COVID-19: Community and Faith-Based

Below is guidance for various types of organizations and service providers operating and providing assistance or safeguards in our communities.

Our communities are taking actions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Please see below for recommendations on steps that can be taken by specific groups.

Recommendations will change as we move through Wisconsin’s roadmap to reopen using public health principles of testing, tracing, and tracking the new coronavirus to decrease COVID-19 cases and death. 

 We Are Still Safer at Home

The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community is to stay home

 

 Beaches

As summer approaches, many Wisconsinites are excited to spend time at our state’s many beaches. We are providing guidance to help you enjoy beaches while still protecting yourself from COVID-19. However, if beach operators cannot maintain a safe environment by ensuring physical distancing among beachgoers, DHS recommends that the beach close to the public.

General Recommendations for the Public

  • If you decide to visit a beach, keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others, including on the beach, in the parking lot, and in the water. 
  • Do not wear a mask in the water. Continue to wear a mask when physical distancing is difficult while outside of the water. 
  • We understand that people may not feel comfortable wearing a mask due to medical concerns or fear profiling or racial discrimination. Please be kind and don’t judge or make assumptions.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If running water is not available, use environmentally friendly, sulfate-free soap and rinse with bottled water (if available) or lake/river water, at least 200’ from the shore. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after rinsing with lake/river water, or if soap and water are not available. 
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after putting on sunscreen, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
  • There is more risk for catching or spreading COVID-19 while traveling. If you choose to visit a beach, do so in your local community. 

Considerations to Support Safer Beach Environments

The recommendations below are steps you can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the beach. The recommendations may not fit all situations. Beach operators should work with your local or tribal public health departments to determine the best plan for your site.

For Beach Operators

  • If it is not possible for beach operators to maintain a safe environment to prevent the spread of COVID-19, beaches should close to the public. This includes ensuring that beachgoers from different households can stay at least six feet apart. Local municipalities, towns and tribes also have the right to close beaches proactively in anticipation of crowds and unsafe beach environments.  
  • Think through ways you can reduce crowds. For example, limit activities to only fishing and exercise in the water while encouraging people to picnic and sunbathe in other, less busy, areas. 
  • Think through ways you can limit people at the beach. For example you can try a timed pass system, limiting parking spaces, or limiting other access points. 
  • Consider providing a way for beachgoers to check-out crowd size before leaving their homes.
  • Post signs that tell people what activities they are allowed to do. Be sure the signs are translated to languages spoken in your community. 
    • Some example signs ideas are: maintaining physical distancing, washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, staying home when sick, closing toilet lids when flushing (if applicable), changing into your swimsuit before you leave home, and wearing face masks for those who do not have medical concerns or fear of racial discrimination.
  • Consider closing or limiting access to: concession stands, playgrounds, and outdoor exercise equipment.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect restrooms and other commonly shared surfaces and spaces around the beach according to CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. Any items available to be rented should be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  • You can help beachgoers know how far apart they should be by providing markings to show appropriate physical distance.
  • If feasible, train beach ambassadors to educate beachgoers about physical distancing and the use of cloth face coverings while visiting the beach. 
  • Lifeguards on duty should be focused on water safety and should not be responsible for monitoring and enforcing physical distancing. 
  • Ensure beach staff have appropriate personal protective equipment needed to do their job safely. Lifeguards should have access to a mask or cloth face covering to use when responding to situations requiring close contact outside of the water, but should not wear a mask when responding to an emergency in the water.
  • Encourage people to wear cloth face coverings when not in the water. Consider giving out cloth face coverings for people to use.

For Beachgoers

  • If the beach is too crowded to keep a safe distance, you should come back at a less busy time or visit a less busy beach.
  • Do not go to the beach if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or think you have been around someone sick with the virus.
  • Expect new rules to be in place to protect you against catching COVID-19 at the beach. You can become familiar with the new rules by checking with local parks and recreation, or public health departments, local beach managers, or local lifeguard departments before heading out. Follow all signs posted at the beach as well as all local laws, regulations, and ordinances.
  • Bring disinfecting wipes or table coverings if you plan to use picnic tables or other shared surfaces, and disinfect before and after use. Allow proper time for disinfectants to work according to the instructions on the package.
  • Watch where you step and put beach blankets down to ensure there are no sharp objects present.
  • Don’t share beach equipment with people outside of your household, including rental beach chairs, kayaks, or beach toys, throwing a Frisbee or tossing a ball.
  • There may be fewer lifeguards than usual, or none at all. Please be mindful of your safety.
  • Don’t use unofficial access points to swim or otherwise get into the water. These areas may be closed to swimming (for example due to high use for fishing) or otherwise not maintained and may be dangerous for visitors or cause resource damage. Additionally, these areas are likely not monitored for water quality, unlike designated swimming beaches (for more information, visit Wisconsin Beach Health).
  • Avoid using a public rest room. Keep beach visits short enough and close enough to home so that you won’t need a bathroom break. 
  • Change into your swimsuit before leaving home. 
  • Plan ahead in case you need to use a public bathroom.
    • Bring hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipe
    • Wear a cloth face covering if you feel comfortable doing so
    • Close the toilet lid before flushing
    • Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds
    • Air dryers or paper towel dispensers may be unavailable; bring disposable towels for drying hands if needed
  • Avoid bathing in the lake. If necessary to use soap (even biodegradable soap), please use it at least 200’ away from the shore. 
  • Trash cans may be full or unavailable. Plan to take your trash home to throw out.
  • After you get home, clean all beach equipment with household disinfectants.

Why are beaches allowed to open when public pools are supposed to remain closed?

We recommend that all public pools, splash pads, and waterparks remain closed. This is because COVID-19 can spread easily in crowded spaces. It is hard to keep physical distancing while swimming or playing in pools, splash pads, and waterparks. 

We recommend that beaches only open when people can keep at least 6 feet apart, which is easier to do in larger outdoor areas and bodies of water. Staying 6 feet apart from others outside of our household is one of our most important tools to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. 

 Blood Banks

Blood Collection

This guidance is intended to support blood collection site operations. There is a severe blood shortage and donors are urgently needed. Respiratory viruses, in general, are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus.

Blood donated at collection sites supports multiple types of patients (for example, trauma, sickle cell, and burn). The steps below include and complement the routine procedures followed at blood collection sites.

How can blood banks prevent spread of infection?

