Our Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak

By Steve Dubiel, Executive Director

UPDATED MAY 19, 2020

The world today is a scarier, more uncertain place than usual.  Quarantines, economic instability and political strife seem to be the new normal.  Never before has the work of community-led nonprofits – promoting grassroots leadership, lifting up women’s and people of color voices, providing access to the underserved and otherwise creating resiliency – been more critical to creating a just, healthy and equitable society.  And while corona concerns have us steering clear of one another, our collective work is a linchpin that brings us closer together.

-Darius Rodriguez Heyman, Blue Avocado

It’s been a wild ride for us here at EarthCorps. As part of Washington State’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, EarthCorps ceased all field operations in late March. We are so excited to share, though, that on May 11 our corps members were able to safely return to work outdoors to care for our region’s greenspaces.

EarthCorps’ top priority remains keeping staff, corps members, and our extended community healthy and safe during this public health crisis. And in light of the continued uncertainty we all face with the outbreak of COVID-19, we wanted to share the steps EarthCorps is taking to respond to this evolving situation.

Steps we have taken:

  • Updated hygiene and cleaning practices in the offices, in vehicles, and in the field
  • Required all staff to telecommute, unless required to be onsite to fulfill their responsibilities
  • Provided face masks for all corps members and staff; and mandated that they be worn when around other people
  • Postponed all volunteer events until further notice

Since our business model depends on crews who work each day to restore sites around Puget Sound, we are actively adapting how fieldwork is conducted. This includes:

Crew Structure:

  • Each crew is made up of “isolation pods”. These pods are comprised of crew members that either live together in shared housing or carpool together.  This new crew structure will reduce the risk of spreading germs between crews.

Vehicles:

  • Crew members who are in the same isolation pod are permitted to drive together to and from the worksite and must implement social distancing as soon as possible upon arriving at the job site.
  • In the event that crew members or staff (not in an isolation pod) must ride in a vehicle together:
    • A maximum of 2 persons per small pickup and 3 persons per crew van/truck is allowed.
    • Face masks are required while in the vehicle.
    • Implement social distancing as soon as possible upon arriving at the job site.
  • The vehicle interior is cleaned and disinfected daily by crew members and staff.

Daily Health Screening

  • Arriving at EarthCorps’ office or the work site, all staff and crew members will be asked questions related to their health, and have their temperature taken.
  • Temporal no-touch thermometers will be used to take daily temperature of each crew member and staff member who is not working from home.
  • Persons administrating daily health screen must use a face shield and face mask
  • If any of the COVID-19 symptoms are present, including a temperature at or above 100.4F, that person will be asked to leave, seek professional medical advice, and begin self-quarantine.

Tools & Equipment:

  • Each crew member has assigned a set of tools that will be regularly cleaned and properly stored to reduce cross-contamination.
  • Any tool that is consider a “communal tool” (brush cutters, augers, etc.) will be cleaned and sanitized after each use.

To learn more about our response, please read our amended Covid-19 response playbook.

We will continue to monitor advice from multiple government sources so that we can adapt our response.

EarthCorps’ mission remains vital. We are incredibly grateful to our community: our alumni, partners, volunteers, donors, and homestays for standing by us over the years and for your continued support during this very challenging and unprecedented time. We wish you all good health and well-being now and always.

Want to help support our corps as they care for the greenspaces we all love? Please consider a donation today.

Updated May 19, 2020