March 13, 2020

Support for global workers during COVID-19 outbreak

Written by  Micah Brickner

Updated on March 26.

SALUNGA, Pa. — Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) is monitoring the coronavirus epidemic and actively praying for all being impacted.

Salunga staff members have been preparing for the continuity of operations in response to state and federal recommendations to practice social distancing. Administrative employees will be able to continue providing essential services for global workers through a combination of teleworking and minimal onsite staff presence. The Salunga office will be functioning with this arrangement until further notice, during which time the office will be closed to the public. Staff will be able to respond to emails and will be regularly checking their voice mailboxes. 

Human Resources Director Becky Hess said, “We are called to live our faith, as followers of Jesus. We have a long history of living faith through epicenters of uncertainty. We can take a deep breath, wash our hands, and be a non-anxious presence. And the small Voice says, ‘Do not fear for I am with you.’”

EMM workers are safe and exercising the necessary precautions to avoid contact with the virus. Travel restrictions are impacting the ability of two worker family units to return to their country of service and the ease of other families to make travel arrangements. 

Regional leaders are regularly monitoring each country where they oversee workers and are keeping the administrative staff informed about developing concerns. EMM is allowing each worker and their regional representative to make the decision to leave their location of service.

A March 11 U.S. government restriction was put into place on foreign nationals traveling from several European countries (Schengen Area) to the U.S. This restriction does not apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and their families. At this point, the travel restriction will not impact the ability of any EMM workers to return to the U.S. should they feel the need to do so. 

EMM’s Executive Council has appointed a three-person COVID-19 task force to monitor the situation daily, providing information, recommendations, and additional plans as needed. This task force has been working with EMM leadership to provide timely communication to global workers, domestic staff, and other interested persons. 

Communication thus far has encouraged people to remain calm, while also promoting preventative measures and addressing commonly asked questions. The COVID-19 task force is recommending that workers not travel through countries identified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as having Level 2 and Level 3 travel health notices.

EMM’s Central Administrative Office staff based out of Salunga, Pa., is restricting non-essential business travel outside of the U.S.

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