Once the Epicenters For COVID-19, New York and Italy Reach Single Digit Numbers

They were the epicenters of disease in America and Europe, but now New York and Italy have both reached single-digit daily numbers for fatalities attributed to COVID-19 and plummeting hospitalization rates after valiant efforts to stop the spread.

The Ministero della Salute in Italy reported last week transmissions of just 5.86 per 100,000 inhabitants, while some news sources place the nationwide death rate as low as 6 on June 29th, down by 22 from just the day before.

While some clusters—particularly in the north where the virus has been the worst, and the south, where many Italians go on vacation—have appeared recently, the country is still recording the lowest numbers since mid-February.

Similarly, New York has achieved a complete turnaround, recording 5 deaths last Saturday, according to AP, the lowest since March 15th—down from 13 the day before.

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“We are on the exact opposite end,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have plummeted, as well. Compared to 18,000 patients in March to under 900 last weekend.

Aljoscha Laschgari

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

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From Hong Kong to New Zealand, Hawaii and Montana, Officials Celebrate No New Cases of COVID-19

Across the world, many countries are seeing the number of new cases of COVID-19 wind down into single digits over the last week. Four places—including a huge city like Hong Kong that was hit hard by the pandemic—are even celebrating zero new cases.

One of the most densely populated cities on earth, Hong Kong has now gone 22 days as of Monday without re-circulation of the virus within the country. The last new case was reported April 20th.

Medical experts have warned that people should keep their guard up, as hiking trails, restaurants, beaches, and parks open with fewer restrictions.

After easing restrictions in February, Hong Kong experienced a surge in new cases, suffering from the often-warned of  “second wave” but has contained the virus very well since then.

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Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam is in talks about freeing citizens from quarantine and travel restrictions between Macau and the Chinese Province of Guangdong according to South China Morning Post.

No COVID for Kiwis

Another nation that will likely soon declare mission accomplished against COVID-19 is New Zealand, which has ended stringent lockdown procedures less than a week ago after Monday passed without any new cases of the virus.

Arriving in mid-March, the coronavirus was responsible for 20 deaths in the Pacific island nation, and although lockdown restrictions are eased, many restaurants remain closed and social distancing is still encouraged.

However the director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield says the milestone of no new cases is a cause for celebration and is “symbolic of the effort everyone has put in.”

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New Zealand currently has a little over 1,000 cases confirmed in the country, and her westerly neighbor Australia is likewise carrying a light viral burden of 6,800 cases and 94 deaths according to Al Jazeera. Talks between the two nations may result soon, according to the New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters in a trans-Tasman travel arrangement, whereby visitors of one country can visit the other freely, saying such an arrangement could work “seriously well.”

No New Cases in Montana or Hawaii

The islands of Hawai’i as recently as May 8th reported no new cases of the novel coronavirus. It’s the first time in two months the spread has halted completely.

Beginning May 18, governors will allow residents to seek reimbursement for expenses if people were impacted by official shutdown measures, which include rent and child care. These orders are beginning to be lifted, with low-risk business reopening.

Honolulu’s Director of Community Services Pamela Witty-Oakland says the capital is working with nonprofit groups like Aloha United Way, Helping Hands Hawaiʻi, and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement to provide financial support to the most vulnerable communities.

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“These organizations will work with the families, and those affected. [They] will collect receipts and provide reimbursement of eligible household expenses of up to $1,000 a month, and eligible child care expenses of up to $500 a month,” she said.

Also free of new cases is Montana. The Big Sky State reports no new reports of patients with the virus. COVID-19’s effect in Montana has been so limited, that on May 7th schools were given the option of resuming normal operations.

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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.

29-Nation Poll Shows a Huge Majority Are As Concerned About the Climate Crisis As They Are About COVID-19

Would you agree or disagree with this statement: Climate change in the long term is as serious a crisis as the current COVID-19 pandemic? If you agreed, you answered the same as 71% of participants in a recent 29-nation survey from public opinion research firm Ipsos.

The Earth Day 2020 survey measured public opinion from many of the world’s principle producers, buyers, and populations, and almost all metrics suggest that a large majority of the world’s citizens consider climate change an important aspect of moving forward after the coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese participants registered 87% agreement with the above statement—the most of any country—while 59% of Americans and Australians agreed, tallying the smallest majority, with only 38% disagreeing.

