Caribbean Island is On Track to Become the World’s First ‘Hurricane-Proof’ Country

When a category 5 hurricane makes landfall, few things borne of our civilization can resist the power of the winds and surging, violent waves.

Yet the tiny nation of Dominica—which is even smaller than its neighbor Dominican Republic—is on course to hurricane-proof its country after being devastated by Hurricane Maria.

The cat. 5 that struck the island two years ago, destroyed 226% of the country’s GDP and 90% of the structures.

Describing the project as creating the first “climate resilient” nation, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the UN general assembly in the aftermath of Maria’s landfall, asking for the funds to create such a nation—one that cannot only resist powerful storms physically, but also economically and spiritually.

“In the past, we would prepare for one heavy storm a year. Now, thousands of storms form on a breeze in the mid-Atlantic and line up to pound us with maximum force and fury,” he said to the UN.

Skerrit’s plan is to create cities of hurricane-proof structures that won’t leave mountains of debris behind after storms.

“The challenges are not just related to infrastructure. Resilience in our view is how vulnerable you are in the first place,” Pepe Bardouille told National Geographic.

That’s why they are starting with the building codes.

By Hugh Fiske, CC license

A CREAD to live by

Bardouille is CEO of the government’s Climate Resilience Execution Agency of Dominica (CREAD), and he believes that building a climate-resilient nation starts with every person considering how the planning decisions they make will hold up under winds higher than 150 mph.

CREAD has been charged with establishing uniform building codes, geothermal energy plants, a hurricane-proof hospital and healthcare system, and improving public transit.

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“How to keep a society and economy in a small country with a limited tax base and a huge number of climactic challenges running on a shoestring. Those are the challenges,” Bardouille says.

But the Prime Minister’s vision also includes a prosperous ecotourism industry that could replenish the state’s coffers before and after storms deplete them.

There is one landfill on Dominica, and it’s nearly full. Cleaning up plastic waste and switching to biodegradable items like bottles, food packaging, and more will be key to CREAD’s strategy of helping the country look nicer for travelers. Plastic trash is whipped around in powerful storms and scattered hither and yon, despoiling the natural beauty of the country.

In 2018, GNN reported that Skerrit had enacted a ban on plastic and other debris such as single-use straws, and Styrofoam food items to try and aid in creating the image of a pristine Caribbean island that will attract tourists with deeper pockets. The following year, the Climate Resilience Act went into full force, and gave birth to CREAD.

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The economy has since grown by 9 percent. Tourists are back on the beaches, and children are back in the classrooms. A new state-of-the-art hospital opened in August of 2019, while construction around the island has created five hundred new homes with another 1,000 on the way.

Described as “The Nature Island”, tropical rainforests filled with colorful birds encircle volcanoes looming above coral reefs and beaches of white, brown, and even black sands—things which typify Dominica as not just a place for margaritas and sunny days in a resort, but adventure and exploration.

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As with so many countries, Dominica represents a great place for a vacation—and a vacation represents a way to directly and effectively support the climate-resilient economy.

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Startup in Uganda Recycles Plastic Bottles into PPE Face Shields For Hospitals

Killing two birds with one stone, two Ugandan entrepreneurs working to up-cycle plastic waste into building materials have altered their production to tackle the shortages of personal protective medical equipment (PPE) in hospitals dealing with the country’s COVID-19 patients.

After the government ordered all non-essential businesses closed, Peter Okwoko and his colleague Paige Balcom, co-founders of Takataka Plastics, continued working in their plastics processing facility.

But, instead of things like roof tiles, they began recycling plastic waste into face shields for medical workers.

After posting an image of their prototype on social media, the pair got a surprising call from a regional hospital asking for 10 face shields because they didn’t have enough.

Using locally-sourced moulds for molten plastic, the two finished the order and delivered them, before getting a call later in the afternoon from the very same hospital asking for more because “the first ones worked out so well for them,” Okwoko, 29, told Reuters.

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PPE and Plastic Recycling

PPE shortages have occurred world-wide, and Ugandan hospitals are are no exception, but Takataka Plastics has, so far, made 1,200 face shields. Even more inspiring, the company’s staff of 14, includes six employees who were homeless, jobless youth.

Around 500 of the shields have been sold to NGOs and privately-managed health facilities at a low cost and the other 700 were donated to public hospitals.

