COVID 19 UPDATE 7.20.2020

This is the policy status update for the week beginning 7/20/2020.

For GBI Employees and Volunteers.

Policy restrictions continue to increase in response to the rise in positive cases in our region.  As we monitor these changes in policy at the state and county level, please note that our federal CDC guidelines remain essential for maintaining the safety of the GBI workforce.  We ask for your continue support of these policies, especially during time away from work.  Individual choices directly impact the welfare of our communities. 

Please monitor your personal health and fitness and report any concerns to your GBI supervisor immediately to ensure your safety and the safety of those serving with you.  Continue to minimize travel and avoid activities that elevate risk (i.e. air travel, group gatherings).  To stay informed of changes in public policy, see below the helpful links to state government information as well to the Johns Hopkins website that maps the pandemic trend.

Johns Hopkins: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map

Western States Department of Health re. Covid 19 status

California:           https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx

Nevada:               https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/

Utah:                    https://coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts/

Colorado:            https://covid19.colorado.gov/

Thank you for your continued support in service of public lands.

Jerry Keir, GBI Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning 6/19/2020.

Dear GBI Employees & Volunteers,

Thank you all for your successful efforts to date toward launching the 2020 field season safely. While states and counties reduce COVID-19 restrictions and increase business activity, please note that the Institute will maintain mitigation measures as established in our COVID-19 Response Plan. As the general public embraces the increased availability of business services, our federal CDC guidelines remain of paramount importance for maintaining the safety of the GBI workforce. GBI management continues to monitor phased approaches to reopening across states, and our policy direction and risk mitigation strategies will be informed by the best available trend data and science reporting.

As we deploy, please carefully consider advance planning in relation to the pre-employment and in-service self-assessment requirements. As part of GBI’s systemic approach to mitigate risk, our Response Plan and our supplemental documents detail best practices while serving on projects. The completion of the “Am I Fit?” checklist remains a daily individual responsibility, including while away from service. Please monitor your personal health and fitness and report any issues to your GBI supervisor immediately to ensure your safety and the safety of those serving with you.

Please also remember that the timely disclosure of travel plans with your GBI supervisor is of critical importance for management to effectively monitor and evaluate risk across programs. Continue to minimize travel and avoid activities deemed high risk (i.e. air travel, group gatherings over 50 people, etc.). Travel plans deemed as high risk may impose consequences to your service, including undergoing a 14-day non-paid assessment period prior to returning to the field. Decisions that reflect poor judgement related to the assumption of risk may be cause for termination. Our Frequently Asked Questions document will be regularly updated to support employee decisional processes. Please review this information and consult with your GBI coordinator/supervisor for additional guidance.

Thank you for your continued support of our mission and partnership in service to public lands.

Jerry Keir, GBI Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning 5/29/2020.

Dear GBI Employees & Volunteers,

Thank you all for your successful efforts toward launching safely field work this month.  While states and counties continue to revise their strategies and approaches for increased business activity, please note that the Institute will maintain all operational COVID 19 mitigation measures as established for the 2020 field season.  Please also remember to follow CDC guidelines for health and safety while interacting in public spaces during this time.   

Thank you for your continued support of our mission and partnership in service to public lands.

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning 5/17/2020.

The Institute is pleased to report progress toward returning to field this week. While not all partnership activity will resume as planned, the 2020 summer field season does appear more viable and promising at this time. Please continue to stay in close communication with your GBI coordinators as training and logistics are finalized. We are excited to move forward together during this important first phase!

Thank you for your ongoing trust, support and cooperation during this time.

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning 5/11/2020.

The Institute is pleased to report the end of the suspended field operations effective this Friday, 5/15/2020.  All field activity may take place following establishment of site-specific COVID 19 mitigation procedures.

As the GBI staff finalize planning needs for the safe deployment of personnel, the Board of Directors would like to express their gratitude for the hard work and perseverance shown by staff and field personnel while adaptively managing the uncertainty during the initial stages of this pandemic.  GBI will continue to approach operations with the safety and well-being of personnel as the highest priority, and will continue to support public health decision making at the state and local levels.  As such, please continue to stay in close contact with your GBI project or program manager through text, phone, or email as programs return to the field as the status of operations may change.

Thank you for your ongoing trust, support and cooperation in supporting the responsible stewardship of our public lands. 

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week ending 5/8/2020.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced yesterday the state will enter “Phase One” of business re-openings this Saturday, but that establishments allowed to open their doors will be subject to strict capacity requirements that could be even more stringent at the county level.  Sisolak noted that Nevada had “met our gateway benchmarks for starting our reopening,” including a declining percentage of people tested for COVID-19 turning up positive. He added that there has been a decreasing trend in coronavirus-related hospitalizations since April 21 and that the state has developed greater capacity for testing and to handle surges in hospitalizations.  As such, the Institute will begin preparations in collaboration with partners to return to the field.

