This interim guidance is to help community- and faith based organizations (CFBOs), whose members may include vulnerable populations, plan for community transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages CFBOs to prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their local communities.
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A COVID-19 outbreak could last for weeks or even months in your community. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, public health officials may recommend community actions to reduce spread of COVID-19. Local public health officials may make recommendations appropriate to your local situation, such as flexible sick-leave and telework policies and temporary school dismissals.
Establish ongoing communication with your local public health department to facilitate access to relevent information before and during an outbreak.
Having a good contingency plan in place and developing flexible policies and procedures to accommodate public health recommendations can help reduce infection. During your planning process, remember to engage key partners across both public and private sectors, such as local businessess, schools, other community-faith based organizations, and community leaders. Also, the specific details of your plan should be based on the extent of the outbreak and the size of your organization and workforce, complexity of your day-to-day operations, and type of on-site and off-site services your organization provides to vulnerable populations.
Connect to community-wide planning.
Find out if your local government has a private-public emergency planning group that meets regularly. Building strong alliances before an outbreak may provide your organization with the support and resources needed to respond effectively. Also, in recognition of the "whole community" approach to emergency planning and management, your input as community leaders and stakeholders help ensure the completeness and representativeness of your local government's emergency operations plan.
Update your existing emergency operations plan
- Meet with your emergency operations coordinator or planning team to update your emergency operations plan
- Consider the needs of older adults, persons with disabilities, and other individuals with access and funstional needs in your response plan
- Establish relationship with key community partners and stakeholders
- Identify services which might be limited or temporarily discontinued during an outbreak
Address key prevention strategies in your emergency operations plan
- Promote the practice of everyday preventive actions
- Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your organization
- Plan for staff absences
- Develop a method for monitoring and tracking COVID-19 related stuff
- Identify space that can be used to separate sick people (if possible)
- Plan ways to limit face-to-face contact between people at your organization
- Review your process for planning events, programs, and services
- Plan ways to continue essential services if on-site operations are scaled back temporarily
Communicate about COVID-19 and everyday preventive actions
- Update your emergency communication plan for distributing timely and accurate information
- Identify and address protential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to workers and those your serve
- Help counter stigma and discrimination in your community
Get input and support for your emergency operations and communication plans
- Share your plans with staff, volunteers, and key community partners and stakeholders
Establish a "buddy" system to ensure vulnerable and hard-to-reach community members stay connected to COVID-19 related news and services
Put your emergency operations and communication plans into action
- Stay informed about the local COVID-19 situation
- Communicate frequently with those in your communication chain
- Provide information that explains why and when on-site operations and services may be temporarily scaled back or your organization may be closed to non-essential visitors
- Distribute health messages and materials to staff, volunteers, and the community
- Provide COVID-prevention supplies to staff, volunteers, and those you serve
- Educate staff and volunteers about how to keep themselves healthy when accompanying someone to a destination away from your facility
- Track staff absenteeism related to COVID-19 symptoms
- Address the concerns of staff and volunteers who are at high risk for COVID-19 complications
- Implement flexible attendance and sick-leave policies (if possible) due to COVID-19
- Separate those who become sick at your organization from those who are well
Establish criteria and procedures for when and how response actions will be phased out.
Evaluate the effectiveness of your emergency operations and communications plan
- Discuss and note lessons learned
- Maintain and expand your emergency planning team