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Portland-Based Mercy Corps Is Monitoring COVID-19 Infections in Developing Nations. But Good Data Is Hard to Come By.

Interim CEO Beth deHamel is concerned about the impact of the virus in places like Central America, Afghanistan and refugee camps.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

The coronavirus is a global health crisis, but much of the media coverage of the pandemic has centered on only a few countries.

As interim CEO of Portland-based humanitarian nonprofit Mercy Corps, Beth deHamel worries about the virus's impact in less economically prosperous areas: informal settlements in Central America, trading posts along the Afghanistan border, refugee camps in Africa.

"The way people are forced to live in situations like that eliminates the possibility of social distancing," says deHamel, who stepped in temporarily as the organization's CEO last year after her predecessor, Neal Keny-Guyer, resigned over his handling of a sex abuse scandal involving the founder of Mercy Corps. "Even things like clean water and soap are a luxury."

DeHamel spoke to WW Editor Mark Zusman about the challenges of obtaining good data on infection rates in developing nations and President Trump's decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.