ORLANDO, Fla. – The COVID-19 crisis continues to impact some of the most vulnerable countries like India, which has now surpassed 353,000 deaths and more than 29 million cases of the deadly virus, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center.
In Central Florida, the Indian American Chamber of Commerce is collecting face masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. Two weeks ago, IACC delivered more than 500 oxygen concentrators.
“It’s heartbreaking to see that and you don’t see the pictures of what’s really going on in the rural areas. You really only see in the bigger cities. It’s actually worse in those areas because they don’t have any doctors they can go to, any hospitals they can go to nearby,” IACC in Orlando president Jay Shah said.
Shah recently lost an uncle to the virus. He said the most difficult part was not being able to give him a proper burial and attend the 14-day ritual. Due to the pandemic, those traditions have been altered and loved ones are cremated quickly.
“We believe in reincarnation so that ritual is also part of them being reincarnated to come back in a better life form in the future and you’re not getting that proper ritual,” Shah said.
India is now the second country worldwide with the highest number of cases and deaths.
“(The) situation is completely out of control. Nobody was prepared for that. Nobody thought it would spread like this,” Parth Trivedi said.
One of his aunts died from the virus. He also has a cousin who battled the disease and has been left with complications.
“After he recovered from COVID-19, he started getting infected in his jaw where the ventilator mask has been put,” Trivedi said.
He said the infection turned out to be mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus.
“It was too late by the time we got any medical attention to him, so he had to — like his 80% of jaw had to be removed,” Trivedi said.
Shah said the goal right now is to get as much personal protective equipment to rural areas in India.
When Jan Gautam’s sister got sick last month, he said she was close to dying.
“There was no hospitals available that time. There was no beds available that time,” Gautam said. “She was sick with COVID. She had 80% lungs got damaged but somehow, she came back so we (give) thanks to the God.”
The Indian American Chamber of Commerce has six locations in Orlando and Altamonte Springs where donations can be dropped off.
The organization plans to deliver the supplies during the first week of July. The Red Cross in India will distribute the items to rural areas.
To learn where you can drop off a donation, click here.