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Takataka hopes to build upon the success of the face shields and expand its operations into a more appropriate plastic processing and recycling facility. Currently their location can reduce around 132 pounds (60 kgs) of plastic per-day, but they are aiming to establish a monthly capacity of 9 metric tons.

Uganda sees hundreds of tons of plastic thrown away annually, and their innovative solution to the PPE crisis has pushed these entrepreneurs to dream bigger.

Need more positive stories and updates coming out of the COVID-19 challenge? For more uplifting coverage, click here.

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Exciting New Data Says Renewables Accounted for Almost Three Quarters of New Energy Capacity in 2019

In an exciting reported victory for sustainability, new renewable power accounted for a whopping 72% of all global power expansion in 2019.

According to new data released last week by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy sector added 176 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity globally in 2019, although this was notably lower than the (revised) 179 GW added in 2018.

However, IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2020 shows that renewables expanded by 7.6% last year with Asia dominating growth and accounting for 54% of total additions. While expansion of renewables slowed last year, total renewable power growth outpaced fossil fuel growth by a factor of 2.6, continuing the dominance of renewables in power expansion first established in 2012. Solar and wind contributed 90% of total renewable capacity added in 2019.

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“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility, supports economic stability and stimulates sustainable growth,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “With renewable additions providing the majority of new capacity last year, it is clear that many countries and regions recognize the degree to which the energy transition can deliver positive outcomes.

“While the trajectory is positive, more is required to put global energy on a path with sustainable development and climate mitigation—both of which offer significant economic benefits,” continued Mr. La Camera. “At this challenging time, we are reminded of the importance of building resilience into our economies. In what must be the decade of action, enabling policies are needed to increase investments and accelerate renewables adoption.”

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Renewables accounted for at least 70% of total capacity expansion in almost all regions in 2019, other than in Africa and the Middle East, where they represented 52% and 26% of net additions respectively.

The additions took the renewable share of all global power capacity to 34.7%, up from 33.3% at the end of 2018. Non-renewable capacity expansion globally followed long-term trends in 2019, with net growth in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and net decommissioning in Europe and North America.

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Solar added 98 GW in 2019, 60% of which was in Asia. Wind energy expanded by close to 60 GW led by growth in China (26 GW) and the United States (9 GW). The two technologies now generate 623 GW and 586 GW respectively—close to half of global renewable capacity. Hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal and marine energy displayed modest year on year expansion of 12 GW, 6 GW, 700 MW, and 500 MW respectively.

Asia was responsible for over half of new installations despite expanding at a slightly slower pace than in 2018. Growth in Europe and North America increased year on year. Africa added 2 GW of renewable capacity in 2019, half of the 4 GW it installed in 2018.

Want to learn more? Read the “Highlights of the key findings” or the full IRENA report.

Reprinted from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

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These Optimistic COVID-19 Updates Give Us the Evidence We Need for Hope in April

This week’s news headlines from around the world have brought together another batch of COVID-19 updates that are both positive and noteworthy.

For starters, the number of novel coronavirus deaths in Spain dropped for the fourth consecutive day in a row, which has inspired hope that the nation is now past the peak of their outbreak—especially since the decline marked the lowest recorded number of deaths in two weeks.

Spain has experienced the most recorded cases of the virus in Europe, although other European nations have reported some hopeful trends of their own.

In France, the number of COVID-19 fatalities and new daily cases fell by more than 50% over the weekend, according to datasets from Worldometer.

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Italy, which has been one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, has now recorded three straight days of decline in new cases. Additional datasets from Worldometer show that yesterday marked the lowest number of new cases since March 17th—roughly half of the nation’s peak number of new cases which was recorded on March 21st. After several consecutive days of decline, April 5th also marked the lowest number of Italian deaths since March 19th.

Meanwhile, less than two weeks after New Zealand enacted strict nationwide lockdowns, the nation reports that they have not only flattened their curve of cases, they have “squashed it”.

On the US front, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says that the number of deaths statewide fell for the first time and remained flat for new days, raising hopes for a flattened curve. New hospital admissions also fell across the state from 1,427 on April 2nd to 358 on April 5th, according to Market Watch.

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Furthermore, Cuomo added that 75% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state have been discharged.

Worldometer goes on to confirm that the number of collective new cases and deaths in the US have actually fallen since April 3rd which affirms evidence that social restrictions have been effective in curbing COVID-19.

Although national responders are still anxiously anticipating new problems posed by the pandemic during the coming weeks, the nation’s most influential statistical model has predicted that there may be fewer shortages of medical equipment—and fewer deaths—than we may have previously thought.

