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Inside the outbreak: Creative coronavirus help

Innovative ways to be good neighbors in a crisis

Inside the outbreak: Creative coronavirus help

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

With most families stuck at home for Easter weekend because of the coronavirus, Christian organizations are looking for ways to help people celebrate. Here are a few examples of how they’re doing that:

  • The Christian Television Network TBN is releasing the theatrical stage production JESUS for free streaming on Easter weekend, beginning Friday. The professional play, filmed during a past performance in front of a live audience, depicts the ministry of Jesus as told in the gospels.
  • Last month, the Gospel Project posted a list of free resources for children’s ministry leaders and parents to use with children over Holy Week. The free downloads include activity pages, posters, and videos. The post also provides a list of fun activities and games for families at home. 
  • Christian humanitarian organization World Vision is co-hosting a special online Good Friday event Friday evening, featuring special guest speakers and musicians including Francis Chan, Ravi Zacharias, and Lauren Daigle. 
  • Seeds Family Worship has been streaming free children’s services on Sunday evenings and will continue with a special Easter service on Sunday. The videos, available on the Seeds Facebook page, include songs with word-for-word Scripture and a brief message from Seeds founder Jason Houser. 
  • Answers in Genesis is offering a free online event that will begin on Good Friday and conclude on Easter Sunday. Broadcast from the Creation Museum in Kentucky, the event will feature a lineup of speakers, special children’s programs, an Easter hymns concert, and devotionals. 

Editor’s Note: WORLD will update this story each day with new ways businesses and individuals are helping their communities.

From Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Eric Jacuzzi/NASCAR via AP

Safety splash shields on display at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. (Eric Jacuzzi/NASCAR via AP)

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The same day, two players on the Utah Jazz basketball team tested positive for COVID-19, and the NBA suspended the rest of the season. Then the NCAA canceled all scheduled games for the rest of the year. The precautionary measures had a ripple effect through the rest of the country: By the end of the week, President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency, other sports leagues canceled their events, and the next week California issued the first statewide stay-at-home order. Since then, sports teams, athletes, and other industry organizations have stepped up in the fight against the coronavirus. Here are some notable examples: 

  • To help ease the isolation of the vulnerable elderly population, a NASCAR racing team raised money to donate tablets to residents of two Virginia nursing homes. They now can video chat with their friends and family. NASCAR’s research and development branch is also producing face shields for healthcare workers. 
  • A leading maker of hockey equipment is repurposing materials once used for hockey visors to make medical-grade face shields. “We’re not expecting to make any profit on this,” said the company’s vice president of global marketing. “One of the benefits … is to be able to have some of our people in the manufacturing plants be able to work.”
  • Last week, the NFL’s New England Patriots used the team plane to bring more than a million N95 masks from China to the United States. The Kraft family, the team’s owners, paid $2 million to cover the cost of half of the masks. China gave the crew a three-hour window to stay on the ground during the pickup, and the plane took off with just three minutes to spare. 
  • A maker of Major League Baseball jerseys started making medical gowns and masks last month. The company is working with the same fabric it normally uses for baseball jerseys. The company made the first available items with New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies fabric, but plans to include fabric from other teams as well. 
  • Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai donated masks, goggles, and ventilators to New York last week to help the state meet the increasing need for medical equipment. According to CNN, the donation included 1.3 million KN95 masks, a China-produced equivalent of the coveted N95 masks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the alternative mask for use last week. 

From Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Steve Humphreys / PA via AP

Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (Steve Humphreys / PA via AP)

Political leaders across the globe are using their own skills and interests to help their countries fight the coronavirus and its economic repercussions. Here are ways a few leaders have inspired their own countrymen in the past several weeks:

  • In March, Ireland’s health service requested retired medical workers to join the fight against COVID-19. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar was one of 50,000 medics to volunteer within 72 hours. The former doctor worked in medicine until switching to politics in 2013. He now serves one day a week and assesses potential coronavirus patients in phone calls.  
  • Before entering quarantine two weeks ago after palace staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the Queen of Malaysia had been cooking for Malaysian medical workers. In the days leading up to her quarantine, she posted pictures on Instagram of vegetable, chicken, and fish dishes as well as baked goods she had prepared for hospital personnel. 
  • The president of Kenya and his deputy announced last month they would cut their own pay by 80 percent so the government could spend more to fight the coronavirus. Nairobi’s head of state announced other government officials would take 20-30 percent pay cuts. The president challenged other governmental branches to also make “voluntary reductions.”
  • In a press conference Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country’s government considers both the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy “essential workers.” But she encouraged children to cut the bunny some slack this year in case he can’t make it to every home: “They’re going to be potentially quite busy at home with their family as well and their own bunnies.”
  • The mayor of Arlington, Texas, started a social media campaign to raise money for a local charity, Mission Arlington, while supporting local businesses. Mayor Jeff Williams pledged to donate when the city’s residents post photos of food they ordered to-go from local restaurants: $25 for the first 100 photos. “As a small businessman myself, I know these are tough times,” he said.​

From Monday, April 6, 2020

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Kaye Knighton, 86, receives a visit from his daughter-law Darla Knighton at the Creekside Senior Living in Bountiful, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Last Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added talking to list of ways people can transmit the coronavirus to each other. The virus’s highly contagious nature has required hospitals and nursing homes to put strict limitations on visitors. State governments have also implemented similar safety measures, encouraging residents to practice “social distancing” by not coming within 6 feet of someone who is not already a part of their household. These restrictions limit how friends and family gather during the pandemic. But some people have discovered plenty to do through a window. Here are some examples:

  • When one of his sixth-grade math students emailed with a question about her algebra lesson, a South Dakota math teacher decided to explain the concept in person rather than through email. He brought a whiteboard and marker to the student’s house and stood on the front porch as she watched from a safe distance through the screen door.  
  • Two new grandparents in Boston couldn’t enter the hospital to meet their newborn grandson this weekend. Instead, they stood on the sidewalk below the hospital room as the new parents held the baby to the window. “We wanted him to know we were there, at least 10 stories below,” said the grandfather. The grandparents held up signs saying “Welcome Jack.” 
  • A man in Texas couldn’t be with his wife in person during her chemotherapy treatment because of the hospital’s strict no-visitor policy during the coronavirus outbreak. So he parked his car in the hospital parking lot next to the wing where his wife would be. He showed off a homemade sign that said, “I can’t be with you, but I am here loving you! Thank you to all the staff!!!” 
  • Although they can’t enter the buildings, family members of first-floor nursing home residents have been visiting with their loved ones through the windows of their rooms. One Ohio man visited his mother’s third-floor window with the aid of his company’s bucket truck. When she saw her son outside her window, the woman said, “Oh, my awesome kid, what are you doing?”
  • An 80-year-old Alabama man spends about 15 minutes a day singing to his wife through her nursing home window. She has Alzheimer’s, so he continues the daily visits to help her remember him while he’s unable to visit in person: “If she gets where she doesn’t know me, I will still go see her, because I will still know her.”

From Friday, April 3, 2020

AP Photo/Mark Baker

A teddy bear hangs on a fence outside a house in Christchurch, New Zealand. New Zealanders are embracing an international movement in which people are placing teddy bears in their windows during coronavirus lockdowns to brighten the mood and give children a game to play by spotting the bears in their neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Because of COVID-19, organizers have closed museums, canceled races, and postponed musical performances. But friends and families stuck in their homes are still finding ways to pursue their interests and enjoy activities together. Here are some highlights from around the world:

  • A Grand Rapids, Mich., neighborhood put on a scavenger hunt by placing items in their windows or yards for children to find. One woman posted on the neighborhood Facebook page a map and list of the items as a guide to participants. This neighborhood, and others throughout the country, have also done “bear hunts,” which involve finding the teddy bears hidden in windows and on trees.
  • The Getty Museum in Los Angeles invited quarantined art fanatics to recreate famous paintings and post the pictures on social media. The rules are to use the people and everyday objects around your house. The museum has received several hilarious responses, including a clever reenactment of “The Arnolfini Wedding” by Jan van Eyck involving a large green comforter and a crockpot.   
  • With most other sports on hold during the pandemic, marble racing is finally getting its time in the spotlight. Two brothers in the Netherlands started marble racing a couple years ago with their own elaborately made tracks, but the avant-garde sport really got rolling last week when one of their marble racing videos went viral on Twitter. More marble races with sports-style commentary are available on the brothers’ YouTube channel.  
  • Homebound dancers are still practicing their moves, even while they’re off the dance floor. Last weekend, one grandfather who lives across the street from his granddaughter enjoyed a dance-off with the 6-year-old while social distancing. They each stood on a side of the street and took turns busting moves to the loud music. In Brazil, a dedicated couple dressed up for some swing dancing in their living room. 
  • Musical people are enjoying the extra time to write songs—especially parodies with a coronavirus twist. A family of six in the United Kingdom wrote and performed a parody of “One Day More” from the musical Les Misérables. Two grandparents came up with a re-write of the song “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music, and a YouTuber posted a video of himself performing quarantine-style versions of popular Disney songs.

From Thursday, April 2, 2020

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Seamstress Adita Rodriguez sews a surgical mask at Sareh Nouri's atelier in Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, people probably didn’t think much of humdrum products like toilet paper, face masks, and hand sanitizer. Now, they’re some of the hottest items on the market. Store shortages in these pandemic-era valuables mean some people who need them the most can’t get them. But families and businesses are doing what they can to change that. Here are some examples of their charity:

  • The craft and fabrics store Joann has donated fabric for homemade masks and invites customers to join their goal of making 100 million homemade masks for medical personnel. The company website features step-by-step instructions for sewing the masks. The CDC says homemade masks offer an extra layer of protection and can help free up the higher-tech surgical masks for emergency use.
  • Some distilleries have started making hand sanitizer to meet the increasing need. Last month, a brewery in Arizona known for beer and spirits switched one of its locations to focus entirely on producing hand sanitizer. The company packed hundreds of gallons of the sanitizer into kegs to deliver it to hospitals. Distilleries in Texas and Florida have also made the switch.
  • A college student from Kentucky designed a facemask for families and friends of the deaf and hard of hearing. The mask has see-through plastic material in front of the mouth that makes it easier to read lips and see facial expressions. She and her mom have been sewing the masks using material from bedsheets and a roll of plastic material they already had at home.
  • People are leaving out free goodies for their busy delivery drivers. One man marked the giveaways on his porch with a handwritten sign saying, “Delivery drivers: Take it if you need it! Thank you for your hard work!” An arrow pointed to packages of toilet paper and bottles of hand sanitizer. One driver who took some toilet paper told the man, “You’re a lifesaver. Thank you.”
  • When a Minnesota state trooper pulled over a doctor for speeding last month, he replaced the speeding ticket with five of his own N95 masks. The masks were still in their packages when he handed them to her through the window. The doctor had been reusing her own N95 mask while at the hospital to help prevent a possible shortage and said she cried at the state trooper’s gift.  

From Wednesday, April 1, 2020

AP Photo/Jens Meyer

A flutist plays "By loving forces silently surrounded ... " by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on her balcony, as people practice social distancing due to the coronavirus in Erfurt, central Germany, Sunday. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

As of Tuesday, the governments of 32 states and Washington, D.C., have issued stay-at-home orders. Some cities in states that haven’t yet applied these measures have made similar declarations, meaning that about 80 percent of all Americans are stuck at home. The stay-at-home orders in some states expire within a matter of days, but the state governments are likely to extend those orders further into the spring. Virginia issued its first stay-at-home order on Monday, in effect until June 10. 

With so many stuck at home, here are some ways people are keeping themselves occupied.

  • One couple used an iPhone to play a remote game of Scattergories with family members stuck at home 20 miles away. Both groups set up their phones and laptops on tables so they could watch the people in the other house while playing the game. Some more intense game players have gone to elaborate lengths to set up remote card games, pulling out cardboard boxes and lamps to get the best camera shot for their friends. 
  • Drone technology has kept life interesting for some home-bound people. Last month, a lockdown in Cyprus prevented a man from bringing his dog for a walk. So he tied his dog’s leash to a drone and controlled it from his balcony while the dog strolled down the street. In Brooklyn, N.Y., a man in lockdown used his drone to ask out a neighbor he saw dancing on her roof.
  • During quarantine in Spain, a pianist set up a keyboard on his apartment balcony and performed a song from the movie Titanic. A saxophone player from a couple balconies away soon joined in. Neighbors watching from the street below and from nearby apartment windows clapped and cheered at the spontaneous performance.
  • Christian musicians are finding ways to connect with audiences during social distancing. Modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty and their four young daughters have been streaming weekly family hymn singings from their home. The community of Christian artists at the Rabbit Room has also begun a series of livestreamed musical performances and poetry readings. 
  • Rabbit Room musician and author Andrew Peterson has been streaming live readings of his  children’s books series The Wingfeather Saga. Peterson’s daily readings continue nightly at 7 p.m. central. Wednesday is the 13th night of him reading the first book of the series. Read-alongs like Peterson’s have become a trend among authors and actors during the coronavirus. Last month, the lead actress from the 1995 film Pride and Prejudice, Jennifer Ehle, started streaming live readings of Jane Austen’s classic novel on her Instagram page.

From Tuesday, March 31, 2020

AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

Medical supplies and a stretcher displayed before a news conference at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Medical equipment and staff are in high demand as hospitals reach peak capacity under the steady influx of COVID-19 patients. New York alone has almost half of the country’s confirmed cases of the coronavirus. In New York City, the mayor said the hospitals only have enough masks and gloves to last the week. Yesterday, the governor called for doctors and nurses around the country come to help the beleaguered state. Here’s what other groups are doing to address the same shortages:  

  • A New York University medical school announced last week it would allow students to graduate early to get more medical personnel into hospitals fighting the coronavirus. Students from the class of 2020 are eligible if they have already fulfilled their graduation requirements and if they will volunteer to join a New York University hospital starting in April. 
  • Dyson—a British company known for making fans and vacuum cleaners—is switching gears to start manufacturing ventilators. According to CNN, Dyson designed and built its own new ventilator in 10 days after receiving a request from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The company’s founder said the ventilators will be ready in early April. 
  • Airbnb is pitching in by offering free or subsidized housing to 100,000 first responders, relief workers, and healthcare professionals. Airbnb will waive fees for hosts using the platform during the crisis and invites them to offer their housing for free if possible. In downtown New York, the Four Seasons hotel is also offering free housing to medical workers.
  • A handful of ABC TV shows are donating prop medical equipment from their sets to local hospitals. The medical drama Grey’s Anatomy contributed gloves and surgical gowns, and the spinoff show Station 19 gave away 300 N95 masks, which can protect against COVID-19.  
  • A mattress company in Georgia is donating 10,000 mattresses to New York City hospitals. Serta Simmons Bedding is completing the donation in partnership with Relief Bed International, a nonprofit that provides bedding to homeless shelters. The company says it can inexpensively produce up to 20,000 beds per day if the need for mattresses continues.

From Monday, March 30, 2020

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

A lit Christmas tree hangs from a pole at dusk as holiday lights illuminate downtown in Farmington, N.H. As the coronavirus spreads, holiday lights are going back up to provide a bit of emotional and actual brightness. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

As worldwide COVID-19 deaths hit 36,000 and counting, there’s plenty of bad news to go around. But people around the world are still finding ways to have fun and encourage each other during the pandemic. 

  • Communities in several countries have shown support for local medical workers by coming together to clap for the hard work they’ve done in fighting the coronavirus. The first community celebration of this kind happened this January in Wuhan, China, and later took off in Italy and Britain as well. The city of Seattle organized a collective celebration last Thursday night. People participated by clapping, yelling, banging pots and pans, and playing musical instruments. 
  • In several neighborhoods across the United States, families are re-hanging their Christmas lights to bring a little cheer to people stuck at home during the pandemic. One Rhode Island family used the activity as a way to keep busy while spending time together. Some families who have joined in by turning on their own Christmas lights admit they never actually took theirs down.  
  • American actor John Krasinski launched his new YouTube channel, “Some Good News,” this weekend to highlight some of the positive things happening in the world during the pandemic. On Sunday night, he posted the channel’s first homemade video, featuring video calls with fellow actor from The Office Steve Carrell and a young cancer patient. 
  • Some medical workers have taken to dancing to keep their own spirits up while working long hours on the job. Videos on social media show nurses attempting a hands-free partner dance popularized on the social media platform TikTok. A Twitter post from Sunday shows Israeli medical workers at a coronavirus testing site busting dance moves as patients cheer from their car. 
  • Without any games to announce, a British rugby commentator started slyly filming Londoners going about everyday life and voicing over the videos with a fast-paced, sports style commentary. Viewers have asked him for more of the hilarious videos, but he said that it’s not always easy to get away with filming people in public. 

From Friday, March 27, 2020

AP Photo/Dan Busey, The Decatur Daily

Brothers John Evan, 9, left, an elementary student, and Mason Sinclair, 12, a middle school student, extend their learning with virtual projects on their Chromebooks at their home. (AP Photo/Dan Busey, The Decatur Daily)

According to the website Education Week, most U.S. schools will remain closed into the month of April. Schools in four states are closed “until further notice.” In total, the coronavirus has shuttered 124,000 U.S. public and private schools and kept an estimated 55.1 million students out of the classroom. This rise in “accidental homeschooling” has forced both parents and teachers to find creative ways to cope with their new normal.   

  • One Christian school in Lansing, Mich., created a parody of the popular Disney songs “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” and “Let It Go” to announce the launch of their online classes. The video features shots of the head of the school and the middle and high school principal singing as they wander the school’s empty halls. 
  • Early this week, a high school principal in North Carolina decided to visit each of his school’s seniors to make them feel special during a disappointing conclusion to their final year. To get to each of the school’s 420 seniors in the next few weeks, his goal is to visit 10 a day. He’s recording videos of each student and plans to compile the recordings into a highlight reel at the end of each week. 
  • Teachers and veteran homeschooling moms are finding ways to help parents now tasked with teaching their own kids at home. The homeschooling resource Sophia Homeschool created an “accidental homeschooling” page on their website where parents new to homeschooling can request free help from more experienced homeschoolers. Sophia Homeschooling offers online tutoring as well as a Facebook group where parents solicit advice from the homeschool community. 
  • The developer of the video game Minecraft is offering free educational content for students and teachers to help keep young minds learning during extended time at home. The programs include a virtual tour of the International Space Station, logic puzzle games, and a game that teaches about generating power. 
  • Some educational organizations have launched online courses for families in search of new material to study while cooped up at home. The Great Courses is offering a free trial for online access to courses and lectures. This week, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview provided a free online short course in worldview and culture.

From Thursday, March 26, 2020

AP Photo/John Raoux, File

Papa John’s is one pizza company in need of more workers. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

At least 18 states have closed all non-essential businesses, meaning that many small businesses and restaurants have had to lay off employees temporarily in their struggle to stay afloat. But other businesses are booming because of the coronavirus. Because so many people are stuck at home, takeout food and online shopping have seen a spike, which increases these businesses’ need for workers. Meanwhile, shoppers continue to do what they can to keep their favorite local stores in business, and some people with money to spare have taken generous measures to help fill the pockets of people left without work because of COVID-19. 

  • With the increase of online shopping, Amazon is inviting laid-off hospitality workers to apply for one of the 100,000 new job openings with the online retail giant. The company is also raising its hourly wages and launching a $25 million relief fund for delivery drivers and seasonal employees. Amazon will use the fund to help employees experiencing financial strain during the coronavirus.
  • Pizza chains are also seeing an influx of orders. Several companies announced thousands of new job openings. Pizza Hut and Papa John’s combined are looking for 50,000 new workers. Papa John’s announced intentions to make the application and hiring process “quick and simple” so that people in need of employment can begin working as soon as possible. 
  • Retail giant Walmart is looking to hire 150,000 new employees to meet increasing demand. Earlier this month, the company also announced plans to set up coronavirus testing stations in store parking lots. Drive-thru locations opened in two Illinois cities this weekend. 
  • Communities are supporting local businesses by purchasing gift cards or leaving extra tips. The website Asheville Strong provides residents of the North Carolina city with an easy-to-navigate database of local businesses and recommendations for how to support them. A coffee shop in small town Michigan invited customers to leave virtual tips using Venmo. The manager displayed names of the givers and the gifted amounts on sticky notes in the shop window. 
  • Two professional basketball players—Kevin Love and Zion Williamson—have pledged money to help pay arena workers who are now out of work because of canceled NBA games. Love donated $100,000 to Cleveland Cavaliers arena staff, and Williamson committed to cover salaries for all New Orleans Pelicans arena staff workers for 30 days. Meanwhile, the mayor of a city in Florida is donating his salary to help city residents pay their utility bills. 

From Wednesday, March 25, 2020

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

Two visitors take a selfie with the Olympic “Flame of Recovery” burning during its display ceremony Wednesday. IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed to a proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Organizers have canceled numerous major events around the world to help halt the spread of COVID-19: film and music festivals, concerts, parades, races, games, and most recently the 2020 summer Olympics. Meanwhile, an increasing number of national, state, and local governments are ordering citizens to “shelter-in-place”—basically an order to stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out for groceries or “essential” work. With so many families and individuals barred from public gatherings, people have come up with creative ways to enjoy group events without the crowds.

