March 12, 2020

COVID-19: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR NONPROFITS ON THE LAW, PROTECTING YOUR EMPLOYERS, AND UNDERSTANDING THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

3/24/2020: NEW COVID-19 PAGE ON THE HWCLI WEBSITE

HWCLI is now maintaining a separate page with all COVID-19 information and resources. Click here.

 

3/12/2020: COVID-19: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR NONPROFITS ON THE LAW, PROTECTING YOUR EMPLOYERS, AND UNDERSTANDING THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

Critical Legal Information that Nonprofit Employers Need to Know Regarding COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is in many ways a completely unprecedented situation, and as such, many individuals and organizations may feel unsure or unprepared about how to respond and proceed.

This is especially true for nonprofits who have complicated legal and financial bylaws and mandates.

The Lawyer’s Alliance of New York has compiled this document, outlining legal considerations regarding sick employees, duties to provide safe and healthy workplaces, what employers can and can’t do, and rules around quarantine and sickness.

Additionally, the Human Services Council has developed a COVID-19 Resources for Human Services Providers page, and is hosting a webinar tomorrow (Friday, March 13) from 12 – 1p for human services providers on COVID-19. Click here for more information and to register.

 

Suffolk State of Emergency Declaration and What It Means
Today, Suffolk County declared a State of Emergency, which lifts some restrictions and provides powers including bypassing purchasing regulations, thus allowing the county to act more quickly. A State of Emergency declaration shouldn’t cause panic, but instead can be seen as a measure that our local governments are taking to ensure they have the tools to respond to COVID-19 needs more quickly and effectively. Suffolk County Steve Bellone “said the declaration will ‘allow county government to more quickly respond to the emergency,’ including by purchasing ‘critical supplies’ like hand sanitizer, protective gear, gowns, masks and moving staff as needed.”

For more on what a State of Emergency means, here’s an article from the Patch published yesterday.

 

Better Understanding “Imminent Public Threat” in Nassau
As of Thursday Afternoon, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran declared an “Imminent Threat to Public Health” in Nassau County. This is an interim step toward declaring a State of Emergency:

“We are having ongoing conversations with the state about what kind of measures can be taken if there are any clusters that emerge,” Curran said. “At this moment, it is too soon to say what that looks like, however by declaring an imminent threat to public health, it does pave the way for us to declare a state of emergency.”

Although it seems intimidating, residents should remember that a state of emergency is a strategic move to allow county governments to allocate resources, and respond more quickly and efficiently than they would normally.

For more on what a State of Emergency means, here’s an article from the Patch published yesterday.

 

Limiting Mass Gatherings in New York State
Governor Cuomo announced a ban on gatherings of 500 or more people on Thursday. For gatherings under 500 people and for venues, capacity has been cut by half. This does not, however, apply to schools, hospitals, mass transit, and nursing homes.

While this can sound quite alarming, it’s vital to remember that it is a preventative measure-critical to limiting the potential effects of COVID-19. By reducing the volume of individuals at public gatherings, the risk of transmission decreases, and thus helps reduce the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients so that hospitals can maintain the capacity to treat them.

Separating Fact from Fear
There is an overabundance of misinformation, rumors, and fear-laden language being employed to discuss COVID-19. As always, we urge you to seek information from reliable sources such as:

Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that cause you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones.

COVID-19 has and is likely to affect people from many countries, in many geographical locations. Don’t attach it to any ethnicity or nationality. Be empathetic to those who got affected, in and from any country, those with the disease have not done anything wrong.

 

Mental Health
The mental health effects of COVID-19 should be taken seriously. Even for those unaffected by the disease, the constant stream of alarming updates from news media can be overwhelming.

Stress Mitigation and Mental Health Guidance from WHO

Seek information updates, and practical guidance at specific times during the day once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts. Gather information at regular intervals, from WHO website and local health authorities’ platforms, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors.

During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Keep things in perspective. Public health agencies and experts in all countries are working on the outbreak to ensure the availability of the best care to those affected. Stay connected and maintain your social networks. Even in situations of isolations, try as much as possible to keep your personal daily routines

Protect yourself and be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper

For health workers, feeling stressed is an experience that you and many of your health worker colleagues are likely going through; in fact, it is quite normal to be feeling this way in the current situation. Stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak. Managing your stress and psycho-social well-being during this time is as important as managing your physical health.

 

Disaster Distress Helpline
The Disaster Distress Helpline remains open 24/7/265 for those who may be experiencing psychological distress related to COVID-19.

News of COVID-19 cases on Long Island as well as state of emergency declarations may understandably be a cause of stress for many people. It as important a time as ever to be mindful of the ways in which information may be impacting our mental health. SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline is available and can provide immediate support to those in need.

Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. The helpline is available 24/7/365.

