The Citizens Campaign Unveils Coronavirus Community-Wide Response Plan

Says “it provides needed boots on the ground”

The Citizens Campaign today unveiled its plan to strengthen community response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to tap our community spirit and resources so we can safely open our cities and towns for business.  The plan centers around training and activating Community Emergency Response Teams, CERTs and similar volunteer forces that are already in place in most cities, to provide needed ‘boots on the ground” to reclaim our public lives and beat Covid-19.  The Coronavirus Powerful Community-Wide Response Plan adapts and strengthens the existing emergency management structure in place in nearly all communities, better equipping cities and towns for the next phase of the war on the corona virus.

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Civic Trusts, facilitated by The Citizens Campaign, will present the basic elements of this city-based plan to their local governments in 6 cities in the next several weeks, including Paterson.  The other cities where presentations will be made to the governing bodies are Newark, Perth Amboy, Philadelphia, Plainfield and Trenton.  Plans will be adapted to factor in local needs and variations in emergency management structures.  Civic Trusts are comprised of about two dozen Civic Trustees who meet in monthly No-Blame Solution Sessions.  These citizen leaders work together to identify cost-effective, evidence-based solutions to the major challenges facing their city.

“This Coronavirus Powerful Community-Wide Response Plan is designed to enlist our citizens in the fight against Covid-19 so that we are fully prepared to return to work with all the needed strategies and personnel in place,” said Harry Pozycki, Founder and Chair of The Citizens Campaign.  “It can be ramped up quickly since it builds on the existing local emergency management structure.”

Perth Amboy Civic Trustee Cesar Romero said, "Our plan enlists the whole community to ensure a robust and sustained response to Covid-19, better enabling us to protect residents’ health and safety and open our city back up for business.”

The components of the plan are outlined below and a copy of the whole plan is attached.

Plan Components:

·         Employing CERT members as contact tracers:  Coordinating with local health departments charged with contact tracing, interested CERT members will be enlisted in performing this essential function.  Tracking down all close contacts that were exposed to someone who tests positive for Covid-19 and ensuring that they are notified and isolated is an evidence-based public health strategy that experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, consider fundamental to slowing the spread of the virus once we stop sheltering in place.  There is a shortage in most communities through- out the nation--a shortage that can be alleviated by enlisting CERT members. This work is mainly done over the phone and the training is accessible remotely.


·         Distributing masks to areas in need:  CERT members will be used to distribute masks, prioritizing the parts of the community where the highest percentage of people have the highest exposure.  Bandanas of suitable material that can be easily re-used with the city logo or a city sports team logo on it to build community spirit and solidarity will be provided.


·         Food delivery for quarantined, older, and low-income residents:    CERT members will assist in food delivery for quarantined, older and low-income residents, plugging in to existing community food delivery initiatives wherever possible.


·         Expanding CERTs:  A community-wide effort will be launched to recruit new CERT members.  High school seniors will be provided the opportunity to become Jr. CERT members.


·         Form a Corona Control Task Force:  To ensure consistent and saturation level communication with residents and businesses, a Corona Control Task Force will be established comprised of the mayor, council president, school superintendent, hospital CEO, Director of the Housing Authority (or their designees) and the Director of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM).  Leaders from the faith-based and non-profit community may also be added by the OEM. The Task Force will be responsible for ensuring that all communications concerning standardized health protocols and CERTs recruitment going out to the community are continually reinforced with sufficient repetition that they are driven home.


·         Set standardized community health protocols for individuals and businesses:  Coordinating with the mayor and council, emergency management officials together with the CERT team will set standard health protocols for individuals and businesses to ensure that a consistent and amply reinforced message about best practices is sent to better ensure adherence.


·         Establish a Coronavirus Relief Fund:   In order to pay for any of the marginal costs associated with this plan, including masks, communication materials and CERTs support, cities and towns will establish a relief fund.  Crowd-funding can be used to raise the necessary dollars.


·         Update community emergency management plans to prepare for future pandemics: Employing the lessons learned during the coronavirus pandemic, communities will update their emergency management plans to be better prepared for future epidemics.





The Citizens Campaign is a community of problem solvers – government law and policy experts, civic-minded business leaders, citizen journalists, civic leaders, students, teachers, veterans and more – dedicated to educating citizens to the fullness of their political power and developing citizen leaders through leadership training in government problem solving, providing an alternative to today’s dysfunctional politics. They are now engaged in building a new community-based national public service program focused on citizen leadership.  For more information, visit