Serving Nonprofits. Strengthening West Virginia.

Plan, Prepare, Prevent (and Don’t Panic): A Guide for Preparing for an Outbreak in Your Community

If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community, it could last for several weeks. Depending on the severity, public health officials may recommend community actions to reduce the spread of the virus, such as social distancing and quarantines that may impact your nonprofit. Recommendations for these measures may include flexible sick-leave and telework policies for nonprofit employees and temporary school dismissals.

Nonprofits may potentially face a range or impacts due to the virus, such as:

  • Increased or sustained staff and volunteer absences.
  • Disruption of services to your clients and communities.
  • Disruption of supplies or services provided by partners.
  • Cancellation of programs or events, causing reduced revenues.
  • Increased demand for services or support to clients and communities.
  • Reduced budges from funder priorities changing to meet the new needs caused by the virus.

Before a COVID-19 Outbreak Occurs in Your Community: PLAN

  • Establish a Communications Plan

The CDC offers plans, resources, and tools for communicating before, during, and after a public health crisis. Make sure you have a Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Plan. During your planning process, engage key partners in both public and private sectors, such as local businesses, schools, community organizations, and community leaders. The 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, type of services, and populations that you serve.

  • Connect to Community-Wide Planning

Find out if your local government has an emergency planning group that is meeting regularly. Building strong alliances before an outbreak will provide your organization with support and resources needed to respond effectively. Also, your input as a community leader helps complete and strengthen emergency operation plans for your community.

Make Sure Your Nonprofit is Ready to Respond: PREPARE

Make sure you have a good contingency plan in place and develop flexible policies and procedures to accommodate public health recommendations. This may include Flexible Sick-Leave and Telework policies, including:

  • Actively encouraging sick employees (and volunteers) to stay home.
  • Separating sick employees until they are able to go home.
  • Emphasizing staying home when sick.
  • Performing routine environmental cleaning.

Ensure your employees and volunteers are aware of and have reviewed your emergency preparedness plan and have focused discussions about exercising the plan. Share with employees what your policies are on leave flexibilities and what pay and benefits will be available to them.

Communicate with funders and suppliers regarding the primary and secondary effects your organization is encountering. If an outbreak occurs in your community, you may be faced with decisions about cancelling events or temporarily suspending some of your services. Make sure you are keeping funders and suppliers aware of how the outbreak is impacting your organization and community.

Keep up to date on how COVID-19 is potentially impacting your state and community. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources all have timely, updated information on developments regarding the virus and how it may impact your community.

Keep Yourself and Your Community Healthy: PREVENT

It might seem intuitive, but it bears repeating. There are a lot of simple ways to stop the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or sneeze into your elbow and not your hand. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Wash your hands often to help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  [Note: People are more likely to infect themselves by touching a contaminated surface such as a doorknob,and then touching a mucous membrane.]
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • It’s not too late to get a flu shot.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
  • Tell your employees to stay home if they are sick. Additionally, consider offering remote work/telecommuting if this is an option.
  • In policies, communications, and actions, be sure that your team members, volunteers, and clients/constituents recognize your commitment to their health and safety.
  • Avoid and condemn discrimination and stigma. Instead, focus on the facts and ensuring the safety of our communities.

Stay Informed about COVID-19: DON’T PANIC

Rely on professional sources of information that provide facts about the spread and prevention of the virus. Informed communities prepare, plan, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 without panic. Click here for resources for you to help lead your organization and community in a positive direction.