  • Environmental infection control
    • Wiping down donor-touched areas after every collection. Clean and disinfect environmental surfaces in accordance with standard facility protocols after each donor has vacated the station and before setting up for arrival of a new donor at that station. Ensure that environmental cleaning and disinfection procedures are followed consistently and correctly.
    • Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
    • Preparing the arm for donation with aseptic scrub.
    • Enhanced disinfecting of equipment. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. See the CDC COVID-19 Disinfection Guidance and general CDC disinfection guidance for more information. Additionally, if a confirmed case is identified, follow the steps in the DHS Disinfection and Cleaning after a COVID-19 case flyer.
    • Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering and throughout the donation appointment.
  • When scheduling appointments, consider educating donors to refrain from blood donation if they have:
    • Fever (>100.4°F) AND/OR respiratory symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath).
    • Cared for, lived with, or otherwise had close contact with individuals diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.
    • Been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.
  • Monitoring donors upon arrival and monitoring staff.
    • Screen prospective donors at check-in and monitor staff and volunteers for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection, as well as exposure risk, such as close contact with a person who has COVID-19 symptoms or who was confirmed to have COVID-19.
    • Take the temperature of prospective donors and exclude individuals with fever (>100.4°F) AND/OR respiratory symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath). Ill individuals should be asked to put on a face mask and separated from others until they can be isolated and sent home.
    • Conduct standard staff health assessments prior to all blood drives. Apply the same standards listed above for prospective donors to staff. Staff and visitors who present with fever or respiratory infection symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) should be sent home as soon as possible. Separate them from others and have them don a face mask until they go home. When feasible, identify areas where these individuals can be isolated prior to being sent home.
    • Follow current recommendations for the screening and potential deferral of blood and plasma donors, available in FDA’s Updated Information for Blood Establishments Regarding the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak.
    • Encourage staff to assess themselves each day before leaving for work for symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If experiencing new onset of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, OR shortness of breath, remain at home and contact the established point of contact (public health authorities or their facility’s occupational health program) for medical evaluation prior to returning to work. If any of the above symptoms develop while at work, cease collection facility activities, notify your supervisor, minimize contact with others in facility, and go home promptly.
  • Social distancing
    • Spacing beds and chairs, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between donors.
    • During this time, blankets typically used by platelet, Power Red, and AB Elite donors at Red Cross blood donation centers will be laundered after each use, which may limit their availability. Donors are encouraged to bring their own blankets, but electric blankets and heating pads are not permitted.
  • Additional staff measures
    • Designate a time to meet with your staff and volunteers to educate them on COVID-19 and what they may need to do to prepare.
    • Talk to them about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and actions blood collection centers are taking to protect them.
    • Instruct staff and volunteers not to report to work when ill. Implement and reinforce sick leave policies that are nonpunitive, flexible, and consistent with public health guidance.
    • Follow hand hygiene guidance to help prevent person-to-person spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. Staff should use an alcohol-based hand rub when indicated or wash their hands with soap and water between contacts with different blood donors. If gloves are used, staff should change their gloves and perform hand hygiene between contact with different blood donors. Perform hand hygiene often and properly. CDC has posters with messages and graphics for all ages on appropriate handwashing techniques, which should be posted by all restrooms.
    • With regard to staff safety, the wearing of gloves and hand cleansing are governed by OSHA requirements pertaining to bloodborne pathogens.

If there was a COVID-19 confirmed donor, visitor, or staff member at the blood bank, how can the blood bank proceed?

Clean and disinfect all potentially contaminated surfaces.

  • It is recommended to close off areas used by ill persons and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize the potential for exposure to respiratory droplets.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Wait, if possible, up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (for example, offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces. There is no recommended minimum amount of time that employers should wait after disinfection protocols have been implemented before employees can return to work in that area.

Individuals who were not wearing recommended personal protective equipment and have had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 should self-quarantine and self-monitor at home for 14 days from when they last had contact with the infected person.

When can an individual recovering from illness return to work/donate?

Staff, donors, or visitors with fever or respiratory symptoms should be excluded from the site and separated from the general population until they have completed a period of isolation. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 may return only if the following criteria are met:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath).
  • At least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Additionally, the CDC provides criteria for individuals that tested positive for COVID-19 related to discontinue home isolation.

Resources:

 Breastfeeding, and Pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it is not known if pregnant woman are more likely to get sick from COVID-19 or if they are more likely to be seriously ill if they contract the virus. The effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy and the health of the baby are currently not known. During prior outbreaks caused by similar viruses, it was found that pregnant women and babies could be at risk of becoming sick.

The CDC defines pregnant women as an at-risk population because they are known to be at higher risk for severe viral illness due to suppressed immune systems. The body naturally suppresses the immune system during pregnancy to tolerate a developing fetus, which is genetically unique. Therefore, it is important to take precautions that will ensure the health of both mother and baby.

Mothers who are exposed or infected with COVID-19 may breastfeed or express breast milk for their infants while taking precautions to avoid spread of the virus. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine released a Statement on Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) based on CDC and WHO recommendations.

Resources

Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Resources

 Camping

The best way to stay safe is to stay home and limit outings to essential trips only. There are other, safer, options compared to camping. You can try: backyard camping, virtual tours of national parks, or building blanket forts indoors. 

This guidance is for campers and people who visit campgrounds. The goal is to decrease risks and promote safety and prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

By taking these steps, you can reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19 to other areas. Many popular areas to camp in our state have fewer resources, doctors, or hospitals.

Planning and Preparing

  • If you are in regular, close contact with anyone who is at higher risk (elderly, immunocompromised, or individuals with underlying health issues), camping may not be a safe option for you. If you decide to camp, avoid camping or close contact with people who you do not live with. 
  • Research the campground you want to visit and know what the campground’s current policies are. You should follow their policies and plan your visit around them. Some example policy changes are:
    • Capacity limits—including closing or restricting some campsites.
    • Closed, limited, or restricted access to areas such as restrooms, showers, shelters, towers, beaches, swimming areas, and campground headquarters.
    • Screening visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 or recent travel.
  • Plan to stay local. Camp in your own community. Buy supplies and groceries in your own area to bring with you. Don't go to stores near the campsite to get supplies. Measures like these help to reduce the possibility that you spread COVID-19 to other areas, especially ones with fewer resources, doctors, or hospitals. 
  • Minimize trips away from your campground. Bring extra supplies with you such as sunscreen, insect repellent, food, and toiletries.
  • Keep camping groups limited to people that you live with. If camping with others who don't live with you, set up camp with physical distancing in mind and plan for activities that will allow you to maintain 6 feet or more of physical distance from those whom you don't live with.
  • Plan for a "Leave No Trace" camping experience. Assume garbage and recycling bins are not provided. Visitors are asked to take all of their garbage, recyclables, and other waste with them when they leave.
  • Check the weather ahead of time so you can be sure to bring all the camping equipment you will need to be safe.
  • If you or anyone in your group feels sick or believes they have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, do not visit a campground.

Equipment

  • Avoid renting or borrowing camping equipment.
  • Bring cleaning and sanitizing supplies with you.
    • Bring soap and jugs of water to ensure you can wash your hands often.
    • Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and sanitize hands often, especially if hand-washing is not possible.
    • Bring cleaning and sanitizing supplies in case you need to share items. Clean each item in between use.
    • Campground staff may not be available for cleaning and sanitizing public areas. Bring cleaning and sanitizing products to clean common areas such as restrooms, picnic tables, and shelters.
  • Bring several large garbage bags—with the extra hand-washing and cleaning measures, you may produce more waste than you are used to, and some campgrounds may have closed waste pick-up services.
  • Bring your own water—some campgrounds may have limited access to public water sources (for example, water fountains or water pumps). Bring large water containers to minimize trips to faucets, which can be congregation points.

Activities While Camping

  • Limit shared items, food, or other equipment to people that live together.
  • Limit people sharing tents or other close sleeping quarters to those who live together.
  • Wash hands frequently. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in situations where maintaining 6 feet of physical distance may be difficult, if you are able to do so safely.
  • Avoid direct physical contact and maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others who do not live with you.
  • Avoid organizing or participating in activities or sports that involve or encourage large groups of people who do not live together to congregate, touch shared items (volleyball, spikeball), or have direct physical contact with one another.
  • If you are concerned about any exposure you have had while camping, try to stay home to the best of your ability for 14 days after your camping trip.
  • If you receive a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 within 14 days of your camping trip, contact your local or tribal health department to alert them and let them know where and when you were camping, and who you were camping with.

Additional Resources

 Co-Parenting

See COVID-19 and Shared Custody from the Department of Children and Families

 Community Gardens

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Las Pautas para Las Jardinerías Comunitarias bajo la orden “Más seguro en casa”

The following are best practices and considerations for garden coordinators and gardeners to support the safe operation of a critical community food source while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Each garden should proactively take action to provide a safe environment, while considering the unique needs of the community. Not all recommendations will be suitable for all gardens.

