For the past few weeks, Americans have been waking up to headlines indicating increasing disaster and tragedy for our nation and the world. While transparency is important — even if it means broadcasting hard-to-swallow stats and warnings — relaying the good news is also crucial to bolstering the American people during these difficult times.
Worsening the Bad News
The media has a duty to keep citizens informed in an honest, straightforward, and unbiased manner. Unfortunately, many news outlets seem to have taken advantage of our current crisis, publishing highly politicized and sensationalized stories. Articles such as Vox’s recent “Trump is Mishandling Coronavirus the Way Reagan Botched the Aids Epidemic” are not only partisan and misleading but also purposeless amid this national emergency. Despite the upcoming election and the usual antics that accompany such pivotal years, this isn’t a time for petty politics. Instead of pointing fingers and exploiting the crisis for political gain, we should be focused on working together to mitigate the damage that COVID-19 is doing to our nation.
Statistics have also been largely mishandled, allowing for sensational stories to paint ever grimmer pictures. Yes, the American people need to be made aware of the magnitude of this virus with prudent, factual reporting. What we don’t need are fear-mongering headlines backed by skewed statistics. Continually comparing our situation to Italy’s tragic state and publishing worst-case scenario models aren’t helpful at this point. If the initial purpose was to alert Americans to the reality of the virus, we have moved well beyond that. Comparing straight case numbers, rather than percentages based on countries’ populations, is also not helpful. Reporting of “rapid increases” in cases is also misleading, as surges in confirmed cases are occurring as testing becomes more readily available.
Yes, we need to be made aware of the magnitude of this virus with prudent, factual reporting, but we don’t need fear-mongering headlines backed by skewed statistics.
In a similar vein, reports of the virus’s mortality rate have been misleading (and may continue to be so) as we don’t have accurate data on how many cases actually exist or have existed. The media needs to be more responsible, sharing accurate and unambiguous information — not half-baked statistics that instigate greater panic and hysteria.
Let’s Talk about the Good News
While this is indeed a global crisis, impacting nearly everyone in a range of ways from physical to financial, there is still much good happening in our world. Even with quarantines and social distancing guidelines, people are becoming more connected and charitable. Doctors and scientists are making breakthroughs in treatments and vaccines. Hundreds of thousands have recovered from COVID-19. Americans know the hard facts; it’s time that we find and spread hope.
Charity Is Booming
Unemployment rates are skyrocketing, but charity is too. Countless celebrities have lent their support. NBA stars, such as Kevin Love and Zion Williamson, are paying the salaries of arena employees during the season’s shutdown. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have generously donated to food banks and New York hospitals. On a local level, citizens are continuing to support local businesses by ordering takeout and purchasing gift cards. Nonprofits, such as United Way, have launched community economic relief funds.
And, of course, there are the unsung acts of charity that we see throughout our individual communities: neighbors and friends offering financial support to those who have been laid off, delivering groceries to those who are more vulnerable, and sharing food and paper products that have been hard to come by during these first weeks of shutdown.
Capitalism Leading the Charge
In the same way that American manufacturers rose to the occasion during World War II by producing products necessary for the Allies’ fight, companies are now switching gears in order to help in the fight against the coronavirus. Ford and GE are working quickly to produce 50,000 ventilators. Ford has suspended production of vehicles and is focusing solely on this life-saving mission. 3M and some of its smaller competitors are producing 50 million N95 masks, as we are facing shortages of protective gear for healthcare workers. Tesla has already donated 50,000 3M N95 masks to hospitals. Other tech billionaires, including Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg, have joined in on this endeavor.
While the harrowing death tolls are splashed across front pages, we can glean much hope from the numbers of those who have recovered. As of today, over 200,000 people have recovered worldwide (outpacing deaths by over 150,000). It is also important to remember that, for 98-99 percent of those infected, coronavirus will present as a mild illness. This does not mean that we should be lax in our approach to the virus as it’s highly contagious and very deadly for certain at-risk groups, but we can also take heart in those positive numbers.
The Arts Are Blossoming
Quarantine has sparked new levels of creativity and the results are supplying smiles across the globe. One family has recently gone viral for their adaptation of “One Day More” from Les Miserables. Twins from Italy have impressed with their rendition of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” on the violin. Elsewhere in Italy, people are singing from their balconies in an attempt to lift the nation’s spirits. The Getty Museum challenged people to recreate famous paintings with household objects and the results have been both hilarious and magnificent. Symphonies, like the Colorado Symphony, have made beautiful videos of their virtual performances. Now, more than ever, beauty is needed, and it is abounding.
Social distancing has canceled church services, but it hasn’t caused people to turn from their faith. Churches of all denominations are live-streaming services and even offering drive-in services. Pews may be empty, but living room couches and parking lots are filling up. Pope Francis, popular among Catholics and non-Catholics alike, has led the world in prayer and offered hope to those who are suffering. Religious buildings have been closed, but people around the world are clinging to their faith during this time of uncertainty.
Our world has slowed down, but there are many who are working even more furiously during this crisis. Grocery store employees, police forces, firefighters, delivery drivers, truck drivers, EMTs, nurses, and doctors have stepped up and become our true heroes during this time. We cannot thank them enough, but heartfelt acts of gratitude have been (and will continue to be) made.
Kroger recently announced that they will be giving a “hero bonus” to their employees. Cities, like Atlanta, have been cheering from their balconies every evening during the shift changes of medical staff. The Empire State Building will be lit in red and white every night as a tribute to emergency workers. Individuals are also doing their part, holding thank you signs outside of hospitals, donating meals to medical staff, and even tipping delivery drivers with hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
As I walk through my neighborhood, I see flowers blooming, children playing, and young people delivering groceries to elderly neighbors. I see couples sitting on their front porch, children’s artwork hanging on front doors and in windows, and chalk murals and messages of hope on sidewalks. The other day, a parade of cars covered in balloons and homemade signs drove down my street to wish a neighborhood child “happy birthday” from a distance. It can be easy, during these strange days of solitude, to feel dominated by a sense of hopelessness and grief. What the world needs, though, is fortitude and hope. And if we look around us, we will see that there is goodness in the world. There is reason to hope. There is cause to smile and forge ahead towards better days.