We know so much more. We are far better positioned for a second wave.” Reuters

92. The world’s first widely approved coronavirus treatment, dexamethasone, has significantly reduced the risk of death. Following successful trials with NHS patients, it’s been hailed as one of the “biggest breakthroughs yet” both in Britain and globally. Telegraph

93. A global team of scientists have identified 20 additional existing drugs that stop the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The study has significantly expanded the possible safe treatments for COVID-19. Science Daily

94. In addition to vaccines and drugs, there is a major global effort right now to develop antibody therapies such as monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma, and hyperimmune globulin. Many of these will become available in the next few months. CNN

95. The director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, says that, for all the suffering and grief that COVID-19 has wrought, it’s also inspired an unprecedented level of cooperation between private industry and government agencies. “We’ve never had that before. In this case, I guess the global pandemic has inspired us to do things that maybe we should have done before.” Time

96. A new treatment has been developed for COVID-19 that uses a protein called interferon beta. In a trial, it cut the odds of ventilation by 79%, patients were two to three times more likely to recover, and the average time patients spent in hospital was reduced by a third. BBC

97. A clinical trial has been approved for an inhaled form of Remdesivir to treat Covid-19 patients outside of hospital settings. The antiviral drug has been shown to reduce recovery times in coronavirus patients suffering from respiratory problems. Independent

98. The extremely sensitive olfactory sense of dogs is being honed as a new tool in the fight against the COVID-19. A new scientific study shows that sniffer dogs can detect COVID-19 in armpit sweat and maybe better at diagnosing the virus than standard testing. Science Times

99. 16 of the world’s most powerful supercomputers have been helping researchers in areas like bioinformatics, epidemiology, and molecular modeling, to help create solutions for the coronavirus. TechStartups

100. A group of researchers from South Korea, the UK and the US worked together to produce the first open-source all-atom model of the coronavirus ‘spike’ protein. This matters because the protein is the main target for vaccine and antiviral drug development. Phys

101. Researchers have highlighted the anti-inflammatory powers of cannabis-derived CBD to help treat deadly lung inflammation from the coronavirus. Forbes


“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien The Fellowship of The Ring

The challenges facing the human family right now are big and scary and there’s no guarantee we will overcome them. As millions of people have demonstrated since the beginning of the pandemic though, action is possible, better solutions are available and a better future can be built. We can each play our tiny part in telling the story of change, and inspire people to leave the world a better place than when they came into it.

Stay safe out there. With love!