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Active Emergency Responses

Find resources and situation updates here along with information specific to medical outreach. Resources include general guidelines for humanitarian response in emergencies as well as tools with information on current emergencies. Access information provided by US and international sources, such as the CDC, NIH and WHO and learn how you can help.

The COVID-19 Global Pandemic

Situation Overview

The coronavirus outbreak, first reported in Wuhan China in December 2019 exploded into a Global Pandemic within weeks. COVID-19, the name of the disease caused by the virus (SARS-CoV-2), continues its deadly spread with new waves of infection from new virus variants threatening regions even as authorities work to increase vaccine availability while facing unequal access and an alarming level of vaccine hesitancy.

Even as 205 million people have received a first shot of vaccine in the U.S. and states and countries work to re-open, COVI9-19 rolls on, infecting millions of people globally and killing hundreds of thousands. Although over 61% of the total U.S. population has received at least the first dose of vaccine (74% of adults), the rate of vaccine hesitancy in some areas along with issues of ease of access to vaccination sites/appointments casts doubt on the possibility of stopping the spread of the dangerous Delta variant, which is growing rapidly in states with low vaccination rates. Some communities and organizations are recommending and even mandating the return of mask-wearing indoors along with vaccine, testing and safety protocol mandates to curb the sudden spike in infections from the Delta variant.

As the global infection rate has declined in some countries, it has exploded in others. Variants of the virus have contributed to record numbers of new cases globally with new hot spots emerging. This highly contagious virus kills some and spares others, presenting symptoms that are unprecedented and unpredictable. More than 18 months into the pandemic, masking, handwashing and social distancing continue to be important in combating the relentless advance of COVID-19. And while the CDC has once again advised mask-wearing indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission even by those who are fully vaccinated (currently 52% of population), it is more important then ever for those who are not vaccinated to stay vigilant, continue to observe basic safety measures and get vaccinated in the race against the Delta variant which is proving to be more contagious and severe.

Global COVID Snapshot

India, Brazil, France, Turkey and Russia follow the U.S. as countries leading in infection rates. The infection rate in India exploded, overwhelming the health system as a second wave created a record daily number of infections before subsiding. The spike in infections also spread to neighboring Nepal. Elsewhere in the world, Indonesia has become a major hotspot while other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are seeing alarming increases in infection rates and deaths with the spread of more virulent variants (the Delta variant the most prevalent). As the U.S. and other countries in the West struggle to emerge from the pandemic, countries and communities with limited access to vaccines are facing new threats from COVID-19 as more health systems are overwhelmed by rising infection rates.

General Resources:
CDC PPE Sequencing Guide
CDC Risk Assessment-Public Health Management Guide
CDC Germ Prevention Poster
Pulse Oximeter Use in COVID-19 (Lifebox)
WHO Module: COVID-19 Preparedness, Readiness and IPC
WHO Module: COVID-19 Epidemiology, Risk factors, Definitions and Symptomology
WHO Module: IPC in context of COVID-19
WHO Advice on the Use of Masks
WHO Home Care for Suspected Patients
“What we do when a COVID-19 patient needs an operation: operating room preparation and guidance.” Ti, L.K., Ang, L.S., Foong, T.W. et al. Canadian Journal of Anesthesia

Surgical Resources:
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland COVID-19 (coronavirus) Surgical Practice
From Advances in Surgery and the Johnson & Johnson Institute
American College of Surgeons COVID-19 and Surgery: Resources for the surgical community
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists “Anesthesia Care of the Patient with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”
American Society of Anesthesiologists “COVID-19 Information”
Ti, L.K., Ang, L.S., Foong, T.W. et al. What we do when a COVID-19 patient needs an operation: operating room preparation and guidance. Can J Anesth/J Can Anesth (2020).
Managing COVID-19 in Surgical Systems, Accepted for Publication in Annals of Surgery 
Yu, N. et al. Clinical features and obstetric and neonatal outcomes of pregnant patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective, single-centre, descriptive study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2020; 0(0)  

Health Crisis at Colombia-Venezuela Border

Situation Overview

Migration: More than 4 million people have fled Venezuela since 2014 to escape extreme food and medicine shortages, violence and political instability. More than half of the people fleeing have gone to Colombia, which has received more than 1.4 million people from Venezuela since 2014, according to the Colombian Government.

Health Care: Pharmacies and hospitals in Venezuela have severe shortages of medicine and supplies and inadequate staffing as medical professionals leave the country. Even in locations where medical services are available in Venezuela, falling wages and hyperinflation have put medical care out of reach for many families. The collapse of the health care system has exacerbated health conditions for the migrant population with many going months without care.

Response: Americares has set up clinics in towns near the border or where Venezuelans have settled to meet the primary health care needs of migrants who may arrive with dangerous health conditions such as high blood pressure that has gone untreated.

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Hurricane Dorian

Situation Overview

Hurricane Dorian, the second most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record, smashed into the Bahamas and for 40 hours lashed Grand Bahama, the Abacos and other smaller northern islands with winds of 180 mph and more, 40 inches of rain and 20 foot storm surge. This catastrophic Category 5 storm left at least 50 confirmed dead with hundreds of people missing, many thousands are homeless with thousands of homes and other buildings including medical facilities seriously damaged or completely destroyed.

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2017 Atlantic Hurricanes: Harvey, Irma, Maria

Situation Overview

The historic 2017 Atlantic hurricane season produced 17 named storms, most notably Harvey, Irma, and Maria that left hundreds dead, destroyed communities across the southern U.S. and Caribbean and caused an estimated $265 billion in damage – the most expensive hurricane season on record. Hurricane Harvey set a new mark for the most rainfall from a U.S. tropical storm. Hurricane Irma became one of the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricanes ever recorded. Hurricane Maria was the most powerful hurricane to make landfall on the main island of Puerto Rico in 85 years.

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