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While authorities remain vigilant in the face of cautious optimism, weather reports are showing positive environmental progress as well.

Following similar reports in China and the US, air pollution is continuing to plummet in countries with social restrictions, such as the UK and India. In New Delhi alone—which has some of the worst air pollution in the world—airborne particulates plunged by 71% in just one week.

Particle pollution in major UK cities have also dropped by as much as one-third—and the rates are expected to fall even further as lockdowns continue.

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“These are big changes—pollution levels are the equivalent at the moment of a holiday, say an Easter Sunday,” Professor James Lee from York University and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science told The Guardian about the data.
“And I think we will see an even starker drop off when the weather changes.”

This is just one of many positive stories and updates that are coming out of the COVID-19 news coverage this week. For more uplifting coverage on the outbreaks, click here.

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Reports Find Social Restrictions Are Working to Curb New COVID-19 Cases From Italy to Seattle

As more and more US states and world regions implement various stay-at-home orders and shutdowns during the COVID-19 outbreaks, some areas that have been hit hardest by the virus are showing that the restrictions are working.

Since symptoms of the novel coronavirus generally start to show within two weeks of infection, today’s infections are the result of interactions from early March. China has slowly begun lifting its strict social restrictions since their quarantine regulation helped the nation recover from the virus.

It has now been roughly two weeks since Italy ordered a nationwide lockdown amidst the outbreaks, and rates of infection have steadily been declining since the country’s first recorded death on February 21st.

According to The Times of Israel, the daily infection rate in Italy reached a high of 57% back in early March. Last week, it reached a record-low of 7.5%.

MORE: 10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World

“The slowdown in the [infections] growth rate is extremely positive,” World Health Organization deputy director Ranieri Guerra reportedly told Italy’s Capitale radio. “I think the measures taken [by Italy] are absolutely correct—perhaps with a certain delay at the start, but that is understandable.”

Similarly in the US, six Bay Area counties became the first in the nation to implement stay-at-home orders in mid-March followed by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide order three days later. Although many Californian hospitals have been struggling to address ventilator and bed shortages, some researchers report that the virus has been spreading slower than they initially thought—and it’s likely because of the lockdowns.

Dr. Timothy Dyster, a resident physician from the University of California San Francisco, published some encouraging datasets on Twitter, illustrating how the weeks-long uptick in new infections fell for the first time this week—and it may indicate a continuing decline in infection rates.

“These data should be regarded as a ‘cheer from the sidelines’ in this marathon we’re on together,” wrote Dyster. “It’s been hard work and sacrifice, and it will continue to be, but there might be some early evidence that those efforts are paying off,” Dyster said. “So please, keep staying home and keep washing your hands!”

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Jahan Fahimi, another physician from UCSF, added: “We’ve been anxiously awaiting the surge of COVID19 patients in San Francisco. The number of hospital cases increase slowly daily. But, it hit me today… we are in a flattened curve.

Posted by Joy Erickson on GNN’s FB Page

“While the surge is surely still coming, we have time. Each day we are more prepared. By delaying the surge, hospitals have time to: get ventilators, open respiratory isolation wards, stockpile PPE, integrate telemedicine, expand testing, train workforce, [and] learn from colleagues in hot spots.”

Officials in Seattle told The New York Times this week that their lockdowns are also reflecting a decline in new cases as the rate of individual person-to-person infections has reportedly fallen from 2.7 people to 1.4.

With 29 American states now maintaining stay-at-home orders, Kinsa Health—a company that has been producing and distributing internet-connected thermometers—launched an online map of the country which depicted rates of fevers, colds, and flus.

Within days of creating the map on March 22nd, the researchers noted a significant decline in commonly transmitted sicknesses. Although the map does not offer evidence that social restrictions are curbing COVID-19 cases, The Times does report that new datasets from New York and Washington have confirmed the trends illustrated by the map.

RELATED: Another Roundup of Positive Updates on the COVID Outbreaks From Around the World

Not only that, Kinsa Health’s influenza predictions have reportedly been two to three weeks ahead of those from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention—and the company is now working to share their technology with government health agencies to continue monitoring disease trends for the public.

“As of March 30th, we have seen illness levels in [New York City] drop to normal levels for this time of year, and we are seeing similar trends across the entire country,” writes the company. “This does not mean that COVID-19 cases are declining. In fact, we expect to see reported cases continue to surge in the near term, but this data indicates these measures are starting to slow the spread.

This is just one of many positive stories and updates that are coming out of the COVID-19 news coverage this week. For more uplifting coverage on the outbreaks, click here.

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Another Roundup of Positive Updates on the COVID Outbreaks From Around the World

Last week, we published a list of ten positive updates on the COVID-19 outbreaks from around the world.

Since the article has been viewed millions of times, we thought we would go ahead and publish another round-up of optimistic occurrences to keep your spirits up.

So here is another list of reasons why the global situation is not as bad as the mainstream media might have you think.

1) World Health Organization (WHO) Officials Say There Are Now 20 Coronavirus Vaccines in Development

Although there are still a number of logistical and financial hurdles that will need to be overcome in the race to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to the public, WHO representatives say they are working with scientists around the world to test and develop 20 different vaccines.

“The acceleration of this process is really truly dramatic in terms of what we’re able to do, building on work that started with SARS, that started with MERS and now is being used for COVID-19 ,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for WHO’s emergencies program, said at a press conference in Geneva last week, according to CNBC.

The collective body of research is particularly “remarkable” since the vaccines are in development just 60 days after a number of international scientists decoded the virus’s genetic sequence and shared it with the rest of the world.

One of the vaccines—which is already being tested on a number of American volunteers in Seattle—has already illustrated the “unprecedented speed” with which the medical community is working together to develop a vaccine.

2) From Individuals to Countries and World Governments–Everybody is Sharing Face Masks

Not only is this French fashion designer making her own face masks and giving them away for free, she is showing how other people can make their own as well. In North Carolina, a textile mill is gearing up to start making 10 million masks per week. A number of international fashion companies have also redirected their manufacturing teams to produce face masks as well.

Multiple businesses and schools have donated their recently rediscovered face mask treasure troves to hospitals in need. Other major tech companies such as Facebook and Apple are donating millions of masks and medical supplies to US healthcare facilities. Chinese companies are passing on their own stashes of face masks to European countries newly impacted by the virus. Taiwan is reportedly donating 100,000 masks to the United States.

Even medical TV shows have donated their medical supply props to North American hospitals in need.

File photo by Senior Airman Nancy Hooks

3) As American Cities Close Up Amidst Outbreaks, Pollution Plummets

The United States is now benefiting from the same environmental silver lining to the pandemics as China and Italy: as cities encourage self-isolation, air pollution is plummeting.

Over the course of the last few weeks, satellite imaging has revealed significant reductions in air pollution—particularly across California, Seattle, and New York City.

According to CNN, environmental scientists are estimating that the improvement in air quality could collectively save as many as 75,000 people from dying prematurely.

Photo by Descartes Labs

4) As Physicians Worry About Potential Ventilator Shortages, Researchers Develop Several Low-Cost Solutions

In a stroke of genius, one scientist from the University of Minnesota says he went “full-on MacGyver” to build a makeshift ventilator in a matter of hours. Although his team has revised his design over the course of several prototypes with the hopes of eventually submitting it for FDA approval, he says that the inexpensive ventilator is one that he “would be comfortable with someone [using to] take care of me in an ICU or in an operating room.”

The compassionate medical research continues in Italy as a pair of engineers have taken it upon themselves to 3D-print free respirator parts for their local hospitals. As of last week, the Isinnova startup engineers told Forbes that they had successfully printed more than 100 parts.

Meanwhile, MIT scientists are publishing open-source instructions and research on how to build inexpensive ventilators.

“We are releasing this material with the intent to provide those with the ability to make or manufacture ventilators, the tools needed to do so in a manner that seeks to ensure patient safety,” they wrote. “Clinicians viewing this site can provide input and expertise and report on their efforts to help their patients.”

Isinnova’s Christian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli—Photo by Isinnova

5) Communities and Countries Opening Up New Lanes of Free Entertainment for the Masses

In addition to Italians singing songs and playing music together from their balconies, homeowners have begun projecting classic films onto building fronts for the neighbors to enjoy.

As a means of keeping self-isolated people amused during global shutdowns, many online services have made their services free to the public as well.

For starters, Amazon has unlocked more than 40 new children’s shows for all of their customers to watch for free, regardless of Prime membership. Audiobook platform Audible has also released a number of free audiobooks for users to stream from their devices.

“For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Starting today, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids,” reads the Audible website. “All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. Explore the collection, select a title and start listening. It’s that easy.”

