NIMS Alert 16-21: FEMA Releases “COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance: All-Hazards Incident Response and Recovery”

Click here to view NIMS Alert 16-21 as a PDF.

NIMS Alert 16-21

FEMA Releases “COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance: All-Hazards Incident Response and Recovery”

To address the challenges of managing disaster response and recovery efforts as our nation enters the second year of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, FEMA is releasing theCOVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance: All-Hazards Incident Response and Recovery to help emergency managers and public health officials best prepare for disasters, while continuing to respond to and recover from COVID-19. The guidance can also be used by private sector and non-governmental organizations to gain an understanding of the government’s posture, planning and readiness efforts. This updated document takes an all-hazards approach and builds on guidance provided in last year’s “COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season.”

Response and Recovery Operations Amid COVID-19

The guide provides actions emergency managers and public officials can take to prepare for response and recovery operations during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response efforts. Specifically, the guidance:

  • Describes continued challenges to disaster operations posed by COVID-19 and planning considerations, based on science and the best available data, for emergency managers in addressing those challenges.
  • Outlines considerations for state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) governments related to planning COVID-19 testing and vaccination operations. This includes an overview of how FEMA supports SLTTs to establish and operate testing facilities and vaccination sites that ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines to all individuals who want one.
  • Provides updated resources (e.g., checklists, reports, and other guidance)—reflecting current lessons learned and best practices for operating in a pandemic environment— to enable emergency managers to best adapt response and recovery plans.
  • Outlines how FEMA plans to continue to adapt response and recovery operations to the evolving risks of COVID-19 to ensure prioritization for life safety, life sustainment, and workforce protection, and to maintain the delivery of FEMA’s programs.

Working Together

FEMA will continue to operate under the framework of locally executed, state/tribal managed, and federal supported incident response. By creating a shared understanding of expectations among FEMA and state, local, tribal and territorial partners, the nation will be better positioned to achieve operational outcomes in disaster response and recovery efforts.


FEMA is offering webinars throughout the month of June to go over the pandemic operational guidance. To sign up, click on the link associated with the date of attendance.

  • Webinar 1 – Thursday, June 3, 10 am ET

  • Webinar 2 – Tuesday, June 8, 3 pm ET

  • Webinar 3 – Thursday, June 10, 11 am ET

  • Webinar 4 – Wednesday, June 16, 7 pm ET

  • Webinar 5 – Thursday, June 17, 1 pm ET

To download the document and view the full webinar schedule, please visit COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance Webinars | Advance registration is required for the webinars and admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. Captioning will be available for each webinar. Please direct all webinar questions to

About NIMS

NIMS provides stakeholders across the whole community with the shared vocabulary, systems and processes to successfully deliver the capabilities described in the National Preparedness System. It defines operational systems that guide how personnel work together during incidents.

Learn More