65% of those surveyed worldwide want governments to prioritize a green economic recovery, as their lockdown measures from coronavirus are lifted. Respondents from India, China, and Mexico were emphatic about this directive, with 80% insisting on sustainable, clean measures.

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Slightly more people, 48% to 44%, said that economic recovery from the pandemic should not supersede environmental regulations, and any recovery should be environmentally responsible.

The survey didn’t include only COVID-19-related questions, but a variety of others involving what people’s habits might be in the face of climate change and whether theywould be willing to alter them. Overall, consumer or lifestyle behavior did not change from the last Ipsos survey in 2014, but in certain categories there were major fluctuations.

In Great Britain for example, 70% of those surveyed said the government would be failing them if it didn’t take action now to try and prevent the worst effects of climate change— with 59% saying they would consider not voting for a political candidate who didn’t pledge to take sufficient action to mitigate climate change.

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57% of total participants surveyed would avoid buying a product with too much plastic packaging, with a whopping 80% of the hyper-techno denizens of South Korea strongly agreeing, and 71% of Chinese.

South Korea came in first in another category, with 70% of the East Asians agreeing to the idea of avoiding buying new goods by mending what you have, or buying used products instead, as a way to prevent excess waste.

Even as COVID-19 news saturates the media, occupies every headline, and is the first topic on the lips of every journalist, this survey suggests people aren’t short sighted, and a large portion of the world’s population are keen to prevent irreversible damage to the environment both with their dollar, their ballot, and their conscience.

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Harpoons Are Silenced: Iceland’s Whaling Boats Spend Second-Straight Season Tied Up in Port

For the second straight year, there will be no whale hunting season in Iceland, and conservation groups are celebrating.

After the international moratorium against whaling began in 1986, two Icelandic companies, Hvalur and IP-Utgerd, carried on hunting fin whales and minke whales.

This year, IP-Utgerd cited financial difficulties involving the increased number of no-fishing zones off Iceland’s coast, while Hvalur reported stiff competition from Japanese whaling companies which the Japanese government subsidizes.

Its CEO, Kristján Loftsson, said that Japan has created stricter measures for imported Icelandic whale meat, and the COVID-19 outbreak would make the close quarters work involved in whaling difficult and unsafe, with social distancing guidelines being hard to observe.

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“This is indeed terrific news that for a second straight year, vulnerable fin whales will get a reprieve from Hvalur hf.’s harpoons, the sole fin whaling company,” Fabienne McLellan, co-director of international relations at Ocean Care, told Mongabay.

According to Hard to Port, a German organization working to end whaling in Iceland, Loftsson will want to keep Hvalur—a family business—operational, despite pressure from conservation groups.

Whales, as GNN has reported, represent a keystone species in global oceanic ecosystems, as well as a significant ally in the fight against climate change.

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For conservationists in Europe who are concerned with whaling, Iceland’s industry, which has ignored the international moratorium for almost 40 years, could be ended by increasing financial pressure from Japan.

In 2018, Japan exited the International Whaling Commission, and still subsidizes the industry to the tune of $10 million a year, according to Whales US. But as reported by Science, it is a niche profession feeding an ever-shrinking niche market. Japan decided “to stop large-scale whaling” on the high seas in 2018, and will only hunt in Japanese coastal waters, given the declining demand.

Japanese whale meat consumption dropped from 203,000 tons in 1965 to just 4000 tons in 2015. Reduced demand has resulted in a 2019 catch during whaling season of 2000 tons.

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With only 3% of Icelandic citizens saying they eat minke meat, there’s only so much time Hvalur and IP-Utgerd’s boats can remain stationary through the summer before market forces take their toll, and whaling is consigned to history.

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Countries Hit Hardest By COVID-19 Are Starting to Lift Social Restrictions After Encouraging New Recovery Rates

As the world continues its fight to curb the novel coronavirus outbreaks, several countries have announced significant recoveries this week.

France, Italy, and Spain—the countries with the highest numbers of confirmed cases outside of the US—outlined their plans for slowly lifting their various social restrictions as rates of infection and fatality continue to fall.