More than 2,500 art museums and galleries have also partnered with Google to offer free virtual tours and displays of their collections to art lovers around the world.

If you prefer cuter online content, then you can check out this handy list of zoos and aquariums offering livestreams of their animal residents.

6) More Than 100,000 People Have Already Recovered From the Virus Worldwide

According to research from Johns Hopkins University, more than 100,000 COVID-19 patients have already made full recoveries from the infection—and that number may very well climb ever higher as more and more potential treatments are tested around the world.

If that’s not enough, patients as old as 90 have managed to recover from the virus as well.

As Chinese cities gradually reopen to the public now that they have gotten the virus under control with less than 10 new infections reported each day, other countries are expected to experience similar recoveries during the coming months.

7) Nobel Prize Winner Who Correctly Predicted COVID-19 Trends Says ‘We’re Going To Be Fine’

According to a recently-published interview with the Los Angeles Times, Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist Michael Levitt has been “remarkably accurate” in predicting China’s recovery from the virus since he began researching the infection rates back in January.

Levitt, who won the 2013 prize for developing complex chemical models of calculation, says that as long as countries continue to practice safe self-isolation measures, the numbers show that they are already beginning to experience slow signs of improvement.

“What we need is to control the panic,” he told the news outlet. “We’re going to be fine.”

© Nobel Media AB. Photo: A. Mahmoud

8) Celebrities and Businesses Have Contributed Millions Towards Feeding and Caring for At-Risk People

From Michelin-starred Chef José Andrés to the Bill Gates Foundation—millions of dollars are being donated to novel coronavirus research and charities feeding families amidst the shutdowns.

It’s hard to quantify just how many resources are being contributed to the cause, but suffice it to say that it’s a lot—in fact, here’s just a quick list of celebrities giving back to their communities that we published last week.

9) No Matter Where You Look, People Are Being Kind to Each Other

People and small businesses are delivering groceries to their elderly neighbors in self-isolation; kids are caring for the homeless; social media users are setting up “caremongering” groups to support each other and share helpful information; people are sharing their toilet paper with community members.

There are even more stories of kindness and compassion being reported from around the world every day—so remember to keep your chin up during the weeks ahead and remind yourself that this situation might not be as terrible as your social media feed might have you believe.

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10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World

If it seems that your news feed has been flooded with nerve-wracking updates on the COVID-19 outbreaks, have no fear—there are also plenty of positive updates on the pandemic as well.

So without any further ado, here is a list of 10 hopeful headlines on the coronavirus response from around the world.

File photo by Pan American Health Organization, CC

1) US Researchers Deliver First COVID-19 Vaccine to Volunteers in Experimental Test Program

Scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle delivered the first rounds of a potential coronavirus vaccine to several dozen optimistic volunteers earlier this week.

One 43-year-old vaccine recipient is Jennifer Haller, who is a mother to two teenagers.

She was all smiles afterward, telling AP reporters she was “feeling great” as she was leaving the clinic.

“This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” she added.

2) Distilleries Across the United States Are Making Their Own Hand Sanitizers to Give Away for Free

Amidst national shortages of hand sanitizers, alcohol distilleries in Atlanta, Portland, rural Georgia, and North Carolina have begun using their facilities to make their own sanitation products.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) says that cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based rub can help to kill viruses on your hands, many of the distilleries say they hope to continue producing their bootleg sanitizers until the virus has been properly contained.

3) Air Pollution Plummets in Cities With High Rates of Quarantine

Satellite readings of air pollution levels over China and Italy show that the regions hit hardest by the COVID-19 have also caused air pollution levels to decline dramatically.

Photo by NASA

Some reports estimate that China’s quarantine has saved more than 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere—which is about the equivalent of what Chile produces in a year.

Not only have similar effects been reported across Italy, the canals and waterways of Venice are reportedly cleaner than ever with the waters shining crystal clear in the absence of diesel-powered boats and gondoliers.

4) Johns Hopkins Researcher Says That Antibodies From Recovered COVID Patients Could Help Protect People At Risk

The vaccine being tested in Seattle isn’t the only potential treatment for the disease—an immunologist from Johns Hopkins University is reviving a century-old blood-derived treatment for use in the United States in hopes of slowing the spread of the disease.

The technique uses antibodies from the blood plasma or serum of people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection to boost the immunity of newly-infected patients and those at risk of contracting the disease.

