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India Covid crisis hits close to home for some Wisconsinites

Some people are heading up efforts to send supplies to India to offer some relief.
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 10:41 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -India’s Covid cases continue to climb at unprecedented rates, and some Wisconsinites say the tragedy overseas hits close to home.

More than 357,000 new positive cases were reported in a span of 24 hours bringing the total case count to over 20 million, according to health ministry data.

It’s the home stretch of the school year for UW-Madison sophomore Dhrtvan Sherman.

“I’m a little stressed, but I unfortunately just have to push through,” Sherman said.

The 20-year old is juggling the stress of final exams and fear of the unknown.

“I’m concerned about fellow people here. I’m concerned about people in India,” he said.

Sherman and his parents immigrated from India when he was four months old. His grandmother, aunts and uncles still live in the country crippled by covid.

“They’re all hunkering down. They’re all trying to be safe because the cases are skyrocketing. People are getting very worried,” Sherman said. “I’m hearing stories like sometimes entire buildings are testing positive.”

Within the last two weeks, the virus claimed about 120 lives per hour. The funeral homes are struggling to keep up with climbing deaths. India’s healthcare system is being pushed beyond its limits.

“There’s not enough hospital beds. They can’t get oxygen cylinders to where they need to go and so we’re just trying to figure out what is the best way that we can help,” Sachin Chheda, Milwaukee resident said.

Chheda is working with Milwaukee organizations to raise money for oxygen concentrators. The end goal is to ship them off to India.

“It’s my ancestral homeland. This is where my parents grew up. I’ve been to India many times. I have a ton of family,” he said.

As a humanitarian crisis unfolds in India, Chheda said everyone can be a part of the solution.

“Everyone needs to get vaccinated. We need to take advantage of the fact that we have those tools here, and then we need to get vaccines into every human being we can across the world,” he said.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin AAPI USA and SEWA International, a Hindu faith-based nonprofit service organization, are also heading efforts to send supplies to India.

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