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Positive outcomes to lift your spirits

Amber Gibson

Contributor

Never in our lifetimes has there been a global crisis like COVID-19 that's upended our lives as we know it. There is so much stress surrounding health, finances and emotional well-being right now, but amid the ferocious onslaught of news have been a few positives. We've seen heartfelt displays of generosity and beautiful new life in nature across the globe to inspire us in these tough times. Here are a few stories to lift your spirits.

Pollution Drops

All around the world in major cities, with traffic levels and industrial activity plummeting, the silver lining is that the level of air pollutants – CO2, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and methane – has also dropped significantly. Smog levels in China were reduced after factories shut down and Italy has seen similar improvements after the country went into a nationwide lockdown. American metropolises like Seattle, New York and San Francisco have also seen drops in fine particulate matter. It's about time the planet got a break from constant human damage, although if this only lasts for a few months, it will only be a blip in the radar, hopefully, human behaviour will change permanently with more online meetings and less long commutes.


Chefs Feeding Their Communities

Most restaurants are small, independent businesses already surviving on slim margins, so when social distancing required dining rooms to shut down, many chefs and restaurateurs found themselves in danger of imminent closure and unable to pay rent, their suppliers and most importantly, their staff. Amid the chaos of trying to quickly pivot to delivery and takeout models, many small business owners, like Thai and Danielle Dang of HaiSous and Ryan McCaskey of Acadia in Chicago, have been giving away food to their local communities and colleagues in the restaurant industry who suddenly find themselves out of a job. Seeing such generosity from small business owners struggling themselves is incredibly touching.


Chef José Andrés has always been a hero in times of crisis, founding non-profit World Central Kitchen in 2010 to provide meals in the wake of natural disasters to those in need. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 and since COVID-19 shut his restaurants down, he's been providing to-go lunches for Washington D.C.

Corporate Donations

In desperate times, a few big corporations have stepped up with more than thoughts and prayers to make a concrete impact on communities worldwide with tools and resources to fight COVID-19. The Volkswagen Group have donated nearly 200,000 respiratory masks to Germany's public health sector. Razer is also producing surgical masks, with the aim to donate one million masks globally.


Beam Suntory and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits are donating $1 million USD to support hard-hit bar and restaurant employees affected by mandated closures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations will be split between the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) Foundation Emergency Assistance Program and the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation.

Wholesale food supplier Sysco has promised to donate 2.5 million meals over the next four weeks, working with partners Feeding America in the U.S. and Second Harvest in Canada to address food insecurities in North America.

Distilleries Making Hand Sanitiser

During a time when hand sanitiser is in peak demand and short supply in stores, distilleries around the world have shifted their production lines from making rum, gin and whiskey to hand sanitiser to donate to local nonprofit organisations, hospitals, fire stations and the general public. With the raw material (alcohol) needed to make it already on hand, these distilleries are purchasing glycerol and small bottles for packaging and working around the clock to make hand sanitiser to give away for free. Some government agencies have stepped in to donate packaging materials and glycerol, while others are reimbursing distilleries, but for most, this is not an economic lifeline, but an inspiring wartime effort to do whatever they can to flatten the curve and save lives.

Hotel Rooms For Homeless

The travel industry has perhaps been hardest hit amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as airlines cancel flights and hotels sit empty. In London, Intercontinental Hotel Group is working with the mayor's office to offer hundreds of hotel rooms to protect vulnerable populations – those who are homeless and more likely to have underlying health conditions. In San Francisco, a city with more than 8,000 homeless, 3,500 hotel rooms will be used to help the homeless population stay safe and follow CDC guidelines of isolation. Perhaps taking better care of the most vulnerable people in our communities will become more of a social norm after we have weathered this storm? 

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