As the unprecedented outbreak of coronavirus has forced countries to take precautionary measures, Indian-Americans in the United States have started a coronavirus helpline along with deployment of volunteers in a bid to help the community members. The volunteers also include a large number of Indian students as the confirmed cases of fatal COVID-19 have reached over 3,800 with at least 69 deaths in the US. The US has ramped up its efforts to contain the virus by placing travel restrictions, closing schools, restaurants and bars and cancelling entertainment events.
Sewa International, a leading Indian-American non-profit organisation has released $10,000 to operate its round the clock helpline along with carrying out a coronavirus awareness campaign through a team of 20 physicians. There are more than 2,50,000 students from India studying in American universities. In the wake of the pandemic, reportedly at least 300 universities have either closed or moved to online classes and have also shut their dorms.
Swadesh Katoch, vice president for Disaster Relief, added, “The biggest concern among the Indian American community was about schools as every school district is responding differently to the evolving situation, and most parents are not aware of the relaxation in attendance norms. The panic related to buying and stocking up masks, sanitizers, toilet paper, and food
items also came up for discussion”.
Professor Sree Sreenath, president of Sewa International said, “We are especially concerned about the vulnerable population with weak immune systems, such as seniors, the sick, or very young children. We are circulating WhatsApp messages with helpful information on how to prepare and take precautions. Various chapters in the US are directed to help local communities with up-to-date information as Corona Virus related cases get confirmed in a particular area.”
According to the official press release by the organisation, at least 400 volunteers are working in 20 major cities in the country in order to put an effective community response. Moreover, medical professionals and local businesses have also been offering their services to the community most time pro bono through Sewa International. The volunteers are apparently also providing multiple services including delivering free food, assisting the elderly in grocery shopping as well as visiting a doctor and helping with travel-related complexities.
Telugu Association of North America (TANA) has established a COVID-19 helpline for the Indian students who have suffered an impact with the sudden shut down of universities and educational institutions to prevent the spread of the fatal virus. Meanwhile, the United States President Donald Trump's administration not only set up a coronavirus task force which is headed by US Vice President Mike Pence but also shared an awareness video.
Trump shared a video on March 16 raising awareness on how to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19. The confirmed cases in the US have reached 3,782 with at least 69 deaths and Trump urged citizens to “do your part”. From meeting and travel precautions to personal hygiene, the US President wants citizens to contribute to stopping the spread of the fatal virus and the video is titled, “we're in this together”.