FEMA: COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season

Staff Report

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation is facing unprecedented challenges as we respond to additional disasters, anticipate emergent incidents, and prepare for the 2020 hurricane season. Although the operating environment has changed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mission of helping people before, during, and after disasters remains the same. Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) officials, along with the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGO), must partner together to fulfill their respective missions and help disaster survivors. Emergency managers must continue to operate under a framework of a locally executed, state managed, and federally supported approach to incident stabilization.

To help SLTT emergency managers and public health officials respond to incidents during the 2020 hurricane  season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA is releasing the COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season. This document will:

  • Describe anticipated challenges to disaster operations posed by COVID-19 and describe planning considerations for emergency managers in light of these challenges

  • Outline how FEMA plans to adapt response and recovery operations to the realities and risks of COVID-19 to:

    • Ensure prioritization for life safety, life sustainment, and workforce protection, and

    • Maintain the delivery of FEMA’s programs and help to solve complex problems by using whole-of-community disaster assistance to the highest level possible

  • Allow SLTT emergency managers to prepare and plan accordingly based on FEMA’s operational posture and create a shared understanding of expectations between FEMA and SLTTs prior to hurricane season, and

  • Provide guidance, checklists, and resources to enable emergency managers to best adapt response and recovery plans.

This document is comprised of two main sections: response planning and recovery planning. Throughout each section, emergency managers will find detailed information on FEMA’s operating posture and guidance for SLTT governments. In the appendixes, emergency managers will find checklists and resources on FEMA operations and additional COVID-19 related guidance. While SLTT emergency managers are the primary audience for this document, this guidance can also be used by Emergency Support Function (ESF) and Recovery Support Function (RSF) partners as these departments and agencies plan for the 2020 hurricane season.