Schools are shutting down, stocks are plummeting, and health-care workers are scrambling to deal with a shortage of beds. But you probably already know that, or you’ve read similarly concerning news. In this time of social distancing and high anxiety, it can help to step back and remind ourselves of the myriad ways people are still being positive.
We asked several of our reporters to share something they saw this week that is helping them remain upbeat. Have you seen or read about an act of kindness or moment of beauty, whether in your own neighborhood or on the other side of the world? Fill out the form at the end of this article with what’s giving you hope, and we might include your example in a follow-up.
Here’s what has been keeping our reporters — and one editor — smiling:
- The coronavirus feels like it has left nothing untouched in its wake, and that includes pet shelters. Fewer people are swinging by to visit available pets, and volunteers have similarly dried up. So I was heartened to see my friends take in Wyatt, a sweet pit bull mix around 2 years old. He was found starving two months ago in a Walmart parking lot in Georgia, my friend Lauren said, and she took him to her home outside New York City. She and her husband, Kris, will care for Wyatt until he is adopted and finds a forever home — a remarkably selfless decision in a period of anxiety and uncertainty. Not to mention: Lauren and Kris have done this before. Kris found Frosting, a Jack Russell and pit bull mix, running down the street in D.C. last year. That means for now, Wyatt has a friend to frolic with in the spring, now that Frosting has found a home for good. If you are interested in adopting Wyatt, email: email@example.com — Alex Horton
- Inside Chicago’s once-bustling Shedd Aquarium, there wasn’t a soul in sight — except for a penguin waddling past the glass tanks. With the facility closed to the public, staff at the aquarium saw an opportunity for a field trip. They started Sunday with a penguin named Wellington, who peered into one of the giant fish tanks. The next day was mated pair Edward and Annie’s turn. Video of the sightseeing trips was shared online thousands of times — and understandably so. Amid a crush of news about shuttered businesses, a crashing stock market and a growing number of infections, it was a much-needed glimpse of wonder. — Brittany Shammas
- When you’re feeling anxious, pausing to appreciate the natural world can be a great way to calm the mind and relieve stress. And it can even be done in quarantine, as professional birder Nick Lund showed us over the weekend. On Sunday morning, Lund called on Twitter followers who were riding out the coronavirus at home to send in pictures of the birds in their backyards. Within hours, a virtual community of birders from around the country had snapped photos of 230 species, from bald eagles to wood ducks to painted buntings. For me, the project underscored how nature can bring people together in a frightening time. There’s something distinctly soothing about the presence of an animal — whether it’s a cardinal pecking at your feeder, a cat sitting in your lap, or, if you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger, a mini donkey and a mini horse joining you at your dinner table. Animals are innocent. They’re stoic. While our world grinds to a halt, theirs carries on. We can learn a lot from them. — Derek Hawkins
- With the conversation Monday turning to the coronavirus — as it always seems to do now — one of my housemates mentioned her mother, a teacher in North Carolina. Even before school districts around the country shut down, she was worried about what the virus meant for her students: How would they all eat, when many relied on free lunches? How would they all keep learning while they were isolated in vastly different living situations? I thought of the messages that friends got from their professors as they were kicked off campuses — stressed, worried about family and in some cases scrambling for a place to go. They were thoughtful messages with parting words such as “do not hesitate to write to us for any reason” and advice to check in on vulnerable people in their lives. In all the upheaval this pandemic has brought, I’m reassured by teachers’ care for the young people who look up to them and rely on them. — Hannah Knowles
- A three-tweet thread from Jester D (@JustMeTurtle) Saturday roughly did for me what watching five seasons of “The Wire” did: Remind me that every job, no matter how routine or insignificant it can feel, is essential for a functioning society. Doing it well, free of cut corners, matters. Jester wrote about being a garbageman who can’t work from home, and it resonated with others who aren’t taking days off because the world needs us. We’ve always been needed, but suddenly we felt a little more seen and appreciated. Twitter, which is often ground zero for awfulness, unspooled a thread of appreciation for the garbage collectors, delivery people, bus drivers, janitors, mailmen and so many others who, as it turns out, aren’t taken for granted. Users gave Jester more than 452,000 likes and reminders that “not all heroes wear capes.” His dose of unadulterated “we’ll get through this together” positivity stood out. — Keith McMillan
