COVID-19’s Impact in India and Abroad
Dear Members of the CMU Community,
This week we have learned more about the devastating impact of COVID-19 in India. The country is reporting a catastrophic second surge with approximately 1 million new cases every three days, and their healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. Other South Asian nations are also seeing significant rises in cases and hospitalizations.
On behalf of the CMU community, I wish to offer our compassion and heartfelt sympathy to those whose lives have been impacted by this surge. Our hearts go out to the people of India, a country with long ties to CMU, and to the many CMU community members of Indian descent. We are heartened by reports that the U.S. government has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and PPE that will immediately be made available for India, along with raw material urgently required for vaccine manufacturing. We have consistently been in touch with federal officials about the national and international COVID-19 response, and we will continue to advocate for proactive measures to assist India at this time of great need.
I know the pandemic’s impact has caused a great deal of stress for so many members of our community. This stress is exacerbated for international students and others from abroad, who are far from family and loved ones, and face uncertainties related to travel and the ability to freely enter and exit the United States. Together with partners in higher education, we are actively advocating that our elected officials and policymakers address student visa appointment availability issues and processing delays that threaten to disrupt international education. We recently joined nine other Pennsylvania institutions in signing a joint letter to our representatives urging swift action in support of students around the world, including possibly waiving in-person interview requirements or allowing visa interviews to be conducted online.
We empathize with all those affected and recognize the toll this may be taking. I have asked Provost Garrett to work with the deans and academic leadership to provide our support for students who may be requesting accommodations and to urge faculty to grant such requests. Please, freely offer one another support and do not hesitate to ask for help if you need it. If you need to make time for self-care or conversation with friends and advisors, please do so. As a reminder, Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) counselors are available to students, and faculty and staff may take advantage of our Employee Assistance Program. I also wish to highlight that CaPs will be using the standing Immigrant Connection Hour tomorrow to offer additional support; this event, Holding Space for the Indian Diaspora, is open to all who are in need of community at this time.
We are aware of student organizations mobilizing to make a difference by raising awareness and fundraising. Some have asked for the university’s support for these efforts and to allow interested student organizations to use a portion of their annual budgets to make donations in support of COVID relief. I have asked Gina Casalegno, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and Scott Mory, Vice President for University Advancement, to determine how the university can support these student efforts.
The unfolding humanitarian crisis in India, and continuing public health challenges in so many other parts of the world, are reminders that we must stay the course in our effort to overcome this pandemic. They also compel us to show our compassion and care to those who are suffering right now.
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair