The coronavirus pandemic continues to grow throughout Italy – and especially in Northern Italy. The latest numbers show 41,035 cases, an increase overnight of 5,322.
When we have a 14 percent increase in one day, we still have a growing threat. There have also been 3,405 deaths. The good news is that there have been 4,440 recoveries (up 10 percent).
Part of the challenge is there are 15,757 in hospitals (up 9 percent) including 2,498 in intensive care units (up 10 percent).
It is the shortage of hospital beds – and especially ICU beds – that make the fight against the virus in Northern Italy extremely difficult. In this challenging environment, a ray of hope, Samaritan’s Purse, flew into Northern Italy from the United States this week.
Working with the Office of the Vice President, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, and the Italian Government, Samaritan’s Purse brought a complete field hospital to Cremona, Italy.
As Linda Bordoni wrote in Vatican News, “Providing care in the name of Jesus Christ, Samaritan’s Purse is the first international organization to provide emergency medical relief to families impacted by this deadly virus in northern Italy. The organization’s President, Franklin Graham, says ‘Not only are we providing skilled emergency medical care, our staff is working alongside local evangelical churches and chaplains to bring spiritual comfort and the hope found only in the Gospel.’”
Callista and I have visited Graham and the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in North Carolina. It is an amazing institution. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has maintained an emergency response capability which is remarkable. It has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine throughout the world. It provides food, water, shelter, medicine, and other assistance in the name of Jesus Christ. You can support them here.
Consider their previous medical expeditions: Earthquake relief in Haiti in 2010, clinical care in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic in 2014, earthquake relief in Ecuador in 2016, refugee assistance and medical care in Iraq in 2016-2017, Rohingya refugee assistance in Bangladesh in 2018, Ebola assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2018, cyclone relief in Mozambique in 2019, and hurricane relief in the Bahamas in 2019. Now, Italy can be added to Samaritan’s Purse’s remarkable story of bringing life-saving relief to people in need.
Opening this weekend, the 68-bed emergency field hospital in Cremona, Italy is impressive. It will provide 20 tons of medical equipment, a specialized respiratory care unit, and 60 disaster response specialists – including emergency and ICU medical teams. The field hospital will be paid for in full by Samaritan’s Purse.
As my wife, Callista said, “On behalf of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, I commend and thank Samaritan’s Purse and its President and CEO Franklin Graham for providing life-saving aid to the victims of COVID-19 in Northern Italy.”
As the world confronts the coronavirus pandemic, charitable organizations like Samaritan’s Purse will save lives, accelerate victory over the virus, and offer people hope for a better future.