By Rebecca Fleeman
Amidst the current climate of despair for the growing cases of coronavirus, many of us have a flurry of emotions. We are disheartened about the number of people who have been impacted, worried about those in our lives who are at a higher risk for the disease, terrified that we may have already come in contact with someone who tested positive, and frustrated that the most helpful thing we can do is to simply stay at home.
Despite the unending list of worst-case-scenarios, there is a growing display of positive events that have occurred as a result of COVID-19. Although it may seem that every step forward sets us back two more, there are a number of people proving that we should not lose our faith in humanity. From celebrities to the “average Joe,” there are people out there trying to make a difference in these turbulent times. Social media has been a great asset in sharing the positive highlights of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully this article can shed some light on the roses amongst the thorns, show you the big picture, and potentially motivate you to pursue general acts of kindness during this time of seemingly endless quarantine.
- On Monday, March 16, the popular children’s book author and illustrator, Mo Willems, began a free daily lunch doodle class. This 20-30-minute class has been an awesome way for parents working from home to entertain their kids each day. The first class posted has over 2.8 million views on YouTube and has been a fun opportunity for children and adults alike! If you want to join, Mo goes live every weekday at 1:00 pm EST.
- For those of you who feel you have lost touch with nature in these times of quarantine, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as many other popular zoos and aquariums have installed live cams. Now, you can watch unique wildlife scenes each day from the comfort of your home! Monterey Bay offers ten different live cams which include the jellyfish cam (my personal favorite), as well as a kelp forest cam, an aviary cam, and even a sea otter cam! Other zoos and aquariums have followed suit, such as the San Diego Zoo and the Houston Zoo. Another fantastic example of aquariums changing things up for COVID-19 is the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL. If you need a smile for the day, just google “penguins loose in aquarium”. The Shedd took advantage of their empty venue to let the penguins loose in the park for the day. Watching the penguins flip-flop around the empty aquariums, and especially down the stairs, will make your heart melt.
- Bringing it to a local level in Hershey, PA, I am proud of a number of students at Penn State College of Medicine (PSCOM). Many graduate students are helping in the fight against misinformation on the coronavirus and have even posted on Facebook with offers to help pay for grocery bills for anyone struggling in the recession. Students and faculty at PSCOM also raised over $1,000 to buy pizzas for coworkers still having to report to work. I have additionally seen people massively share a google form that allows graduate students, principal investigators, and the like, to volunteer their scientific skills by adding their name and skills to a national database of scientists willing and able to aid in the fight against this disease if/when called upon.
- Another major plus is that “Mother Nature” is actually breathing a sigh of relief right now. The amount of air pollution in cities which normally burn high amounts of fossil fuels have seen a drastic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions. CNN has an interactive article where you can slide a bar across the country and select states to see the differences in air pollution between 2019 and 2020. Additionally, the NASA and European Space Agency satellites which monitor air pollution have shown a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide across China and Italy since the coronavirus outbreak. In Venice, Italy, where waterways are a main site for tourist attraction, the coronavirus outbreak has similarly decreased the water pollution. With the reduction of motorboats running on the canals, residents have seen clearer water and have even been able to start spotting fish. While this may only be a temporary change, the coronavirus pandemic has given us a glimpse into the possibilities of how quickly we can enhance the environment around us if we lower man-made pollution.
- Many food delivery services have decided to waive delivery fees for local businesses. Companies like Uber Eats are encouraging people to order delivery from local restaurants to help keep local restaurant business afloat.
- People following the orders to practice social distancing and stay home have said things like “forget the freshman 15, we out here gaining the COVID 19” (Drew Logullo). Around town, I have never seen so many families and individuals walking, biking, and running outside. This renewed appreciation for fresh air and exercise is important to offset the sedentary lifestyle of working from home. Runner’s World has even put out tips on How to Run Safely Amid Coronavirus Concerns. With the warmer weather, I have even seen some students set up a table in their front yard to study outdoors!
- With everyone locked inside their homes, families are spending more time together and this may lead to increased family bonding. More than that, many people have taken this time to rekindle old friendships over online platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook, and Skype. Video chat happy hours have gone viral and they are a great way to cure your stuck-at-home blues.
- Celebrities like late night show comedic hosts Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon are currently using their daily shows to hold fundraisers that provide aid to different organizations in this time of need. Trevor Noah is hosting his show with the tagline “from Trevor’s couch in NYC to your couch, somewhere in the world” and has changed the name of his show from “The Daily Show” to “The Daily Social Distancing Show”. Jimmy Fallon has been hosting his show from home with his wife filming and his two young children, Winnie and Franny, doing the media and art for his show. They have also brought on (video chatted) famous celebrities to the show like Lin-Manuel Miranda. Similarly, bands and musicians including John Legend, Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, Pink, Shawn Mendes, and Camila Cabello are doing free online mini concerts to help entertain fans at home.
- There are small things people in communities are doing, like a man in Lincoln, Nebraska who handed out free hand sanitizer and toilet paper to those in need. People in Europe, and now some in the US, stop what they are doing every night at 8:00pm and go outside to clap, cheer, and appreciate medical workers on the front lines of treating coronavirus. Parents are even creating drive by birthday parties for their kids whose birthdays have fallen on this time of quarantine.
The list is endless! The last instance I want to mention is a video that came out the day I wrote this article. On March 26th, the Today Show aired a video about the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic. It will truly open your eyes to some amazing things people are doing for those around them.
Amongst these worrisome times there is always a way to have a positive influence for yourself and others. While this is undoubtedly a difficult time for the world, it is nice to be reminded of the good that people are putting forth in the world around them. If you have seen other acts of kindness in your life or on social media, please feel free to comment them below! Let’s try to lift everyone’s spirits during this time of isolation.