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Communities on the Frontline: Week of May 4

Release Date

Across the country, communities are using innovative approaches to support COVID-19 response efforts. Each week, FEMA is highlighting these extraordinary efforts so that other others can learn from and expand on them. This week focuses on communities building new communication strategies that highlight the power and importance of effective communication.

Medical Supplies Facebook Group

A Facebook group called Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS) supports an international network of medical professional, engineers, writers and more in sharing ideas and information and asking for help. Posts on the group so far have included mask, gown and face shield designs, and companies that have manufactured PPE and are looking for places to donate.

Senior Citizen Call Center Resource

Henrico County, Virginia, has launched an “isolation-specific” call outreach center to aid senior citizens. The call center is staffed by furloughed librarians to help to combat negative effects of social isolation. Senior citizens may call with questions regarding resources, to set up times for wellness checks, or to simply talk. The center staff is available daily from 7 a.m. -7 p.m. to provide a resource to talk to during COVID-19.

Managing Call Influx

Company call centers across industries are fielding an abundance of calls from customers inquiring about online orders, seeking refunds or forbearance. Many employers are seeking new workers to manage the heightened call volume. One option is hiring individuals with disabilities. The National Telecommuting Institute, a non-profit that works with the Social Security Administration to fill telecommuting jobs for people with disabilities, has been approached by numerous companies seeking workers. The institute trains individuals and aids them in acquiring necessary equipment and broadband internet connections allowing them to efficiently work from home

Seattle’s Approach to COVID-19

The first diagnosis of COVID-19 in the United States occurred in a Seattle suburb. Upon learning of the first diagnosis, doctors and nurses recognized that what they communicated was just as important as the response. As a result, members of the public entering Seattle-area hospitals were asked questions regarding foreign travel, respiratory issues and recent interactions with others upon arrival. Epidemiologists began persuading citizens to forgo travel and socializing even when it is not evident that they were directly at risk.

These stories are part of the FEMA Best Practice initiative which focuses on compiling the best practices and lessons learned from communities fighting COVID-19.  To see more stories like this, visit the Best Practices page.

Last updated March 17, 2021