For Garden Organizers/Coordinators

Safety measures:

  • Cancel all events and group work days and make other arrangements for garden tasks, such as tilling by machine or hand, planting, fertilizing and soil amending, planting, watering, pest management, maintenance, and harvesting.
  • Create a garden schedule based on plot location or number.
  • If anticipating large numbers of gardeners (for examples, weekends), create a schedule to stagger times for arrival and availability to reduce crowds and allow for safe spacing. One option is to divide the plots into two groups based on a checkerboard design, having separate shifts (for example, AM/PM, Sat/Sun) for each group to increase spacing.
  • Consider creating designated work hours only for vulnerable populations and those at higher risk.
  • Consider limiting access to or not supplying common or shared tools.
    • Do not allow for the sharing of gardening gloves.
    • If limiting or not supplying, consider providing information on where to get low- or no-cost supplies.
    • If limiting or not supplying, consider working with community partners to obtain donated supplies that can be given to an individual for personal use.
    • If limiting access, provide information on proper cleaning and disinfection of tools and instructions on where to dispose of cleaning material safely off-site.
    • Limit access to tools with wooden handles as much as possible; if accepting tool donations, specify that you are seeking tools with hard, nonporous material for the handles, such as aluminum or plastic, as they are easier to clean and disinfect. If sharing tools or a wheelbarrow with wooden handles, clean the handles with a detergent or soap and water, and wipe the outer surface with a disinfectant.
  • Consider that items that cannot easily be cleaned (for example, garden hoses) could be a site for the transfer of the virus.
    • Require gardeners to wash hands before and after handling the hose.
    • If possible, hoses could be locked up permanently and alternative sources for watering could be used, such as providing individual watering cans or gallon jugs.
  • Commonly touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly (for example, gates, railings, water spigots, tables, doorknobs).
  • Consider leaving garden gates open during hours of operation to avoid frequent contact with gate and handles.
  • Remove or cordon off public benches, picnic tables, or any other shared spaces that may promote close contact.

Communication:

  • Clearly communicate through social media, newsletters, and signage the safety steps the garden is taking and what it means for gardeners
  • Clearly and quickly inform your gardeners and wider community of any policy changes.
  • Post signage at garden to encourage washing of hands and tools; gloves do NOT replace proper hand hygiene and can transmit disease from one surface to another, including to yourself and others.
  • Post signage reminding individuals to practice physical distancing of 6 feet or more while working.
  • Post signage and communicate through other networks that individuals should NOT go to community gardens if they feel sick or have come into contact with someone who feels or has felt sick.
  • Post signage and communicate through social media and other networks that even individuals who do not feel sick (and have not had contact with someone who has) should assume they are sick and asymptomatic, and they should practice physical distancing, good hygiene, and other preventive measures when at the community garden.
  • Post signage and communicate through other networks that when possible, the minimum number of people from a given household or family should come to the community garden; this decreases the number of individuals interacting at the garden and touching common surfaces or objects, which decreases the risk of spread for everyone.
  • Post all signage in multiple languages (for example, English, Spanish, Hmong, Somalian, Lao).
  • CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings as an additional, voluntary public health measure; instructions on making a cloth face covering are available from the CDC. You can also see our flyers for making cloth face masks: How to make a cloth face covering without sewing and How to make a cloth face covering using a bandana.

Supplies:

  • Hand and tool washing soap and facilities at each garden.
  • Cleaning materials to sanitize commonly touched surfaces such as spray bottles with a bleach mixture of 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.
  • Secure place to lock up common tools so they can’t be a source of transmission.
  • Nonporous plastic tables that can easily be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Automatic irrigation systems when possible.

To consider:

  • Be prepared and understand that community gardens will be different this year due to the circumstances—be as flexible and understanding as possible.
  • There may be fewer plots than normal as people avoid the garden due to sickness or fear of becoming sick—consider proactively working with members and other local partners to engage in fundraising or donations if you are concerned about revenues.
  • There may be more gardeners or more new gardeners than normal, as high unemployment and food insecurity may make gardening an attractive option.
  • Many municipal services that community gardens rely on may be operating different than normally—be patient and work with partners to address any disruptions this may cause your garden.
  • Consider how you may be able to use harvest from your gardens to improve access for vulnerable populations in your community to fresh and healthy produce.

For Gardeners/Visitors

  • Do NOT visit the garden if you are feeling sick, showing signs of illness, or have had contact with anyone who is sick or has shown signs of illness.
  • Be patient and flexible with your community and garden organizers as they navigate changing conditions and guidance from other partners and agencies.
  • Wash or sanitize hands before and after visiting the garden and regularly while at the garden, especially before or after touching any common surfaces or using any tools that may have been touched or used by someone else.
    • Bring your own sanitizer or disinfecting wipes if you would prefer; even better, bring some to share or donate for the garden community to use if you can spare.
    • If using gloves, machine wash gloves after each use if you can; consider packs of low cost cotton gloves that can be rotated.
  • Minimize contact with surfaces (for example, doorknobs, gates, latches, railings).
  • Cough or sneeze into your arm—do not cover mouth or face with your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face while gardening.
  • Rinse produce and wash hands well after returning home from the garden.
  • Follow all new and existing garden policies, if you are unclear what your garden’s policies are, contact your garden organizers for more information.
  • Maintain physical distancing of 6 feet or more between yourself and others who may be present.
  • Limit interactions and time spent at the garden.
  • Limit the number of people from your household or family that go to the garden with you to the minimum possible.
  • If possible, bring and use only your own tools. If using common or shared tools, wash the tools and your hands well with soap and water before and after use.
  • Plan ahead and be prepared for limited access to the garden or inability to visit the garden if you or someone you live with gets sick.
    • Mulch now to prevent weeds and reduce soil moisture loss.
    • Use row covers for insect control when feasible.
    • Stay ahead of seasonal tasks.
  • Physical distancing does not mean social isolation; gardeners are encouraged to stay in touch (for example, email, Zoom, Facebook).

Helpful Links

 Cooling Centers

Extreme heat poses a major public health threat, including the possibility of heat stroke and death. Cooling centers (cool sites or air-conditioned facilities, such as community centers, designed to provide relief and protection during extreme heat) are used by many communities to protect community health during heat events. Typical places for people to cool off if they do not have access to air conditioning or stable housing may be closed (libraries, malls, pools) or be operating at limited capacity (movie theaters, shelters, museums), making the need for access to safe cooling centers even more important. This guidance provides recommendations to consider for the operation of cooling centers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The best way for individuals to remain safe during an extreme heat event is to have access to safe and affordable air conditioning. The hottest areas—due to factors like an absence of tree cover and green space, an aging housing stock, and greater expanses of exposed asphalt—tend to be in areas with high concentrations of low-income residents, who may not use air conditioning because of cost or fear that window A/C units will make their homes more vulnerable to burglary. To address this disparity, consider a temporary ban on utility shut-offs during heat waves, which allows people to continue using home air conditioning. For more information on energy assistance resources available by county, please visit the Public Service Commission’s website. Individuals may also contact their utility company to inquire about additional assistance opportunities and/or to set up an alternative payment plan. Other considerations include: working with local charities, local/tribal health departments, or thrift stores to coordinate loaning or donating A/C units; and working to identify additional resources to help people pay their electricity bills to make air conditioning more affordable. These strategies can help to lower the number of people needing to utilize cooling centers.

Preparing Plans to Prevent COVID-19 in Cooling Centers

  • If resources are available, consider implementing verbal screening or temperature checks for visitors, volunteers, staff, vendors, contractors, and others.
  • Provide proactive messaging throughout your community on what the public should expect, for example: the process for gaining entry (sign-in, screening/temp checks), physical distancing, face covering policies, hours of operation, etc. 
  • Maintain a sign-in sheet for visitors, volunteers, staff, vendors, contractors, and others to assist contact tracing efforts if an individual who entered your facility is diagnosed with COVID-19. 
  • To the extent possible, provide alternative cooling sites or designated isolation areas within a cooling center (with separate bathroom) that can be used to accommodate individuals who should be separated from others (for example, symptomatic or high-risk). 
  • Be prepared to contact emergency officials in the case of severe illness requiring medical assistance.

Staff

  • Plan for staff and volunteer absences. Develop flexible attendance and sick leave policies, as staff and volunteers may need to stay home if they are sick, caring for a sick household member, or caring for their children. 
  • Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training cooling center staff.

