Members of the CHOICE Community -
In light of the developing COVID-19/Coronavirus situation, we are providing the following updates and best practices regarding CHOICE Expeditions and our in-country staff.
We are actively monitoring news and updates, including the U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT, CDC, and other major news outlets (Johns Hopkins has an INFORMATIVE DASHBOARD that you may find helpful). We are also in daily communication with our in-country teams across the world, and who are tracking their local government offices and news outlets.
We have made the decision to postpone the following upcoming expeditions:
- Guatemala March 14-21, 2020
- Peru April 4-11, 2020
- Nepal April 11-18, 2020
- Mexico April 25-May 2, 2020
We are treating future postponements on a case-by-case basis as the situation continues to develop, but as it currently stands we plan to move forward with our summer expeditions. We will always act in the best interest of safety and security for both our expedition participants and our in-country staff. Our TERMS AND CONDITIONS outlines our cancellation policy.
When weighing the postponement of expeditions, these are some of the key factors we consider:
- Even if the risk of the disease is low for you as an individual, our expeditions visit the poorest of the poor in remote areas with the least access to essential healthcare. The risk that we present to them as potential carriers of the disease could be devastating, and we run the risk of ultimately causing more suffering than good.
- While the risk of exposure is not currently high within any of our countries, it is unknown how much it will increase over the next few weeks. Given that cases continue to increase within the U.S., the fact that symptoms can take time to even appear, and the geographic distance to CHOICE countries, including the many airports required to pass through, participants may be exposed to significant risk of infection or carrying the disease with them.
We have decided to err on the side of safety and caution given both the unknown nature of what the next few weeks will bring, and based on input from leading experts, our in-country staff, and our organizational leadership. We have concluded that it makes the most sense to be patient and wait the situation out until things settle down over the next few weeks and months.
We recommend the following best practices for those preparing for an upcoming expedition:
- While many airlines are currently waiving transfer fees or being flexible in other ways, we recommend purchasing cancellation insurance for your flights whenever possible as additional protection in the case that an expedition is postponed or delayed.
- Follow the following CDC recommended guidelines when traveling:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol.
- Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
As you can imagine, this presents a significant disruption to our organization, including our revenue and fundraising model that ensures villages with the resources they need. We invite you to keep the vulnerable, impoverished community members in mind, as they depend on your continued support regardless of the circumstances.
We are grateful for and appreciate your commitment to CHOICE Humanitarian and will be providing further notifications and updates as the situation progresses. Please reach out to us at 801-474-1937 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.