Fidelity Charitable donors have given $1.5 billion to nonprofits since January, with most of the grants going to support COVID-19 causes this month.

What’s more, the organization has been receiving an outpouring of questions from donors on how to give more efficiently to address the pandemic, according to Pam Norley, the head of Fidelity Charitable.

In collaboration with the Center for Disease Control Foundation, Fidelity Charitable recently sponsored a webinar titled, "How You Can Help With COVID-19: A Conversation with the CDC Foundation." The session was designed specifically to address supporting medical needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

“New developments are arising as I speak, and this session is to give you the latest facts in the spread of COVID-19. And, more importantly, to lay out plans for you to act now in responding to the need for more philanthropic funding,” Norley told the 3,000 webinar attendees. She added that Fidelity Charitable donors are mobilizing quickly to support the immediate and lasting relief needs of the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus has infected close to 423,000 people globally and have killed nearly 19,000. In the U.S. there are close to 55,000 infected cases and nearly 800 deaths.

“This is an unprecedented time and just to remind everyone, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we are all together in,” said Dr. Judith Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “History has taught us that pandemics occur periodically. We go back 102 years ago, and we had the most severe pandemic in recent history--the 1918 influenza. But this is the first time a pandemic has been caused by a virus other than an influenza virus."

Monroe cautioned everyone on the call to practice physical distancing. “It’s already overwhelming our health systems and will do that even more if you don’t do the physical distancing." And while she recommends that everyone stay home, she also suggests that if you go out, assume everyone is positive. That, she said, will drive your behavior. “You are going to keep that distance, you are going to wash your hands, wipe surfaces down and take extra precaution,” she said.

We don’t have the answers yet to a lot of crucial questions about this virus, she said. “But the one thing we know is that it’s going to be a long war. This is not going to be over soon,” she said.

The CDC Foundation, Monroe said, has built numerous capabilities as an operating foundation to serve the needs of public health. Over the years, she said it has established a number of emergency services in dealing with crises such as the Zika virus, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. 

The foundation, she said, received flexible funding to tackle the Ebola outbreak. “That flexible funding that came from donors allowed us to build an emergency operating center in West Africa," she said.. "They didn’t even have a place to meet to be able to take on the epidemic. We rapidly trained field epidemiologists and we were able to build lab capacity and quickly fund the vaccine trial in Sierra Leone, which was really important because we had all these cases of vaccines that we needed to test."

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