It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: April 23, 2020

Catherine Garcia
A coral reef.


Florida Aquarium discovery could help save coral reefs

The Florida Aquarium has made history, with its Center for Conservation scientists successfully reproducing ridged cactus coral in human care for the first time ever. Before researchers began their Project Coral initiative last summer, not much was known about the way ridged cactus coral reproduce. The team rescued adult coral colonies from Florida, and began caring for them so they could breed. Earlier this month, the corals began generating spawn, and for the first time ever, researchers were able to photograph and measure the larvae. Debborah Luke, the aquarium's senior vice president of conservation, told CBS News the scientists will use their research to "increase the genetic diversity of coral offspring, maximize coral reproduction rates, and advance coral health." The only reef system in the continental United States is the Florida Reef tract, which has been damaged by boats, disease, pollution, and climate change. [CBS News, CNN]


After surviving COVID-19, New York mom finally meets baby born while she was in a coma

It was the moment all of Yanira Soriano's doctors and nurses had been waiting for — the first time the New York mom was able to hold her baby, born while she was in a medically induced coma. Earlier this month, Soriano tested positive for COVID-19 and pneumonia, and was immediately admitted to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. She was 34 weeks pregnant, and Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, chairman of the hospital's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said because of the "critical nature" of her case, she had to be put into a medically induced coma and placed on a ventilator. She gave birth via emergency cesarean section, and spent two more weeks in the ICU. Upon her discharge last Wednesday, Soriano was finally able to meet her son, as hospital workers cheered her on. She beat the odds, Schwartz said, giving the doctors and nurses "incredible hope for future patients and our existing patients that have COVID disease." [Good Morning America]


Principal uses senior portraits to honor graduating students

The 30 graduating seniors at Poplar Springs High School in Graceville, Florida, may not physically be on campus, but their presence is felt thanks to their principal's tribute to the Class of 2020. Principal Farica West told WMBB she felt terrible knowing the seniors will miss "memorable moments" like prom and graduation, occasions "we all hold near and dear to our hearts throughout our whole lives." While thinking of ways to honor to the students, West began to imagine large portraits of each senior lining the road leading to the school. West called the photographer who took their senior photographs, and had each picture blown up and attached to a stand. They are now set up side by side, and visible to everyone who drives past. This has helped make a tough situation easier, senior Dalton Wilkinson said. "It is definitely something that gives you comfort," he told WMBB. [WMBB]


Technology allows Maryland therapy dog to still bring joy to hospital patients

Loki the therapy dog is still comforting patients at the University of Maryland Medical Center, just from afar. Loki is a 2-year-old Rottweiler. Her owner, Caroline Benzel, is a second-year medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and began training her to be a therapy dog when she was just 18 weeks. "I've never met a dog that's so empathetic," Benzel told Good Morning America, adding that Loki "can just read a situation where a patient is in a very bad way or a family member is going through a loss." Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Loki and Benzel now FaceTime with patients from home, but they are also doing something extra for hospital staff. Benzel has been collecting items for care packages she's dubbed Hero Healing Kits, which include everything from hypoallergenic lotion to lip balm. Benzel has distributed 1,400 kits and is raising money to deliver more. [Good Morning America]


Harlem Globetrotters deliver a virtual surprise to kids inspired by their tricks

A group of friends who were supposed to perform a basketball routine inspired by the Harlem Globetrotters were disappointed when their school talent show was canceled last month, but their parents more than made up for it with a special video conference featuring two surprise guests: Globetrotter stars Hammer Harrison and Cheese Chisholm. The boys, all residents of Haddonfield, New Jersey, thought they were just performing for their families last Thursday, showing off their skills in driveways and living rooms. They learned at the end of their routine that it wasn't actually over — instead, Harrison joined from his home in Tampa, followed by Chisholm at his New York house. The Globetrotters put on their own routine, and then taught the kids a few moves. When it was time to say goodbye, Harrison told the boys he wanted them to "stay safe, enjoy your time home with your families, and keep practicing your tricks, of course." [YouTube]