Facility Considerations

  • To the extent possible, maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between individuals – this may require moving furniture, roping/taping off areas, signage, etc. to make physical distancing intuitive. 
    • Consider creating spaces for “pods” for families or units of people who live or already spend a significant amount of time together and do not need to physically distance from each other. 
  • If possible, cooling centers should be equipped with air exchange systems, and be located in buildings with tall ceilings. 
    • Utilize the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the cooling center’s existing HVAC system and adopt “clean-to-dirty” directional airflows. 
      • This resource provides more in-depth information on using separate HVAC zones to keep air from mixing in different areas of buildings. This is ideal to accommodate both general and symptomatic populations if two separate facilities are not possible. 
    • Utilize ceiling fans with upward airflow rotation. If possible, combine with upper-air ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) disinfection systems. 
    • When conditions allow (i.e. low humidity), shaded outdoor spaces with cross-draft airflow augmented evaporative coolers may provide a safer alternative. 
  • Adhere to CDC cleaning and disinfection guidelines for community facilities, and cleaning facilities if someone is sick. Because asymptomatic individuals can still transmit the virus, and the virus can survive for several days on non-porous surfaces, it is important to continue daily cleaning and disinfection routines with a focus on high-touch surfaces, including common areas and bathrooms. 
    • Clean touchable surfaces and items between shifts or between users, whichever is more frequent. 
  • Limit access to shared items such as cups, water fountains, or remotes, and conduct routine cleaning and disinfection of any items that must be shared in between each use. 
  • Provide health messages and materials from local, tribal, and state public health departments or the CDC to enhance communication about COVID-19 onsite. 
    • Promote messaging regarding everyday preventive actions. 
    • Messaging should also include signs at entrances and in strategic places providing instruction on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette, and cloth face coverings. 
    • Identify and address potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to workers, volunteers, visitors. The CDC has more information about reaching people of diverse languages and cultures.

Activities and Supplies

  • Provide access to soap and water, tissues, and waste baskets. Place hand sanitizing stations (at least 60% alcohol) onsite throughout the facility. 
  • Visitors and staff should wear a cloth face covering or a disposable facemask. If these will be required, they should be provided by the facility to both visitors and staff. 
    • Facilities should have a plan for how to address individuals who are unable to wear a face covering safely.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unable to remove the covering without assistance. In addition to medical considerations, individuals may fear racial profiling or discrimination based on wearing—or not wearing—a face covering. 
  • Provide access to free, secure wifi and charging stations or plugs and extension cords. Ensure these are cleaned and disinfected in between uses. 
  • Provide safe activities or entertainment so that people are not just sitting alone 6 feet apart.
    • Consider donated tablets for games, movies, and activities (clean and disinfect in between use); playing movies projected onto a wall; providing playing cards or other items for “family units” (clean and disinfect in between use); or single-use activity kits for children.
    • Additional consideration: take advantage of a captive audience and provide access to volunteers onsite who may be able to help individuals navigate healthcare, employment, childcare, or other needs or concerns. Designate an area where individuals could meet one-on-one with someone to help address barriers or issues. 
  • As resources allow, provide cold bottled water; single-serve, pre-packaged snacks and/or meals; and individual hand sanitizer. If resources allow, provide these to individuals who may not be able to enter the cooling center due to capacity, but may still be in the area or waiting outside.

Alternatives

  • Closing off streets—areas that do not have access to parks or other open spaces can consider closing off streets to traffic, which gives people room to get outside while still maintaining physical distancing. 
  • Air conditioned tents or city buses—may be set up as waiting areas outside of cooling centers or as alternatives to cooling center buildings. The increased airflow of a tent may be helpful. 
  • Renting hotel rooms or utilizing unused dorms to provide prolonged, safe, cool shelter for unsheltered individuals or others in need of longer-term housing solutions.
  • Utilizing large sports venues and convention centers. 
  • Working with communities to make use of existing spaces, such as closed businesses or churches. 
  • Working with local law enforcement and asking them to give more leeway when it comes to enforcement of loitering laws. 
  • Asking local businesses to reduce admission to museums or movie theaters so price isn’t a barrier.
  • Asking malls or other businesses to remove a requirement that you be a paying customer to be in that space so people may be able to come in and cool off—if even only for a few minutes.
  • Working with local charities and organizations to provide access to cold bottled water, face coverings, and individual bottles of hand sanitizer.
  • Providing shade in public areas where people may gather if there aren’t natural shade sources (trees) available.
  • Utilizing existing isolation or alternative care sites within a community to accommodate individuals who may require isolation (are symptomatic, confirmed or suspected case, high-risk, require medical care, etc.) but do not have access to air conditioning where they live or are staying.

Organizers of cooling centers should establish a plan to address someone who presents with or develops symptoms. Organizers should work collaboratively between local/tribal health departments, local emergency management, and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster groups, especially if the jurisdiction has established sheltering or isolation facilities (with liberal admission criteria) that could be used to temporarily house symptomatic individuals. Organizers should also coordinate with other cooling centers in the area. It is important to have a clear plan for these scenarios, as sending an ill person back to an overheated environment is incredibly dangerous and significantly compromises their health and wellbeing. Coordinators should also, to the extent possible, work with the person and community partners to secure access to testing for the symptomatic individual. 

Infection Control

In the event that an individual is displaying symptoms or has a fever during the screening process, or develops symptoms or a fever while at the cooling center:

  • It is not recommended to turn away an individual if they display symptoms or present with a fever during the screening process. As mentioned, this could be extremely dangerous for the individual. 
  • If your facility has capacity for a designated area for symptomatic individuals, designate the individual (or the individual and their “pod” if they came as a family or unit) to that area immediately. Outfit staff or volunteers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Clean and disinfect any items and surfaces the symptomatic individual may have touched and areas that they occupied. 
    • An individual with symptoms or a fever should be required (to the extent possible) to wear a face covering. Your center should plan to have a supply of these to provide to someone if they do not have one of their own. 
      • Note: Some individuals are not able to wear a face covering safely. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unable to remove the covering without assistance. In addition to medical considerations, individuals may fear racial profiling or discrimination. Your center should allow for exceptions based on health and safety concerns of individuals.  
      • Note: Cloth face coverings are not considered PPE. All individuals, including those who are sick should wear face covering or a surgical face mask, if available. Staff or volunteers working with symptomatic individuals directly should be supplied with proper PPE (surgical mask; N95 respirator if available (required if providing medical care to an individual); gown; gloves) and be trained to properly put on and take off a surgical face mask. Use of N95s requires an OSHA Respiratory Protection Plan that involves regular medical evaluations and fit testing.
  • If your community has designated cooling centers for symptomatic individuals, refer the individual to that facility immediately. As resources and capacity allow, arrange for safe transportation of the person to the alternative facility. Outfit staff or volunteers with appropriate PPE. Clean and disinfect any items and surfaces the symptomatic individual may have touched and areas that they occupied per CDC guidance.   
    • It is recommended to use a larger vehicle for safe transportation. Regardless, the symptomatic individual should be placed in the back seat, as far away as possible from the driver, and wear a face mask or covering. Avoid using the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation during passenger transport. Use the car’s vents to bring in fresh outside air and/or lower the vehicle windows.

Responding to a Confirmed Case

If someone that visited your cooling center has been identified as having an infection and you are unable to refer them to an alternative site or a designated isolation area within your center:

  • Work to make arrangements for visitors to seek cool, safe alternatives to your cooling center and clear your center as quickly as possible. 
  • Once the center is cleared, clean the facility in accordance with CDC guidance
    • Close off areas visited by the ill person. Open outside doors and windows and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area. Wait 24 hours or as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
    • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment (tablets, touch screens) used by the ill person, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, countertops). 
  • Work with local/tribal health departments in contact tracing efforts.