5) South Korean Outbreak Finally Abating as Recoveries Outnumber New Infections for Three Days in a Row

File photo by Valentin Janiaut, CC

According to Reuters, South Korea recorded more COVID-19 recovery cases on March 6th than new infections for the first time since the nation experienced the largest Asian outbreak outside of China.

Since the novel coronavirus outbreak was first reported in South Korea back in January, the nation reached a peak of 909 new infections on February 29th. Now, however, Reuters reports that the declining rate of infection has continued to fall with less than 100 new cases reported for several days in a row.

6) China Celebrates Several Milestones of Recovery After Temporary Hospitals Close and Parks Reopen

Crowds of medical staffers and discharged patients were filmed celebrating the closure of all 14 temporary hospitals that opened in Wuhan to treat COVID-19 patients during the worst of the outbreak.

Authorities told the South China Morning Post this week that the virus had finally passed its peak as the nation’s mainland experienced only 11 new cases on March 13th, most of which were from international travelers.

As the outbreak is finally brought under control, parks and tourist attractions are slowly beginning to reopen to the public under careful moderation.

7) Australian Researchers Testing Two Drugs as Potential ‘Cures’ for the Virus

Professor David Paterson, director of the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research and infectious disease physician at the RBWH.

At the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, scientists have found that two different medications—both of which are registered and available in Australia—have completely wiped out traces of the disease in test tubes.

Not only that, the drugs were given to some of the nation’s first COVID-19 patients, which resulted in “disappearance of the virus and complete recovery from the infection,” researchers told News.com.au.

The university is now looking to conduct a nationwide trial with the drugs to evaluate the efficacy and tolerance of each drug administered separately and together.

8) Uber Eats is Supporting the North American Restaurant Industry By Waiving Delivery Fees for 100,000 Restaurants

As restaurants across Canada and the United States are forced to temporarily shut down amidst COVID-19 outbreaks, Uber Eats has announced that they will be waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants.

“We know the success of every restaurant depends on customer demand,” the company said in a statement. “That’s why we’re working urgently to drive orders towards independent restaurants on Eats, to help make up for the significant slowdown of in-restaurant dining.

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“As more customers are choosing to stay indoors, we’ve waived the Delivery Fee for the more than 100,000 independent restaurants across US and Canada on Uber Eats. We will also launch daily dedicated, targeted marketing campaigns—both in-app and via email—to promote delivery from local restaurants, especially those that are new to the app.”

9) Dutch and Canadian Researchers Are Reporting Additional Breakthrough Research on Treating the Virus

Photo by Sunnybrook University

Scientists from Canada and the Netherlands have also made medical breakthroughs of their own. In Toronto, a team of researchers managed to isolate the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, which will help researchers around the world develop better diagnostic testing, treatments, and vaccines.

“Researchers from these world-class institutions came together in a grassroots way to successfully isolate the virus in just a few short weeks,” said Dr. Rob Kozak, clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “It demonstrates the amazing things that can happen when we collaborate.”

Meanwhile, Dutch researchers have submitted a scientific paper for publishing on how they have identified an anti-body for the virus—and it could be a world-first.

10) Here Are a Bunch of Other Ways That People and Businesses Are Supporting Each Other Throughout the US Outbreak

File photo by Martha Heinemann, CC

Dollar General has announced that they will be devoting their opening hour of shopping time to elderly customers. Athletes and sports teams are pledging to pay the wages of arena employees during the shutdown. Utility companies, landlords, automakers, and internet providers are waiving a number of late fees and payments to ease the financial burden of the shutdown. School districts across the country are still opening their doors to serve meals to kids and families.

All in all, the pandemic situation may seem grim, but these are just a few examples of how businesses and individuals are still looking out for each other during times of trouble.

NEW Podcast: Daily Inspiring Covid-19 Updates from Good News Gurus Under Quarantine

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Canada’s First ‘Dementia Village’ is Helping to Change How People Care for Seniors With Alzheimers

This cozy little Canadian community may seem like an ordinary village on the outside—but in actuality, it is the country’s first village designed specifically to accommodate people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The British Columbia community, which is simply called The Village, hosts several dozen cottages, businesses, and shared living spaces for up to 78 patients.

Shortly after construction began on The Village in March 2018, Elroy Jespersen—the vice president of special projects at Verve Senior Living and the mastermind behind the Village, told CTV News that he wanted dementia patients to feel the same amount of independence as their able-bodied counterparts, saying: “We believe that it’s really important for people to be connected to nature and life and the outdoors.”

The Village now gives them a controlled space in which to live their lives, free of the stressful feeling of always “running into a locked door”.

WATCH: Thanks to Student’s Hunch, Seniors With Dementia Are ‘Coming Alive’ Again With the ‘Magic’ of Virtual Reality

Although residents are free to roam throughout the gardens, restaurants, and facilities of The Village, the 7.5-acre community is protected by an 8-foot fence around the perimeter of the property.

Residents are also required to wear “wellness bracelets” which uses Bluetooth technology to keep track of their locations.

The initiative draws inspiration from Hogeweyk, a similarly-designed community in the Netherlands which was declared the world’s first village for dementia patients. The compound features everything from supermarkets and stores to restaurants and gardens.

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Since The Village opened in Langley back in August, it has already welcomed several dozen residents. Not only that, CBC says that there are similar initiatives now being implemented in South Vancouver and Comox.

Although housing rates for The Village range between $7,300 to $8,300 per month, its management is now conducting research on the project’s efficacy in hopes that it will eventually spur the government to help fund its operations and make its care model more affordable to the Canadian public.

(WATCH the video tour of The Village below)

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As Fur is Phased Out of Fashion, More Than 200 Donated Fur Coats Are Handed Out to Afghanis in Need

Photo by Life for Relief and Development

As the fashion industry continues to phase out the use of animal fur, more and more people are cleansing their closets of all their rabbit, fox, and mink furs.

Rather than let those fur coats go to waste, however, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is putting them to good use by donating them to Afghani people in need.

Last week, PETA partnered with Life for Relief and Development to hand out more than 200 donated fur coats to the people of Kabul.

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With temperatures dipping well below freezing, the coats are expected to offer some much-needed warmth to the men, women, and children living in poverty in the capital city of Afghanistan.

“Nothing can bring back the rabbits, minks, and foxes … but the coats that they died for can at least be used for good,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA encourages everyone to donate their fur or fur-trimmed coats to help those who have but few options in life—the only people with any excuse to wear them.”

Photo by PETA

Life for Relief and Development CEO Dr. Hany Saqr added: “With all of those that are less fortunate around the world, we at Life are honored to be able to work with PETA to give warmth during the harsh winter to those in need.”

This is not the first time that animal fur has been used to warm the less fortunate; back in November 2018, PETA and Life for Relief handed out 280 coats to Syrian refugees who had fled to Iraq.

PETA’s fur donation program also sends unwanted coats to homeless shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers so they can be used as bedding for orphaned animals.

If you want to donate one of your own fur coats, you can visit the organization’s website to learn more.

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China is Now Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics as Early as This Year

Since being identified as the world’s largest producer and manufacturer of plastic, China has begun ramping up its restrictions on harmful single-use plastics.

According to Reuters, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment this week issued a new policy which will ban the use of plastic bags in all major cities by the end of 2020, with smaller towns and cities required to follow suit by 2022.

Plastic straws will also be phased out in major cities by the end of this year, and the restaurant industry will be required to reduce single-use plastic consumption by 30% in towns and smaller cities before 2025.

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Other disposable tableware items, such as plastic cutlery and carryout containers, are soon expected to be included in the phase out as well.

Reporters go on to say that China has continued to speed up recycling rates by implementing more and more “comprehensive resource utilization” facilities across the country.

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Impelled by Reactor Meltdown, Fukushima Japan Vows to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy Use in 20 Years

Nine years ago, an earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan caused one of the most significant nuclear disasters in human history in the area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where the resulting reactor meltdown led to the evacuation of 150,000 individuals.

Now, the local government has vowed to restructure the grid of the north western prefecture to use entirely renewable energy sources by 2040. Fukushima is the third largest administrative district in the country, and uniquely includes a variety of energy resources like prime spots for solar and wind farms, and also opportunities for geothermal power as well.

Working to achieve these ambitious goals, Fukushima Prefecture signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of renewables with the Ministry of Environment for the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, the largest energy-producing state in Germany—and Europe as well—in August of 2017.

North-Rhine Westphalia has doubled their renewable energy infrastructure over the last 15 years—growing it to deliver 9% of total energy production.

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Since 2012, however, Fukushima has tripled its renewable energy production, with solar, wind, water, thermal, and biofuel resources totaling 1,500 megawatts of electricity, delivering a contribution of nearly 18% of Japan’s total yearly energy consumption.

