A Message from Our CEO: Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Helen Lowman shares a message to our affiliate network, volunteers, and all Americans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps we’re taking to #flattenthecurve.
Health and Safety:
Due to reports from global health services and a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that the coronavirus (COVID-19) can live on surfaces for an extended period of time, such as up 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic, we are advising everyone against picking up litter, in groups or individually, until further notice. Our primary concern and priority is the health and safety of our affiliate network, volunteers, and all Americans. #SafetyIsBeautiful
Great American Cleanup Postponement:
Keep America Beautiful announced the postponement of the 23rd annual Great American Cleanup®.
Since government and public health officials have called on the public to avoid large gatherings and events to avoid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Keep America Beautiful will resume the Great American Cleanup once it is deemed safe to convene in large groups. The Great American Cleanup normally takes place during the spring months (March 19 through June 20).
Guidelines for safety:
Keep America Beautiful (KAB) continues to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic via the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The protocols around COVID-19 are changing and we are working to mitigate any impact to our Affiliate Network, including staff and volunteers, and scheduled KAB-related events like Great American Cleanup (GAC).
With safety front of mind, we advise everyone to take necessary steps and create a plan prior to any scheduled public events. According to the CDC, public health officials may recommend actions, such as postponement, to help limit exposure to the virus. Please exercise the appropriate level of precaution for the activities and volunteer events you have planned in your community.
The CDC states on its website, “The details of your emergency operations plan should be based on the size and duration of your events, demographics of the participants, complexity of your event operations, and type of on-site services and activities your event may offer.” Additional CDC guidance for large event organizers can be found here.
Further coordination with your state and local health officials is strongly encouraged for all event organizers and volunteers so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location. Since the intensity of an outbreak may differ according to geographic location, local health officials will be issuing guidance specific to their communities.
If your staff or a volunteer has a fever, symptoms of a respiratory infection, or has been exposed to a person with a coronavirus, the flu, or any other communicable disease, they should be isolated from others and sent home. CDC recommends that employees or volunteers who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to an event/work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available). If you or someone you know is concerned that they may have a serious infectious disease, your best course of action is to seek care at your primary care physician’s office or local hospital’s emergency department.
Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take in avoiding getting sick and spreading germs to others.
This is an evolving situation, and we encourage you to closely monitor reports from your state and local health departments, the CDC, and WHO.
For additional background, refer to the following links:
- About Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- American Public Health Association
- World Health Organization
- Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Information