Suggested Content

Coronavirus Global Pandemic

STATUS
Active Emergency
DATE
January 30, 2020
REGION
China and Global
Telehealth in Action at Americares Free Clinics

Latest Update on the Pandemic and Americares Response

Americares is using every resource to fight the COVID-19 pandemic from critical supplies to education, training and other support for our staff and partners here at home and around the world. We are focused on ensuring that frontline health workers can stay safe and continue to do lifesaving and lifechanging work on behalf of patients with COVID-19 and those in need of care for other essential health services and life-threatening conditions. We work with a dedicated and experienced staff, a global network of health care partners, corporate partners and donors. The success of this unprecedented endeavor will rely 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 power to change the course of this global disaster by following the basic steps of Preparedness, Prevention and Protection – the keys to slowing the infection rate of the global pandemic and keeping our health system from being overwhelmed. This means observing the basic steps of washing your hands, social distancing, covering your cough, and not touching your face. And the most important step now: Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.

Muguette Maignan, Clinic Director with Americares Free Clinics tells us about the use of Telehealth services at our clinics to care for the most vulnerable people in our community and protect our staff. Watch the video with our latest update.

This Pandemic Hits the Most Vulnerable the Hardest. The Need is Great. Please Give Now.
Dr. Julie at work in Haiti with a mobile medical unit

The Global Pandemic

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 coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan China earlier this year 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 rapid spread, reaching beyond the 1.26 million mark in reported infections and more than 69,000 deaths. Most of the deaths and most of those infected early on were in China, but that changed quickly as the global reach of the virus accelerated and the rate of infection in China declined and other countries surpassed China. Of great concern is the growing danger to health systems with the spread of the outbreak, particularly the vulnerability of health workers; country reports indicate that thousands of health workers have been infected as health systems become overwhelmed by the numbers of patients.

The virus is now reported in 182 countries/regions with the U.S., Spain, Italy, Germany, and France among the countries currently facing the largest outbreaks. It has become apparent that countries taking an early systematic and vigorous approach to stemming the outbreak are seeing a leveling off in reported cases, highlighting the impact of prevention and protection programs while other countries that have been slower to respond continue to see the infection rate accelerate. Italy declared a quarantine throughout the entire country, Spain has shut down and other European countries have closed their borders. India has issued a “shelter-in-place” directive for the entire country as many countries take strong measures to slow the infection rate. The rapid growth in death toll and infection rate in the U.S has reached every state with the country now leading all nations in the number of reported cases of COVID-19. Photo of Dr. Julie working with medical team in Haiti after a hurricane strikeWatch the video of Dr. Julie describing the virus.

Note: This page is updated daily with more information about this global crisis.

Loading shipment of PPE for health workers

Americares Responds

Americares is providing personal protective equipment and training health workers on the front lines of the outbreak. Personal protective equipment and other infection prevention and control supplies along with other preventive measures are critical to decreasing the spread of infection and health workers face the greatest risk.

To date, Americares has shipped tons of protective supplies for the COVID-19 pandemic, including masks, gowns, gloves and disinfectants. In the United States, Americares has delivered more than 17 tons of protective supplies to health facilities in 25 states (including to partners in the U.S. that serve low-income and uninsured patients in high case count areas of CT, NY, CA, WA, MA, LA, TX and other emerging hot zones). Many of the recipient organizations serve large homeless populations, which are particularly vulnerable to the outbreak. 

In addition, we have sent protective equipment and supplies to health workers in Honduras and Lebanon. With the support of donors, Americares is actively procuring more personal protective equipment. More international and domestic shipments are planned.  

Americares global network of health care partners depend on the continuity of regular shipments of medicine and supplies from our distribution center. To that end our distribution center staff continue there efforts to maintain the critical pipeline while keeping the staff safe.

Americares is also 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. Photo from our Distribution Center preparing emergency shipments.

Our top concern is the capacity of under-resourced health centers to respond to the pandemic. Americares can play a critical role in ensuring our staff, and the staff of our partner health facilities, are able to continue their lifesaving and life-changing work. We know from a long history of disaster response that maintaining primary care services during crisis is critical to saving lives and restoring health. Americares is training health workers in mental health, infection prevention and control, and disaster preparedness, and sharing educational resources with partner health care facilities in the U.S. and around the world. We are also prepared to mobilize medical personnel to provide surge support for overwhelmed health facilities, if needed. 

Watch the video of our Distribution Center in action, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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. This page is updated daily with the latest information from Americares and our global and local partners. In addition, stay up to date on what is happening from other trusted sources:

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 –>

Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/coronavirus

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

WHO: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

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.

And 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 –>

Dr. Julie on COVID-19

Watch a recent livestream Coronavirus Update-What You Need to Know with our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Julie Varughese –>.

What is the Threat?

The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has now exceeded 333,000 with the actual count still uncertain due to a continued shortage of testing. As the rate of infection and death toll increased, the Governor of California issued a “shelter in place” order for the entire state. New York, Illinois, Ohio and Louisiana have implemented similar orders. Many more states and communities are ramping up restrictions on all gatherings and encouraging people to limit social interaction to slow the progression of the pandemic.

Soon after the first U.S. case was reported in Washington State on January 21, the early deaths were centered in a home for the elderly, immediately affecting the most vulnerable population (people over 60 and those with underlying health conditions). Another significant outbreak soon followed in Westchester County NY where a “containment zone” was established in two communities – a hot spot that began with one infected person. Latest reports indicate that the swift decision to implement more stringent measures in both Washington State and the Westchester communities appears to have slowed the rate of infection in those early hot zones. New York now has the greatest number of reported infections in the country (doubling every 3 days) as testing becomes more widely available in the state and more cases are identified, particularly in New York City. Individual communities across the country from Texas to Massachusetts that have been identified as hot spots of infection have also issued sheltering in place directives. Much of the country is now in lock down.

In the U.S., the death toll from the virus is reaching 9,500. All across the country, major events, conferences and other large gatherings have been cancelled. Many states and cities have closed schools, bars, gyms, restaurants (except for take out) and all non-essential businesses while banning most events. The federal government has extended its guidelines recommending that until the end of April people avoid events and stay home. Travel bans have been established for some countries with travel warnings issued for others. Cruise ships returning from affected countries have been subjected to quarantine.

Health officials agree that such strong preventive measures on the community level, along with personal care such as hand washing, social distancing and limiting social interactions could help “flatten the curve” in the growth in infections, decreasing the rate of growth and the potential peak of infections. If we do nothing, the infection rate will continue doubling each week, creating an unprecedented health care crisis. The number of infections increased more than five-fold just in one week. The WHO estimates the infection rate for the novel coronavirus is between 2 and 2.5, meaning that every person who gets sick will infect another two or three people. At that pace, the number of people with the virus would continue to double every six days.

With wide use of basic preventive measures, that curve can be “flattened” to a doubling every 8 weeks – a major expansion of time for vaccines and treatments to be created, to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed and for any possible seasonal decline to begin. The next 3 weeks are critical for this to take place so the latest plea from public health professionals is “Stay Home. Stop the Spread. Stay Safe.”

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

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

CDC graph on "flattening the curve"

Flatten the Curve

“We are all in this together.” How successful we are in slowing the pandemic depends on how carefully we follow the prevention and protection guidelines. We have the power “in our own hands” to take care of ourselves, our families and our neighbors. Observe social distancing and Download the hand washing guide to staying safe and saving lives.

Lisa Ladue, mental health expert, working in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

Protecting Mental Health in a Crisis

Lisa Ladue, an Americares mental health expert, shares some tips that can help everyone manage stress and trauma during this global crisis. Watch her videos –>

Download "Coronavirus: Top Questions and Answers And How to Protect Yourself

How to Protect Against COVID-19

Americares is responding to the crisis by educating the public about the virus, processing requests for assistance and sourcing personal protective equipment to protect health workers most at risk. Sharing reliable and timely information with the general public and through our health care partners around the world is a top priority for our Emergency Team. Informing people of the proven preventative steps such as proper hand washing and social distancing is a vital component of limiting the outbreak.

“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 

Watch Dr. Julie explain how to protect against infection.

Patient intake by medical team at Leyte Hospital

The Symptoms

The symptoms are familiar and may seem like those experienced with a common cold. But COVID-19 is not a common cold and those symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. Whatever the symptoms, quarantine is absolutely necessary to stop the spread of the virus. Watch Dr. Julie describe the symptoms of the coronavirus.

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.