With the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of relenting anytime in the coming weeks and months until vaccines are widely available, we at Americans Helping Americans® have recently reached out to our grassroots partners in West Virginia and the Appalachian regions of Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, with the offer of sending them 1,400 emergency food boxes to distribute to those most in need in their communities.
Earlier this year, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we were able to send Pallets of Hope containing hand sanitizer, bars of soap, diapers for growing families with infants and toddlers and more to our partners throughout Appalachia as well as thousands of boxes of food.
Perhaps hardest hit is Beattyville, Kentucky, where our longtime partner, Cumberland Mountain Outreach, works to provide assistance to residents most in need in the distressed community, the COVID-19 pandemic is really hitting home for many families.
“Lee County (where Beattyville is located) has seen a drastic spike in cases over the last ten days, pushing the county as a whole into the state’s red zone for the first time since the start of the outbreak,” reported LEX 18 in late October.
“Last week was as bad as it’s ever been,” the manager of a local restaurant told the station.
And a few weeks later the situation there continued to be dire as the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on November 5 that “Kentucky county long unscathed by coronavirus suffered deadly spike in October.
“The county has been through a spike in cases that gave it at the second-highest case rate in the state last week” as its rate hit 166 per 100,000 residents on October 28. Anything over 25 is considered critical.
And worse, there have been nine deaths attributed to COVID-19.
“We exploded,” county Judge-Executive Chuck Caudill Jr. told the Herald-Leader. “One of my worst fears came to fruition.”
In McDowell County, West Virginia, where our partner Big Creek People in Action works, the county health department confirmed the first COVID-19 related death in the county, and the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) reported that 254 inmates and 28 staff members at a correctional center located in the county, where many local residents are employed, have contracted coronavirus posing a major threat to the surrounding community.
Governor Jim Justice has called the outbreak “unbelievable” during his pandemic briefing on the morning of November 16, reported the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. “This is running like wildfire.
“When this gets into a (congregate) population it goes everywhere,” the governor told the Daily Telegraph.
And just a few days before, the DHHR reported that there have been 237 confirmed cases in the county which has a population less than 18,000, according to the most current U.S. Census data.
Today, we are working to send another emergency shipment of food to Cumberland Mountain Outreach, Big Creek People in Action and other of our partners to help ensure that the families they serve do not go hungry in the coming weeks with the holidays and winter fast approaching.