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Americares Delivers 20 Tons of Supplies for Native American Communities Hit Hard by COVID-19 Pandemic

  • June 23, 2020
  • Access to Medicine

Stamford, Conn.  June 23, 2020 – Americares has delivered 20 tons of personal protective equipment, infection-control supplies and hygiene products for Native American communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The health-focused relief and development organization has sent 99,000 masks, 6,300 containers of hand sanitizer and thousands of other critically needed supplies to the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation. The shipments support frontline health workers as well as staff working in shelters and food pantries in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico serving Native American populations.  

Workers at Americares distribution center in Stamford, Conn., prepare shipments of personal protective gear, disinfectants and hygiene products for Native American communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. Photo courtesy of Americares.

The Navajo Nation has been especially hard hit by the pandemic, and in May surpassed New York and New Jersey for the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the country.  

“Native American communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Americares Vice President of Emergency Programs Kate Dischino. “Responding to immediate needs in the most affected communities is essential to help slow the spread of the virus.” 

Case counts have risen in more than 20 states over the past 14 days, including Arizona and Nevada. Arizona has one of the highest numbers of patients hospitalized in the country with 1,992 people hospitalized as of Sunday. 

“We are very grateful to Americares for reaching out to the Hopi Tribe to provide PPE, hygiene products and supplies for our first responders and village members,” said Hopi Tribal Chairman Tim Nuvangyaoma. “I can imagine that our Hopi-Tewa community members find some comfort with this donation since these types of supplies are in high demand and not readily available. We appreciate their unwavering support and acknowledge their sincere efforts to help protect our Hopi-Tewa people. We gladly embrace positive support for the Hopi Tribe. Our hats off to Americares, and their key staff for facilitating the contribution to our fight against COVID-19.” 

The emergency shipments are made possible, thanks in part, to the generosity of The 11th Hour Project, the grant-making arm of The Schmidt Family Foundation. In addition, many corporations donated products for the emergency shipments, including Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Sanofi and Welmed. 

Americares is supporting the Hopi and Navajo communities directly, as well as through partnerships with Catholic Charities and The Salvation Army. Americares also consulted with the First Nations Development Institute and the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department to understand the unique needs of tribal communities.  

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Native Americans already had higher rates of infectious disease severity and death than any other population in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. Worsening the situation, clean water for proper hand washing is not accessible in all tribal communities. Housing tends to be multi-generational, and therefore overcrowded, creating social distancing challenges. Native American populations are also at much higher risk for complications from COVID-19 as many adults suffer from diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. 

“Ninety percent of the people we serve are Native American and most live below the poverty line,” said Vicki Trujillo, executive director of Catholic Charities in Gallup, N.M. “This donation from Americares will help families who do not have access to basic necessities, including running water or electricity in their homes.” 

“Big-hearted community partners are critical in aiding our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Lt. Colonel Kelly Pontsler, commander of The Salvation Army Southwest Division. “Love is kind, and the generosity of Americares embodies that kindness.” 

Americares is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in 13 countries. In the United States alone, Americares has delivered more than 120 tons of protective supplies, including gloves, masks, gowns and disinfectants. In addition, Americares is training thousands of health workers in infection prevention and control, disaster preparedness and mental health and psychosocial support. Americares is also continuing to care for patients at its primary care clinics in Colombia, Connecticut, El Salvador and India, including referring patients with suspected COVID-19 infections for testing.   

Americares has a long history of responding to infectious disease outbreaks, including cholera, Ebola, dengue and Zika outbreaks. 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 U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis.  

Americares responds to approximately 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities. Since its founding more than 40 years ago, Americares has provided more than $18 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the United States.