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Community leaders, officials seek donations for India amid COVID-19 outbreak

Nassau officials and community leaders announced on Monday

Nassau officials and community leaders announced on Monday the start of major aid campaign for India amid a “third wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic there that is devastating the hospital system and taking thousands of lives. Credit: James Carbone

Nassau County lawmakers are joining with Asian American business, civic and religious groups to raise money and supplies for India as the country struggles with the world's worst COVID-19 outbreak.

India's health ministry reported more than 360,000 new COVID-19 cases Monday and 3,754 deaths related to the virus. The country has reported more than 246,000 deaths since the pandemic began, a number that some experts say undercounts the actual total of fatalities.

"We are uniquely aware how cruel and insidious this disease is," said Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) at a news conference Monday in Hicksville, which has the state's fastest growing Indian American and South Asian community. "As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, what we are witnessing in India is an unbelievably heartbreaking tragedy. The suffering is just unimaginable."

Friends for Good Health International, Merchant Industry of India and Indo American Community Voice were among the local groups launching aid campaigns Monday.

Officials said they are looking for donations large and small to purchase ventilators, oxygen, personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and vaccinations.

"We are here to join our efforts to help India as much as possible," said Jennifer Vartanov, chief financial officer of Merchants Industry of India. " … Our heart breaks for them. We hope they will get through this."

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he believed India should lock down.

"You've got to shut down," Fauci, a top White House adviser, said in an interview on ABC's "This Week." "I believe several of the Indian states have already done that, but you need to break the chain of transmission, and one of the ways to do that is to shut down."

Bina Sabapathy of Plainview, president of Indo American Community Voice, recently lost a cousin in India to COVID-19. She said the situation is dire for India's population of roughly 1.3 billion people and that donations can help alleviate the suffering.

"We are setting up a plant where we can fill up the ventilators in a hospital," in the Indian city of Bangalore," Sabapathy said Monday. "We can help many, many people. We are trying to save lives."

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