Doom and gloom have dominated headlines in the weeks since the novel coronavirus appeared in the U.S. and Americans began contracting COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease it causes. Positive news involving the pandemic has emerged as well, however.
Here are 10 recent, not-so-negative developments related to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 as nations around the world react to the global health crisis.
1. China’s road to recovery
The first documented instances of individuals contracting the coronavirus were reported in China on December 31, 2019, and a month later the World Health Organization had confirmed more than 9,700 cases of COVID-19 across the country. Although the number of new COVID-19 infections across China swelled in the weeks that followed, on Thursday the Chinese National Health Commission reported no new domestic cases for the first time since the outbreak started nearly three months earlier.
2. Research is ramping up
The head of the World Health Organization announced Wednesday that 10 countries are working together in an international study being conducted to find a viable treatment for patients infected with COVID-19. “Multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give us the clear, strong evidence we need about which treatments help to save lives,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “This large, international study is designed to generate the robust data we need, to show which treatments are the most effective.”
3. Air pollution plummets
Satellites operated by NASA and its European counterparts detected significant decreases in nitrogen dioxide over China after the coronavirus outbreak caused businesses and factories across the country to cease operations earlier this year. “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” said Fei Liu, a NASA air quality researcher. “I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimize spread of the virus.” The European Space Agency has also reported a similar drop in emissions over Italy in the aftermath of a nationwide lockdown implemented as a result of the outbreak.
4. Preliminary test results ‘very encouraging’
President Trump said Thursday that hydroxychloroquine, a drug used for decades to treat malaria, “could be a game-changer” in the fight against COVID-19. Speaking to reporters at a White House press conference, Mr. Trump said the drug has exhibited “very, very encouraging early results against the virus.” Stephen Hahn, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, added the FDA has been directed to “take a closer look” to fully determine if the drug may benefit patients infected with COVID-19.
5. Businesses switching gears for the greater good
Several companies operating amid the coronavirus pandemic have adjusted production to manufacture items in high demand. A number of distilleries across the country have started using their alcohol supplies to produce hand sanitizer, and General Motors and Ford have said they are prepared to use their factories to manufacture ventilators. “That’s the kind of can-do spirit that we are hearing and seeing,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said about the automakers Wednesday.
6. Partisan bickering takes a backseat
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have put aside differences to work together at combating the coronavirus pandemic and coordinating their response. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, called Wednesday for colleagues on Capitol Hill to take “urgent bipartisan action” to pass a relief bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and it was overwhelmingly passed accordingly by a vote of 90-8. All Democratic members of the Senate voted in favor of the bill, as did all but a handful of GOP members.
7. Companies keeping the country connected
More than 200 telecommunication companies and internet services provers throughout the U.S. have promised to waive late fees and not terminate the service of customers who are unable to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox Communications, Frontier, RNC, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon are among the companies who have endorsed the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.”
8. TV for free
Providers of television programming have started making paid content available for free over the internet to keep Americans informed and entertained amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Sling TV, a streaming service owned by Dish Network, is providing complimentary access to live coverage from ABC News, in addition to thousands of movies and shows accessible through its website and mobile apps. Fox News and more than two dozen local affiliates can similarly be viewed for free through the Fox website and apps as of Wednesday this week.
9. The show must go on — and does
Musical acts of all sorts are continuing to entertain fans despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by performing live concerts being broadcast on the internet. Willie Nelson and Paul Simon are among the artists scheduled to play a “free, tip-only streaming event” Thursday evening, and soul singer Erykah Badu said she plans to charge fans $1 each to watch her broadcast a “live interactive experiment” from her bedroom this weekend on Instagram. Country legend Garth Brooks plans to broadcast a live performance from his Facebook account Monday, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Neil Young said he would live-stream a series of “Fireside Sessions” on his official website.
10. Noise making made free
Moog and Korg – two of the world’s best-known manufacturers of electronic musical instruments – have waived the price of their mobile synthesizer apps for a limited time, effectively providing iPhone and Android users a free way to pass the time while isolated from the outside world. In a statement touting Moog’s Minimoog Model, the manufacturer called making the app available for free “a gift to spread positivity, creativity, and expressivity.” Korg said it was making its iKaossilator app free to download in order to “help you with a musical way to occupy your mind.” The apps normally cost $4.99 and $19.99, respectively.