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The COVID-19 Global Pandemic

As infection and death rates continue to climb in the U.S. and globally, Americares is using every resource to fight the pandemic – from critical protective supplies to education, training and other support for our staff and partners here at home and around the world. We focus on frontline health workers (more than 7,000 have died already in the global pandemic), keeping them safe so they can continue to do life-saving work for patients with COVID-19 and those patients in need of other essential health services and ongoing care for life-threatening conditions. Many at risk live in vulnerable communities that suffer from a deadly inequality, especially in access to health care.

Active Emergency
January 30, 2020

The Crisis
Get the Facts

The coronavirus outbreak that was first reported in Wuhan China in December 2019 soon exploded into a Global Pandemic according to the World Health OrganizationCOVID-19, the official name of the disease caused by the virus (SARS-CoV-2), continues its deadly spread with new hot zones emerging every week.

Health workers at Community Health Clinic in Chicago

Latest on COVID-19 Pandemic

Even as portions of the U.S. and many countries work to re-open in phases after many weeks of shutdowns, COVI9-19 rolls on, often at record rates, infecting millions of people globally and killing hundreds of thousands. The pandemic intensifies its onslaught in some countries amid progress in regions that emerge from lock-downs. Brazil, India, Russia and Peru follow the U.S. as the countries leading in infection rate. This highly contagious virus kills some and spares others, presenting symptoms that are unprecedented and unpredictable. It defies limited means of controlling its spread which further complicates the process of opening up communities. New York State, for example, has managed to bring the rate of infection and death under control (going from the highest rate of infection in the nation to the lowest) just as new hot spots of infection emerged in Florida, Georgia, California and Texas. States in the Northeast achieved success in fighting the spread by applying stringent mandates, while a number of states continued to record increases as they relaxed control measures and prematurely opened businesses and activities (22 states reported increased infection rates in the past week). The re-opening of some schools and other efforts to resume normal activities present new challenges to local authorities navigating uncharted waters.

The wearing of masks, proper hand washing and social distancing remain the best weapons against infection. They work. Please click on the arrow and see the video of one of our health workers in Colombia teaching a very young fellow proper hand-washing skills.

Currently 30.2 million infections and 950,000 deaths have been reported in 188 countries and regions. The number of confirmed cases has reached 6.7 million with the death toll at 200,000 in the U.S., where it has proven most lethal in predominantly Black neighborhoods that face systemic inequality including lack of access to quality health care. The total number of those infected in the U.S. doubled in a month, and now accounts for more than one quarter of all cases reported worldwide. As it rages in poor communities, it also threatens catastrophic growth in countries with the most fragile health systems. In both rich and poor countries, the virus exposes and exploits every weak point in the health infrastructure. Where you live may help determine whether you live or die. Confronting this health inequity crisis is at the heart of Americares response.

This page is updated daily.

Read the COVID Pandemic Story

A Global Crisis

Global Pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak that was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan China exploded into a Global Pandemic – spreading like flood waters finding any and every opening to infect and kill

According to an NPR virus tracker COVID-19, the official name of the disease caused by the virus (SARS-CoV-2) registered its first confirmed cases outside China on Jan. 20, in Japan, Thailand and South Korea.  On Jan. 21, the first case in the U.S. was identified in Washington state. On Jan. 24, the first two European cases were confirmed in France. By Feb. 1, eight European nations had confirmed cases of COVID-19, and a month later that count had risen to 24 countries with at least 2,200 cases, most of them in Italy. On March 11 as Italy surpassed 10,000 cases, China, the original epicenter, began to see a drop in cases of infection.  March also saw a rapid spread of the virus throughout the U.S., with all 50 states reporting cases by March 17.  The world took three months to reach the mark of 100,000 reported infections. The second 100,000 were added in just 12 days.

The danger to health systems is a central concern, particularly the vulnerability of health workers; thousands of health workers have been infected and many have died as health facilities become overwhelmed by the numbers of patients. Of the more that 7,000 health worker deaths that have been officially recorded, the largest number have occurred in Mexico and the U.S. (more than 1,000 in each country).

Keeping a human face on staff member at Magdalena clinic in Colombia
Keeping a human face on staff members at Magdalena clinic in Colombia

Of the 188 countries/regions infected, the U.S. faces the largest outbreak. Spain and Italy in the early stages of the pandemic had a much higher death rate, reflecting an aging population – the virus is most deadly to the elderly and those with underlying health issues. Countries taking an early systematic approach to stemming the outbreak (such as Australia and New Zealand) saw a leveling off and decline in reported cases, highlighting the impact of prevention and protection programs while other countries such as Brazil and Russia that have been slower to respond continue to see the infection rate accelerate. Italy and Spain shut down as the outbreak intensified and other countries closed their borders, steps that slowed the spread and offered a cautious path toward reopening.

The rapid growth in death toll and infection rate in the U.S reached every state with the country leading all nations in the number of reported cases of COVID-19 and the highest death toll from the virus. The U.S soon reported more cases than the next 3 countries combined.  Watch the video of Americares Chief Medical Officer Dr. Julie Varughese describing the virus.

The Pandemic in the U.S.

Soon after one of the first U.S. cases was reported in Washington State on January 21, another significant outbreak followed in Westchester County NY where a “containment zone” was established – a hot spot that began with one infected person. The swift decision to implement more stringent measures, including closing businesses and all but essential services, self-quarantines, masks, testing, tracing, social distancing and strong shelter-in-place recommendations in both Washington State and the Westchester communities slowed the rate of infection in those early outbreaks.

New York City soon became the major national hot zone and New York state the epicenter of the outbreak with more reported infections than any country. As the rate of infection and death toll increased in the U.S., many states including California, New York, Illinois, Ohio and Louisiana issued the “shelter-in- place” order. Communities throughout the country restricted all gatherings and encouraged people to limit social interaction and stay home to slow the progression of the pandemic. States and cities cancelled major events, conferences and other large gatherings while closing all businesses deemed non-essential and banning most events.

Decisions by some state and local leaders to keep strong measures in place to contain the virus for an extended period led to a leveling off and a significant decline in the infection and death rates in a handful of states. New York state implemented a phased reopening in regions that achieved certain benchmarks of lowered infection and fatality rates, while at the same time new hot spots emerge in many states as the pandemic continues its deadly spread. The new outbreaks have led to travel restrictions into states that have achieved a sharp decline in infection and death rates.

Loading shipment of masks for health workers
Loading shipment of masks for health workers

One of the most disturbing aspects of the pandemic is its disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, particularly predominantly Black neighborhoods where social and economic inequality, a greater incidence of underlying health conditions and lack of access to health care have contributed to an alarming disparity in infection rates and deaths. The continuing nationwide protests against systemic racism have given the entire issue a major role in the pandemic narrative.

Medical experts had cautioned that a premature reopening and lack of government mandates could lead to a resurgence of infections which has happened in some states. The disease remains relentless, striking government leaders, top athletes and celebrities right along with health and other essential workers on the front lines of the service economy. The death of more than 1000 health workers already in the U.S., brutally underlines the critical importance of adequate supplies of protective equipment and infection prevention supplies, as well as training in their use.

Watch the video as Dr. Julie describes the risk and why strong preventive measures are so important to flatten the curve.

Get Facts from Trusted Resources

Information you can trust.

Americares is combating the spread of disinformation and promoting science and healthy behaviors that can help stem the spread of the virus. The first and most important response to a disease outbreak is to get good information. Get the facts, not fear and fight the “infodemic”. Stay up to date on what is happening from other trusted sources:

Expert Sources

For those who prefer podcast format, experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health offer science and evidence-based insights on the public health news of the day. The current focus is the novel coronavirus: Subscribe to Public Health on Call on your favorite podcast platform.

Getting the Facts by the Numbers

Johns Hopkins interactive map tracking the disease spread globally. Visit this excellent resource.

And a “homemade” aggregator website put together by a single enterprising programmer that has become a valued, accessible data source.

The COVID Racial Data Tracker is a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project and the Antiracist Research & Policy Center. Click here for the most complete race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 in the United States.

NPR: Tracking the global spread of the outbreak – follow this regularly updated map and timeline.

Washington Post: How Do We Build Herd Immunity? Click here to learn how it happens>

Resources for Health Centers

Americares also offers this useful resource for health workers and our health center partners around the country who serve the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit our clinic resource page.

Please Help Now

Please Donate

This Pandemic Hits the Most Vulnerable the Hardest. The Need is Great.

Our Response
What are we doing?

Americares Vice President of Global Program Operations Martha Kennard inspects a shipment of 300,000 KN95 masks for health workers in New York City.

Delivering Critical Supplies…

Americares is delivering protective supplies – masks, gowns, gloves and disinfectants – as well as leading support groups and skill-building workshops for health workers in COVID-19 hot spots. Our global distribution network has provided 10 million units of protective equipment and infection-prevention supplies to health facilities in 23 countries, including: the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, St. Lucia, and Tanzania, Venezuela, Yemen and the United States.

In the U.S. alone, Americares has delivered nearly 200 tons of protective supplies to health facilities in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands. Our aid includes more than 2.5 million masks, 129,000 gloves, 40,000 gowns and other supplies. Most recently, we have delivered 20 tons of personal protective equipment, infection-control supplies and hygiene products for Native American communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about the shipments of critically needed supplies to the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation.

