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The COVID-19 Global Pandemic

Last Page Update: 11.26.20 at 10:00 a.m.


Active Emergency


January 30, 2020



Globally, as infection and death rates reach staggering levels, 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. (source: JHU)



Front-line Health Workers Have Died

In the global pandemic

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.

The Crisis

The Facts

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

Latest on COVID-19 Pandemic




in 188 countries and regions




have been reported worldwide




have been reported in the U.S.



have been reported in the U.S.

Even as some states and countries re-opened in phases after months 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. India, Brazil, France and Russia follow the U.S. as the countries leading in infection rate with India rising to near the U.S. level. The situation worsens in Europe as a “second wave” emerges with France and Italy leading the way. 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. Some countries and states are reinstituting lockdowns to stem the explosion of new cases.

New York State, for example, had managed to bring the rate of infection and death under control (going from the highest rate of infection in the nation to the lowest at one point but now dealing with new hot spots) just as flareups emerged in the Midwest and South, especially in rural areas. 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 (more than 45 states reported increased infection rates in the past week and the Midwest is seeing record hospitalizations). Texas (now with more than 20,000 dead) became the first state to surpass one million cases and California soon followed. Other states such as Wisconsin, North and South Dakota have become serious hot spots. More lockdowns and restrictions loom as winter approaches.

The re-opening of some schools and other efforts to resume normal activities presented new challenges to local authorities navigating uncharted waters. The U.S. has averaged more than 170,000 new infections every day in the past week, while moving beyond 190,000 to establish a new daily record – according to the CDC COVID data tracker.

While the results of vaccine testing hold great promise, the rollout of a vaccine will be challenging, complex and lengthy. The wearing of masks, proper hand washing and physical distancing remain the best weapons against infection. They work. Please click on the arrow in the image below and see the video of one of our health workers in Colombia teaching a very young fellow proper hand-washing skills.

The pandemic has proven especially lethal in predominantly Black and other neighborhoods of color that face systemic inequality including lack of access to quality health care. According to data from the CDC as of Nov. 7, hospitalization rates for vulnerable communities recorded: Hispanic or Latino people are 4.2 times higher than that of white people; American Indian or Alaska Native people 4.1 times the rate; Black people hospitalized at 3.9 times the rate. The total number of those infected in the U.S. now accounts for nearly one fifth of all cases reported worldwide. As it rages in poor communities, it also threatens catastrophic growth in countries with large concentrations of urban poverty or 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 determine whether you live or die. Confronting this health inequity crisis is at the heart of Americares response.

Video of one of our health workers in Colombia teaching a very young fellow proper hand-washing skills

Additional Information

Read the COVID Global Pandemic History

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 1,200 in each country). A lack of consistent data on health workers has hampered efforts to report on the exact toll COVID-19 is having on health workers globally and in the U.S.

Keeping a human face on staff member at Magdlena clinic in Colombia
Keeping a human face on staff member 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 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. Countries such as New Zealand, Vietnam and Senegal have set a standard for controlling the outbreak early by quickly establishing and following strict disease control protocols.

Pandemic in the U.S.

Impact on Vulnerable Communities

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 1,200 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.

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”.  Understand the complexity of assembling data from a vast variety of global sources and consider using more than one source (and make sure it is a trusted source) to get a broader picture of what is happening day to day in the Pandemic:

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.

Researchers and Public Health Experts unite to bring clarity to key metrics guiding coronavirus response. This is a new resource about COVID risk levels in different locations to help guide personal decision-making. Click here to access this new information.

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.

Our Response

What are we doing?

01 — 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 11 million units of protective equipment and infection-prevention supplies to health facilities in 26 countries, including: the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, St. Lucia, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia 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.

Staff of the Americares global distribution center in Stamford, Conn., prepare a series of aid shipments for Armenia. Photo by Juan Santana/Americares

Watch the video of our Distribution Center in action!

02 — 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 231 training sessions attended by nearly 27,500 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, Tanzania, 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.

Additional Information

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?

Head nurse interviewing patient sitting at a table in Colombia clinic

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.


02 — Protect Yourself

A patient with respiratory symptoms is examined at the Americares Family Clinic in Santiago de Maria as part of Americares expanded COVID-19 response supported by USAID. Photo courtesy of Americares.

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 

03 — Protect Your Mental Health

photo of an elderly person's hand being comforted by the hands of an Americares team member.

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.

Join Us

Want to help? Join us in spreading awareness on social media of how to properly protect your family, your community and yourself. Visit our toolkit page to view infographics and other helpful sharing tools.

A woman in a face masks gets her temperature taken by two medical workers in full PPE gear.

Our History Responding to Disease Outbreaks.

Americares has extensive experience with outbreaks including in response to Ebola in West Africa and DRCZika 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.