Howard Co. rotary club raising money for oxygen generators to help India fight COVID-19

Posted at 4:34 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 17:43:12-04

COLUMBIA, Md (WMAR) — Maryland has hit another major milestone in the fight against COVID-19: for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Maryland’s daily COVID-19 positivity rate is under 1 percent. But some countries are far from this marker and area nonprofits are stepping up to help.

"I think we have a tendency in this country to think maybe now that the COVID pandemic is coming to be behind us but that’s not the case on a worldwide basis," said Larry Newman, the international chair of the Rotary Club of Columbia/Patuxent.

Today, India announced 134,000 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours. With rising cases, comes the need for medical oxygen. Some COVID-19 patients require a mechanical ventilator, breathing machine or significant amounts of oxygen therapy as part of their treatment.

"They did not have enough capacity to meet the oxygen demands in India, much like the difficulties we had here in March, April, and May of last year," said Newman.

So regional leaders of the international service organization, Rotary, called on local groups to raise money to help.

The Rotary Club of Columbia/Patuxent responded with 'a breath of life' initiative.

"We do have in our club people who had immigrated from India so it hits home," said Newman.

In just over a week, they raised $12,000 for oxygen generators—devices that produce medical grade oxygen from ambient air and cost $550 each. Combined with other Rotary clubs in the region, they have raised $250,000.

Sewa International in India will help their local rotary clubs distribute them.

"The local communities in India are coming to them, making applications for generators and they make decisions based on their perception of relative need," said Newman.

They will continue raising money until there is no longer a need, whether it’s for India or another country that’s struggling.

"We recognize the need. We recognize the hurt and it makes us feel like we are doing what we are supposed to be doing as Rotarians to be able to contribute this way.

Click here to donate and select Oxygen Generators for India in the drop down.