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Hoosiers work to gather aid for India’s COVID crisis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The COVID-19 crisis in India is getting worse.

Relief is on the way, but it’s not quite enough. Last week News 8 told you about a local nonprofit raising money. After hearing our story, Hoosiers are helping.

The India Association of Indianapolis told News 8 minutes after the story aired last week, they received a check donation large enough to help multiple families. Though financial assistance is helping, there is even a bigger need.

The images from India being shown around the world still don’t quite illustrate the devastation and cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The surge has to hit a peak at a certain point, which we expect in the next couple of weeks. But, I think it’ll have a lasting effect for months,” Ajay Ponugoti, chairman of the India Association of Indianapolis, said.

The current level of the coronavirus in India has been called the worst the world has seen. If something isn’t done to stop it, the world could feel its impact. Experts said if the virus continues to spiral out of control, it’ll have time to mutate. If it does, it could happen in a way that our current vaccines won’t be effective.

“Because we didn’t really understand the magnitude of what was going on in India because it was doing really well until recently,” Ponugoti said.

This hits close to home for Ponugoti. His father died during India’s first COVID wave and his mother is still there. The need to help the country stems from different reasons, both as a native Indian and now as a physician on the front lines treating COVID patients in the United States.

He said a week into the fundraiser, they’ve raised $15,000 and now have five oxygen concentrator machines to send to India. With the oxygen shortage, Ponugoti said these machines are helpful because they can create oxygen from room air.

“If you look at the data, American citizens are the most generous in the world,” Ponugoti said.

Tuesday, President Biden is implementing travel restrictions on travel to the U.S. from India. There are exemptions for Americans, lawful permanent residents and humanitarian workers.

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