Resources

 Correctional Facilities, Local Jails, and Secure Treatment Centers

How to Prepare

  • Develop a list of key contacts, including your local and state health departments. Discuss procedures for reporting suspected or confirmed cases ahead of time with a contact person at your local health department.
  • Develop contingency plans for increased absenteeism among staff due to their illness or illness within their family.
    • Develop flexible attendance and sick-leave policies.
    • Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training staff members.
  • Plan for supply chain disruptions that could affect both routine as well as medical supplies and equipment.
  • Identify staff, patients, or individuals in custody who could be at higher risk for severe illness, including those who are older or have underlying health conditions, and ensure special measures are taken to protect their health.
  • Ensure adequate cost-free prevention supplies (for example, soap, hand sanitizer) for staff, patients, and people in custody.
  • Monitor up-to-date information on the CDC COVID-19 website and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.
  • Plan to distribute timely and accurate information to staff, patients, individuals in custody, and the community.
    • Plans should include how to communicate general information about COVID-19 and personal prevention measures, how to provide transparency about the measures being taken in response to the outbreak, and the status of the outbreak (number of illnesses, operational changes, etc.) inside the facility.
    • Identify everyone in your chain of communication (staff, patients, individuals in custody, families and loved ones of patients or individuals in custody, key community partners, etc.) and establish systems for sharing information.
    • Consider platforms, such as hotlines, automated text messaging, and websites, to help disseminate information to those inside and outside your organization.

Reduce the Potential for Transmission from the Community to Inside the Facility

  • Limit visitors to the facility.
    • Restrict visitation of all visitors and nonessential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations, such as an end-of-life situation. In those cases, visitors should be limited to a specific room only.
    • Suspend volunteers’ and outside program providers’ access to the facility. Encourage volunteers to find other ways to deliver their programming. Add volunteers to approved call lists, at the volunteers’ request.
  • Screen visitors and staff for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection, as well as exposure risk, such as close contact with a person who has COVID-19 symptoms or who was confirmed to have COVID-19.
    • Screen all incoming patients or individuals in custody for symptoms before they can enter the booking facility. Reject the admission of anyone showing symptoms and divert them to a health care facility.
    • Screen staff and officers for symptoms before allowing them to enter the facility. Consider switching to a system where staff and officer submits forms electronically.
    • Screen all incoming staff on a daily basis.
  • Monitor staff, patients, or individuals in custody for potential illness.
    • Perform regular health checks for symptoms of COVID-19. Fever (>100.4°F) and/or respiratory symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath).
    • Ill individuals should be separated from others until they can be isolated or sent home.
  • Implement strategies to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses within facilities. Common-sense preventive actions for staff can be highly effective methods of reducing the spread of respiratory illness in the facility population. Educate staff, patients or individuals in custody on:
    • Staying home when sick. CDC has resources, such as posters, with messages for staff about staying home when sick and how to avoid spreading germs.
    • Appropriately covering coughs and sneezes.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces: see cleaning and disinfection guidance, below.
    • Washing hands often and thoroughly. CDC has posters with messages and graphics for all ages on appropriate handwashing techniques, which should be posted by all restrooms.
  • Implement social distancing measures, such as:
    • Temporarily restricting movement.
    • Suspending all community work crews.
    • Suspending nonessential transport within or among facilities.
    • Staggering meal and activity times to minimize the number of individuals congregating.
    • Canceling large group events.
    • Requiring individuals to maintain 6 feet of separation, when possible.
    • Making accommodations for phone calls and video conferences/visits or non-contact visits, when possible.
  • Limit unnecessary staff movement throughout the facility. When possible, prevent the potential for spread by maintaining staff in specific areas rather than rotating them throughout the facility.
  • Establish plans for patients and individuals in custody to continue social services and education.
    • Explore alternative communication mechanisms.
    • Consider developing a plan to implement distance learning for education.

Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Perform routine environmental cleaning.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
    • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • In areas where an individual with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 has been present, a more stringent environmental cleaning and disinfection protocol should be followed. For more information on cleaning and disinfection, see the DHS Disinfection and Cleaning after a COVID-19 case flyer.
  • Regularly sanitize vehicles used to transfer incarcerated people to court and reduce use of these vehicles to the greatest extent possible.

What to Do If Someone Is Sick

  • Individuals in custody with symptoms of Covid-19 infection should be medically evaluated and tested as soon as possible. If there are no medical staff in the facility, make plans with a local health care provider to provide this care off site.
  • Patients or individuals in custody who become sick should be given a clean, disposable face mask to wear. Disposable face masks should be reserved for use by individuals who exhibit respiratory symptoms. Staff who have close contact with individuals in these areas should use personal protective equipment (PPE) and:
  • As possible, confine individuals with respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to individual rooms or a separate area of the facility. As possible, these individuals should have a separate bathroom from the healthy population.
  • Have ill individuals avoid common areas.
  • If you identify any patient or individual in custody with severe symptoms, notify your local public health department and arrange for the individual to receive immediate medical care. If this is an individual with suspected COVID-19, notify the transfer team and medical facility before transfer. Severe symptoms include:
    • Extreme difficultly breathing (not being able to speak without gasping for air)
    • Bluish lips or face
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • Severe, persistent dizziness or lightheadedness
    • New confusion, or inability to arouse
    • New seizure or seizures that won’t stop
  • Staff with respiratory symptoms or confirmed COVID-19 infection should implement home isolation or voluntary quarantine.
  • Staff, patients, or individuals in custody with respiratory symptoms or confirmed COVID-19 infection should be excluded from work/separated from the general population until they have completed a period of isolation. Individuals may return only if the following criteria are met:
    • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath); and,
    • At least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Education/Health Promotion

  • Implement everyday preventive actions and provide instructions to your staff, patients, or individuals in custody about actions to prevent disease spread. Meet with your staff to discuss plans to help patients or individuals in custody to implement personal preventive measures.
  • Download COVID-19 posters and CDC Fact Sheets and keep your staff and patients or individuals in custody informed about public health recommendations to prevent disease spread and about changes to services that might be related to the outbreak. Messaging may include:
    • Posting signs at entrances and in strategic places that provide instruction on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette.
    • Providing educational materials about COVID-19 for non-English speakers, as needed.
    • Encouraging ill staff to stay home (or be sent home if they develop symptoms while at the facility) to prevent transmitting the infection to others.

Resources

 Domestic Violence

This information is for Wisconsin domestic violence agencies and people experiencing domestic violence.

End Abuse Wisconsin has a list of resources focusing on domestic violence and COVID-19.

Additional resources for injury and violence prevention:

  • The National Domestic Violence Helpline recognizes that social distancing during this time can create additional stressors for those who are experiencing physical, sexual, and emotional abuse within the home. Get connected to learn more about resources available to support you.
  • The mental health effects (such as anxiety and depression) of COVID-19 are as important to address as are the physical health effects. Mental Health America of Wisconsin has information and ways to manage stress and anxiety.
  • COVID-19 means unique challenges for parents and families, and it’s important to take opportunities to teach your children important life skills during this difficult time (e.g., being caring, helpful, getting on well with siblings, taking turns). The Positive Parenting Program has more tips to encourage positive behavior.

Spanish resources are available

  • UNIDOS WI provides direct service in Dane and surrounding counties, as well as statewide education and technical assistance to colleagues and professionals who wish to improve their services to the Latinx community in Wisconsin.
  • The Network/La RED is a 24-hour bilingual hotline for those experiencing violence. It’s a survivor-led social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, SM, polyamorous, and queer communities.

 Elder Nutrition Programs

Elder nutrition programs are encouraged to use existing emergency plans to the extent possible and coordinate with local public health departments to plan for alternative approaches for service provision as a result of COVID-19 concerns.

More can be found at: COVID-19: Elder Nutrition Program webpage.

 Faith-Based Organizations

Did You Know?

Instead of attending spiritual gatherings in person you can safely view or listen to almost any form of spiritual service through:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Online Video Recordings
  • Live Streams
  • Podcasts

Mental and physical health are important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so is spiritual health. Taking time to be mindful, meditate, and pray are great ways to be spiritual individually or as a family.

