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COVID-19 Updates #10



Earth Day 2020: Ways the Planet Has Been Impacted by COVID-19 

April 24, 2020

This week was the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, and while the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on humans and global economies, it has had profound and positive effects on our planet. From the air we breathe, to the animals we share the earth with, to the oceans and open spaces, environmental leaders say that the planet is getting an unprecedented chance to heal.


As a company in the travel industry, Assist America would not be in business if it were not for our beautiful Planet Earth. To celebrate this year’s Earth Day, our team wanted to share five important take-aways that shows how our planet has been affected by COVID-19.

1. Pollution at a record low during COVID-19

As factories have had to shut their doors or reduce their activity, cars have remained in parking garages, public transit has been cut back and international air travel dropped by 60%, experts have reported record-low pollution levels.

According to a recent report by IQAir, a global air quality information and tech company, metropoles that suffer from the worst air pollution have seen up to 60% reduction in the amount of deadly particulate matter known as PM 2.5. This pollutant is considered specifically dangerous and can lodge deep into the lungs, causing serious health risks.

Satellite data from the European Space Agency (ESA) also shows strong reductions in nitrogen dioxide concentrations coinciding with nationwide lockdowns in several major cities across Europe – including Paris, Madrid, and Rome.

2.  Dramatic Before/After Photos Show the Drop in Pollution

This decrease in pollution along with the halt in tourism can be clearly seen, sometimes as far as from space, in many top travel destinations. Click here for before and after images of top tourist sites and big cities around the world that have drastically changed over the last few weeks.

3.  Wildlife Comes Out of Hiding Reclaiming Urban Areas

Amid the Coronavirus lockdown, wildlife has begun to reclaim urban areas now that there are less humans out and about, either out of curiosity or to search for food. From a sea lion on the sidewalk of Buenos Aires, Argentina to a group of gray langurs roaming the deserted roads of Ahmedabad, India, it is surely a sight to see! Visit our website for more photos of wild animals taking over empty cities around the world.

4.  Taking Action to Heal our Planet

These positive byproducts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the earth can also be accredited to recent governmental regulations or small businesses pitching in to help with newfound “downtime.” From scuba tour companies volunteering to restore coral reefs to governments pledging to reduce car traffic post-lockdown, COVID-19 has been an eye opener on how humans are directly tied to pollution and climate change – and how quickly results can be experienced if we all change some of our daily habits. Check out our article to learn how some private companies and governments have taken steps towards more environment-friendly measures.
5.  The Downside of COVID-19 on the Environment

While we applaud these environmental achievements, communities around the world must find ways to keep the momentum going. As countries have started to ease their lockdown measures, the ESA and other environmental bodies are already reporting an increase in pollution levels. The recent lifts of quarantine measures in China shows how quickly emissions can bounce back. By the end of March, coal consumption and nitrogen dioxide pollution had returned to normal levels, according to the CREA (Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air).
Another area of concern is the increase in household waste and its management. Indeed, people around the world are now, and more than ever, using single-use masks and gloves to protect themselves and more cleaning wipes to disinfect their homes. Stores have reinstated the use of plastic bags and restaurants who are still serving patrons by offering takeout or delivery services are using more plastic containers. Finally, people are relying on online deliveries, thus adding to the use of plastic or other packaging materials. 


As the world comes out of this pandemic, policymakers will need to find ways to implement long-term, environmental-friendly actions to continue healing the planet. In parallel to the challenges and pain it has caused, COVID-19 has also brought clear skies and offers us a preview of what could come if sustained environmental efforts are implemented.


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