We’re living in scary times, have you heard?
For the last few weeks I’ve been pretty much addicted to the news. I’ve become entirely unable to focus on literally anything other than updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. And while it is good to stay on top of all the current news and health advice, it’s also beginning to take its toll on my mental health. I know that I can’t keep reading increasingly morbid stories and statistics about the state of the world, or the oncoming weeks and months of isolation that we’re facing.
So, I’ve compiled some positive news from the current moment that might have slipped through the cracks, in order to ease my anxiety and yours – if only for a moment.
In New Zealand, abortion has (finally) been removed from the Crimes Act! As Green MP Jan Logie said: “Our previous abortion law was 40 years old, and didn't reflect current medical science or best practice [...]. It treated pregnant people in our communities as untrustworthy and unable to make their own decisions, and created serious barriers to healthcare. Now, if they do decide to seek an abortion, it will be able to be timely and compassionate. No longer will they have to jump through unnecessary hurdles."
With the pause button that has been hit on everyday life, our natural environment has been given a chance to breathe and is already regenerating. Air pollution in China has dropped significantly, the canals in Venice have cleared up and wildlife has quickly returned to the ecosystem. Coal consumption in China, the biggest producer and consumer of coal in the world, has dropped by 36% and birds can be heard chirping in Wuhan for the first time in years.
Victoria University of Wellington has announced that they will be offering free tuition to those impacted by COVID-19. According to Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford, a scholarship covering 100% of fees will be offered to students whose circumstances have been changed by the pandemic. “Whether that be losing a job, or being forced to be home to look after a dependent or being forced back here to the city from overseas as a result of Covid-19, it was a simple thing we could do to support the community in a time of need," he said.
Craft distilleries across New Zealand have halted their usual production to create hand sanitizer to give out for free to staff, customers and anyone in their local area who might need it.
In America, TV medical dramas like Station 19 and The Resident, are donating the coveted N95 masks that they use for costumes to real healthcare workers fighting COVID-19.
People across the world are finding ways to keep elderly residents company, despite the fact that most are in self-isolation. This therapy dog in Texas visited seniors through windows. This family refused to let distance stop them from celebrating their grandma’s 95th birthday. Two Auckland sisters have created “Friends in Need Auckland” - a community group matching people with the elderly and unwell who are required to be in self-isolation - offering phone calls and helping hands with whatever they might need.
And, of course, I would be remiss not to mention the penguins in closed aquariums who have been allowed to wander around and view all of the other exhibits. Because they are very cute and I would die for them in an instant. Curious penguins hopping down stairs are the number one cure for pandemic anxiety, it’s been decided.
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