If you, or someone you care for is prone to anxiety or depression, you can also see these tips from the WHO on anxiety management for caregivers and individuals.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

  • Text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • Use your preferred relay service to call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990
  • TTY 1-800-846-8517

Spanish Speakers 

  • Call 1-800-985-5990 and press “2”
  • From the 50 States, text Hablanos to 66746
  • From Puerto Rico, text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663
  • En Español

 

 

3/10/2020: SPECIALIZED INFORMATION FOR NONPROFITS REGARDING COVID-19

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is not currently an emergency on Long Island, many of our partners have requested guidance as we plan, prepare, and respond, especially in light of the World Health Organization now officially designating the virus as a global pandemic.

We have enclosed up-to-date resources on risk mitigation, contingency planning. We are asking partner organizations to complete this brief capacity survey and needs assessment, indicating what services you are able to provide in the event of a wider outbreak as well as what needs your organization or community has related to COVID-19. Please complete this as soon as possible.

Statement from the LIVOAD (Long Island Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster):

In light of the recent declaration of a State of Emergency by Governor Cuomo, the LIVOAD has reached out to County and State Offices of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. There are no directives or requests for assistance to share at this time. We will continue to provide regular updates as they become available. At this time, we are on standby, monitoring the situation and awaiting further instruction. There is no change in our state EOC Status at this time.

Please help us ensure that accurate and useful information is disseminated throughout our communities. Although there seems to be an abundance of live updates, predictions, and coverage, please only consult reputable sources such as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Local Government Resources

Nassau County:
Nassau County DoH: Coronavirus/COVID-19 Website (Click here)
Nassau County Coronavirus Call Center Number: 516-227-9570

Suffolk County:
Suffolk County DoH Coronavirus/COVID19 Website (Click here)
Suffolk County Call Center: Call 311

A few key resources from the CDC and the WHO:

What You Need To Know (PDF – CDC):
English (Click here)
Simplified Chinese (Click here)
Spanish (Click here)

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (CDC)
What To Do If You Are Sick With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)

Prevention
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Interim Guidance for Community- and Faith-Based Organizations
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.

Checklist for Community and Faith Leaders
Community- and faith-based organizations are encouraged to prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in their communities. Use this checklist to protect the health of those you serve and staff in your care.

Special Considerations For Nonprofit Employers
In the nonprofit sector, we generally depend on our staff to wear many hats in the course of a day. With limited funds, our human resources are beyond precious. This article outlines several employee-centric strategies for employers including how to gauge needs with an ADA Compliant Pandemic Survey, as well as tips to reduce workplace stress.

Due to the unique nature of our funding streams through grants, CEO’s may want to reach out to their funders to check in about deliverables, outcomes, and timelines. This guidance philanthropy.com outlines several important considerations.

Interim Guidelines for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to COVID-19
As with any disasters, it’s best to have plans in place for how to respond. The CDC offers guidelines for employers on how to manage in the event that COVID-19 significantly impacts employees and business functions. To learn more about this, please click here.

Telecommuting Resources
Many workplaces are opting to have employees work from home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here is information to consider as well as tools that are available to you and your organization to facilitate remote work.

  • GoToMeeting by LogMeIn (click here) is offering eligible non-profits and other entities free Emergency Remote Work kits to allow organiation-wide use of many LogMeIn products for three months.
  • Cisco WebEx (click here) is offering free WebEx meetings for non-profits, the education sector, and nonprofits.

Stigma Related to COVID-19

From the CDC:
“Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma towards Chinese or other Asian Americans. Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease (for example, Chinese-Americans and other Asian-Americans living in the United States).
Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem. We can fight stigma and help not hurt others by providing social support. We can communicate the facts that being Chinese or Asian American does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.”

From the WHO:
COVID-19 has and is likely to affect people from many countries, in many geographical locations. Don’t attach it to any ethnicity or nationality. Be empathetic to those who got affected, in and from any country, those with the disease have not done anything wrong.
Don’t refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19 families” or the “diseased”. They are “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19”, “people who are recovering from COVID-19” and after recovering from COVID-19 their life will go on with their jobs, families and loved ones.

Mental Health
News of COVID-19 cases on Long Island as well as the state of emergency declaration in New York State may understandably be a cause of stress for many people. It as important a time as ever to be mindful of the ways in which information may be impacting our mental health. SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline is available and can provide immediate support to those in need.

Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. The helpline is available 24/7/365.

If you, or someone you care for is prone to anxiety or depression, you can also see these tips from the WHO on anxiety management for caregivers and individuals.

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Established in 1947, the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI) is a regional, nonprofit umbrella organization for health and human service providers. We are dedicated to improving the lives of Long Island’s most vulnerable residents by responding to their needs through the promotion and development of public policies and direct services.

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