In light of Italy recording their lowest number of new cases since March 10th, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says that the country will begin reopening the economy on May 4th. Although schools will not reopen until September, small businesses and restaurants will soon be allowed to reopen so long as customers are limited to takeout options and social distancing guidelines. Factories will also be reopened for manufacturing and people will be allowed to visit their relatives in small numbers.

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Meanwhile, Spain celebrated a significant decline in coronavirus-related deaths, with daily counts falling below 300 for the first time since March 20th. Government officials say that they will be slow to reopen the economy; however, they will start to lift social restrictions by allowing children to play outside for one hour per day—a first for the nation’s youth after spending six weeks in isolation.

Al Jazeera reports that France also hailed their largest single-day drop in COVID-19 deaths after it fell by more than 33% in just 24 hours. The country also recorded their lowest number of in-hospital deaths in 5 weeks.

New Zealand was quick to enact some of the world’s strictest social restrictions after confirming just a few cases of the virus back in March. Now, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that the nation’s pre-emptive shutdowns has succeeded in eliminating community transmission of COVID-19 this week. This means that while there will still most likely be new cases of the virus, healthcare officials will know where it is being transmitted.

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Although New Zealand has had 1,500 confirmed or probable cases of novel coronavirus over the course of the last two months, government officials report that they will still be cautious in gradually lifting social restrictions, starting with some non-essential businesses.

South Australia also announced that they are considering easing travel restrictions after the nation made it 7 days without a new recorded case. This accomplishment is largely credited to the province testing more than 15,000 people within a two-week period. There are now currently only 14 active cases.

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Taiwan has been celebrating its own milestone of 17 straight days without any new local cases as well as its first 4-day streak without any new domestic or imported COVID-19 cases.

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.

Representative photo by Airman 1st Class Elora J. Martinez

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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.

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CO2 Emissions Stopped Rising Last Year Says IEA, Thanks to Growth in Renewables, Shunning of Coal

An exciting new study calculated that, contrary to expectations, global carbon dioxide emissions did not continue their increase in 2019, but actually flatlined as renewable energy sources, efficiency, and other factors, chipped away at worldwide CO2 levels.

The research, conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and published earlier this week, found that global emissions were unchanged at 33 gigatons in 2019 even as the world economy expanded by 2.9% over 2018.

This was primarily due to declining emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies, thanks to the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar), shutting down coal plants, and higher nuclear power generation. Other factors included milder weather in several countries (to require less cooling or heating), and slower economic growth in some emerging markets.

“We now need to work hard to make sure that 2019 is remembered as a definitive peak in global emissions, not just another pause in growth,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “We have the energy technologies to do this, and we have to make use of them all. The IEA is building a grand coalition focused on reducing emissions—encompassing governments, companies, investors and everyone with a genuine commitment to tackling our climate challenge.”

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A significant decrease in emissions in advanced economies in 2019 offset continued growth elsewhere. The United States recorded the largest emissions decline on a country basis, with a fall of 140 million tons, or 2.9%. US emissions are now down by almost 1 gigaton from their peak in 2000.

Emissions in the European Union fell by 160 million tons, or 5%, in 2019 driven by reductions in the power sector. Natural gas produced more electricity than coal for the first time ever, meanwhile wind-powered electricity nearly caught up with coal-fired electricity.

Japan’s emissions fell by 45 million tons, or around 4%—the fastest pace of decline since 2009, as output from recently restarted nuclear reactors increased.

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Emissions in the rest of the world grew by close to 400 million tons in 2019, with almost 80% of the increase coming from countries in Asia where coal-fired power generation continued to rise.

Across advanced economies, emissions from the power sector declined to levels last seen in the late 1980s, when electricity demand was one-third lower than today. Coal-fired power generation in advanced economies declined by nearly 15% as a result of growth in renewables, coal-to-gas switching, a rise in nuclear power and weaker electricity demand.

“This welcome halt in emissions growth is grounds for optimism that we can tackle the climate challenge this decade,” said Dr. Birol. “It is evidence that clean energy transitions are underway—and it’s also a signal that we have the opportunity to meaningfully move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments.”

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The Agency will also hold an IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit in Paris on July 9th, bringing together key government ministers, CEOs, investors and other major stakeholders from around the world to promote and support more real-world solutions.

Reprinted from the International Energy Agency – File photo by TVA Cumberland Power Plant, CC

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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