KOCHI: Life in the US has taken a dramatic turn with the Covid-19 lockdown paralysing lives and pushing the economy to the brink. Supermarkets are running out of stocks, the rate of unemployment is climbing at an alarming rate and there is a scramble for vital medical supplies and life-saving equipment.
Despite the hard times and being confined to the four walls of the apartment amid the fear of shortage of essentials, the Malayali expat community in the US prefers to stand with the country they live in.
“We hardly go out as the online shops deliver essentials at our door steps. We are allowed to go out for morning walk but have to maintain social distancing.
We hear that there is a shortage of medicines and personal protective equipment used by medical staff in hospitals.
There is a shortage of ventilators and only emergency cases are admitted. But we know this country has the strength to overcome the crisis,” said Prasannan, a native of Kollam living in New York city which is bearing the brunt of the outbreak.
Though the country offers the best medical care facility in the world, many Keralites feel that the Kerala model of community healthcare is the best. “We have the best medical facilities here, but definitely, Kerala’s healthcare is more accessible. Here, there is no government presence in the healthcare sector and hospital care is very costly. Most of the Indians have availed the insurance cover which is very expensive, ” said M Alexander, another Kollam native who lives in Dallas.
Vinayak, a native of Thiruvananthapuram who lives in California, said the closure of food services and restaurants has left thousands unemployed. “I have been working from home for more than a month. One person from a family is allowed to visit the supermarkets once in a day to purchase essentials. Our routines have changed but the rate of infection has slowed down and the situation is set to improve,” he said. Everyone is affected, only the intensity varies, said Pooja Purushothaman, a data scientist who resides in New York City.
“Many Indians in our locality have been affected, including those employed in the tech sector. Job security is a big concern. Most of us are on visas which allow only two months for job search after termination. Colleagues and friends are losing jobs daily and the job market is scary. Most of the companies have frozen hiring,” she said.
“I am not sure about the health impact as most of my friends are young with good immunity. In spite of all that’s going around, I do get to see a lot of warmth in relations. Covid-19 has definitely made us realise that the most important thing in life is life itself,” said Pooja.
“It isn’t an absolute lockdown here in Maryland but yes, we are advised to stay at home. The college are shut and we have switched to online. Indians are as safe as any other citizen here,” says Kavya Purushothaman, a student at Robert H Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.