More international and domestic shipments are planned. Click here for the most recent list of our U.S. partners who have received supplies.

Americares global network of health care partners depends on the continuity of regular shipments of medicine and supplies from our distribution center. The most vulnerable in these communities have no other access to care. To that end our distribution center staff continue their efforts to maintain the critical lifeline while keeping the staff safe.

Photo from our Distribution Center preparing emergency shipments.

Watch the video of our Distribution Center in action!

Nursing assistant taking blood pressure of patient at an Americares clinic in Colombia

…and Providing Clinical Care

Americares is continuing to care for patients at its primary care clinics in Colombia, Connecticut and El Salvador and referring patients with suspected COVID-19 infections for testing. In Connecticut our clinics are using telehealth services to care for patients.

Our top concern is the capacity of under-resourced health centers to respond to the pandemic. Americares is training health workers in infection prevention and control, disaster preparedness and mental health and psychosocial support. To date, Americares has hosted 170 training sessions attended by nearly 26,000 participants. We are developing and utilizing COVID-19 specific training modules to ensure health workers treating critically ill patients are equipped to manage their own stress and anxiety, as well as support patients and caregivers who rely on them. Americares has trained more than 8.000 participants in psychological first aid and coping skills to handle fear, stress and anxiety.

We have provided communities with infrastructure improvements, such as over 270 hand-washing stations, supporting partners in Haiti, Colombia, Malawi, Bahamas, and Philippines

Americares knows from a long history of disaster response that maintaining primary care services during crisis is critical to saving lives and restoring health.

Watch the video with Nurse Practitioner Mary Beth Fessler on treating patients at Americares Free Clinics during the pandemic.

Providing Training and Resources

Resources for Health Centers

Americares offers this useful resource for health workers and our health center partners around the country who serve the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit our clinic resource page.

Institutional partners supporting our COVID-19 response

Americares thanks you

Americares Thanks You

Thank you to the following institutional partners for their support of Americares COVID-19 response:

Americares Emergency Response Partners

Aetna Foundation
The Alexion Charitable Foundation
The AmerisourceBergen Foundation
Avangrid Foundation
Baxter International Foundation
Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
Dutch Bros Coffee
Global Impact
Kyowa Kirin
Legg Mason Global Asset Management
New York Football Giants
Novo Nordisk
Rural India Supporting Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
UBS Optimus
Xylem Watermark

Your Response
What can you do?

Protecting Yourself and Others from the Virus

Protect Others

We work with a dedicated and experienced staff, a global network of health care partners, corporate partners and donors. The success of this unprecedented fight against a global pandemic relies on the coordinated efforts of federal, state and local authorities, global and local non-profits, community action and most of all you.

You have the greatest power to change the course of this global disaster: Wear a mask, keep social distancing (remember the 6-foot rule), and wash your hands thoroughly and properly (for 20 seconds). It will protect you, your family and your community.

And you can do one other important thing: Fight the “infodemic” by getting the facts, sharing the facts and following the science (which means following the three steps just mentioned). We can do this.

Protect Yourself

Prevention and protection come down to individual actions to keep everyone safer. Those actions are the key to controlling the pandemic. Remember to be vigilant even as your community opens up.  No vaccine or proven treatments exist yet. The virus has not gone away. It remains highly contagious, and it waits for any opportunity. Don’t give it one.

Download a useful guide on proper hand washing and other preventive tips right now. It might be a lifesaver.

Haga clic aquí por un guía de lavado de manos—podría salvar su vida. Hag clic aquí.

“Because public health measures are really only as good as the public using them and implementing them, or at least the majority. I’d say that especially with this outbreak, this is something that we’re all in on together. It’s not just about my risk or my family’s risk, you know, and that kind of individual piece, this is something where we’re working as a community.”

Dr. Julie Varughese 
child at India school learning how to properly wash hands
Child at India school learning how to properly wash hands

Protecting your Mental Health

Protect your Mental Health

A third of Americans report signs of clinical anxiety or depression in a US Census Bureau poll, documenting COVID-19’s alarming impact on mental health.

Watch mental health experts discuss and share mental health issues that arise during a crisis along with tips from Mental Health professional Lisa LaDue about relieving stress in difficult times.

Lisa Ladue, mental health expert, working in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian
Lisa Ladue, mental health expert, working in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian
Take Action. Slow the Spread of COVID. Share the 3 Steps on Social. Do it now.
Training session for health workers

Our History Responding to Disease Outbreaks.

Americares has extensive experience with outbreaks including in response to Ebola in West Africa and DRC, Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as recent outbreaks of Measles and Dengue so we are ready to respond as the situation evolves. The organization has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in warehouses in the United States, Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis.