Check out the crowdsourced local government COVID-19 response resources page!

COVID-19 learning & connection opportunities: week of March 30, 2020

Notes from 8:30 a.m. COVID-19 Virtual Hangout

Posted on March 13, 2020


virtual hangout notes

ELGL hosted a virtual hangout at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020. These are the notes and video from the call.


Listen to the 8:30 a.m. call

Reminder: ELGL has a crowdsourced resource page at ELGL.org/covid-19.

We’ll share the recording and the notes from today’s virtual hangout on this page so you can access the topics and resources we talk about today.

Question: I have a question about what other cities are doing with employees while facilities are closed.

  • Discussion about what you do when the technology has not caught up with working from home (e.g. only have a desktop computer, no remote-in access to network). 
  • KCMO, Corona, Irving will be sharing resources on the ELGL page when they’ve developed.
  • Discussion about COOP plans and where there are shortfalls in those plans during this particular pandemic situation.
  • We will circulate this question via ELGL social media to get more responses from people who are not on the hangout today.

Question: At some point ideas for community outreach when there are no community events.

  • Example is a recruitment effort and how to do community outreach when there aren’t any community meetings.
  • Graham at PublicInput.com: an increased use on digitial communications, social media, email, text messaging, is an option at this time. 
  • Idea is to get people to sign up for notices via text or email, and then push out messages and information that previously would have been shared in an in-person meeting.

Question: what are some ways to reach people who don’t use social media or aren’t as digital dependent?

  • Are people using one-on-ones, doorknob hangers, partnering with essential services, etc.?
  • “Passive recruitment” ideas like signage… but what if people aren’t leaving their homes? Mailers can get expensive.
  • Other passive approaches used to be directing people to community resources – libraries, community centers, etc. But now we can’t send people to those places and so those access points are there.
  • Low tech option for local communication is to use an advertising truck with a LED billboard.
  • Ask yourself – how did government do these things before technology? For example, newspapers: both earned and paid media.

Question: One question seems to be state and local govt powers to enforce quarantines. In NC, I think this is set by state law.

  • Jersey City, NJ has a 10pm curfew in effect: https://www.jerseycitynj.gov/
  • Set by state law in NC – but has to be granted by state to local authorities (ie schools and counties)
  • Here’s a concept shared by ELGL member Brendan Babb to use data to link up cases by geography.
  • Reminder from ELGL: Those who have COOP (Continuity of Operations Plans), this is something we get a lot of questions about. We’d love for you to post it on the website or share it in this chat so others who don’t yet have one have a template to work from during this transition. You can post your information at ELGL.org/covid-19.

Question: How do we ensure consistent messaging?

  • Susan Barkman in Aurora, CO shares: Work through one public health resource or point directly to that resource.
  • Joe Collins in Norwood, MA shares: “We started using a PR firm in Norwood, MA. I highly recommend it.”
  • KCMO Press Releases and announcements re closings and state of emergency declaration: https://www.kcmo.gov/Home/Components/News/News/245/625
  • Ariana Adame in Stockton, CA shares: the city has been using resources pushed to the local level from the state/Governor’s office. Information is changing and being updated so quickly, and so that’s creating some unease. Rules in CA related to large events with 250+ people are cancelled; a push to have the 6-foot distance between people. High risk people shouldn’t be in groups of 10+.
  • Robyn with City of Santa Clara: We have a dedicated webpage https://www.santaclaraca.gov/i-want-to/stay-informed/current-topics/coronavirus-updates where we are sharing information as it’s received. Aside from the dedicated webpage we are using social media, community letters, press releases, signage at facilities, scripts for employees receiving calls from the public
  • Kevin with Stockton PD: update that all sports, events, etc. through month of March have all been cancelled.
  • Schools in NC are going to virtual classrooms (closing for a few days to implement and then virtual classes through April 15) – not statewide, this is up to individual districts to decide, but likely more will join in the next few days. 

Question: Are municipalities closing municipal buildings and/or modifying levels of access to public buildings? Limited operational hours? Reducing parking enforcement, etc.? What are municipalities doing to enforce limited hours?

  • City of Raleigh (and many others) are not enforcing water shutoffs to ensure people have clean water and wastewater services.
  • Follow the always-amazing @1stLadyofWater for her updates on Greater Cincy Water Works shut off policy.
  • Denver Metro area cities are starting to close facilities… libraries, etc. Only one city (Commerce City) has closed city hall to the community.
  • From Andrea Enright, City of Eugene, OR: We are adding between 20-30 temporary hand wash stations to our public spaces. Hand wash stations will be delivered this morning, so we won’t have an update on how that is going for a while.
  • Robyn from Santa Clara, CA shared some of the messages they are using on flyers and in public spaces. Also have a script for employees answering calls. We’ll check in with her after this call to get these resources 

Question: Wondering how you’re all dealing with any lack of buy-in on social distancing efforts and cancellations – whether from residents, staff, or your Boards. Ours is unfortunately from our Board.

  • Marketing campaigns that shift the focus away from the individual, and instead focus on the wellbeing of your friends and family – the larger community impact and why that’s important. Making it a more emotional plea, and less about the individual.
  • A challenge is combatting the misinformation about the virus that can be quickly spread via social media. (Example: has anyone read the post from the “lung doctor” about the “10-second hold your breath challenge?”)
  • Mo Sorcini shares: “During a previous event, City of Glendale CA put up their own rumor page. (Snopes for locals)”
  • Catherine from Sacramento County shares: she tries to set an example with her own performance/behavior to show what people should be doing, e.g. using phone calls instead of in-person meetings.

Question: Does everyone have opt-in and signup strategies out in their communities so that residents can get information direct to them in real time from you (to combat the misinformation on social media, or the reliance on local media)?

  • What are communities doing to push out new information in real time, versus a more passive approach to assuming people will come to you to get information.
  • Robyn in Santa Clara: We have an e-notify system that people can sign up for to receive notices about COVID-19

Question: How are other handling travel restrictions for employees? Are restrictions set for a period of time such as mid-April or is the time frame undetermined?

  • From Graham: I was at Duke hospital yesterday and their doctors are resricted from travel until April 17
  • From Emily: Most people are putting an end date around mid-April for now, that I have seen.
  • From Susan: Any airplane travel is restricted until further notice, but employees can still attend regional meetings.

Let’s do this again in two weeks – things are shifting so rapidly. Or perhaps more frequently depending on how news develops.

From Susan: The rearview discussion will also be fascinating – how will this change things like telecommuting policies, other disaster preparedness plans, etc.

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