Community & Faith-based Organizations
Community- and faith-based organizations are encouraged to prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in their communities. Special consideration should be given to communicating risk to vulnerable populations in your community, including older adults and others with access and functional needs. Encourage those you serve to seek out a “buddy” who will check on and help care for them if they get sick. Early action to slow the spread of COVID-19 will help keep staff, volunteers and parishioners healthy and help your organization maintain normal operations.
Update your existing emergency operations plan
- Meet with your emergency operations coordinator or planning team to update your emergency operations plan. If your organization does not have a person or team in place, determine who will be responsible for coordinating your organization’s emergency operations plan. Review all aspects of your organization, such as personnel, systems, services, and other resources.
- Consider the needs of older adults, persons with disabilities, and other individuals with access and functional needs in your response plan. Helpful resources are available online, such as the Capacity-Building Toolkit for Including Aging and Disability Networks in Emergency Planning.
- Establish relationships with key community partners and stakeholders. When forming key relationships, include the local public health department, other community and faith leaders, local businesses, and educational institutions. Collaborate and coordinate with them on broader planning efforts.
- Identify services which might be limited or temporarily discontinued during an outbreak. Find alternative solutions that will ensure continuity for your community, especially for vulnerable populations served by your organization.
Address key prevention strategies in your emergency operations plan
- Promote the practice of everyday preventive actions. Use health messages and materials developed by credible public health sources, such as your local and state public health departments or the CDC. Read more about everyday preventive actions.
- Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your organization. Have supplies on hand for staff, volunteers, and those you serve, such as soap, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash baskets, and disposable facemasks. Plan to have extra supplies on hand during a COVID-19 outbreak.
Note: Disposable facemasks should be kept on-site and used only when someone becomes sick at your organization. Those who become sick should be immediately isolated from those who are not sick and given a clean disposable facemask to wear until they can leave.
- Plan for staff absences. Develop flexible attendance and sick-leave policies. Staff (and volunteers) may need to stay home when they are sick, caring for a sick household member, or caring for their children in the event of school dismissals. Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training staff members.
- Identify space that can be used to separate sick people (if possible). Designate a space for people who may become sick while at work and cannot leave immediately. If possible, designate a nearby separate bathroom just for sick people. Develop a plan for cleaning the room daily.
- Plan ways to limit face-to-face contact between people. Several ways to do this include offering workers the option to telework, replacing in-person meetings in the workplace with video or telephone conferences, and postponing non-essential meetings and travel.
- Review your process for planning events, programs, and services. Identify actions to take if you need to temporarily postpone or cancel events, programs, and services. Consider limiting access to your organization by non-essential visitors.
- Plan ways to continue essential services if on-site operations are scaled back temporarily. Provide web- and mobile-based communications and services, if possible. Increase the use of email, conference calls, video conferencing, and web-based seminars.
- Update your emergency communication plan for distributing timely and accurate information. Identify everyone in your chain of communication (for example, staff, volunteers, and key community partners and stakeholders) and establish systems for sharing information with them. Maintain up-to-date contact information for everyone in the chain of communication.
- Identify and address potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to workers and those you serve. Learn more about reaching people of diverse languages and cultures. You also can learn more about communicating to workers in a crisis.
- Help counter stigma and discrimination in your community. Engage with stigmatized groups and speak out against negative behaviors.
- Share your plans with staff, volunteers, and key community partners and stakeholders. Develop training and educational materials about the plans for staff and volunteers.