Please note, however, that the Institute’s suspension of all field-based operations remains in effect until 5/15/2020 unless otherwise approved. The internal review process for the Institute’s COVID 19 Response Plan has been completed and project coordinators will work with agency leadership to establish congruent approaches to risk mitigation. All projects will require regional and local level authorization to adhere to any continued restrictions.  Please continue to stay in close contact with your GBI project or program manager through text, phone, or email as programs return to the field. 

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding during this national emergency. 

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning 5/4/2020.

This week the governor of California urged residents to stay the course, suggesting the state is moving in the right direction but needs more time in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.  Governor Newsome has described the next phase of his stay-at-home order as allowing some lower-risk businesses to reopen, including retail locations, manufacturing sites and other small businesses. “All construction activities, certain businesses that operate primarily outdoors, and some outdoor activities will be allowed to resume with specific conditions,” Bay Area public health officials said in a joint press release. Outdoor businesses that are allowed to resume include construction, retail nurseries, landscapers and gardeners, as they are lower risk.  Such recent policy decisions suggest a favorable outlook for GBI personnel who serve the region.

Please note the Institute’s suspension of all field-based operations remains in effect until 5/15/2020 unless otherwise approved.  Please continue to stay in close contact with your GBI project or program manager through text, phone, or email.  We will continue to provide updates by email, our website, and through the use of social media.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding during this national emergency. 

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week ending of 5/1/2020.

The State of Nevada extended the “stay at home” order to May 15, 2020.   A phased plan for Nevada was also announced for easing restrictions when health and public safety criteria are met.  As counties throughout the state work to meet this criteria, supplemental assistance and direction from the Local Empowerment Advisory Council (LEAP) is now available. The LEAP is a group of stakeholders who serve as a resource for counties as they work to meet the necessary requirements to reopen and share best practices and guidelines for local communities. The recommendations of the LEAP also inform the Directives issued by the Governor as the state moves through each phase.  The Institute will confer with the LEAP to ensure resumption of services is informed by local resources.

Please note the Institute’s suspension of all field-based operations has been extended to 5/15/2020 unless otherwise approved.  Please continue to stay in close contact with your GBI project or program manager through text, phone, or email.  We remain hopeful operations will resume in the coming weeks.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding during this national emergency. 

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning of 4/27/2020.

The White House’s new guidance given to states provide direction for how to test and trace for the coronavirus. The document outlines a path forward that relies heavily on states with some assistance from the federal government. The White House documents suggest all 50 states “must be able to proactively monitor for and respond to local outbreaks;” “develop innovative and robust systems to identify asymptomatic cases;” and develop rapid response programs that enable quick isolation and contact tracing of individuals who test positive.” This decentralized response strategy requires ongoing close tracking and assessment of the threat status across the western states we serve.

The Institute’s suspension of all field-based operations remains in effect until 4/30/2020. Please remain in contact with your GBI representative to stay informed of progress toward a safe and successful 2020 field season.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding during this national emergency.

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week ending 4/24/2020.

President Trump signed the nearly $500 billion “Phase 3.5” emergency interim coronavirus relief package into law after Congress passed legislation this week replenishing the fund for small businesses and adding billions of dollars in aid to hospitals across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The bill delivers a $310 billion infusion to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which helps businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees obtain loans that can cover eight weeks of their payroll, benefits and other expenses. The Institute has requested support from this important relief program which has been made possible by such successful bipartisanship.

The Institute’s suspension of field-based operations remains in effect until 4/30/2020 unless otherwise approved. Please remain in contact with your GBI representative to stay informed of progress toward a successful 2020 field season.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this national emergency. 

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning of 4/20/2020.

The federal government continues to seek a balance between economic and public health policy. Trend data suggests risk mitigation has been effective, yet support for prolonged containment measures remains uncertain across states.  As policy develops, an important role continues for the Center for Preparedness Response (CPR), a team of dedicated researchers who support the infusion of science into CDC’s emergency response activities. CPR is committed to increasing scientific contributions to response knowledge base as well as promoting the translation of science to practice.  The Institute is grateful for the Center’s ongoing efforts to support evidence-based policy direction at the federal and state level.

The Institute’s suspension of all field-based operations remains in effect until 4/30/2020.  GBI is participating in risk mitigation policy review for field research and service and is sharing this review process with partnering agencies.  Please remain in contact with your GBI representative to stay informed of progress toward a successful 2020 field season.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this national emergency. 

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week ending April 17, 2020.

This week California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled his plan to loosen the state’s stay-at-home order. He stopped short of naming a specific day, but he detailed the framework to relax or modify the COVID-19 restrictions. Governor Newsom said widespread testing and contact tracing must be part of his six-point framework to relax stay-at-home orders. Newsom said hospitalizations and ICU cases must flatten or decline before he can lift the order.  The State of Nevada has yet to revised stay-at-home policy terms.

The Institute suspension of all field operations remains in effect until April 30th unless otherwise approved.  Please continue to stay in close communication with your GBI program contact for updated information on the status of the 2020 field season.  Agencies are now forming policies that will offer more information in the coming weeks.  Thank you for your continued patience.

