SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on many developing countries. Several nations that lack adequate medical infrastructure are facing critical economic and social challenges. “Now, the virus is arriving in countries already in the midst of humanitarian crises caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Guterres helped launch “a $2 billion global humanitarian response” plan to aid the world’s poorest countries in the fight against COVID-19.
The Impact of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic, which has a poverty rate of more than 20%, has been impacted by the virus more severely than any other nation in the Caribbean. As of May 21, the Dominican Republic had more than 13,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 448 deaths. The Dominican Republic had the highest number of total cases in the Caribbean as of May 19.
According to a report by the World Tourism Organization, the Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. Consequently, the country’s economy has been hit hard because no tourists are traveling into the country due to COVID-19.
The Government Response
Per the request of the Dominican Republic’s government, the World Bank released $150 million in support of the country’s implementation of emergency and safety measures. On March 19, 2020, the Dominican Republic declared a State of Emergency and implemented a curfew for the entire country. This prohibits “traffic and movement of people” between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m during the week. People must wear masks in all public places.
Furthermore, the country has also suspended events and public gatherings, public transportation services and cruise arrivals. The government also delayed the presidential election, which was scheduled to occur in May, until July. This decision stemmed from coronavirus concerns.
How MLB Players Are Helping
Amidst worries for the health of their family members and their country, several current and former Major League Baseball players are stepping up to the plate to fight COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic. Dominicans made up 102 of the 882 of the MLB in 2019. The country’s professional baseball players are among its most recognized and well-known celebrities.
Hall of Fame pitcher and former Red Sox player Pedro Martinez started the Step Up to the Plate initiative to raise funds for the DR. More than 40 other Dominican players and artists have joined him. The initiative encourages anyone able to donate in support of slowing the spread of the virus in the Dominican Republic. All “proceeds go straight to providing food, supplies and equipment.”
Martinez is a native of Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic. He played professionally in the MLB from 1992 to 2009. He is most known for pitching for the Boston Red Sox. In 2013, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. “The Dominican Republic has always been my home, and right now it truly needs our help,” Martinez told ESPN.
The Pedro Martinez Foundation
Martinez’s foundation started a COVID-19 initiative. Inspired by his personal background and experiences, Martinez founded The Pedro Martinez Foundation in 1998. According to the website, the foundation exists to impact and invest in “at-risk youth and their families through support and education.” So far, The Pedro Martinez Foundation has donated numerous amounts of resources and supplies to the Dominican Republic. The foundation has provided:
5,000 Food Kits with two weeks worth of food for families in need.
doctors and nurses with 32,000 KN95 masks and 7,700 protective disposable suits.
Dominican citizens with 110,000 3-ply face masks.
To date, the initiative has raised $560,000 for people in the Dominican Republic.
The spread of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic is ongoing and weighing heavily on its people and economy. However, initiatives like that of the Pedro Martinez Foundation are making a difference when it comes to helping others and fighting the virus.
– Emma Benson