Earth Day came and went Wednesday. It lacked the exuberance of past celebrations of the planet, but this year’s observance delivered an unexpected gift to Mother Earth: With so many people around the world shuttered in their homes because of the new coronavirus, air pollution rates in major cities around the world dropped to unprecedented levels.

Ron Magill has seen 40 Earth Days at the Miami Zoo, but none like this one. The silence made it memorable.

“I feel like I kind of won the lottery in a way,” the TV personality and animal expert — who started as a zookeeper for the Miami Zoo in 1980 — told Patch in an Earth Day interview.

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“I have profound sympathy and empathy for the people struggling through this,” he said. “But again, I always try to look at the positive side of things. Right now, I’m trying to eat up every day I have with the solitude of this amazing wildlife.” By Paul Scicchitano on Miami Patch.

Below are 12 more stories that show, after five weeks of confinement in their homes, Americans still haven’t lost their spirit. They’re still standing up for the people who are risking their lives to keep us healthy and comfortable. They’re finding ways to keep things normal. They’re also trying to step away from the box of fudgesicles in the freezer.

You’ll find more stories like these — and lots of non-coronavirus community news, too — on your local Patch. Find your Patch here and sign up for news alerts and newsletters.

At the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, New York, the story of the new coronavirus pandemic is one of tragedy and endurance, but kindness and faith, too. World travelers, the nuns have educated and counseled and cared for young and old all over the world as nurses, doctors, teachers, theologians, social workers and conservationists. They’ve coped with coronavirus illnesses and death and are receiving support from some places that may surprise you. By Lanning Taliaferro on Ossining-Croton-On Hudson Patch.

What A Time To Start A Career

There’s a saying that says true heroes rush toward — not away from — danger. And that’s just what Eric Abbott Jr. of Hampton Bays did, beginning his nursing career just as coronavirus cases began to explode across Suffolk County. By Lisa Finn on West Hampton Bays Patch.

A Talent To Protect

Juried textile and fiber artist Regina Hawley (top photo) turned her talents to help her community by sewing cloth face coverings and offering them for free to anyone who needs them. Her artistry is at a level that it can fetch a handsome price, but she says it “doesn’t feel right to make money off of people’s distress.” By Tony Schinella on Concord Patch.

“The Hidden Secret”

Along with restaurant owners across the country, Jason and Paula Taylor took a step back amid the coronavirus business shutdowns to reasses their Joliet, Illinois, restaurant, Chefy’s Kitchen and Catering. They decided to offer curbside pickups, a fact noted on a local Facebook page promoting restaurant options during the coronavirus, and business exploded — and the restaurant has gained a following as “the hidden secret.” By John Ferak on Joliet Patch.

Parking Lot Connections

Kevin Wallace promised his dying friend Bill Cunningham 17 years ago that he’d look after his beloved wife, Sally. The two families had shared an old Victorian home in Crystal Lake, Illinois, 26 years ago, with the Cunninghams on the top level and the Wallaces on the bottom. The Cunninghams and Wallaces, as close as blood families, have gotten together regularly since Bill died. The coronavirus threatened but couldn’t crimp the tradition. Friendship won out. By Amie Schaenzer on Algonquin-Lake In The Hills Patch.

2020 Grads, You’re Not Forgotten

Their final year in high school has been anti-climactic for the Class of 2020. Their proms are canceled, there’s no senior honors night, and the crowning ceremony of them all — graduation — is a non-event. But in Braintree, Massachusetts, and around the country, people are finding unique ways to show graduates they’re proud. By Jimmy Bentley on Braintree Patch.

“This, Too, Shall Pass”

From a 101-year-old’s lips to your ears come these encouraging words: “This, too, shall pass.” Rose Leigh-Manuel survived the Great Depression, the turmoil of World War II and now the new coronavirus. She attributes her long life to “a combination of living right and having a good attitude.” By Jacqueline Sweet on Sayville-Bayport Patch.

This Feeds Everyone’s Soul

Coronavirus shutdowns have devastated the restaurant industry, leaving millions of low-wage unemployed and potentially throwing more people into homelessness. In California, which has more homeless residents than any other state, a massive effort is underway in one city to keep restaurant workers employed while feeding people experiencing homelessness, isolation and food insecurity. By Nicole Charky on Culver City Patch.

Grandpa Behind Glass

W. David Langston’s days haven’t been the same since the coronavirus pandemic caused necessary restrictions to his Florida nursing home. The 72-year-old understands, but “hates it” and is “bored out of his mind,” his daughter-in-law says. His wife can’t can’t take him out five times a week, as she did for family dinners and other functions before the lockdown. But the family is adjusting, even if Langston’s grandkids can only say hello through a glass barrier. By D’Ann Lawrence White on Land O Lakes Patch.

‘Step Away From The Trough’

If you’re aghast to find you’ve put on the so-called “COVID 19-Pounds” after nesting and baking and eating everything in sight for five weeks, you’re not alone. Everyone from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to regular joes are battling snack-induced bulges. By Mark Konkol on Chicago Patch.

We Need Unicorns And Rainbows

Corey Jurgensen thinks so, too. And so do her neighbors in Florida. By D’ann Lawrence White on Seminole Heights Patch.

Earth Day, Part II

Nature is oblivious to the coronavirus crisis. In Arizona, a pair of nesting desert bald eagles has nestled into the crook of a giant saguaro cactus arm to raise their young, something never before documented in the only state with such cacti and the desert subspecies of the American bald eagle. By Beth Dalbey on Across Arizona Patch.

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