Be well, travel less, and support one another.

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning of 4/13/2020.

This week the White House coronavirus task force officials are weighing potential benchmarks that would lead to phased reopening of states but have yet to settle on specific targets.  In meetings of the task force over the weekend, discussions centered on how and when states could be advised to reopen certain businesses and allow larger gatherings.  Officials have yet to establish a specific set of criteria and blanket recommendations might not work for every state.  The governors of California, Oregon, and Washington are uniting to consider strategies and timelines for a possible regional approach to public health and economic policy related to COVID 19 risk mitigation.

The Institute’s suspension of all field-based operations remains in effect until 4/30/2020.  This week is considered to be perhaps the most difficult in much of our service region.  Please stay home, travel when only necessary, and support one another.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this national emergency. 

Jerry Keir, Executive Director, Great Basin Institute

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This is the policy status update for the week beginning April 6, 2020.

In response to the increasing risk related to the COVID 19 outbreak, the National Park Service has closed many units to the public.  Concerns over NPS staff and visitor safety have resulted in restricted access to mitigate the pandemic now seen across the US.  Please visit the NPS website for more information on park status.

The Institute suspension of all field operations is now in effect until April 30th unless otherwise approved.  GBI is revising field protocols for the safe deployment of GBI staff and volunteers to support environmental research, education, and service on public lands for Spring 2020.  Your patience and understanding during these difficult weeks is greatly appreciated.

Be well, travel less, and support one another.

Jerry Keir, Executive Director

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This is the policy status update for the week of 3/30/2020.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to serve the public while addressing concerns with COVID-19. Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recommendations from state and local public health authorities, the BLM NV closed the Sand Mountain Recreation Area and the Winnemucca Dunes. In southern Nevada, the closure of Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive and Visitor Center, and Sloan Canyon parking area and Visitor Contact Station, remains in effect. In eastern Nevada, the California Trails Interpretive Center is closed. While dispersed camping is allowed on other BLM public lands, the Institute strongly encourages employees and volunteers to consider their safety and welfare as first responders may have less capacity for support in the event of field emergencies.

Please note the Institute’s suspension of all field-based operations remains in effect until 4/19/2020. Please continue to maintain close contact with your GBI support staff for additional information regarding delayed projects dates. Regular updates may also be found on our social media as well as through direct email from your GBI point of contact. Our goal is to resume environmental services once human health and safety concerns can be fully understood and addressed among our federal and state partnerships.


Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding during these challenging times.

Jerry Keir, Executive Director, Great Basin Institute

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This is the policy status update for the week of 3/23/2020.

This week the Institute received emergent COVID 19 policy direction regarding public land management from the Department of Interior (DOI) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agencies are taking extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from state and local public health authorities, which support the CDC’s efforts to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. The USFS is allowing only mission critical services, while NPS is modifying operations, until further notice, for facilities and programs that cannot adhere to CDC guidance. Where it is possible to adhere to this guidance, outdoor spaces will remain open to the public and entrance-fee free.

California and Nevada continue to ‘stay at home’ in compliance with all emergency directives as understood at the state and local levels.  As such, the Institute’s suspension of all field-based operations remains in effect until 4/19/2020.  I understand the tremendous hardship these circumstances present for our employees and AmeriCorps volunteers and have authorized the release of additional cash reserves to fully compensate those field personnel who cannot work under modified terms.  All GBI employees and members will be compensated per their contracted terms and all health benefits remain active during this period.  

Institute leadership continues to coordinate with agency representatives to establish an anticipated date for resumption of field operations.  Additional information regarding revised seasonal employment terms is forthcoming and updated information will be provided Monday and Friday each week.  Also, supplemental guidance and organizational updates will be posted on the Institute’s social media platforms.  However, please continue to stay in close contact with your GBI project or program manager through text, phone, or email.  Your health and well being is our highest priority.  We are here to support you and your family throughout this national emergency. 

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding during these challenging times. 

Jerry Keir, Executive Director, Great Basin Institute


This is the policy status update for the week of 3/16/2020.

In the interest of protecting employee health and safety, and to slow the spread of Coronavirus, the Institute is suspending all field-based operations for a period of fourteen days, effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Institute leadership will coordinate with agency representatives for resumption of field operations as we cooperatively mitigate risk and address the complex challenges of this national emergency.


Research Associates and AmeriCorps Interns are suspended from on-site service until 3/31/2020. Those who can tele-work or work remotely are allowed to do so in consultation with technical advisors. During the suspension period, all GBI employees and members will be compensated per their contracted terms. Please note GBI will continue to support administrative functions during this suspension. Additional information will be forthcoming as we continue our adaptive management of this crisis.

The Institute recognizes the potential hardship this suspension of service may cause. However, our commitment to the health and well-being of our employees and volunteers is of paramount importance at this time. The Institute seeks to mitigate the present uncertainty associated with federal policy, and wishes to provide staff and volunteers the opportunity to consider individual contingency plans during this period.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.

Jerry Keir, Executive Director, GBI


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