Things are looking brighter, and while we need to remain vigilant, we are also looking for the positive spots in this rotten pandemic. A couple weeks ago we wrote about a young couple buying and running the Espresso 58 coffee stand in the middle of COVID-19. What other businesses have launched and are beating the odds? Let us know, we’d like to point them out! Drop us a note at or call 541-484-0519.

  The U.S. reached the grim milestone of 500,000 COVID deaths in the U.S. this week, but because case counts have gone down (and vaccines continue to roll out) Lane County will move from extreme to high risk for COVID-19 for the first time since December, according to new data from Oregon Health Authority and confirmed by Gov. Kate Brown. This means starting Feb. 26, some businesses, including gyms and restaurants, can open with limited indoor capacity — but the virus is still out there. Here is a reminder that you can support restaurants by getting takeout and eating outside, and as far as crowding the gym goes, get outdoors! Nice spring weather is around the corner.

Lane County gets a new source of professionally reported and written news Sunday, Feb. 28, as goes live. The nonprofit subscription website will be led by former Register-Guard Managing Editor Doug Bates, a 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner. We welcome the new voices.

It turns out there are no “Styrofoam” cups. A letter we published Feb. 4 (“Let’s Ban Styrofoam”), calling for a Lane County ban on single-use polystyrene food containers, missed an important distinction, Dow Chemical Co. tells us. “Styrofoam” is Dow’s registered trademark for extruded polystyrene. Styrofoam, a Dow spokesman says, is not used to make disposable food containers, which are manufactured by other companies using a different material, expanded polystyrene. Food containers “are not and never have been made of Styrofoam brand extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam,” he says. We’ve corrected the letter online.

• Alas, another report about the tree that was cut down by vandals on the top of Spencer’s Butte comes from Aurore Moursund Maren, a Eugene native now living on Lopez Island, Washington. Last week we wrote about her idea to give the wood from the Douglas fir to local artist Tim Boyden to create a memorial for the tree. She writes that by the time Eugene Parks and Open Space was approached about this idea for the tree — which “was murdered,” she emphasizes — “the tree’s body had been justly distributed… buried, back into nature, its limbs and trunk distributed to be nesting material for birds and other wildlife.” Maren now suggests that “perhaps a collective outpouring of poems, photographs and stories could be gathered. Perhaps on a virtual forum… at first… then perhaps a show, an outdoor show, say, at Art in the Vineyard.” That sounds like a fine tribute to a fine tree. Let’s proceed.