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Washington families worry as COVID-19 ravages India

Western Washington's Indian community is organizing an effort to assist family and friends impacted by a devastating wave of COVID-19 cases overseas.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Western Washington's Indian community is organizing an effort to assist family and friends impacted by a devastating wave of COVID-19 cases overseas.

“Every family here has family in India impacted with COVID and every family is struggling in fear and helplessness,” said Lalita Uppala of Bellevue.

Uppala, the executive director of the India Association of Western Washington, has been glued to her phone, waiting for updates on multiple family members in India who are sick, especially her aunt.

“Every hour I am checking my WhatsApp from my cousin to find out if things are OK. She's holding her own right now at home, but it's a struggle,” Uppala said Monday.

Indian hospitals are overwhelmed with patients as case counts soar and deaths hit record highs.

“In my hometown, the line for bodies to be cremated by the river is ten miles long, people are starting to think about cremating in the backyard, and that, culturally, to us is just not something we can think of but that is where it is,” Uppala said.

The India Association of Western Washington is now mobilizing an effort to send relief where it's needed most.

They're circulating a list of nonprofits that are distributing medical equipment and meals along with information on how to donate.

The association is also sharing phone numbers so worried family members in the U.S. can get updates from health authorities overseas.

“We don't even know who is home and who is dying right now, this is just going to amplify,” Uppala said.

The association is calling on the U.S. and foreign governments to do anything they can to speed up vaccine distribution in India and send more supplies of oxygen equipment and medicine.