Just days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and the levees broke in New Orleans, evacuees began arriving at the Houston Astrodome. About 25,000 people sheltered there. (FEMA photo/Andrea Booher)

FEMA Releases Guidance for Providing Mass Care During a Pandemic

Given the unique circumstances presented by a pandemic environment, planning ahead to ensure the resources, facilities and workers needed to provide shelter services and maintain the health and well-being of survivors and workers is critical. To support an effective state-managed, locally executed and federally supported response to disasters occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA developed guidance to assist state, tribal and territorial governments in planning mass care delivery.

The Mass Care/Emergency Assistance Pandemic Planning Considerations guide provides information on sheltering, feeding, evacuation and the federal resource request process. This guidance was developed using health and safety planning information and requirements outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During disasters, state and territory governors, tribal chief executives and voluntary organizations are responsible for the coordination of shelter and feeding programs through their mass care and emergency management offices. The safe and successful delivery of mass care services during a pandemic requires complex planning and coordination between state, local and voluntary agencies. Facilities that previously served as congregate shelters may need to be modified and non-congregate facilities will need to be identified. The ability of local voluntary organization staff and volunteers to support mass care functions may also be strained due to pandemic impacts.

The guide is one of several resources that FEMA, other federal agencies and the American Red Cross are providing to support state, local, tribal and territory governments to ensure they are able to respond to any disaster during the continued whole-of-America coronavirus response efforts.

Read more at FEMA

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