by Sam Ames, Esq., JD, MTS
Interim Executive Director
on behalf of the OFC Board of Directors & Leadership
The first cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States not traceable to recent travel have been confirmed, and the Bay Area is emerging as one of the most affected regions. Many news outlets have been using the word “pandemic” to refer to the virus. It is important to remember that this word is about spread, not severity, and has already been used as a scare tactic targeting people of color – especially immigrants and those from Asian Pacific Islander communities – for xenophobic attacks and discrimination.
While COVID-19 is not yet a pandemic, it could become one soon. Vulnerable populations include those over 50, those over 80, and those with preexisting respiratory illnesses or compromised immune systems – all of whom are part of the OFC community. It is important that we protect ourselves and one another during this time and during all moments of increased risk to our community, including flu season.
We have been monitoring the situation closely and following all recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and local departments of public health. While all schools and nonprofits serving children and families are taking sanitation and contact precautions, additional measures are beginning to include closing schools, instructing employees to work from home if possible, and asking those who do need to leave the house to remain six feet from others. OFC’s office and services are unique in several ways, including the fact that we draw participants from several counties across the Bay Area, serve many multigenerational families, are members of a community with higher rates of compromised immune systems, and count among our participants many parents who may face rising shortages of childcare in the weeks to come.
In an abundance of caution and care for our community, the board and leadership of OFC have decided to follow the lead of other Bay Area nonprofits, schools, and companies and temporarily suspend in-person programs, transitioning to virtual programming for the next two weeks wherever possible.
We are building systems as we speak that will enable us to offer support, connection, and community by video and phone whenever possible. During a time when we may all begin to experience increased feelings of stress and isolation, we know how important it is that we retain connections with our community. Updated to add: info on virtual events at our next post, “What Events We’re Holding Virtually (and How).”
It is our job now to remain calm and to be mindful of the difference between caution and fear. These measures are primarily about slowing and reducing the spread of the virus so our health systems have enough time to handle cases as they do appear. OFC is taking these precautions in an effort to resume our programming as soon as possible, rather than run the risk that someone who attends one of our events grows ill or that we are required to suspend in-person programming any longer than absolutely necessary. This community means everything to us.
The OFC offices will be open at intermittent hours for the next two weeks while our staff is encouraged to work from home. You will be able to find more information on our website as we are able to update it, but in the meantime you can stay up-to-date with local virus responses using the links below.
We will be in touch over the next two weeks as changes develop and we know more about when normal operations will resume. In the meantime, visit the Coronavirus Plan page on our website, or reach out for information on specific groups and events, and for details of the virtual alternatives we will be offering: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your continued care for this extraordinary community. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out: email@example.com.
CDC Situation Summary:
San Francisco Department of Public Health:
Berkeley Public Health Division: