It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: March 26, 2020

Catherine Garcia
A sidewalk drawing.


Neighbors in California create their own art 'museum' using driveways and sidewalks

If you can't go to an art museum, bring the art museum to you. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Daphne Sashin and her family have been staying inside their Mountain View, California, home, only going outside for walks and bike rides. Last week, she thought of a way to beautify the neighborhood: have interested families use chalk to create works of art on their driveways and sidewalks. "My idea was this would be something that would brighten everyone's day and it would bring us together as a community, even though we can't physically be together," Sashin told CNN. She sent an email out to her neighbors, and more than 50 homes participated — some recreated famous works by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, while others drew their own original pieces. "This was an extra motivation to walk around the neighborhood," Sashin said. "It brought people together in a safe way." [CNN]


Family surprises grandmother with a safe way to celebrate her 95th birthday in quarantine

There was no way Katie Byrne's family was going to let her celebrate her 95th birthday alone. A party had been planned to mark the occasion, but was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Byrne — who has seven sons, 22 grandchildren, and 29 great-grandchildren — is self-quarantining in her Syracuse, New York, home, and her family found a way for them to all carefully spend part of her big day together. On March 18, Byrne received a surprise visit from 18 of her relatives, who gathered a safe distance apart on her front lawn. They sang "Happy Birthday" and held up signs and balloons. "We were just giving her well wishes, letting her know we were thinking about her," granddaughter Sara Byrne told Good Morning America. She recorded the surprise, and the video shows her grandmother beaming and waving at her family from the front porch. [Good Morning America]


Minnesota med students help hospital workers fighting coronavirus with child care, errands

They'll walk dogs, pick up groceries, or baby sit — anything that health-care professionals who are dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic can't do themselves. With their classes moved online and clinical rotations canceled, University of Minnesota Medical School students Sruthi Shankar and Sara Lederman had more free time, and wanted to do something to assist the doctors, nurses, and hospital janitors and kitchen staff who are working long hours. So they launched a volunteer group called MN CovidSitters. More than 280 University of Minnesota Medical School students have signed up and been paired with health-care professionals, who let them know ways they can help their families while social distancing. Lederman told CNN that "we are realizing so many of our classmates have incredible skills and talents that we didn't know about until now." [CNN]


African black rhinos make a comeback thanks to conservation efforts

It's happening slowly, but African black rhinos are making a recovery in the wild. Poaching left the African black rhino nearly extinct, and conservationists went into overdrive trying to find a way to save the animal. Some were moved to new habitats, ensuring viable breeding populations, and stronger laws were enacted to target poachers. Researchers found that in 2012, there were 4,845 black rhinos in the wild. Amid the increased conservation efforts, the population rose 2.5 percent annually over six years, and there were an estimated 5,630 black rhinos in the wild in 2018. There are three subspecies of black rhino, and all of their numbers have increased. While the black rhino still needs to be diligently protected, "the continued slow recovery is a testament to the immense efforts made in the countries and a powerful reminder that conservation works," Grethel Aguilar, acting director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, told The Guardian. [The Guardian]


Mice break record for highest-dwelling mammal

The yellow-rumped leaf-eared mouse has done it again. Just one year after setting the record for world's highest-dwelling mammal, the mouse shattered it by nearly 2,000 feet, National Geographic reports. In a February expedition organized by Jay Storz, a biologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, the mouse was discovered in Chile atop the summit of Llullaillaco — a dormant volcano — at 22,110 feet. It's a marvel the mice can thrive at such elevations with no vegetation and little rain, and in extreme temperatures. The species has also been found at sea level, meaning it has an "unprecedented elevation range of more than 22,000 feet," National Geographic says. Now, scientists are eager to study how the creatures can survive in such extreme conditions, with the hopes of using that research to advance treatment of human conditions relating to oxygen delivery and utilization, whether it's due to disease, exertion, or altitude, Storz said. [National Geographic]