Covid-19: a good time to look for good news

Mark Rice-Oxley
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Alessandra Tarantino/AP</span>
Photograph: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

When the history of positive news is written many years from now, someone cleverer than me will write that paradoxically it took the baddest of bad news to really put good news on the map.

Coronavirus has changed our lives. It has changed newsrooms too. Never before have so many journalists cast around for silver linings. Never before has so much optimism been published – and read.

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This week alone, we had:

  • The astonishing surge in coronavirus health volunteers. 90-second read

  • The antidote – a new series that could have been called “anything but coronavirus” Nice daily browse

  • Trashy books clubs, cocktails and live music: 11 things to do without leaving home. Two-minute read

  • A dystopian reading list: books to enjoy while in quarantine. Months

  • Social distancing is a must – but many are ready to contribute even more. 90-second read

Lucky numbers

In the absence of hard and fast data on the precise prevalence of the virus, we have to fall back on statistical modelling. And according to one such example, there is at least a fair possibility that the virus has infected far more people than official statistics show. That would imply death rates are far lower – and herd immunity far more broadly distributed – than previously thought. But it’s only a possibility …

What we liked

Our friends at the Solutions Journalism Network are doing a great job aggregating Covid-19 pieces here. Have a browse.

We also salute the Atlantic’s attempt to map out what the next few months might bring, and how quickly life might return to normal.

What we heard

Laura Hendrie wrote in from Santa Fe, US:

We are holding silent Quaker worship … by Zoom! Because the majority of us are older and quite a few of us have compromised health issues, we decided the only way to meet was by internet. And better yet, it felt wonderful to see each other again and to be able to all be together for silent worship was very empowering!

Roisin McGuinness, a primary school teacher, got in touch from Ireland:

Thank you for your column, especially in times like these. I loved reading what others are up to during their isolation.

I am treating this time at home as a chance to do all the things I complain I don’t have the time to do. Morning to lunchtime is tidying, a little exercise, a bit of work.

Lunch is a short walk, and watching something I never get round to watching on telly. One episode only. The afternoon is for hobbies. I have written a list and hung it on the wall to remind myself of all the choices I have. Eg, sitting down to regular practice sessions with my piano and ukelele, sorting photographs, making a scrapbook with the boxes of tickets and postcards I’ve been collecting and hoarding. Getting the sewing machine out, with YouTube videos to hand, and mending or altering clothes. Listening to podcasts while also doing some mindfulness colouring, or Zentangle that I have newly discovered.

Evening is cooking and TV with my husband like any regular evening, but maybe now we’ll play some card games to shake it up. Making sure I get up early and go to bed at a reasonable time like I would for work is really important, I am trying really hard not to fall into the bad habits of late sleeping and hours of TV like I’ve done in the past during periods of unemployment. Finding happiness in the benefits that this time at home is offering as well. Myself and my husband are very much enjoying not commuting, and I hope all your commuting readers are too.

This sounds great, Roisin. I would stress regular sleep and wake times, routine and trying stuff you’ve not done before will all be important for us to get through these difficult days.

In Toronto, 72-year-old brooke Lydbrooke is doing OK.

I just got back from Guatemala by the skin of my teeth, before they closed their airports, so I’ve been doing my 14 days.

Fortunately, as long as I have books, the Guardian Weekly, and musical instruments ( I sing, play piano and ukulele) and can connect with friends online, I’m OK. I work out every morning and do Spanish lessons on Duolingo. I practise my ukulele ( I’ve been learning blues songs), cook meals, hangout and chat with my housemates and FaceTime with my partner several times a day.

I have been out for a walk (keeping my distance) and as the weather warms up I’ll do this more.

Thank you Guardian for being a lifeline in this crazy world. When I read the Guardian Weekly I feel comforted by your analysis, your ethics, your compassion, your depth of reporting. In this insane world it’s an oasis of truth.





Thanks brooke. Yes, Guardian Weekly is a fine thing, perfect for people who want quality once a week rather than breathless updates every minute. Sign up here for a great introductory offer.

From Berlin, Rachael Dölger tells us we really have no excuse now:

I would like to start a hashtag #there is no excuse now ... but my kids have reassured me that if I have no followers my hashtag wont go far. Perhaps you could help!

Bleib gesund and stay healthy.

Dear Rachael – I could indeed do this. There really is no excuse now not to.

And finally in Mexico, Jeffrey Stewart Titcomb was pithy:

With several other pieces in today’s edition, you’ve helped me feel up about feeling up and down.

Thanks Jeffrey. Next week we’ll explore how we should think and feel about this crisis.

Where was the Upside?

With our pets, keeping us sane through the crisis.

Also, with NewsWise, a news literacy project set up by the Guardian Foundation, National Literacy Trust and PSHE Association. They have created a set of activities, links, tips and advice to help families learn more about the news together.

Normally they would be delivering workshops in schools around the country but instead are helping parents recreate some of that learning at home.

That’s it for another week. Stay safe, stay home, we shall prevail. Get in touch to tell us about the silver linings.

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