Listos California Reaches 11 Million with Life-Saving COVID-19 Information, Fostering a Culture of Disaster Readiness

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In a global pandemic with the threat of wildfires and power shut-offs, Listos California continues work to engage communities

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Listos California, a campaign anchored in the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), has reached one in four Californians with life-saving messaging tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting safer behavior and improving public health across California’s most vulnerable communities.

Since the launch of the campaign in August 2019, 649,000 of the 11 million Californians reached by the campaign experienced direct “person-to-person” contact with culturally competent and accessible information to prepare for disasters, like wildfires or earthquakes.

“California is stepping up to provide critical life-saving information to communities across the state — and through Listos California alone — we’ve contacted a quarter of our population,” said Governor Newsom. “Wildfires and earthquakes are part of our reality but the added threat of COVID-19 makes preparedness even more important. We will continue reaching out to communities large and small, inland and coastal, urban and rural — to make sure we’re all ready when emergencies hit.”

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California is currently in wildfire season, during a global pandemic. With the threat of power shut-offs looming and ongoing risk of earthquakes, a new culture of preparedness is essential in the Golden State. This starts with Listos California’s 5 easy steps to prepare for disaster.

Reaching 25 percent of the state’s population — specifically older Californians, people with disabilities, those living in poverty and those with language barriers — is the result of four core pillars: Responding to the pandemic; the power of partnerships; a technology-first approach; and an effective use of data.

Pivoting to save lives during COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, Listos California transitioned its community-based partners to use 20 percent of their budgets between March-May 2020 to support the state in communications outreach. COVID-19-era communications tools were leveraged to provide life-saving information to vulnerable Californians. With a goal to engage at least one million Californians by the end of the campaign in December 2020, Listos California is well on its way to secure the remaining 400,000 engagements needed. Campaign partners have shifted back to once again solely providing high-quality disaster preparedness.

Trusted partners engage community

Listos California’s partners have the experience to engage diverse and vulnerable populations. They are staffed with trusted messengers who can effectively deliver trainings and materials. The campaign has 89 core partners and 170 sub-grantees. A statewide advisory council provides input from the community on outreach and materials.

Powered by technology

Embracing technology has been instrumental in fostering a new culture of preparedness among vulnerable communities. Through a partnership with Merit to build a new digital-badging and engagement tracking tool, the campaign tracks partner results in real time, which includes analysis for COVID-19 outreach and more direct person-to-person disaster preparedness. People who are “Listos California trained” are offered a digital badge, called merits, to recognize their disaster preparedness achievement.

Data informed

Listos California is reaching the communities in need with a data-centric approach that eliminates guesswork and delivers results. Through the work of Matt Schmidtlein, Geography Professor at Sacramento State University and Managing Partner of Community Health Insights, Cal OES’ hazard maps for wildfire, earthquake and flood were merged with census tract data to locate where targeted communities live.

Other data compiled by EMC Research honed the message. We now know that awareness of the need to prepare is very high among vulnerable people (88 percent), but many don’t prepare because they feel that it is scary (63 percent), expensive (61 percent) and time-consuming (54 percent).

Defining how to prepare diverse and vulnerable Californians for disaster

The Listos California Emergency Preparedness Campaign is an effort based on an investment of public funds by Governor Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers, to ready our most vulnerable populations for disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and floods, and now public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, before disasters strike. With a focus to boost community resiliency through disaster preparedness, Listos California advances levels of equity and authentic community engagement by putting people at the center of this work.

The campaign — which is led by co-chairs Karen Baker and Justin Knighten — is anchored at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).

To further the reach of the campaign, two statewide efforts advance a culture of preparedness: The Social Bridging Project, launched in partnership with the California Department of Aging, and InformaGente, launched in partnership with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA).

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Aram Nadjarian
Listos California
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