By Carolyn Gusoff

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The COVID crisis continues to surge out of control in India.

With more than 350,000 daily new cases, the nation is on pace to see more than one million deaths by midsummer.

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Here at home, Long Island’s South Asian community is responding.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, Sikh, Hindu and Muslim prayers in Hicksville, home to New York’s fastest growing Indian-American community, are addressing an urgent need they know prayers alone can’t fix.

“They’re going through their third wave of the pandemic. And they are short on oxygen, they’re short on ventilators, PPE. From what we hear , their medical system is collapsing,” said Jeniifer Vartanov of Merchant Industry of India.


They’re asking America, emerging from the pandemic, to pay it forward.

“What we are witnessing now in India is an unbelievable, heartbreaking tragedy,” said Rich Nicolello, Nassau County Legislature’s presiding officer. “Overflowing hospitals, mortuaries overflowing. It’s staggering. We know we must do something. We must act to help our brothers and sisters in India.”

Speaking to loved ones in India, there’s helplessness.

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“I’ve had friends that have had to go from state to state cannot find a bed,” said Nilima Madan of the Rotary Club of Hicksville. “They are full to capacity. This is an overwhelming situation.”

“Every family there is one of two people so sick and dying,” said Dr. Urmililesh Arya, president of the National Association of Indians in America.


Dr. Neeru Bhambri spoke on the phone with her nephew in lockdown in New Delhi, with shocking scenes of funeral pyres at makeshift crematoria.

“It will come under control, but no one expected this to happen. That’s the reason there are so many casualties and so many people are dying,” Bhambri said.

The Federation of Indian Physicians is chartering a plane to deliver oxygen – 5,500 oxygen concentrators this weekend, and has room for other supplies. It’s an urgent call to hospitals, municipalities and companies to send what’s not being used.

“What is needed is ventilators, BIPAP machines, ventilators and PPE,” said Dr. Raj Bhayani of the Federation of Indian Physicians Associations.

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There’s a multitude of local organizations sending help to India. Local leaders suggest donors contact a Sikh, Hindu or Islamic temple, or trusted International Organizations like these:

Carolyn Gusoff