While we are all still safer at home, we are also able to practice greater social distancing in our great outdoors than in confined indoor spaces.
Local public health agencies have the ability to contain surges in cases and outbreaks through testing, case investigation, contact tracing, isolation, quarantine, site-specific closures, and the enforcement of public health orders.
What is Protect Our Neighbors?
Protect Our Neighbors means that communities that meet certain criteria have less stringent restrictions than under Stay-At-Home and Safer-At-Home. Communities may permit activities at 50% of pre-pandemic capacity, with at least 6 feet between non-household members, and no more than 500 people in one setting at a time. Communities that can demonstrate strong public health and health care systems -- paired with low virus levels -- should take on more control over their own reopening plans. Strong local public health and health care systems are the key to reopening the economy. Different communities will be at different phases, based on local conditions and capabilities.
Protect Our Neighbors empowers local communities.
Communities must meet criteria to be certified for the Protect Our Neighbors phase.
Local communities may move between phases.
Steps to qualify for Protect Our Neighbors
- Certify qualification according to the scientific metrics below.
- Submit a mitigation and containment plan on what the county or region will do if they fall out of compliance with any of the metrics. The plan must also include how counties will promote public compliance with the guidelines; increase mask-wearing in public settings; and increase flu vaccine uptake, to ensure we don’t lose health care system capacity needed for COVID-19.
How to get help moving to Protect Our Neighbors
The state is making additional federal CARES Act funding available.
- Planning Grant of up to $50,000 to engage consultants and community partners, and to fund community engagement efforts with communities impacted by and at increased risk.
- Infrastructure Strengthening Grants of up to $300,000 (up to $150,000 in state funds + local match) to invest in technology; community resource coordination; communication activities to increase compliance with the public health orders; funding for community-based partners and cultural brokers; and enhanced prevention and containment efforts.
Criteria to qualify for Protect Our Neighbors
Counties must qualify by meeting scientifically established thresholds of:
- Low disease transmission levels,
- Capacity for testing, case investigation, contact tracing, and outbreak response, and
- Hospital ability to meet the needs of all patients and handle the surge in demand for intensive hospital care.
In addition, communities must have mitigation and containment plans approved by local elected leaders including county commissioners and mayors, the hospitals that serve the county, law enforcement, emergency management, the local public health director, and if applicable, tribes.