Additionally, 300 billion yen ($2.75 billion) for the project has already been fronted by sponsors such as the state-owned Japan Development Bank and Mizuho Bank. The funding will be used to construct 11 solar farms and 10 wind farms over the next 4 years. The new projects also include biomass plants, geothermal stations, even fleets of sea-going windmills.

The proposed new grid, spanning 80 kilometers, would reach the Tokyo metropolitan area and contribute 600 megawatts of electricity, replacing much of the power which, up until recently, the city had received from the pair of Fukushima atomic energy plants.

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Beyond moving away from its robust infrastructure and dependence on atomic energy, Japan is also the third largest importer of coal and natural gas, and a massive change in energy independence would help Japan reach its ambitious goals set forth in the recent UN climate change panel in Madrid last month.

The country’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, irrespective of the Fukushima Prefecture’s own energy objectives, is targeting 24% total energy from renewables nationally by 2030.

Power Up With Positivity By Sharing The Good News With Your Friends On Social Media — File photo by Tokyo Electric Power Co., TEPCO, CC

Homicide Rates Around the World Continue to Fall to Record-Low Levels Year After Year

Despite having different languages, cultures, and gun laws, homicide rates across much of the world have been falling since the 90s—and those rates are continuing their positive trajectories into 2020.

Between 1990 and 2015, the number of homicides per 100,000 people fell by 46%, with countries in Oceania experiencing a 22% drop over the same period, and 36% in Asia.

Asia and Western Europe, where one is already the least likely to become a victim of a homicidal act, saw the most significant decreases over that period of time.

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Homicide in Eastern Europe also fell by 18% over that time period, which is remarkable when you remember the Soviet Union collapsed with the Berlin Wall just a year before this period began, and many East European countries were facing governmental collapses, war, and economic depressions, and even genocide throughout the 90s.

According to crime statistics released by the FBI in September, large cities that had experienced an uptick in murders during 2015-2016 had fewer killings in 2018. In Chicago, the murder rate declined substantially, by 14 percent, and in Baltimore by 9 percent. in cities with populations of more than a million people, it fell by an average of 8.5 percent in 2018.

The less than optimistic news in the UK was reversed during 2019.

According to BBC, the majority of UK police forces saw a fall in homicides compared with 2018 which was the highest year of the decade. This includes reported homicides in West Yorkshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, West Mercia, Devon and Cornwall, Sussex and Cheshire.

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Scottish police said homicides fell by 11% from the previous year, including in Glasgow. 2016-2017 was the second lowest year on record, a triumph in a 15-year downward trend for the Scottish city.

Growing up in Glasgow, there were places “you absolutely didn’t venture,” Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s justice secretary, told The Washington Post. “[Now]… there’s not a place in Glasgow that I wouldn’t go to”.

Multiply The Good By Sharing The Positive News With Your Friends On Social Media – File photo by Vvillamon, CC

More Than 200 Volunteer Firefighters From US and Canada Have Deployed to Help With Australian Bushfires

Back in 2018 when wildfires were raging through California, 138 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand flew into the United States so they could help combat the blazes.

According to the National Park Service, “the Australian and New Zealand personnel filled critical needs during the peak of the western fire season for mid-level fireline management, heavy equipment, helicopter operations, and structure protection”—and now, the US is repaying the favor.

For the first time since 2010, the US federal government has deployed a team of 100 American firefighters to help with the emergency response crews in Australia—and they are deploying several dozen more volunteer firefighters this week, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Due to extended drought combined with hot and dry weather conditions, Australia has been experiencing devastating bushfires—particularly in the states of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria—since August.

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The US firefighters—many of whom were part of the firefighting teams in California— have been deployed in several separate teams over the course of the last 30 days. The international relief mission is part of the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the nation’s support center for wildland firefighting. Based out of Boise, the coalition is made up of eight different agencies and organizations including, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Weather Service, U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Association of State Foresters.

“We’re sending a contingent from several federal agencies that reflects decades of fire management experience,” said U.S. Forest Service Fire Director Shawna Legarza. “We face many of the same firefighting challenges in each country. We’ve utilized their expertise in the past and welcome the opportunity to reciprocate.”

The US is not the only country sending aid to Australia, either—Canada has also sent several teams of wildfire specialists as well, bringing their total amount of volunteers to 87.

According to CBC, this is the first time that Canada has deployed firefighting assistance to Australia, although Canada also benefitted from the firefighting teams of Down Under during the devastating British Columbian wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

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