The COVID-19 pandemic has upended daily life across the U.S. Families suddenly losing loved ones cannot come together to mourn. Health care professionals are putting their lives at risk to treat the sometimes-untreatable. And the leaders to whom we turn in times of crisis don’t have all the answers.
One bit of good news is there is still good news: Self-isolating Americans are rising to this unprecedented challenge to bring relief, comfort, moments of joy and glimpses of normalcy to a locked-down world.
In this week’s edition: Tireless teens, a caring coach, some very good dogs and a 90-year-old COVID-19 survivor with a message of hope. And also, bagpipes.
There's No "I" in Teen: No diploma? No driver's license? No problem for these teens tirelessly working amid the pandemic to help the most vulnerable.
Eve Hill, 17, volunteers in Bethesda, Maryland, as a medic. She is also a high school senior, balancing her medical shifts with her online coursework.
"There's a couple of shifts when I did my remote learning in the station, which is kind of a whole new experience for my teachers and for me, but we’re making it work,” she said.
Hill said she has been responding to all kinds of situations, including many suspected COVID-19 infections. But that doesn't keep her from showing up and helping save lives. “Personally, I can't imagine not working at this time. I can't imagine not giving my skills," she said.
Coronavirus Pandemic Coverage
Meanwhile, with lacrosse season canceled and no driver's license, 16-year-old high school sophomore TJ Kim was feeling stuck – until he figured out how to use his pilot training to bring protective equipment to workers on the front-lines of Virginia's rural hospitals. Get the full story from NBC Washington here.
Signs of Hope: High schools in McKinney, Texas, canceled classes indefinitely in mid-March, leaving graduating seniors wondering whether they would be able to don the iconic cap and gown to walk the stage this spring. McKinney High School senior and class president Sydney Anderson told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth that she's feeling unsure about the future.
This week, though, Anderson and her fellow McKinney seniors saw signs of hope -- literally, in their front yards, as the principals of all three area high schools had inspiring yard signs reading "We love our seniors" delivered to the homes of all of the district's graduating seniors.
“Words matter, and words are important, so when we use the words, ‘We love our seniors,’ it's a true emotion,” said McKinney High School Principal Alan Arbabi.
“It’s really sweet that they did that for us, just to kind of give us hope,” Anderson said.
HS Coach Spends 8 Hours Personally Delivering Team's Championship Rings: The Lyndhurst High School football team won its first New Jersey State Sectional Championship since 1983. Their coach, Rich Tuero, wanted to do something special for the team, so he enlisted the help of the people in the small Bergen County township and raised over $20,000 to get championship rings for the players. When the rings came in, Tuero was looking forward to presenting the rings at a banquet or ceremony.
However, like almost everything else over the past month, the coronavirus pandemic altered his plans.
So, for eight hours on Sunday, Tuero drove to 88 homes to deliver the rings while adhering to social distancing guidelines, politely refusing to accept hugs from grateful players and their families.
"Delivering the rings on Sunday was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had as a football coach, as a human being in general," Tuero said. "Seeing these kids, the emotions, the parents, the families, the reactions. Knowing that they were happy and hearing all the positive feedback was just one of the greatest experiences of my life." Get the full story here from NBC New York.
Maine Woman and Her Sled Dog Team Deliver Food, Essentials to Neighbors: Hannah Lucas, a musher who also works at a convenience store, is helping her neighbors out during the coronavirus outbreak by delivering them much-needed items via dog sled.
Lucas said she is hoping to continue her service for the next few weeks, until it becomes too warm for her Siberian Huskies to run.
"I'd say as long as I can keep the dogs with the brake on my sled, I'll be out there doing this," she said. Get more from NECN.
‘We Take Care of Them Because They Cared for Us’: When an elderly couple needed help while recovering from COVID-19, a former Army medic loaded up his RV and went straight to the couple's New Jersey home to provide essential care.
‘A Challenge Not To Cry Myself’: NYC's Sign Language Interpreter on Pandemic Work: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's press conferences have become a regular part of people's days since the outbreak of COVID-19 began. The mayor, though, isn't the only familiar face providing vital information to New Yorkers: Jonathan Lamberton is the man seen aside the mayor (or, now due to social distancing measures, in a box on-screen) interpreting officials' powerful messages and vital information for hearing-impaired New Yorkers like himself.
Lamberton, with his wife Andria Lamberton helping to translate, told NBC New York that he has been signing for the city since the Ebola scare years ago — and just like then, the weight of what he’s signing can take a toll on him.
"Sometimes when I’m interpreting, it’s a challenge not to cry myself," he said. Get more of Lamberton's story here from NBC New York.
Bagpipers Unite, Remotely, for Sunset Solidarity Concerts: “You feel very much at that moment that you’re making impact for somebody and giving them some kind of hope.”
91-Year-Old California Man Sews Masks For First Responders: Ninety-one-year-old Dwight Goins took up sewing after his wife of 40 years died. He started out making handbags for the homeless and homebound, but now he's got another mission: sewing masks for the hospital workers and first responders fighting the pandemic near his home in Southern California. Get the full story here from NBC LA.
One Fortunate 90-Year-Old Survived COVID-19, and Offers Hope: Anna Fortunato, a 90-year-old survivor of COVID-19, has a message for the rest of us:
Do not be afraid. Do not despair.
“Keep on fighting, have that positive attitude, and pray. And get out of bed. Don’t stay in bed all the time," she said. "If I did it, you can do it."
It will still be a while before Fortunato – whose last name in Italian means lucky, by the way – can hug her family or go back to Sunday Mass or play the slots with the other residents in her assisted living center, who are now confined to their rooms because of her illness.
But she’s not complaining. She knows how lucky she is.
“I had a good husband, and my children are beautiful,” said Fortunato, who turns 91 in June. “I’ve lived to see grandchildren, and great-grandchildren … so I AM fortunate.”
#LightItBlue: Landmarks Lit in Support of Essential Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic