Fundamental shifts in preparedness planning are needed to ensure health, safety, and smooth operations during emergencies in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. To prepare for emergency events requiring evacuation, it is necessary to revise shelter planning and mass care operations, shelter staffing, and shelter design and operations with a focus on reducing virus transmission and ensuring safety. Developing effective public messaging is also critical during the pandemic and requires advance planning and familiarity with the needs and characteristics of the communities being served.
This rapid expert consultation details what is known from research on evacuation behavior, social responses to disaster, and risk communication, as well as lessons learned from emergency managers, public health departments, local officials, and human service providers, as the second year of the pandemic unfolds. It includes strategies for (1) evacuation plans, (2) sheltering operations, and (3) risk communication best practices for public officials confronting hazards and disasters.
The Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) is an activity of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. SEAN links researchers in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences with decision makers to respond to policy questions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. This project is affiliated with the National Academies' Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.
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