For additional resources and guidance on how to safely practice or observe your faith, reach out to your spiritual community or its local leaders.

 Limiting the chances for physical contact in group settings has proven to be the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

 Farmers Markets

The following guidance is from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Department of Health Services (DHS). This guidance was created in partnership with Kristin Krokowski, Commercial Horticulture Educator with the UW-Madison Division of Extension.

Farmers markets in Wisconsin provide a critical food resource, as well as an essential opportunity for Wisconsin farmers to connect with their communities. The following recommendations are intended for farmers markets, vendors, and customers to provide best practices on how to safely operate and interact.

Farmers markets should follow applicable state, local, and tribal health recommendations, and work with their local/tribal public health departments who can help assess the current level of mitigation needed based on the level of COVID-19 transmission in their area, the capacities of their health care systems, and other relevant factors. This is a rapidly evolving situation so please continue to monitor Wisconsin DHS guidelines, as they may change based upon new scientific information and epidemiological data.

Minimum Recommendations for Operations
 These are the minimum recommendations from public health experts to help ensure the safety of both customers and vendors at farmers markets:

  • Close all seating intended for consuming food.
  • Prohibit food samples.
  • Self-dispensing unpackaged food areas (including fresh produce) may stay open.
  • Areas that require customers to use tongs or scoops are discouraged; vendors should sanitize the tongs and scoops frequently.
  • Maintain physical distancing between all individuals on the premises to the maximum extent possible. Participants at a market will be most at risk of contracting the virus due to crowding and standing in close proximity for long periods of time.
  • Discourage groups from gathering and long lines from forming by limiting or eliminating music, tabling, activities, promotions, and pets at the market. 
  • Follow existing laws and regulations about sales of food at farmers markets. Remember that the majority of processed foods must be produced at a licensed facility to be legally sold at a farmers market. In addition, a license must be held to legally sell most foods at a farmers market. There are important exceptions to some of these requirements, involving unprocessed fruits and vegetables, honey, apple cider, maple syrup, and canned acidified fruits and vegetables processed in home kitchens under the so-called “Pickle Bill." For more information, please contact a DATCP Licensing Specialist at 608-224-4923 or datcpdfslicensing@wisconsin.gov.

Additional Best Practices for Consideration
 The following are best practices that can help to further minimize the spread of COVID-19 at farmers markets. Each market should proactively take action to provide a safe shopping environment, while considering the unique needs of the community. Not all recommendations will be suitable for all markets.

What can the market do?

  • Pause or delay opening markets if safety measures cannot be adequately maintained.
  • Consider alternative shopping methods, such as:
    • A one-sided drive-thru market.
    • Online or phone ordering with market pick up.
    • Appointments for market shopping to minimize crowds.
  • Ensure all forms of payment including electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards, tokens, or checks can continue to be used at the market and for any alternative shopping methods.
  • Minimize shopper time at the market.
  • Sell prepared foods pre-packaged for consumption off-site.
  • Ensure adequate space for all vendors and customers. Arrange for additional vending space if needed to maintain physical distancing. Limit the number of vendors or alternate market weeks if all vendors cannot be accommodated while maintaining safe practices. 
  • Increase the spacing between vendors to allow customers and vendors to maintain safe distance; spacing of no less than 15 feet between vendors is recommended.
  • Design market layout to minimize crowding and provide a safe distance; consider placing vendors on one side or having vendors face outward or establish a single direction flow of traffic through the market.
  • Provide handwashing stations and/or hand sanitizers for both vendors and customers.
  • Post physical distancing messaging and signage using image based messaging or translated into the languages used by those in your community and the customers that you serve.
  • Suspend fines for no-show vendors to help prevent sick vendors from coming to the market out of obligation.
  • Communicate with customers and vendors:
    • Let customers know if your market is open, the start date is delayed, or if the market is closed.
    • If your market will remain open, be certain both customers and vendors know what you are doing to protect their safety and what they can do to protect themselves and others while at the market.
    • If your markets will be closed, connect your customers with vendors; customers may be able to pick up products on farm or arrange a local drop-off site for pre-packaged orders.
  • Continue to visit the DHS and CDC websites for updated information on COVID-19.

What can vendors do?

  • Don't come to market while sick or allow sick employees at the market.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Wear a cloth face covering, if you are able to do so safely.
  • Have only one staff person handling payments; although there is little evidence that money, tokens, or credit cards can transmit COVID-19, having one person take money and talk with customers helps limit the contact of the farm staff to possible transmission.
  • Provide single-use bags to customers.
  • Sell pre-weighed packaged items to limit food handling and keep customers moving.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces, including tables and tablecloths, before the market.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly.
  • Use barrier tables (an extra 3-foot-wide table between the customer and the product) or put a check out table in front of the product; if customers can't see what is being sold use a chalk or dry erase board to list products.
  • Minimize customer handling of products to the point of sale as much as possible (for example, discourage a customer from handling multiple items while deciding which to purchase, and rather to only handle the exact item they are buying).
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Use hand sanitizer only on visibly clean hands; hand sanitizer is not effective when hands are visibly dirty.
  • Use single-use gloves where needed; if clean, gloves may be worn up to four hours.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from customers and other vendors whenever possible.
  • Remind customers to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between each other while waiting their turn and moving about the market.

What can customers do?

  • Use alternative shopping methods if available, such as a drive-thru market, online ordering with market pick up, or direct sales from the farm.
  • Do not go to a market if you are sick.
  • Cover any coughs and sneezes with your elbow.
  • Wear a cloth face covering, if you are able to do so safely.
  • Do not bring children with you to the market if you have child care available.
  • Minimize the number of people coming with you to the market; this helps keep crowds smaller.
  • Use hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations frequently, if available.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from other customers and vendors whenever possible.
  • Come to the market at off-peak hours.
  • Follow recommendations for handling and washing fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • COVID-19 is unlikely to be passed on through fresh produce. Even if the virus did survive on your fresh produce, it is likely to end up in the stomach where the low pH environment will inactivate and kill the virus.
    • Do not wash fresh produce in soap or detergent. Soap is not designed for use on food and any residue on fresh produce can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested. The FDA recommends washing fresh fruits and vegetables in cold water. Wash your hands with soap or use a sanitizer after handling your groceries and fresh produce.

Additional Resources

 Know the Signs: Child Abuse and Neglect

As Wisconsin keeps physically healthy by staying Safer at Home, children have fewer interactions with many of the professionals trained to observe and mandated to report suspected child abuse.

It is critical now, more than ever, for families, friends, and neighbors to be aware of the signs of child abuse and neglect and to know how to report those signs to their local welfare agencies.

This one-page flyer from the Department of Children and Families can help you and your partners understand the signs of abuse and neglect and know how to report suspected incidents. If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact your county's child protective services (CPS) agency immediately. Your local CPS agency's contact information can be found online or by calling the United Way's resource line by dialing 2-1-1.

 Opening a Local Community Isolation Center

The Isolation Site Operational Manual and Isolation Site Considerations Toolkit can help communities prepare to set up an isolation site to serve those who have tested positive for or who are suspected to have COVID-19, and are unable to isolate in their own homes. It covers choosing a site, referring people to the facility, and running the facility.

These facilities are for symptomatic individuals suspected to be infected with COVID-19 or who have a confirmed case of COVID-19. Individuals will not be permitted to register at the facility unless referred by a medical provider or public health official. Individuals register and stay at the isolation facility on a voluntary basis. The expected length of stay will be about 14 days, or 72 hours after symptoms dissipate. At any time, either the individual or the facility may terminate the individual’s presence at the site. Those staying at the facility will have wellness checks by phone every four hours during the day and if needed at night.

 Public Pools, Splash Pads, and Water Parks

Note: The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) have released guidance for operators to assist in planning and reducing risk when reopening. The DATCP and WEDC guidelines provide information on how to reopen, while these recommendations provide information on when to reopen.

