CDC Digital Media Toolkit: Create Community
This CDC Digital Media Toolkit suggests ways people can Create Community before and during a disaster, disease outbreak, or other emergency.
What Does It Mean to Create Community?
The word “community” can mean different things. It can refer to a group of people living in the same geographic area; it can describe a group of people with shared interests, purpose, or concerns; or it can help explain a feeling of togetherness between a group of people. This toolkit explores some of these meanings and ways people can work together to improve personal preparedness, social connectedness, and community resilience where they live.
Everyday Ways to Create Community During COVID-19
Creating community is an important preparedness step that can help build resilience to a public health emergency, but how do you achieve this during an emergency? In the case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it begins with following CDC’s recommendations on navigating daily life while taking everyday steps to protect yourself and others, including people who need to take extra precautions. In this section, we consider ways you can create community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the best ways to “get involved” in your community during the COVID-19 pandemic is to limit close contact with others. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), making it necessary to wear a mask and practice social (or physical) distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart) in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household. It is also important that people not let the need to social distance lead to a social disconnect.
In a rapidly changing situation like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to know how to stay informed and what you can do to avoid and help put a stop to misinformation.
- Do some legwork. Cross-check what you read online with what experts at CDC, FEMAexternal icon, and the World Health Organizationexternal icon have to say on the same topic or issue.
- Follow trusted sources of information on social media, including CDC and your state and local public health departments. If you have doubts about the accuracy of something posted to social media, try to verify the information by contacting your health department or visiting their website.
- Be kind. If someone you know is spreading misinformation, do NOT lecture or embarrass them publicly. Instead, contact that person calmly and privately over the phone, in a text, or with a direct message.
Seeking good information is part of smart preparation; however, there is such a thing as too much news. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.2
Fear and anxiety fanned by rumor and misinformation can lessen people’s empathy for others and lead to finger pointing in stressful situations. Stigmatization can be common during disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19.
Stigma affects the emotional or mental health of individuals and the communities they live in. Stopping stigma is important to making communities and community members resilient. Here are some ways you can help fight discrimination and reduce stigma.
- Avoid and do NOT spread opinions or images that are divisive or discriminatory. If you see information that is stigmatizing or that you know is false, speak out. Help to share key facts, guidance, and answers to frequently asked questions with family, friends, coworkers, and people in your social networks.
- Spread positivity. Thank health care workers, first responders, and other frontline workers who put their health and safety at risk in service to others.
- Speak out against negative behaviors, including negative statements on social media about groups of people, or the exclusion of people who pose no risk from regular activities.
Social stigma occurs when people associate a risk with a group of people, place, or thing despite there being no evidence that the risk is greater in or because of that group than in the general population.
Stigmatized groups may be subjected to social avoidance or rejection; denials of health care, education, housing or employment; and even physical violence.
Limiting close contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart) is especially important for people who are at increased risk for severe illness, but you can still find ways to reach out to people who are in need of your kindness and thoughtfulness.
- Even if they are not required to stay at home, it may be safer for people who are at increased risk to stay home. Be a helper to family, friends, and neighbors who are sick or at increased risk for severe illness. For example, offer to run essential errands. You can deliver groceries or bring a meal to a neighbor without having close contact.
- Stay in contact. Call, email, text, or video chat with loved ones often. They may be feeling lonely, anxious, or stressed, and will appreciate you listening to them. Fear, stress, and anxiety about a disease can feel overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults. Call your health care provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
- Talk to your health care provider online, by phone, or e-mail about donating plasmaexternal icon. If you have fully recovered from COVID-19, you might be able to help patients who are now fighting the infection. Your plasma may now contain antibodies that may be able to be used to help others fight off the disease.
Everyday Ways to Create Community to Prepare for All-Hazards
The need and work to improve personal preparedness, social connectedness, and community resilience doesn’t begin or end with a community’s response to and recovery from any one natural disaster, disease outbreak, or emergency. In this section, we consider everyday ways that communities can come together.
Care for Each Other
Arguably, the greatest strengths of a community are its people, their empathy for others, and their relationships to each other. People who are personally prepared, invested in their communities, and socially connected are often better able to protect themselves and often are more willing and ready to help others through adversity. This section considers ways to take care of yourself and each other before a natural disaster, disease outbreak, or other public health emergency.
- Connect with (from a distance) older family & friends often. They may be feeling lonely, anxious, or stressed. Phone calls & video chats can help you & your loved ones feel socially connected & less lonely or isolated. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3gsgxcfexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Practice self-care to help you cope with everyday stress & #PrepYourHealth for stressful situations. Learning how to cope with stress in healthy ways can make you, the people you care about, & your community stronger. https://bit.ly/3kb93fNexternal icon #NatlPrep
- Make sure you & your children stay up to date on vaccines for infections & illnesses, such as seasonal flu, to help protect the #health of your community. Learn more: https://bit.ly/30svPIeexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Parents: Learn ways to help children cope with the trauma of an #emergency. You can be better prepared to reassure kids, if you know what to look for & how to help. Learn more: https://bit.ly/2DlE3clexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- #TakeAction by wearing a mask in public settings. When you wear a mask, you help protect those around you. When others wear one, they help protect those around them, including you. #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Public Health Matters: Preparing Children with Special Healthcare Needs for an Emergency
- Public Health Matters: 5 Ways to Prep Your Pet for Emergencies
- How are Children Different from Adults?