- With restaurants, theaters, sporting events and other locations of social activities shut down across the United States, the abundance of time at home has been a boon for crafters. On Monday, educator Mariame Kaba asked her nearly 150,000 Twitter followers to share what they were crafting during home isolation (for Kaba: knitting a scarf). Hundreds of replies rolled in, with responders sharing their in-progress paintings, pies, woodworking, poetry, knitting and gardening. Cozy items such as crochet baby Yodas drew lots of love, as did pies with a pro-social message. While social distancing because of coronavirus is likely to last a while, Kaba’s social media callout shows that creative energy and community can still flourish amid a crisis. — Kim Bellware
- Before the virus outbreak, my California-dwelling best friend and I planned a vacation to Peru and Colombia, both of which have now tightened their borders. The trip had served as a major incentive for us to slog through our daily grinds, and canceling it was deeply disappointing. However, leaning on each other for support and vowing to increase our video chats has reminded me that we are truly there for each other in any situation. I’m an introvert, and working as a reporter can sometimes drain all the energy and talk out of me, leaving me to neglect my closest relationships. Love in the time of the coronavirus has strengthened my belief that relationships require a different kind of work — and they’re worth the effort. — Lateshia Beachum
- Like many nursing homes across the country, Sterling Village in Massachusetts has severely restricted its visitation policy. But resident Millie Erickson’s family still wanted to celebrate her 100th birthday with her, so they and the facility found a creative solution, WCVB reported. About a dozen of her family members and nursing-home staff gathered outside her window to sing “Happy Birthday” as she waved along with the music and teared up — and it was all caught on video. I was heartened that this family found an outside-the-box way to make their loved one feel embraced and valued during this isolating time. We may currently need to keep our physical distance from older family members, but that doesn’t mean we can’t facilitate togetherness. Those human connections are what will get us through this crisis. — Marisa Iati
- Last week, professional runner Rebecca Mehra shared a story about a couple in their 80s who yelled to get her attention in a grocery-store parking lot. They told her they were nervous about going into the store because older adults face heightened risk from the coronavirus, so they handed her a $100 bill and a grocery list and asked if she would shop for them. Mehra got their groceries and loaded them into their trunk. This story resonated with me because Mehra did what I think — or hope — many of us would have done in the same situation. As she put it on Twitter: “Frankly most people I know would have done the same thing I did. I was just in the right place at the right time.” — Meryl Kornfield
- With nearly every major U.S. sport canceled or postponed, fans and athletes are desperately searching to fill an unimaginably large void. As a die-hard basketball fan, the grim reality set in for me last week when the NBA suspended its season: I would no longer be able to watch my beloved Los Angeles Lakers. So what exactly happens when basketball — a sport that doubles as an escape for many fans — essentially disappears? It didn’t take long for the ingenuity of sports fans to emerge. The first video that caught my eye was a young man who set up a three-point contest in his kitchen using water bottles and a trash can. Then I saw two people play tennis through adjacent windows. Even NBA players have gotten in on the alternative fun: Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, a dynamic shooter, posted a video of himself shooting socks into a waste bin in a three-point contest of his own. Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant took hilariously parodied his own NBA player introduction, again, in the confines of his home. It’s been heartening to see how quickly some have adapted, even in the most uncomfortable circumstances. These efforts and displays are welcome — and needed — as we continue navigating this unprecedented crisis. — Michael Brice-Saddler
- On Saturday morning, a familiar sound filled the stale semi-silence of my new work-from-home reality: my friend and fellow reporter Miguel Otárola spinning records on a shaky live stream from his Minneapolis apartment. Like D.C., the Twin Cities are shutting down. We’re all cooped up, maybe working too much. We’re self-isolated, and we feel that way, too. Enter music. Miguel is spending his outbreak downtime DJing and making music — live, online, in Mister Rogers sweaters, bringing the Internet archipelago of his friends together under a single soundtrack. He played an eclectic set Saturday, but the message was the same no matter what was on: You’re not alone. Music calms us, transports us. Miguel says, “It can bring in light, open up a room, give you energy.” And we could all use that. This is probably happening in your corner of social media, too, as more artists and tinkerers turn to live-streaming to keep the music spreading. — Reis Thebault