Groups of people who are in close contact with one another greatly increases the risk for the spread of the virus. It is difficult to maintain physical distancing while swimming or playing in pools, splash pads, and water parks. During this time it is also challenging to maintain necessary physical distancing and sanitation recommendations in other communal areas, such as poolside seating, concession stands, changing facilities, locker rooms, and bathrooms. Pools and water parks can draw large numbers of individuals and families, especially during the summer months. People may travel from a wide geographic area to Wisconsin’s water parks, making it possible for many communities to become infected from a single day of fun. 

At this time, the Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends that all public pools, splash pads, and water parks remain closed due to the spread of COVID-19. Until we meet the benchmarks established in the roadmap to reopen Wisconsin, it is not safe to bring together groups of individuals that are not part of a single household or living unit into an environment where sustained and close contact could occur. You can track the state’s progress on these benchmarks on the DHS COVID-19 Response website. This is a rapidly evolving situation, but it is unlikely that this recommendation would be changed unless significant progress in meeting gating criteria are met.

DHS understands that there are many positive benefits from visiting public pools, splash pads, and water parks. While it isn’t the same, there are other fun outdoor activities individuals and families can participate in while waiting for it to be safe to return to pools and water parks. Families or households can still enjoy bike rides, walks, and other outdoor physical activities that allow for safe physical distancing.

Recommended Actions to Take

  • Stay informed about local COVID-19 information and updates. We recommend checking the website or social media of your local or tribal health department and the Department of Health Services website for the must updated information.
  • Close all public pools (including pools located in lodging facilities), splash pads, and water parks, and limit the people onsite to only those needed for maintenance and upkeep.

Once it is Determined to be Safe to Reopen

Operators should coordinate with their local or tribal health departments to ensure that best practices are being followed to meet all expectations and requirements for physical distancing and other public health protections. Refer to the WEDC Industry Guidelines for Entertainment and Amusement for specific considerations for swimming pools and water attractions. 

All decisions about implementing considerations for operations should be made locally, in collaboration with local or tribal health officials. Operators of public aquatic venues can consult with local officials to determine if and how to implement these considerations while adjusting them to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community. Their implementation should also be informed by what is feasible, practical, and acceptable.

Resources

 Public Restrooms

This information is for facility managers who are in charge of maintaining public restrooms. For information on staying safe while using a public restroom, see "Is it safe to use a public restroom?" on our Avoid Illness webpage.

If you are in charge of maintaining a public restroom:

  • Ensure there are functional toilets, clean and disinfected surfaces, and handwashing supplies.
  • Post signs outside the restroom to remind people to remain at least 6 feet from one another and to form a line outside of the restroom door, if necessary.
  • Follow the CDC’s Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting to develop, implement, and maintain a plan to perform regular cleanings to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Have restrooms cleaned and disinfected frequently (no less than daily) using disinfectants that are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. In particular, frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as faucets, toilets, doorknobs, and light switches.
  • Train employees and provide all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including PPE needed for the cleaning and disinfecting chemicals being used.
  • Keep public restrooms regularly stocked with soap and paper towels for drying hands, or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and no touch trash cans. If your facility does not have running water, keep hand sanitizer available and well stocked.
  • Consider keeping public restrooms open extended hours so people who are without shelter can have to access to toilets, soap, and water.

You may also consider making design or environmental changes to increase public safety:

  • Post signs using clear images and simple language (translated into the languages of people who are likely to use the facilities), reminding people to
    • Stay at least 6 feet apart from each other.
    • Wash their hands before and after using the restroom.
    • Close the toilet lid (if present) before flushing.
  • Doors to multi-stall restrooms should be able to be opened and closed without touching handles if feasible. Consider adding a foot pull to the door if one is not already in place. 
  • Place a trash can by the door if the door cannot be opened without touching the handle, so restroom users can cover the handle with a paper towel and easily dispose of it afterward. 
  • Provide paper towels, and disconnect or tape off hand air dryers.
  • Tape off every other stall, urinal, and/or sink.
  • If possible and weather permitting, keep windows open.
  • Consult an HVAC professional about placing restrooms under negative pressure.

Resources

 Shelters

This guidance is intended to support response planning by homeless service providers, including overnight emergency shelters, day shelters, and meal service providers.

It should also be a source of guidance for domestic violence shelters, or similar emergent temporary group living arrangements.

Planning

Plan for higher shelter usage during the outbreak.

  • Consult with community leaders, local public health departments, and faith-based or nonprofit organizations about places you can refer clients to if your shelter space is full.
  • Identify short-term volunteers to staff shelters with more usage.
  • Consider the need for extra supplies (for example, food, toiletries) and surge staff, ensuring they have personal protective equipment.

Develop a list of key contacts, including your local and state health departments.

Identify a contact person at your local health department and discuss procedures for reporting suspected or confirmed cases.

Identify health care facilities and alternate care sites where clients with respiratory illness can seek housing and receive appropriate care.

  • Establish points of contact and proactively discuss preferences for coordination.
  • Develop a plan for transporting persons with severe illness to medical facilities.

Develop contingency plans for increased absenteeism among staff and volunteers due to their illness or illness within their family.

  • Develop flexible attendance and sick-leave policies.
  • Identify critical job functions and positions, and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training staff members.

Identify staff and clients who could be at higher risk for severe illness, including those who are older or have underlying health conditions, to ensure their needs are taken into consideration.

Staff and volunteers at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection should not be designated as caregivers for sick clients staying in the shelter.

Monitor up-to-date information on the CDC COVID-19 website and the DHS COVID-19 website.

Screen Clients and Monitor Staff/Volunteers

Screen clients at check-in and monitor staff/volunteers for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection, as well as exposure risk, such as close contact with a person who has COVID-19 symptoms or who was confirmed to have COVID-19. The shelter should also post a sign that ensures everyone answers screening questions before entering the facility.

At check-in, provide any client with respiratory symptoms (cough or fever) with a surgical mask) and physically separate them from non-symptomatic clients (see “Physical Space” below).

Limit visitors to the facility. If anyone has symptoms and is NOT a client needing a place to sleep, they may not enter facility at all. If they are a client and have no place else to go, then they must wear a mask and sleep in a separate area.

Physical Space/Engineering Controls

Identify space that can be used to accommodate clients with mild respiratory symptoms and separate them from others.

  • Most persons with COVID-19 infections will likely have mild symptoms and not require hospital care. Furthermore, it might not be possible to determine if a person has COVID-19 or another respiratory illness.
  • Designate a room and bathroom (if available) for clients with mild illness who remain at the shelter and develop a plan for cleaning the room daily.
  • Discuss with local health authorities potential alternative housing sites for individuals with mild illness due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Ensure that beds/mats are at least 6 feet apart in general sleeping areas, and request clients alternate sleeping orientation (head-to-toe).

Provide access to fluids, tissues, and plastic bags for proper disposal of used tissues.

Ensure bathrooms and sinks are consistently stocked with soap and drying materials for handwashing.

Provide hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol at key points in the shelter, such as at registration, entrances/exits, and eating areas.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Perform routine environmental cleaning.

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

In areas where an individual with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 has been present, more stringent environmental cleaning and disinfection protocol should be followed. For more information on cleaning and disinfection see the DHS Disinfection and Cleaning after a COVID-19 case flyer.

Hygiene and Prevention

Implement strategies to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses within facilities. Common-sense preventive actions for staff can be highly effective methods of reducing the spread of respiratory illness in the facility population. Measures include:

  • Staying home when sick. CDC has resources such as posters with messages for staff about staying home when sick and how to avoid spreading germs.
  • Appropriately covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces: see disinfection guidance, below.
  • Washing hands often and thoroughly. CDC has posters with messages and graphics for all ages on appropriate handwashing techniques, which should be posted by all restrooms.
  • Implement social distancing measures.

Education/Health Promotion

  • Implement everyday preventive actions and provide instructions to your workers about actions to prevent disease spread. Meet with your staff to discuss plans to help clients implement personal preventive measures.
  • Download COVID-19 posters and CDC Fact Sheets and keep your clients and guests informed about public health recommendations to prevent disease spread and about changes to services that might be related to the outbreak. Messaging may include:
    • Posting signs at entrances and in strategic places providing instruction on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette.
    • Providing educational materials about COVID-19 for non-English speakers, as needed.
    • Encouraging ill staff and volunteers to stay home (or be sent home if they develop symptoms while at the facility) to prevent transmitting the infection to others.

Client and Staff Interaction

  • Minimize face-to-face interactions between staff members and clients with respiratory symptoms.
  • If staff are handling client belongings, they should use disposable gloves. Make sure to train any staff using gloves to ensure proper use.
  • Use physical barriers to protect staff who will have interactions with clients with unknown infection status (for example, sneeze guard at check-in or additional table between staff and clients to increase distance).

Communications Plan

Create a plan to distribute timely and accurate information to clients and staff.

  • Identify everyone in your chain of communication (staff, volunteers, key community partners, etc.) and establish systems for sharing information.
  • Identify platforms, such as hotlines, automated text messaging, and websites, to help disseminate information to those inside and outside your organization.

What To Do If Someone Is Sick

  • Clients who become sick should be given a clean disposable face mask to wear while staying at the shelter. Disposable face masks should be reserved for use by clients who exhibit respiratory symptoms.
  • As possible, confine clients with respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to individual rooms
    • Have ill clients avoid common areas.
    • If individual rooms are not available, consider using a large, well-ventilated room.
    • If possible, designate a separate bathroom for sick clients with COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Decisions about whether clients with mild illness due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should remain in the shelter or be directed to alternative housing sites should be made in coordination with local health authorities.
  • If you identify any client with severe symptoms, notify your public health department and arrange for the client to receive immediate medical care. If this is a client with suspected COVID-19, notify the transfer team and medical facility before transfer. Severe symptoms include:
    • Extremely difficult breathing (not being able to speak without gasping for air)
    • Bluish lips or face
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • Severe, persistent dizziness or lightheadedness
    • New confusion, or inability to arouse
    • New seizure or seizures that won’t stop
  • Staff/volunteers with respiratory symptoms or confirmed COVID-19 infection should implement home isolation or voluntary quarantine.

Staff volunteers with symptoms of COVID-19 like illness or confirmed COVID-19 must be excluded from work until they have completed a period of home isolation. They may return to work only if the following criteria are met:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath).
  • At least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Resources:

 Thrift Shops, Resale, and Donations

Given the state of COVID-19 transmission in Wisconsin, DHS recommends you not engage in public or private gatherings of people that are not part of a single household or living unit and limit your shopping trips to essential trips only. This recommendation will change as the state progresses through the different phases of the Badger Bounce Back plan, which is Wisconsin’s roadmap to decrease COVID-19 cases and death. All individuals, businesses, and communities considering participating in thrift shopping, resale, or donation collection should also refer to public health recommendations from their local/tribal health department.

These guidelines outline best practices and considerations for making donations, selling, and shopping at thrift stores or other resale businesses when public health recommendations indicate it is safe to do so. The same strategies also apply to organizations that accept donations and distribute clothes and household items. If you are at high risk for COVID-19, it is strongly recommended that you remain at home, to the extent possible, and take extra precautions when you do go out.

Thrift and resale stores should also refer to WEDC general guidelines for all businesses and guidelines for the retail sector.

Best Practices for Everyone

Whether you are making a donation, are an employee who handles items that have been donated, or are a thrifty shopper, the following practices can help limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other people, as much as possible. 
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. When soap and running water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow. Immediately throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Wear a cloth face covering over your mouth and nose in public settings where it is difficult to stay 6 feet away from others. If you have the coronavirus but don’t know it, covering your nose and mouth can help protect others. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unable to remove the covering without assistance. Additionally, some people may choose to wear or not wear a cloth face covering out of fear of racial profiling or discrimination. A cloth face cover is not a substitute for physical distancing or other preventive measures.

Considerations for Businesses, Organizations, and Employees

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has two publications on preparing workplaces and keeping employees and customers safe: General Guidance for All Businesses and Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19: Retail Stores. These recommendations also apply to thrift stores and resale shops. 

As with other retail stores, products that have been worn or tried on by a customer but not purchased (such as clothing or jewelry) should be laundered, sanitized, or removed from circulation for 72 hours before being returned to inventory. Grab bins or other displays where customers must handle or sift through items are discouraged, as such arrangements frequently bring people into close contact with one another and make disinfection impractical.

Making a Donation

To donate items:

  • Contact or check the website of the business or organization ahead of time to make sure they are accepting donations and the types of items you wish to donate.
  • Before making any donation, clean the item according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ideally, make arrangements for a curbside drop-off where you do not come into contact with anyone.

Accepting Donations

In addition to the WEDC recommendations, stores and organizations that accept donations can:

  • Provide proper protective equipment to the staff and volunteers who handle new donations. Anyone handling donations before they have been cleaned or disinfected should wear a face mask or cloth face covering and disposable gloves.
  • Store donations for 72 hours before cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Wash clothing in the hottest water recommended.
  • Clean and disinfect other items according to manufacturer guidelines.

What can shoppers do?

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Shop alone or with as few people as possible.
  • Do not handle items unless you intend to purchase them.
  • Wash/sanitize hands often; bring wipes to clean visibly soiled hands, then use sanitizer when they are clean.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from other people whenever possible.

Resources

 Yard/Garage and Rummage Sales

You and your community should cancel or postpone all in-person yard and rummage sales. It is not safe to go to public gatherings, such as yard or rummage sales, because COVID-19 is still spreading in Wisconsin.

You should avoid all in-person gatherings with people who are not a part of your home. This applies to events like yard, garage, or rummage sales. We at the State are tracking COVID-19 cases and are learning more about it every day. We will share what we learn and will let you know when it is safe to return to normal activity.

What if I want to hold a yard or rummage sale?

You have a few options:

  • You can hold a no-contact yard or rummage sale.
  • You can post and sell items using a virtual community, garage sale apps, or online sales platform. These options allow sellers to sell items without physical contact with the buyer.

Note: If you are at high risk for COVID-19, be sure to take extra precautions. You should consider using online payments or outdoor pickup without any close contact.

How can I keep myself and the buyer safe?

  • Clean and disinfect your items before giving or shipping it to a buyer. 
  • Buyers should wash all clothing and disinfect other items after pick up.
  • The buyer should state item descriptions and terms of the sale before posting.
  • Make or accept payments or over the phone and avoid exchanging cash.
  • Use precautions to protect your health and safety if you need to pick up or pay in-person.
    • Wear a cloth face covering.
    • Practice good hygiene.
    • Pick up and pay in open, visible, and well-ventilated space. Do not enter another person's home.
    • Stay at least 6 feet apart. Make sure you pick up and pay without physical contact.
    • Place a new envelope for each buyer on a table. The seller can watch the buyer leave their money in the envelope, making sure to stay at least 6 feet away. Sellers should wait at least 24 hours to open the envelope to reduce the chance of infection.
    • Schedule item pick-up with enough time between buyers so they don't come in contact with each other.
    • Wash your hands after every transaction. Only use hand sanitizer if there is no dirt on your hands. 

Be sure to postpone or cancel any sales if you feel unsafe or if you cannot follow our recommendations. Make sure another person can observe interactions from a safe distance.

Resources

CDC: Prevent Getting Sick

 Youth Sports

DHS is working to update our guidance for youth sports, grades 5 and under. We anticipate that this guidance will mirror the framework that DHS and WIAA developed for sporting activities in older children and youth. The goal is to have this updated guidance available very soon.

Last Revised: July 1, 2020

 RESPONSE RESOURCES FOR WISCONSINITES — www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/help.htm