  • Despite lockdowns and race cancellations, runners are still finding ways to get exercise. In France, a man ran an entire marathon distance on his 23-foot balcony during the country’s lockdown. After organizers called off the San Diego half marathon, two moms ran the 13.1 miles on their own. Their two daughters stretched a long sheet of toilet paper across the sidewalk as a finish line. 
  • Some drive-in movie theaters are seeing a surge in popularity due to social distancing, and at least one church has adopted the idea. The First Baptist Church in Olive, Okla., hosted a drive-in church service this weekend. The pastor preached from a flatbed trailer in the church’s parking lot as members of the congregation sat in their vehicles. When the preacher called for an “Amen,” the congregants honked their horns. 
  • In lieu of in-person performances, several popular musicians moved their concerts online. Thanks to technology, fans can livestream home-shows of some artists using streaming platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Last week, the Christian band the Gray Havens announced it will host a free online concert on its website Thursday at 8 p.m. central. 
  • Unable to have classes in person, a ballet school in North Carolina is now holding dance classes online. Students can log in for a livestream of the class or watch a recording later. For those not already in a dance class, one online dance studio released free online classes with professional dancers and choreographers.
  • The limits on social gatherings have disrupted personal parties as well, so some friend groups have celebrated with car parades instead. In New Jersey, friends and family celebrated a little girl’s fourth birthday by driving past her home and honking their horns as she waved from the yard. Friends of an Arkansas couple helped them celebrate the gender reveal of their baby by holding a similar celebration, this time with cars decked out in pink balloons and streamers.

From Tuesday, March 24, 2020

AP Photo/John Minchillo

A patient wears a protective face mask as medical workers unload her from an ambulance at The Brooklyn Hospital Center emergency room in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases worldwide, so does the need for hospital equipment, health care workers, and supplies to help block further spread of the coronavirus. Some businesses and individuals are pitching in through donations or volunteer work. Others are using their skills to meet increasing demand directly. Here are a few examples of how some groups are helping the strained medical system: 

  • Doctors and nurses around the world have come out of retirement to help fight the novel coronavirus. In a single day last week, 1,000 retired New York healthcare workers volunteered to help in the state’s overwhelmed hospitals. Similar stories have come out of Canada and the United Kingdom.
  • As Italian hospitals started running out of essential medical equipment, a manufacturing company in northern Italy began using its 3D printer to make valves for respiratory machines. In the United States, auto companies including General Motors and Ford are in talks to begin manufacturing ventilators to meet an imminent shortage in the United States. 
  • Christian hip-hop singer Lecrae partnered with an Atlanta nonprofit last week to assemble and install portable hand-washing stations across the city. The small white stations hold up to 5 gallons of water and include refillable soap dispensers. The hope is that the city’s homeless will use the stations and help prevent the spread of the virus among their vulnerable population.
  • A furniture manufacturer in Washington last week halted production of chairs and couches and switched to making surgical masks and face shields. Larger companies like the clothing brand Hanes and auto company Fiat Chrysler also plan to start churning out masks to meet increasing demand. 
  • California-based tool retailer Harbor Freight is donating its entire supply of gloves, N95 masks, and face shields to hospitals in the communities that have Harbor Freight stores. Other companies including IKEAApple, and Target are also giving away millions of masks to healthcare workers. 

From Monday, March 23, 2020

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Miriam Bago uses hand sanitizer before eating lunch at Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Centers of Dade County Inc., on March 4 in Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of coronavirus deaths in the United States have been in adults 65 years or older. The high death rate among the elderly follows trends in China and Italy, where the elderly have also made up the majority of the death toll. This makes senior citizens one of the most vulnerable demographics as COVID-19 continues to spread.

To protect this segment of the population, nursing homes have locked down completely, and state governments are encouraging other elderly people to stay at home. Meanwhile, communities and individuals have found creative ways to help ease the burden of isolation for senior citizens.

  • Two Columbus, Ohio, siblings performed a mini cello concert for an elderly shut-in neighbor to help ease her extended isolation. Dressed in formal concert clothes, they brought their instruments to their 78-year-old neighbor’s porch and played for her—all while maintaining the 6-foot “social distancing” guideline. 
  • On St. Patrick’s Day, a daughter of two residents of a Birmingham, Ala., retirement home brought her violin and a music stand to the parking lot below her parents’ balcony. She played the song “Danny Boy” as her parents watched from above and her father sang along. 
  • An elderly man in Connecticut couldn’t spend his 67th anniversary with his wife because her nursing home was on lockdown. So he bought balloons and stood outside of her window, holding a sign that said, “I’ve loved you 67 years and still do. Happy Anniversary.” She blew kisses at him through her window.
  • Family members of other shut-ins have found similar ways to celebrate with their loved ones. A New York woman had to cancel her 95th birthday party because of the coronavirus, but family members lined up on the sidewalk in front of her home and sang “Happy Birthday” as they held signs and balloons. She smiled and waved from her porch. 
  • A nursing home in North Carolina allows family members to visit with residents by stopping by their windows. The son of one resident makes frequent visits and sits by his dad’s window while they talk to each other on the phone.  
  • Young people across the country have organized volunteer groups to pick up groceries for elderly shut-ins. A recent college graduate in Charlotte created an account on the social media network Nextdoor offering to run errands for local retirees. Several people took him up on the offer. He delivered groceries and even fulfilled one request for nails from Lowe’s.

