Several major Indian-American groups in the United States have raised donations and used volunteers to help community members, including first responders, health workers, students, and workers in America and India, who have been severely affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected over 600,000 people people worldwide were affected.
The COVID-19 pandemic infected over 140,000 people and claimed 2,475 lives in the United States. In India, confirmed coronavirus cases exceeded 1,000 and the death toll reached 27.
SEWA International, a leading Indian-American nonprofit, has raised more than $ 250,000 for its COVID-19 relief efforts.
The money is being used to buy personal protective equipment, especially facial masks and surgical masks, to donate essentials to local law enforcement officers and hospitals in some of the hotspot areas such as New York that they have run out of for free.
It has assembled a team of 500 volunteers who have staffed its hotline to answer the concerns and questions of Americans in need of the coronavirus.
The volunteers help more than 300 families, many of whom are elderly or physicians involved in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, with their daily foods and masks, said Sree N Sreenath, President of SEWA International.
Sreenath, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve University, said that the nonprofit will be organizing a Sewa Sankalp campaign starting Monday to bring together over 1,000 service organizations in the US, USA, to pool ideas, collaborate, and build trust to build into the community.
Sreenath said that a Sewa team worked with volunteers in many of its 43 chapters to make hand-made masks.
The team consists of a retired professor of design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, a medical technician who ensures that quality control and acceptance mask designs that are acceptable to large hospitals in the United States have been procured, and a procurement specialist who has the right material from India procures scarce goods in the USA. The team is increasing production from 2500 to 10,000 masks a week, he said.
New York-based hoteliers, K K and Chandra Mehta, joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call on Sunday to announce donation of Rs 1 crore for the Prime Minister's help and assistance in emergency situations (PM CARE).
The couple also donated another Rs 11 lakh for the distribution of masks and groceries to local police officers and newspaper dealers in their home state of Rajasthan.
Chandrakant Patel of Tampa, Florida said that he is distributing groceries to 300 families in his home state of Chhattisgarh.
"I will do that for the next three months," he said.
Boston IT entrepreneur Amit Banerjee said he sponsored 20 workers in Bangalore for three months. New York-based Jagdish Sewhani said he is working with other Indian Americans to help workers in major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai who have lost their jobs due to the nationwide ban.
"It is inhumane to see the scenes that we have seen on television screens in New Delhi in the past two days. It is time for us to use all our resources for them," he said.
Officials from Patel Brothers – a chain of popular Indian grocery stores in the U.S. – said they are working with local authorities to distribute perishable goods and other foods to those in need free of charge. With caution, Patel Brothers have announced that they will close their grocery stores for the next 10 days.
The Federation of Indian Associations has distributed food packages to those in need in New Jersey.
Various Sikh Gurudwara and Sikh organizations have opened a communal kitchen and distributed free groceries to homeless people, hospital workers and local law enforcement officers in different parts of the country, including Seattle, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Gurinder Singh Khalsa of Indianapolis from the Sikhs Political Action Committee said he distributed homemade face masks to local law enforcement officers and first responders in Indiana.
The Bihar and Jharkhand Association of North America or BAJANA has launched a video awareness campaign for people at home. It has recorded video messages from its doctors in the national languages of Bihar and Jharkhand and asked people to stay inside, quarantine themselves and do other things and not do them.
"We are also working on getting more videos from US doctors and sending them to our villages," said Alok Kumar of the Bihar and Jharkhand Association of North America.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, more than 32,000 people have died from coronavirus and 684,652 have been infected worldwide.