In the United States, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) worked with local authorities and partner organizations in 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable and marginalized communities.
In New York City, an early epicenter of the pandemic in the US, we provided showers, portable toilets, handwashing stations, hygiene kits and other essentials for people experiencing homelessness. We improved infection prevention and control measures in facilities for people who are homeless or housing insecure, and distributed mobile phones to help them stay connected to information about local services.
In Immokalee, Florida, we set up mobile testing clinics for migrant farmworkers, a community at high risk of contracting COVID-19. We also ran a public health education program in partnership with a local human rights group.
In Detroit, Michigan, and Houston, Texas, where COVID-19 devastated nursing homes and long-term care facilities, we offered support to help protect residents and staff, including assessment and guidance to improve infection prevention and control practices, and technical on-site assistance and training. We also ran mental health workshops for staff.
Working with Native American communities in the Navajo Nation and Pueblos─neglected by the federal government and lacking access to clean water, electricity, and passable roads─MSF provided infection prevention and control training and logistical and technical medical support in partnership with local groups.
In Puerto Rico, which continues to grapple with the health impacts of devastating hurricanes in 2017 and a series of powerful earthquakes in 2020, we began a home-based care program for people with chronic conditions unable to access health services during the pandemic. We provided COVID-19 monitoring for people isolated at home and prepared thousands of hygiene kits for those experiencing homelessness or living in remote communities. We supported hospitals and care facilities by distributing personal protective equipment, conducting infection prevention and control training, and running health education programs. In October, we handed over the program to Puerto Rico Salud, a new organization established by several Puerto Rican MSF staff.