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As COVID-19 Rages On In India, New Jerseyans Are Stepping Up To Help Those Struggling

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- It's a heartbreaking catastrophe in India, where the number of COVID-19 cases is skyrocketing.

There's a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen and medicine.

Loved ones in New Jersey, home to one of the country's largest Indian-American populations, are desperate to help, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Wednesday.

"I haven't gotten a chance to say bye to my father, except for identify his body in a morgue through a video cam," said Urvashi Bhorkar of Jersey City.


Bhorkar is heartbroken over the loss of her father, Shrawan Nigam, a former economic adviser to India.

She said his heart stopped in a New Delhi hospital, due to COVID complications.

"He's been my mentor," Bhorkar said.

Days later, her grieving mother and sister, were still sick but discharged, so others could have a bed.

"It's like a war zone. Ultimately, it boils down to life, and doctors are looking at you if there's a form of life that needs saving," Bhorkar said.

READ MOREIndia 'Double Variant' Strain Of COVID-19 Detected In San Francisco Bay Area

Her family was already vaccinated, and so was Dalbir Gambir's. With the help of the Sikh community in New Jersey, he found an ambulance to transport his father four hours away from Delhi to Jaipur, the only place he could find room in an intensive care unit.

"Hospitals are not able to take additional patients, because hospitals in India are very overburdened and it's quite impossible to interact with any doctor in India. So, I'm getting a lot of local advice from here," Gambir said, of Franklin Lakes.

Treatments like Remdesivir are not available. Americans have been calling Vaishali Kale, a Mumbai Rotary International worker, for help. She is crowdfunding for oxygen concentrators.

"It is horrible," Kale said.


Some say the outbreak is due to a new variant, recent festivals, and an overwhelmed health system. The number of deaths, experts fear, is being underreported.

Mass cremations are being held in the streets. Organizations like Khalsa Aid are sending oxygen for the sick and wood to help with funeral pyres.

Bhorkar's cousin helped in her father's situation.

"It was hard to see so many of them going to heaven without one, without anybody being able to be with them. It was a tough sight to see," Bhorkar said. "It has been two years since I saw them in person. Been doing FaceTime and virtually connecting. It just feels like it has been a parallel world that we've been living in."

The U.S. has pledged to send oxygen, ventilators, and test kits, and the governor of New Jersey said his office is vetting charities to work with.

If you'd like to help, please click on the following links: Fuel A Dream | Khalsa Aid | Wheels Global

Also, the India Association of Garden State is taking donations for its India COVID-19 relief drive. Please click here and on the home page, go to the "Welcome" section where there is a donation form.

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