SPRINGDALE, Ark. — The Marshallese community in Northwest Arkansas is asking for the public’s help after a COVID outbreak hit the Marshall Islands.
The Marshall Islands had their borders locked down until last week, completely keeping COVID-19 out until then. Now, a week later, there are more than 3,000 cases and five people have died on the islands.
Eldon Alik is the consulate general for the Republic of Marshall Islands and says they are asking for PPE donations they will send to Hawaii and then to the Marshall Islands.
“The island being remote, it’s really challenging. We are trying to gather PPE from here, to Hawaii to the Marshall Islands— it's going to take a while, so I’m trying to find the best, fastest way we can get these to them,” he said.
Alik says almost 80% of people on the Marshall Islands are vaccinated but the virus is really taking a toll on everyone right now. Meanalynn Peter is a case manager at the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese.
“We are hoping to get a lot more hand sanitizers, soaps and things like that because that was the main thing we focused on here in the states was washing your hands, keeping your distance, wearing your masks, just being safe for everyone else,” she said.
You may remember that COVID really hit the Marshallese community in Northwest Arkansas hard in 2020, 63 people from our Marshallese community died from the virus.
“We have a lot of chronic diseases like diabetes, so that affected us a lot. We don’t want the same thing that happened to us, where it hit us really hard here in Northwest Arkansas to happen to the Marshall Islands,” she said.
She says they still continue to visit churches on weekends to educate their community about the vaccine and vaccinate anyone who hasn’t been.
Any donations can be dropped off at the Consulate General of the Republic of the Marshall Islands office at 800 East Emma Avenue in downtown Springdale or to the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese at 614 East Emma Avenue Suite 113. There will also be a relief concert this Saturday, August 20th at the Jones Center from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. where donations will also be accepted.