- COVID-19: Coping with Stress
People who are resilient and ready to care for their neighbors can have positive, even life-saving impacts on their neighbors and in their communities at large.Response training (e.g., hands-only CPR), donations, and volunteerism are just a few of the many ways that you can help yourself and others prepare for, respond to, and recover from an emergency. This section includes ideas of how you can engage with and participate in your community.
- Connect with (from a distance) loved ones & neighbors to make sure they have enough #emergency supplies. Offer to run essential errands to help them #prepare. Wear a mask & stay at least 6 ft. away from others in public settings. https://bit.ly/2DCSmZKexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Participate in #disaster preparedness training & #emergency response drills, such as @Shakeout, to #PrepYourHealth for the real thing. Regular practice is important when it comes to #preparedness. #NatlPrep
- #DYK, 1 blood donation can save up to 3 lives. Help to prevent a blood shortage in your community. Call a local donor center to ask what they are doing to protect donors & to make an appointment. Learn more: https://bit.ly/33nBAJaexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Family, friends, & bystanders are often first on the scene in a #health #emergency. Learn practical skills so you’re prepared to help. #DYK you can learn hands-only CPR online? Take the training & share it with others. Learn more: https://bit.ly/2XqxWuhexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Rumor & misinformation can spread quickly during an #emergency. Help to contain their spread by sharing facts from reliable sources, like your state & local #health departments, & stopping myths on social media. Learn more: https://bit.ly/2PlF0DRexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Public Health Matters: Service Beyond Oneself: MRC Volunteers Share Their ‘Why’
- Public Health Matters: Empowering Kids to Make Their Families Safer
- Public Health Matters: The Power of Us
- Public Health Matters: The Hero Within: The Importance of Knowing CPR and When to Use It
- Public Health Matters: Social Scuttlebutt? Be Prepared to Stay Informed in an Emergency
Community health preparedness and resilience is not achieved until everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as prepared as possible. It is the shared responsibility of the whole communityexternal icon to find ways to make preparedness more equitable, inclusive, accessible (i.e., easy to find, use, and understand), and achievable for everyone regardless of race, geographical location, socioeconomic status, disability, health literacy, etc. This section considers some of the ways people can help make preparedness more accessible, equitable, and achievable for everyone.
- Use age-appropriate language & resources, like #ReadyWrigley activity books, to help you teach & talk to your kids about #emergency preparedness & planning. Download them here: https://bit.ly/3i4VzAsexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #Inclusion4Health #NatlPrep
- Shop for & save on #emergency supplies & equipment to #PrepYourHealth for disasters if you can. DYK some states schedule tax-free holidays to encourage people to buy essential supplies, such as generators. Learn more about tax-free holidays where you live & what items are exempt. #NatlPrep
- Crisis & #emergency risk communicators: Take steps to design & develop content, products, & tools that are accessible to & actionable for people of all abilities. Learn more: https://bit.ly/31huxPxexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #Inclusion4Health #NatlPrep
- Help your community to identify & remove transportation barriers that can make it difficult or even impossible for people with disabilities to respond to an #emergency evacuation order. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3fuFC4Rexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #Inclusion4Health #NatlPrep 📷: @evacuteer
- Help your community to identify & remove physical barriers that can make it difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to access services & respond to an emergency. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3fu3RQwexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #Inclusion4Health #NatlPrep
- Public Health Matters: The Power of Us
- Public Health Matters: Arizona’s ERIC Program Works to Improve Access to Emergency Information
- Public Health Matters: Tackling eHealth Literacy
- Public Health Matters: 10 Health Literacy Tips for Reporting Data
- Common Barriers to Participation Experienced by People with Disabilities
Lead by Example
Get in the habit of being a preparedness role model for your family and in your community. Modeling healthy behaviors, attitudes, and habits, like getting a seasonal flu vaccine and effective handwashing, can inspire others to do the same. This section considers some of the ways you can serve as a preparedness role model for your family and in your community. You never know who’s watching.
- Getting a yearly flu vaccine is the first & most important step in protecting yourself & others against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months of age & older should get an annual flu vaccine. Learn more: https://bit.ly/2XtzovTexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Practice everyday preventive actions to help slow the spread of germs, such as:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands often with soap & water.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/2XrsW8Rexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- #KeepHandsClean as a family. Explain to children how handwashing can keep them healthy. Parents & teachers: Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, your kids are more likely to do the same. More: https://bit.ly/3ke2U2nexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Set a good example for your neighbors. Don’t hesitate, evacuate if asked to by local authorities. Never ignore an evacuation order. Staying behind to protect your property is not worth the risk to your #health & safety. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3ftQC2eexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Don’t hesitate, evacuate if asked to by local authorities. Be prepared to leave immediately by already having an #emergency action plan & “go kits” customized to your family’s #health & health care needs. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3ftQC2eexternal icon #PrepYourHealth #NatlPrep
- Public Health Matters: 3 Reasons Why Handwashing Should Matter to You
- Public Health Matters: Prepare Your Health for Hurricane Season
- Public Health Matters: 3 Types of Post-Disaster Poisonings to Know, Prepare For
- Nonpharmaceutical Interventions
- Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine
1. https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/abc/Pages/community-resilience.aspxexternal icon↩
4. https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/abc/Pages/community-resilience.aspxexternal icon↩
5. https://www.ready.gov/neighborsexternal icon↩
6. https://www.ready.gov/neighborshttps://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/abc/Pages/community-resilience.aspx#Footnote1external icon↩