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"Animal Crossing: New Horizons" allowed people to connect while being socially distant. 

From a pandemic to the Australian wildfires, it may seem like nothing positive has happened in 2020. The year started with the COVID-19 outbreak and the death of famous basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, and is now facing a spike in coronavirus cases and the threat of a new wave in the fall, as well as protests across the world because of George Floyd’s murder. 

If one watches the news, it may seem like these negative events are all that have occurred this year, but there are some hopeful aspects to 2020. The negative events that have taken place this year will always be remembered, but this year hasn’t been all bad. Here are seven positive events that have happened in 2020.

Australia isn’t on fire anymore

One of the biggest issues that dominated the news in early January was the Australian wildfires. The fires began in June 2019 but started to become more severe around January. Over this period, every Australian state was on fire. This crisis saw celebrities, as well as regular people, coming together to donate to help the citizens, firemen and wildlife affected by the fires. In February, the fires in South Wales were declared contained for the first time and by early March, all of the fires were extinguished. Since the fires, communities have come together to recover. Protective equipment shipments were sent to organizations like the Red Cross and Convoy of Hope Australia. Financial assistance has also been given to those affected. This help is mainly geared toward children who have experienced emotional distress because of the wildfires. 

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was released

“Animal Crossing” has been a beloved game for a long time, but the release of “New Horizons” saw it become a worldwide trend. The game was released on the Nintendo Switch on March 20 and has been a great way to spend time in quarantine. The premise of “New Horizons” is quite simple: one is dropped on a deserted island with two animal friends. They then have to expand their island and make new animal friends. “Animal Crossing” has also been a good way to stay in touch with friends in a time when one can’t physically visit.

Music is bringing people together 

One of the first countries to go into a complete lockdown because of COVID-19 was Italy. Because of the lockdown, many people tried to connect in different ways. Although Italy has reopened, at the beginning of the pandemic when it was under lockdown, a video quickly went viral of citizens singing out of their windows, and many other musicians played out of their windows to boost the spirits of those around them. This year has also seen the release of many singles and albums, from Twenty One Pilots quarantine-centered “Level of Concern” to Lady Gaga’s dance-like album, “Chromatica.”

Second person in the world with HIV is cured

In 2007, Timothy Ray Brown became the first person to be cured of HIV. In March, the second person was cured of the disease thanks to a stem cell transplant. Adam Castillejo was first diagnosed with HIV in 2003, but in March, Castillejo revealed he’s been HIV free for over 18 months. He underwent a bone marrow transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV.

Movies and plays have become more accessible thanks to streaming services 

Because of the coronavirus, movie theaters have shut down. To combat this issue, movie companies have had films become available through on-demand or streaming services. Films such as “The High Note,” “Trolls World Tour,” “The King of Staten Island” and “Scoob!” have all had on- demand premieres instead of premiering in theaters. Movies such as “The Invisible Man,” “Birds of Prey” and “Emma” were released in theaters, but they had a short run because of the coronavirus and are now available to stream. Along with movies, plays have also become more accessible. Musicals from “Newsies” to “Rent” can be streamed for free on websites such as YouTube and BroadwayHD, and Hamilton was recently added to Disney+.

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians” TV show announcement

In May, fans of the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series received good news. Author Rick Riordan announced that a “Percy Jackson'' show will be heading to Disney+. After the disappointing movies, this was a huge announcement for fans who’ve been begging for a show for years. Although the show won’t be written by Riordan, he assures the show will be accurate to the books, with each season representing one book, and Riordan said he will be involved in every step of the creative process of the show. 

The environment is clearing up 

Although lockdowns and quarantines have led to many staying indoors, this time of isolation has allowed for a period of growth for the environment. The water in the canals in Venice has cleared up and fish have returned. In New York, the average concentration of fine particulate matter has dropped 28%. In San Francisco, the rate is almost 40% lower than what it was last year. 

All of the bad news on TV and social media can be easy to get lost in. Although it’s felt like 2020 has been all bad, some positive events have happened and continue to happen. During hard times like this, it’s important to stay connected with loved ones, stick together and stay positive. 

Contact Morgan Vuknic at vuknicma@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, as, and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Culture.