From Friday, March 20, 2020

AP Photo/Ryan Garza

In Keego Harbor, Mich., Monday, Roosevelt Elementary School student Connor Hall picks up a lunch from West Bloomfield School District worker Melissa Gonzalez. (AP Photo/Ryan Garza)

As the coronavirus lockdown spreads across the nation, some families are struggling to make ends meet. School-aged children who normally get a meal at the school cafeteria can’t count on that free lunch now that schools have shut down. And parents who lose their jobs because of the virus won’t always be able to cover extra meals in their tightening budgets. To address this problem, a growing number of restaurants and other businesses have made their own sacrifices to help make sure no one goes without a meal. 

  • Some school districts have organized meal pickup locations for students out of school. In Dearborn, Mich., public school students age 18 and under can pick up a free lunch and breakfast from any of seven “grab and go” locations across the district. These meals will be available in Dearborn through at least April 3.
  • Local restaurants in cities across the United States are providing free meals for children, each with their own style. A pie company in North Carolina is packing brown bags with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, milk, and a cookie. A restaurant and wine bar in Rochester, Minn., offers children freshly baked bread and pasta with their choice of marinara or meat sauce. 
  • Celebrity chef José Andrés is transforming eight of his now-closed restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C., into gourmet soup kitchens. For those who can afford it, the to-go meals will cost $7 apiece, but Andres says the food will also be available for those who don’t have the money. Those who want to help have the option to donate a meal. 
  • Disney is donating surplus food from its California and Florida theme parks to food banks. Cast members from the Walt Disney World Resort joined the park’s distribution team Tuesday to gather and organize the food before passing it on to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, who will distribute it to needy families. 
  • Due to several statewide restrictions on dine-in seating, many restaurants are only offering take-out meals. To help bring in business, one Mexican restaurant in Costa Mesa, Calif., is throwing in a free toilet paper roll for every $20 in takeout orders. Another restaurant in Chicago is also adding toilet paper to orders. 

From Thursday, March 19, 2020

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Jessica Averitt, the owner of L.A. Cafe, prepares a takeout meal for a customer Wednesday in Whitestown, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

To limit the quick spread of the coronavirus, about half of the state governments in the United States have ordered bars and restaurants to significantly decrease dine-in seating or close seating altogether. The limit on large gatherings has also forced other public areas like gyms and shopping malls to close. As a result, many businesses that rely on crowds of customers can’t keep their employees. Just last week, the number of claims for state unemployment benefits climbed by 70,000.

Here are some creative ways some businesses and individuals have helped alleviate each other’s growing financial burdens:

  • Last Sunday, a regular customer at a bar in Columbus, Ohio, left a $2,500 tip and asked to have it split equally between five of the bar’s employees. All Ohio restaurants were closed to dine-in customers starting at 9 p.m. Sunday, making the anonymous tipper the bar’s last visitor for the foreseeable future.
  • Uber announced Sunday that the company has expanded its sick pay policy to make allowances for drivers affected by COVID-19. Drivers who test positive for the virus and enter quarantine or who can’t work due to public health policies will now have up to 14 days of paid sick leave.
  • A property owner in Arkansas told its restaurant tenants Tuesday not to worry about paying rent for the month of April. Instead, the landlord asked that the restaurants “use this money instead to pay your employees and take care of your family.” Other landlords across the country have also chosen to waive or defer rental fees.
  • As the spread of COVID-19 forces restaurants to shrink, grocery stores are booming. Kroger, the country’s largest grocery store chain, said Tuesday that the company has hired more than 2,000 new employees to keep up with the influx in grocery store demand and still has 10,000 openings, as of Tuesday.
  • Residents in Durham, N.C., compiled a spreadsheet of local businesses that shoppers can continue to support through online shopping or by buying gift cards. Customers in other cities have also turned to gift card purchases to support their own local shops forced to shutter because of the coronavirus.
  • Facebook says it will give full-time employees an extra $1,000 in their next paycheck and promises to give “exceeds expectations” performance reviews for the first half of 2020. These reviews will ensure biannual bonuses for all full-time employees. The social media giant also says it will give out $100 million in cash and advertising credits to help small businesses during the coronavirus financial crush.

From Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Eric Long/Smithsonian

A North American X-15 on display in the National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian is one of several institutions offering virtual field trips to students during the coronavirus shutdown. (Eric Long/Smithsonian)

Countries across the globe have shut down schools and sent students home to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. The United Nations website ReliefWeb estimates that the number of students out of the classroom because of the coronavirus is approaching 1 billion. In the United States, many schools are switching to online learning, and educational organizations have found creative ways to help parents keep their students engaged while learning from home. Here are a few:

  • Social distancing means no big crowds at normally bustling tourist locations, but families can still take virtual field trips of some top travel destinations thanks to modern technology. Colonial Williamsburg, the Smithsonian, the Sistine Chapel, and the Great Wall of China are among the many tourist sites taking history online through virtual tours. The Metropolitan Opera in New York is also sharing free streaming of performances daily at 7:30 p.m.
  • The Institute for Excellence in Writing, a curriculum developer popular among homeschoolers, is offering a free three-week digital program in English language arts instruction. The publisher is one of many organizations rolling out free resources for parents teaching their kids at home during the coronavirus.
  • An alpaca farm in Maine had to close due to COVID-19, but the owners decided to give virtual online tours to introduce home-bound fans to their 35 alpacas. Zoos across the country are also turning to social media to livestream their own virtual tours. The Virginia Zoo will be guiding online viewers on a “Virtual Voyage” every day at 2 p.m. eastern until the end of the month.
  • For kids and adults wanting to practice new skills at home, published artists and authors are giving free tips and classes online. Every afternoon, author and illustrator Jarret J. Krosoczka is hosting YouTube webcasts on drawing, and children’s book author Kate DiCamillio is posting daily writing prompts to the Candlewick Press YouTube channel.
  • To give moms and dads a break, published children’s authors are scheduling daily read-aloud sessions to stream on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Publishing companies, including Penguin and HarperCollins, are also planning their own daily read-alouds for “quarantined” kids.

From Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Joshua Lott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A worker at the Phoenix Fulfillment Center in Goodyear, Ariz. (Joshua Lott/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As daily life continues to shift globally in the wake of the coronavirus, businesses are finding creative ways to help customers and their communities. Here are a few that have surfaced in the last couple of days:

  • Employees at one location of the Texas chain Whataburger delivered burgers to H-E-B grocery store workers Sunday afternoon. H-E-B employees—along with the rest of the nation’s grocery store workers—have been busy keeping shelves stocked for shoppers prepping for the nationwide lockdown.
  • In small town Michigan, employees at a tea lounge use part of their mornings assembling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for free sack lunches. Last Friday, the shop’s owners started offering the free lunches to “anyone that needs them,” saying they’d continue until schools are back in session.
  • The company that makes Dior perfumes switched gears at its facilities Monday and began producing hand sanitizer instead of its signature perfumes. It plans to donate the hand sanitizer to health officials in France who will distribute the product to 39 hospitals.
  • With the surge in online shopping during social distancing, Amazon announced Monday that it’s looking for 100,000 employees in the United States to help keep up with new orders. The online retail giant also said it would raise its hourly wage by $2 through the end of April.
  • Beginning Monday, internet provider Charter Communications began offering 60 days of free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access to households with K-12 and college students. Since last week, most students have moved to online or home learning as schools have shuttered to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Leah Hickman

Leah Hickman

Leah is a WORLD Magazine reporter.


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  • VolunteerBB
    Posted: Sat, 03/21/2020 03:36 pm

    A terrible picture of the owner of the restaurant with her hair not tied back in a food prep kitchen.  Yuck!

  •  Soapbxn's picture
    Posted: Thu, 04/02/2020 06:43 pm

    Given she is the owner it is possible she does not even work in teh kitchen but was asked to pose for the photo.  Giving benefot of the doubt.  Still, she likely should have thouht of that!

  •  Soapbxn's picture
    Posted: Thu, 04/02/2020 06:43 pm

    This is greatly encouraging!!! Thank you for gathering such uplifting information!  :-)

  • JimVC
    Posted: Wed, 04/08/2020 11:30 am

    The third item in the April 7 update should refer to the country, Kenya, rather than to its capital, Nairobi.

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Wed, 04/08/2020 02:51 pm

    Thank you for pointing out the error. We have corrected it.