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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

Preventing & Managing the Spread of COVID-19 Within Domestic Violence Programs

Friday, March 13, 2020

As the coronavirus outbreak reaches pandemic proportions, domestic violence organizations providing training and technical assistance on the national and state levels are seeing an increase in requests from community-based shelters across the country for accurate information and guidance on how to plan, prepare, and respond to this emerging public health threat.

While there is still much to learn about the novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), presently the general guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same strategies used every day to detect and prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses like influenza.

Communal settings like domestic violence shelters are environments where a number of people reside, meet, or gather in close proximity for either a limited or extended period of time. Other particular aspects of shelter living such as restrictions on resident movement and lack of alternative work schedules for staff, make these environments especially vulnerable to infectious diseases.

In an effort to strengthen the capacity of individuals and organizations serving domestic violence survivors and their children, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) gathered select resources below that can offer helpful guidance for domestic violence programs in preparing for and responding to the coronavirus pandemic. A wealth of information and recommendations have been developed and made widely available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including specific guidance for homeless shelters. These resources can be adapted and used by domestic violence shelter facilities. However, special attention should be given to privacy and confidentiality laws when working with domestic violence survivors in regards to handling the current public health concerns due to COVID-19 (please see COVID-19: Coalition Guidance for Programs available from the National Network to End Domestic Violence).

Note: Domestic violence programs are advised to contact and collaborate with their respective local and state’s health department, State & U.S. Territory Coalition, municipal inspectional services, and local public housing authorities to develop specific protocols and procedures to prevent and manage the spread of COVID-19 within their shelter facilities.

General Guidance

“CDC is aggressively responding to the global outbreak of COVID-19 and community spread in the United States. CDC’s ‘All of Community’ approach is focused to slowing the transmission of COVID-19 and reducing illness and death, while minimizing social and economic impacts.” This page offers guidance from CDC on preventing COVID-19 spread in communities.

This document provides guidance around simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace, how to manage COVID-19 risks when organizing meetings and events, things to consider when you and your employees travel, and getting your workplace ready in case COVID-19 arrives in your community.

Shelter Settings

This resource offers critical information for coalitions to use in providing technical assistance or guidance to local domestic violence programs. NNEDV has developed additional resources to help domestic violence coalitions, service providers, and advocates support survivors and operate effectively. Key resources on NNEDV’s COVID-19 resource page include Using Technology to Communicate with Survivors During a Public Health Crisis, Best Practices for Mobile Advocacy, How to Operate as a Remote Workplace During a Public Health Crisis, and more.

Persons experiencing homelessness may be at risk for infection during an outbreak of COVID-19. This interim guidance is intended to support response planning by homeless service providers, including overnight emergency shelters, day shelters, and meal service providers.

The goal of this document is to help homeless shelter operators develop plans to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the shelter facility, consider facility readiness and response plans in the event of widespread transmission and implement detailed guidance. This guidance is based on the best information currently available and will be updated as more is learned about the COVID-19 outbreak. The NYC Health Department may change its recommendations as the situation evolves.

“Preparing for a coronavirus outbreak is on the minds of many homelessness assistance providers and system leaders, especially how it may impact service delivery. As the field prepares for a potential coronavirus outbreak, resources from partners are now available to help prepare for the impact of COVID-19.” This page outlines some key takeaways.

This document focuses on developing and implementing sanitation guidelines within the emergency shelter system of a CoC to prevent and address the spread of infectious disease. It provides guidance and tools for use by CoC Boards, Collaborative Applicants, and homeless crisis response providers such as shelter staff. These are resources that a CoC can adapt and incorporate into local written standards, contracts, daily standard operating procedures, and monitoring protocols.

This document is a guide on how to create shelter environments that are safe and healthy for residents and staff. This guide was developed for homeless shelters, and it provides information on health practices that minimize the spread of communicable diseases in general. Included are sample policies on standard precautions for shelter settings.

This planning guide is a tool to support planning for pandemic influenza in the homeless and housing service sector, offering new practices for day-to-day operations that will help during an influenza pandemic or any other emergency.

Faith-Based & Community Organizations

This page highlights resources for community- and faith-based leaders, including Interim Guidance around sanitation recommendations and a checklist for community and faith leaders.

“The collaboration of Faith-Based and Community Organizations with public health agencies will be essential in protecting the public’s health and safety if and when an influenza pandemic occurs. This checklist provides guidance for religious organizations (churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc.), social service agencies that are faith- based, and community organizations in developing and improving influenza pandemic response and preparedness plans.”

Pregnant Women & Children

“There is not currently information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.” Information about children and pregnant women and COVID-19 is available on this page.

Awareness & Education Resources

CDC offers free resources including video, fact sheets, and posters to share the facts about COVID-19 and help prevent the spread of the disease. These materials are designed to be shared widely.

Additional Resources