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The COVID-19 Global Pandemic

Last Page Update: 9.23.22 at 8:50 a.m. ET

Status

Active Emergency

Date

January 30, 2020

Region

Global

Globally, now into the third year of the Pandemic, COVID-19 deaths have exceeded 6 million (and probably much higher according to W.H.O.). Americares continues to provide access to protective supplies and other critical support for our staff, partners and the people they serve here at home and around the world. As new subvariants spread, vaccines work to limit the worst of COVID, and preventive measures continue to be important. Even if you are fully vaccinated (including boosters), remain vigilant. When in doubt, mask up, wash up. And get the shot if you have not. Please. Restrictions may be lifted and the Pandemic may seem over for some, but COVID is not done with us yet, no matter how badly we want it to end. (source: JHU)

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Health Workers Have Died

In the global pandemic

We focus on frontline health workers. More than 115,000 (est. from W.H.O.) have died and possibly many more in the Global Pandemic. Keeping them safe is critical so they can continue to do life-saving work for low-income patients with COVID-19 and those in need of other essential health services and ongoing care for life-threatening conditions. Many at risk live in and serve communities that are vulnerable to a daily and deadly inequality, especially in access to health care. In addition to PPE and other critical supplies, we have provided mental health support for health workers pushed to and beyond their limits. We all can help health workers who put their lives on the line to keep us safe by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in any situation that involves greater risk of exposure. Caring for health begins with caring for each other.

Crisis Logo

The Crisis

The Facts

The COVID-19 outbreak, first reported in Wuhan China in December 2019 exploded into a Global Pandemic within weeks. In the third year of the Pandemic, as “pandemic fatigue” pushes many to put aside preventive measures, progress is evident and vaccines have saved many lives. The science keeps learning more, but at the same time, so does the virus. Stay informed. Stay vigilant.

Latest on COVID-19 Pandemic

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Million

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in 192 countries and regions

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deaths

have been reported worldwide

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infections

have been reported in the U.S.

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deaths

have been reported in the U.S.

Into the Third Year of the Global Pandemic

Now into a third Pandemic year, we have not reached the end. More than one million people have died in the U.S. and many more millions around the world. The losses are almost incalculable and sadly, many could have been avoided. One thing we have learned is the value and importance of good information that we can trust. All that information can be daunting, especially as science learns more about the virus and the virus also “learns more” about changing. This page is offered as a way to access facts about COVID-19. Please take the time to consider and learn more about the current state and history of this often deadly disease. Knowledge and trust are two of the most powerful tools we have in fighting the Pandemic. You check the weather forecast regularly, and in this third year, it is worth your time to check in on the latest Pandemic report as well. We update this page regularly as new information becomes available. Please share it.

We are still living with COVID-19.  Many people are still getting ill and dying every week.
Facts about COVID from the World Health Organization

The Pandemic is Not Over Yet

Suspension of pandemic precautions and misinformation about the pandemic imply that COVID-19 is “near the end.” On the contrary, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that these factors, combined with the more transmissible Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, have caused an increase in COVID-19 cases globally. While the Pandemic may seem over for some, it is not over for many.
Read more about the cautionary view from WHO.

Even as more than 263 million people have received a first shot of vaccine in the U.S. and as states and countries remove restrictions, the Pandemic persists in the face of conflict in Ukraine and the threats posed by more extreme weather events – in much the same way that the deadly 1918 influenza raged while the world was at war. Such crises actually increase the threat of a resurgence of COVID in the affected regions. Although more than 79% of the total U.S. population has received at least the first dose of vaccine, the rate of vaccine hesitancy in some areas severely hampered prevention efforts, particularly in the number of people receiving at least one booster. In a world weary of the Pandemic, the reimplementation of safety measures has met significant resistance. The new variants have proven to be more easily spread than measles, which had previously been the most contagious of all viruses.

Vaccines, however, offer the most hopeful view of the Pandemic. And the booster shot becomes more important with the spread of BA.5. And updated vaccines now provide an even more effective booster.

Americares staff member holds sign announcing that she has been vaccinated.
Americares Puerto Rico staff received the Covid-19 vaccine in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Jan. 15, 2021. (Photo/ Alejandro Granadillo)

Nearly 20 million lives were saved by COVID-19 vaccines during their first year of implementation, according to a new study. The researchers concluded that 600,000 more deaths could have been prevented if international immunization targets of 40% had been met by the end of 2021. The data spanned 185 countries and territories. READ MORE about the vaccine success.

“From the start of the US vaccination campaign through the end of November 2021, Covid-19 vaccines prevented about 1.1 million deaths and 10.3 million hospitalizations in the United States, according to estimates by the health care foundation The Commonwealth Fund.” Read more about lives saved in this Vox report.

Masking, handwashing and avoiding large gatherings continue to be important in combating COVID-19. And while the CDC relaxed and removed mask-wearing requirements indoors by those who are fully vaccinated (currently 67% of the U.S. population – only 48% of eligible population are vaccinated with one booster), it is more important then ever for those who are not yet vaccinated to stay vigilant, continue to observe basic safety measures and get vaccinated.

Global COVID Snapshot

World deaths from COVID have reached more than 6 million (with experts including W.H.O estimating a much higher toll). Resistance to vaccine and mask mandates continues to challenge progress in defeating this highly contagious virus. Nearly 15 million more people died during the first two years of the Pandemic than has been reported, the W.H.O. found. READ MORE about this new report on the COVID death toll in this CNN story.

Compounding the catastrophic death toll, more than 10.5 million children have lost one or both of their parents during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly double the previous estimates, according to a research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics. Southeast Asia and Africa suffered the greatest rate of losses, with one out of every 50 children affected. In the Americas, this number dropped to one out of 150 children. Children in countries with lower vaccination rates and higher numbers of children per mother were more likely to be affected. READ MORE about the loss of parents.

U.S. COVID Status as Deaths Surpass 1 Million

The U.S. has averaged more than 54,000 new infections every day in the past week, according to the CDC COVID data tracker. The latest Omicron subvariants – with BA.5 and BA.4 the most dominant – are highly transmissible but less severe for those who have been vaccinated. As infection rates in many states rose, the mortality rate is recording more than 340 deaths per day; more than one million people in the United States have died from COVID-19 (the near equivalent of the entire population of Jacksonville, Florida). Last year, on September 20, 2021, the US marked an earlier grim milestone in the fight against COVID-19, recording more American deaths from COVID-19 than the 1918 flu – making COVID-19 the most deadly pandemic in American history. For a local view of infection rates in your community, visit COVID-19 Community Levels from the CDC.

Vaccine Hesitancy

Although three successfully tested, safe and free vaccines are in widespread use in the United States, and a fourth has been given emergency authorization and CDC approval, the rate of vaccination has slowed considerably. Seventeen states still report that less than 60% of their population are fully vaccinated. Health authorities address vaccine hesitancy as a significant barrier to community immunization. They are hopeful that the approval of a fourth more conventional vaccine will encourage those people who are hesitant to get vaccinated.

The wearing of masks and proper hand washing remain proven weapons against infection for those who have not received the vaccine and mask wearing is still important for those who have received the vaccine as well.  The science is clear. They work. Prevention and getting vaccinated are both necessary to stop COVID-19. In addition, the booster shot is another important level of protection. To learn more about the global story of the pandemic, open the ” Trusted Resources” below.

Health Inequity

Unequal access to COVID-19 treatments threatens the global recovery. Read this account in The Conversation.

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 combined with a shrinking safety net for critical public services. According to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, COVID has had a deadly impact on Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color with Black people dying at twice the rate of white people. Authorities also saw significant disparities in vaccination rates from zip code to zip code within communities, often reflecting economic and social inequities in those same populations. 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. Fortunately the disparity in black and neighborhoods of color in the U.S. for the COVID response has diminished due to significant health system efforts to address the issue, but many of the basic causes of health inequity remain.

Global health inequity retains its deadly potential in communities of color with poor health care access as vaccine distribution lagged dangerously behind better-resourced neighbors. As an example, 80% of people in high-income countries have been vaccinated, but just 16% of people in low-income countries are. Vaccine hesitancy is also playing a significant role in countries and in communities in the U.S. where in the past the public health system has failed the people, leading to a historic mistrust of authorities. This lack of trust also highlights the importance of robust information and public education campaigns to promote vaccination. The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought new attention to the health equity crisis on a national and global scale and the complexity of building solutions.

CDC and Other Updates – Unmask the Facts

FDA & CDC okay Novavax’s Vaccine

The U.S. FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine to help prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19 in adults 18 years old and older. Overall, the vaccine was 90.4% effective in preventing mild, moderate, or severe COVID-19. The Novavax . READ MORE about the latest vaccine.

Pregnancy-related Misinformation

Misinformation has hindered vaccine uptake among pregnant women. A recent poll found that one in seven adults (14%) have heard that pregnant women should not get the COVID-19 vaccine and believe it to be true, rising to nearly one in four (24%) among women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. READ MORE about this lingering misinformation.

Power of the Booster

The CDC now urges everyone 12 years old and older to get an updated booster shot. They should do so at least 2 months after they complete their primary series or 2 months after they received their most recent booster shot. The updated Pfizer-BioNTech booster can be used in people as young as 12, and the Moderna booster can be used in those who are 18 and older. People 12 and older who got the Novavax or Moderna primary series can also get an updated booster shot 2 months after their last dose. READ MORE about the booster recommendations.

Three studies published by the CDC show that COVID-19 booster shots provide the best protection against the Omicron variant and the new subvariants. One of the studies found that the booster shot was 90% effective at preventing COVID-19-associated emergency department or urgent care visits and hospitalizations during both the Delta and Omicron surges. All three studies found that unvaccinated people faced the highest risks of becoming sick with COVID-19. READ MORE about the power of the booster…

The findings of a new study show that not only are vaccinations and boosting important for lowering individual risk of infection, but they also aid in controlling COVID-19 within a larger population. The vaccines and booster shots at both the individual and population level are critically important to limiting virus transmission. READ MORE about the impact of vaccination levels.

Urging Vaccinations for Children

More than 40% of parents who have children 6 months to 4 years old say that they will “definitely not” get their child vaccinated against COVID-19. Only 7% of parents have gotten their kids in this age group at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Scientists and medical experts have worked hard to ensure the vaccine is safe for these young kids. The COVID-19 virus, on the other hand, can be very dangerous to them. It was a leading cause of death among young kids during the pandemic. READ MORE about vaccine hesitancy affecting children.

The CDC now recommends that all children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This expands eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children and means that all Americans ages 6 months and older are now eligible for vaccination. Parents and caregivers can now get their children 6 months through 5 years of age vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to better protect them from COVID-19. READ MORE about the recommendation.

The CDC recommends that all children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old receive a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 5 months after they’ve completed their primary series. All Americans over the age of 5 are now recommended to receive their first booster shot after a certain amount of time has passed (2 months for J&J recipients, 3 months for immunocompromised people 5 years old and older, and 5 months for everyone else). READ MORE about the booster recommendation for children.

The CDC officially recommended that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine be used as an option for children ages 6 through 17 years old. This means that the Moderna vaccine—in different dosages—is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. The CDC’s recommendation comes after a thorough review of the scientific evidence demonstrating the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, and it
supports the use of this vaccine in people 6 to 17 years old. READ MORE about the Moderna recommendation.

As U.S. students begin the 2022-2023 school year, Americans are mostly divided on whether students at all levels of education should be required to have COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of in-person attendance. READ MORE about children, parents and vaccination.

Federal Reports on Long COVID

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released two new reports on Long COVID. The National Research Action Plan on Long COVID details advances in current research and charts a course for future study. The Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts of COVID-19 report highlights resources for health care workers, and those effected by broader effects of COVID-19, including not only Long COVID but also effects on mental health and substance use, and loss of
caregivers and loved ones. READ MORE about COVID long term effects.

Children and Adolescents also at Risk

Compared to patients aged 0–17 years old who had not been infected by COVID-19, those who had previously been infected showed higher rates of rare or uncommon conditions. These conditions included acute pulmonary embolism, myocarditis and cardiomyopathy, venous
thromboembolic event, acute and unspecified renal failure, and type 1 diabetes. COVID-19 vaccination for all persons 6 months old and older is critical to reducing the impact of post-COVID conditions among these age groups. READ MORE about post-COVID in children.

Reminder on Mask Quality

CDC has clarified that some types of masks and respirators provide more protection to the wearer against COVID-19 than others. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection. Overall, CDC recommends wearing the most protective mask that you can, ensuring that the mask fits well, and finding one that can be worn consistently. READ MORE about the most effective masks.

Vaccine Update

CDC recommends Novavax COVID
vaccine for adolescents

The CDC announced that Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine can be used as another primary series option for adolescents ages 12 through 17. Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine provides a more familiar type of COVID-19 vaccine technology for adolescents. Having multiple types of vaccines offers more options and flexibility for the public and vaccine providers. No one who receives the Novavax vaccine in the U.S. is recommended to get a booster shot at this time, and it can’t be used as a booster shot for any age group. READ MORE about the Novavax vaccine.

The J&J COVID-19 vaccine is now only available to individuals 18 years of age and older who cannot receive an mRNA vaccine because mRNA vaccines are not accessible or clinically appropriate. Those with personal concerns about the mRNA vaccines can also still choose to get the J&J vaccine instead. The FDA has made this decision based on the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which they outline in their updated fact sheet. READ MORE about the FDA placing further limits on the use of the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster has been approved for 16-17 year-olds.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines have received full F.D.A. approval for adults. The Moderna vaccine was the most recent to receive full approval. READ MORE on the latest vaccine approvals…

In addition, new CDC guidelines allow people to “mix and match” which COVID-19 vaccine they take as a booster. A booster for Pfizer and Moderna recipients is now recommended 5 months after the second dose for people 65 and up and some younger adults. A booster for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people 18 and older at least two months after their initial dose. READ MORE about mixing vaccines….

Antiviral Pills

FDA regulators have authorized two antiviral medications to treat covid-19, one from Pfizer and a second from Merck. Both the Paxlovid pill from Pfizer and Merck’s Molnupiravir are considered useful tools in the fight against the coronavirus. In order to be effective, however, they must be given very early in an infection.

The FDA has revised the previous emergency use authorization (EUA) for Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and
ritonavir) so that state-licensed pharmacists can now prescribe the drug to eligible patients. Patients seeking to determine their eligibility must bring their health records from the past year, their most recent bloodwork, and a list of all their medications to their pharmacist. Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin. READ MORE about Paxlovid.

Rebound Effect

Reports of a rebound effect from some people who have used an antiviral medication have generated a closer look at the specifics of its use, according to a story from NPR. READ MORE about the rebound effect.

Disclaimer: This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant number 1 NU50CK000588-01-00. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.

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

Additional Information

Get Facts from Trusted Resources – on the Pandemic and COVID-19 Vaccines

Information you can trust

You have questions about COVID-19 vaccines? We have answers.

Americares continues to combat the spread of disinformation and promote 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.

How were COVID-19 vaccines made so quickly?
COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time because scientists built from decades of research; they were given a lot of resources; and regulators prioritized reviewing COVID-19 vaccine applications.
Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
No. These vaccines teach your cells to look like the virus. You might feel symptoms as your immune system responds to new proteins, but your body is just training to fight a real virus if it’s ever exposed.
What does FDA Emergency Authorization (EUA) mean?
An EUA is a way for the FDA to speed up how we mass produce vaccines and approve paperwork during an emergency. It doesn’t affect vaccine safety because it doesn’t change how we research and develop vaccines.
Do the COVID-19 vaccines affect DNA?
No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change DNA. They deliver instructions that make your cells look like the virus. These cells then act as “models” to help train your immune system against COVID-19.
Does the vaccine have a magnetic effect?
No. COVID-19 vaccines to not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of the injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals and will not make you magnetic.
Does the vaccine have a microchip?
No. The vaccine does not contain a microchip. The ingredients of the vaccine are safe and were evaluated in clinical trials.
Do I need to get the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Yes. It’s recommended that you get a COVID-19 vaccine even after you’ve recovered from COVID-19. Some studies have shown that vaccination strongly boosts protection in people who’ve previously contracted COVID-19.
Should I get vaccinated against COVID-19 if I am young and healthy?
Yes. Young and healthy people can still experience serious illness or death from COVID-19. Even if some people experience mild effects from COVID-19, they can still pass the virus along to people who could become seriously ill.
Is the vaccine safe for adolescents and children?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for their authorized age groups: 16 and up for Moderna and J&J, and 12 and up for Pfizer.
Can pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. If you are pregnant, it’s recommended that you receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can lower the risk.
Can women who are breastfeeding get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Lactating people can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines have not been studied extensively on lactating people, but there are no safety concerns.
Can I get the vaccine if I want to have children someday?
Yes. If you want to get pregnant now or in the future, you can still get a COVID-19 vaccine. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy or fertility.

Disclaimer: This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant number 1 NU50CK000588-01-00. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.

To find answers to more of your questions about vaccines visit the WHO vaccine tracker.

To track information on the various vaccines being developed for COVID-19 visit the New York Times vaccine tracker.

Getting the Facts by the Numbers

COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.  Visit this excellent resource.

Another important daily data source can be found at CDC COVID data tracker.

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>

Expert Sources

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.

Read a Brief 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, reported 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 became overwhelmed by the numbers of patients. Of the more that 115,000 health worker deaths that have been officially recorded, the largest number have occurred in Mexico and the U.S. (more than 3,600 in the U.S.). 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 192 countries/regions infected, the U.S. faced 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 had been slower to respond continued 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 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 led to travel restrictions into states that 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 predominantly Black, Indigenous and Latinx 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 continued 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 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 3,600 health workers 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.

Americares Logo

Our Response

What are we doing?

Americares goal is to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, Americares has focused our support on frontline health workers and the people they serve,

especially low-income, uninsured people in the United States and around the world.

Americares has provided access to critical supplies, support for ongoing health services and access to credible information.

01 | Delivering Critical Supplies

The Latest COVID Initiative: COVID Treatment Quick Start

The COVID Treatment Quick Start Consortium will support governments to introduce and scale up access to new and effective COVID-19 oral antiviral therapies in high-risk populations. The Consortium brings together Duke University, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), COVID Collaborative, and Americares as implementing partners, with support from the Open Society Foundations, Pfizer and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Partner countries include Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The project will kick-start programs through a donation by Pfizer of 100,000 courses of PAXLOVID™ (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir), for which the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a strong recommendation for use in high-risk individuals with mild to moderate COVID-19, administered within five days of symptom onset. Partners involved in the COVID Treatment Quick Start Consortium are committed to ensuring a more equitable scale-up of test-and-treat programs with antiviral medicines in low- and middle-income countries, to help address some of the challenges faced in the global scale up of vaccines.

Over the past two and a half years, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant global inequities in access to therapeutics, vaccines, testing, and other medical interventions that could limit the range and impact of the disease. Access to treatment has become an urgent need to tackle alongside persistently low primary vaccination and booster rates in many countries. New antiviral medicines such as PAXLOVID and molnupiravir have been available in high-income countries since late 2021 but are not yet widely available in low- and middle-income countries. In addition, scale-up of self-testing for COVID-19 in these settings will enable even more effective approaches.

Over the next 18 months, the Quick Start Consortium will catalyze implementation of test-and-treat programs and operational research in partner countries to pave the way for quality assured, low-cost generic equivalent drugs. Read more about the Consortium Project.

Continuing Support

Americares continues to deliver protective supplies – masks, gowns, gloves and disinfectants. Our global distribution network has provided more than 18 million units of protective equipment and infection-prevention supplies for health workers worldwide. Americares has provided support to 993 partner organizations in 46 countries. The supplies helped protect health workers and patients from infection and ensure facilities could stay open and provide essential health services that low-income communities depend on. For some, Americares deliveries were their only source of items like gloves and masks; for others, the donations were critical budget relief during a time of instability.

In the U.S. alone, Americares delivered hundreds of tons of protective supplies to health facilities in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands. Our support included 35 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.

International and domestic shipments continue. 

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.

With the pandemic in its third year, Americares continues to address the gaps that most affect disadvantaged communities. This has included continuity of quality health services and access to essential medicine and supplies. This work becomes more complex and even more important as we respond to manmade and climate change related disasters such as the conflict in Ukraine and extreme weather events in the U.S. and around the world.

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

Responding on Many Fronts

Americares has worked on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response in the US where we have been needed. For example, In response to an urgent request from FEMA, Americares mobilized three medical professionals to support Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) Health Services’ COVID-19 response. CPN Health Services is located in Oklahoma and services patients who are either Native American, have a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CBID), or are a CPN service provider. Americares three medical professionals helped to administer COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 booster shots to eligible populations, COVID-19 testing, and flu vaccinations. The two health clinics operated by CPN Health Services (East and West) provide health care services, including COVID-19 vaccination and testing, to Native populations including but not limited to Potawatomi, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation and the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma.

Americares response team of medical professionals provided daily assistance, allowing tribal leadership and FEMA to identify a longer term staffing plan.

Nurse preparing to administer a vaccine at tribal health center
Nurse preparing to administer a vaccine at a Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) Health Center

Continued Care

Americares has provided primary care services at its clinics in Connecticut, Colombia, El Salvador and its mobile health centers in India throughout the pandemic. In the Americares clinics health workers are helping to identify suspected COVID-19 infections and referring patients for testing and related treatment.  In our El Salvador clinic location, we provided rapid antigen testing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the barriers to care that low-income uninsured people experience every day. With clinics closed or on reduced hours early in the Pandemic, patients who already struggled to access care risked complications and even death from untreated chronic diseases and other health problems. Americares COVID-19 response helped ensure that patients at both Americares-own clinics and those of our partners had safe access to health services.

In Colombia, India and the United States, Americares clinics quickly pivoted from in-person appointments to telehealth services in response to government restrictions, opening when rules allowed. Americares clinics in Colombia, and El Salvador closed temporarily and then were able to restore in-person care, adhering to strict safety protocols for staff and patients.  In response to the devastating COVID-19 surge in India, Americares India, which normally operated seven mobile health centers in the slum communities of Mumbai, faced an extraordinary surge in the Pandemic across the country in 2021 and expanded its support for hospitals overwhelmed by the surge. Americares India team supported 242 dedicated COVID-19 treatment facilities in 32 states and union territories with life-saving medical equipment and desperately needed personal protective equipment. Learn more about the Americares India response.

Overall, more than one million patient visits, including telehealth, have been managed in Colombia, El Salvador, India, Peru and the U.S. (Connecticut) since the start of the Pandemic. 

Supporting Health Centers and Health Workers

Our top concern has been the capacity of under-resourced health centers to respond to the pandemic. Americares has trained health workers in infection prevention and control, disaster preparedness and mental health and psychosocial support. Americares hosted 718 training sessions attended by nearly 46,000 participants. Americares has trained more than 26,000 participants in psychological first aid and coping skills to handle fear, stress and anxiety.

To reinforce vaccine confidence among health care personnel, and in turn the patients and communities they serve, Americares is supporting and will continue to promote a range of efforts to build COVID-19 vaccine confidence among our health center networks and the broader public. Vaccine confidence training and education sessions continue to be provided to health workers and key stakeholders across Africa and the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the United States. The CDC Reinforcing COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence project was launched to build and reinforce COVID-19 vaccine confidence among healthcare personnel in the safety net sector in the U.S. and in turn the patients they serve. In addition, the “Wear A Mask” campaign generated more than 2 million engagements on Social Media and 42,000 streams of the Wear A Mask song.

Other ongoing work includes:

— Grant support to partners who are implementing COVID response, prevention or misinformation work, such as Birat Medical Trust in Nepal for purchase of PPE, hygiene supplies and surge support lab personnel and support to Misean Cara supporting multiple partners in Africa on various COVID projects.

— Support for vaccination efforts: COVID vaccination in the Philippines; COVID vaccinate-with-confidence work in the US including ECHO sessions for free and charitable clinic staff; COVID vaccination awareness/uptake work in Tanzania.

The Importance of WASH

Without running water, it’s nearly impossible for staff and patients to follow safety protocols so, in 10 countries, Americares collaborated with local health partners to improve water infrastructure. We have provided communities with hundreds of water infrastructure improvements, including hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations. In every location where Americares has provided hand-washing stations, we have also done community education and outreach on hygiene. We continue to support WASH interventions with emphasis on health workers providing quality of care.

In Peru, Americares provided surge medical support in Peru from June 2020 through March 2021 to support health facilities overwhelmed by the pandemic. Americares relief workers also provided rapid COVID-19 testing in partnership with VIDA Peru, at mobile clinics in communities with high rates of COVID-19 in Lambayeque, Lima and Piura and reached over 200,000 people with COVID-19 health education throughout the duration of the project. Additionally, Americares psychologists provided mental health consultations.

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

Two women at a reception desk with one holding a phone to her ear.

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

AbbVie
Aetna Foundation
The Alexion Charitable Foundation
The AmerisourceBergen Foundation
Avangrid Foundation
Baxter International Foundation
Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
Cisco
Dutch Bros Coffee
Emergen-C
FirstRespondersFirst
GE
Global Impact
Kyowa Kirin
Legg Mason Global Asset Management
Medtronic
Peacock
New York Football Giants
Novartis
Novo Nordisk
P&G
Rural India Supporting Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
UBS Optimus
Xylem Watermark
Your Response logo

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, even after two years, 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: Get the vaccine (and a booster), wear a mask, and wash your hands thoroughly and properly (for 20 seconds). And using a higher quality mask offers much more protection. It will help to keep you, your family and your community safe. Even with mandates ending, the Pandemic is still with us. Be cautious and stay healthy.

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 steps just mentioned). We can do this.

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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 more and more people receive the vaccines. In spite of the progress in more than two years, we still have a long way to go before most people around the world receive the required doses. Some treatments for COVID have been approved but none offer a cure. The virus is not going away. In fact, it has returned in second and third waves with a vengeance along with new variants of the virus (Omicron and a new subvariant). It remains highly contagious, and it seizes any opportunity. Don’t give it one. Be relentless. Masks, social distance and hand washing/sanitizing remain as effective as ever and even more so even after receiving the vaccine and booster.

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 
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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. vimeo.com/showcase/mentalhealthindisasters

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.

Our Work:
Responding to The COVID-19 Global Pandemic

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