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The COVID-19 Global Pandemic

Last Page Update: 6.21.21 at 8:10 a.m. ET Read our COVID-19 2020 report on our work.

Status

Active Emergency

Date

January 30, 2020

Region

Global

Globally, as COVID-19 deaths reach staggering levels with infection rates declining in some countries and exploding in others, Americares is using every resource to fight the pandemic – providing access to protective supplies, skills, and other critical support for our staff and partners here at home and around the world. Our team currently confronts a catastrophic surge in India overwhelming the health system. The vaccines work, but preventive measures are still important. If you are not fully vaccinated – Mask up. Wash up. Step back. And get the shot. (source: JHU)

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Health Workers Have Died

In the global pandemic

We focus on frontline health workers (more than 7,000 have died already and possibly many more in the global pandemic – est. 3,600 in the U.S., and at least 1,000 doctors in India), keeping them safe 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 communities that are vulnerable to a daily and deadly inequality, especially in access to health care.

The Crisis

The Facts

The coronavirus outbreak, first reported in Wuhan China in December 2019 exploded into a Global Pandemic within weeks. COVID-19, the name of the disease caused by the virus (SARS-CoV-2), continues its deadly spread with new waves of infection from new virus variants threatening regions even as authorities increase vaccine availability.

Latest on COVID-19 Pandemic

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Million

infections

in 192 countries and regions

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Million

deaths

have been reported worldwide

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Million

infections

have been reported in the U.S.

0

deaths

have been reported in the U.S.

Even as 177 million people have received a first shot of vaccine in the U.S. and states and countries work to re-open, COVI9-19 rolls on, infecting millions of people globally and killing hundreds of thousands. Although over 53% of the total U.S. population has received at least the first dose of vaccine, the rate of vaccine hesitancy in some areas along with issues of ease of access to vaccination sites/appointments casts doubt on the possibility of achieving overall “herd immunity”, an important goal in controlling and stopping the spread of the virus. The approval of vaccines for adolescents, however, is another important sign of progress.

As the global infection rate has declined in some countries, it has exploded in others. An added threat has appeared in the form of variants of the virus which has contributed to record numbers of new cases globally with new hot spots emerging. This highly contagious virus kills some and spares others, presenting symptoms that are unprecedented and unpredictable. More than fifteen months into the pandemic, masking, handwashing and social distancing continue to be important in combating the relentless advance of COVID-19. And while the CDC has announced that mask-wearing is no longer necessary for those who are fully vaccinated (currently 45% of population), it is more important then ever for those who are not vaccinated to stay vigilant, continue to observe basic safety measures and get vaccinated in the race against the new variants which are often proving to be more contagious and severe.

India, Brazil, France and Turkey follow the U.S. as the countries leading in infection rates with the European Union coming out of a third wave. The infection rate in India has exploded overwhelming the health system as a second wave creates a record daily number of infections, now accounting for about one-third of all new global cases. (Learn more about the India crisis.) Elsewhere in the world, countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are seeing alarming increases in infection rates and deaths as new and more virulent variants appear and spread. As the U.S. and other countries in the West emerge from the pandemic, countries with limited access to vaccines are facing new threats from COVID-19.

The re-opening of schools and other efforts to resume normal activities present new challenges to local authorities. The U.S. has averaged approximately 12,000 new infections every day in the past week, continuing a decline according to the CDC COVID data tracker. Although the death toll has slowed and the country is emerging from the Pandemic, it still records nearly 300 deaths per day and has now reached a grim milestone of 600,000 lives lost to the pandemic.

With three successfully tested vaccines receiving emergency approval from the FDA in the U.S. and with more in development, the rate of vaccination continues to accelerate, even as delays, pauses and adjustments occur. It is a complex and lengthy process but progress is evident as more people become eligible. There are currently thirteen COVID-19 vaccines authorized and being administered across the world. There can be no doubt, however, that the wearing of masks, proper hand washing and social distancing remain critical weapons against infection for those who have not received the vaccine.  Even with the relaxation of mask wearing for the fully vaccinated, safety measures remain a matter of critical community responsibility. The science is clear. They work. Continuing the 3 steps of prevention and getting vaccinated at the earliest opportunity are both necessary to stop COVID-19.

To learn more the global story of the pandemic, open the ” Trusted Resources” below and view COVID-19 Updates. Read the COVID-19 2020 report on our global work during the Pandemic.

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 the COVID Racial Data Tracker, COVID has had a particularly deadly impact on Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color with Black people dying at twice the rate of white people. Authorities also are seeing significant disparities in vaccination rates from zip code to zip code within communities, often reflecting economic and social inequities in those same populations. As it attacks poor communities in the U.S. and globally, it also exhibits 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.

Health inequity retains its deadly potential in communities of color with poor health care access as vaccine distribution lags dangerously behind better-resourced neighbors. And that is why the COVAX pillar of access is critical as the only global effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines when they are available, regardless of their wealth. It remains a challenge, however, as many under-resourced countries still have made little progress with vaccinations. The global pandemic is far from over as many countries struggle to vaccinate sufficient numbers of people to slow the spread. The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought new attention to the health equity crisis on a national and global scale.

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

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:

Getting the Facts on Vaccines

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent disease and save lives – now more than ever.  Learn more about the vaccines and get the facts. Watch a video update as Christine Squires, Americares CEO sums up the Pandemic Year from an Americares perspective – What has happened; where we are and where we are going in the fight against COVID-19.

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

Johns Hopkins interactive map tracking the disease spread globally. 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, 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 became 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 2,900 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 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 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 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 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 2,900 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.

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 more than 15 million units of protective equipment and infection-prevention supplies to health facilities in 33 countries, including the United States. These 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. To see a fuller view of our programs in the first year, read our COVID-19 2020 report on our global work during the Pandemic.

In the U.S. alone, Americares has delivered nearly 340 tons of protective supplies to health facilities in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands. We provided 4.5 million protective supplies to U.S. health workers including masks gloves, disinfectants and other critical supplies. Our support also includes 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.

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.

With the pandemic now in its second year, Americares continues to address the gaps that most affect disadvantaged communities. This includes continuity of quality health services, access to essential medicine, education for health workers and community members, and support for mental health and vaccine readiness. We will also continue public education campaigns around safety, including masks.

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 provide primary care services at its clinics in Connecticut, Colombia, El Salvador and through its mobile health centers in India. The Americares clinics are on the frontlines of the pandemic; health workers are identifying suspected COVID-19 infections and referring patients for 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, 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 now provide in-person care, adhering to strict safety protocols for staff and patients.  Our Free Clinics staff in Connecticut have been seeing patients directly since August with careful attention to the protection of patient and staff with PPE and protocols. Americares India, which normally operates seven mobile health centers in the slum communities of Mumbai, is currently facing an extraordinary surge in the Pandemic across the country and has expanded its support for hospitals overwhelmed by the surge. Learn more about the Americares India response.

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 508 training sessions attended by nearly 35,900 participants. We are developing and utilizing COVID-19 specific support 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.

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 542 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.

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

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: Get the vaccine, wear a mask, keep social distancing (remember the 6-foot rule), and wash your hands thoroughly and properly (for 20 seconds). And double masking offers even more protection. It will help to keep you, your family and your community safe.

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.

Next

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 the first two vaccine received FDA emergency approval, and the vaccine rollout has begun. It will be a long road before most people receive the required two doses. Some treatments show promise 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. It remains highly contagious, and it waits for any opportunity. Don’t give it one. Be vigilant. Masks, social distance and hand washing/sanitizing remain as important as ever and perhaps more so.

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 
Next

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

Join Us

Want to help? Join us in spreading awareness on social media of how to properly protect your family, your community and yourself. To help you share the life-saving information, check out the new “Wear a Mask” campaign complete with some great new 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.