Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for U.S. Government Websites and Social Media

Addressing web and digital communications related to COVID-19

In response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and in conjunction with the White House, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Federal Web Council, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is issuing guidance for the coordination of Federal web and social media communications related to this incident.

This authority for this action comes from Emergency Support Function 15 (ESF-15 - Public Affairs – Annex R) of the National Response Framework where, during incidents of national significance, DHS has the authority to coordinate all USG communications.

On March 11, 2020, DHS activated ESF-15 for Federal web and social communications to support the national response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Note

All Federal agencies are required to follow this guidance.

In Brief

Federal agencies with a role in the response effort should stand up an agency.gov/coronavirus page. That page must contain the following links for the three primary lanes of communication:

In addition, use your agency coronavirus page to communicate what your agency is doing to support the response effort and link to featured content as appropriate. Also follow the guidance for social media. Coordinate emergency response-related web communications with your Federal Web Council representative.

Link to authoritative information from other government agencies related to your agency mission or ”lane.” Do NOT copy and paste content from other agencies/websites onto your site.

Content to Feature

The White House, in collaboration with DHS and HHS, encourages agencies to feature the following content on both their agency homepages and coronavirus pages as appropriate.

Last updated April 28, 2020

  • Schema.org 7.0 Tags for Coronavirus Pages: The White House and key federal agencies are working alongside Schema.org to help ensure coronavirus resources are prioritized with online search engines. Schema.org has released new standard tags for webpages; view the implementation instructions.

  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: The Treasury Department is hard at work implementing the CARES Act to provide relief for hard working American families, small businesses, and various industries impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19). This site includes valuable resources for these groups.

  • Coronavirus Tax Relief: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering Coronavirus Tax Relief for individuals, businesses, tax-exempt organizations and others affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes information on Economic Impact Payments going to millions of people.

  • OPM Open Opportunities: The OPM COVID-19 Response Program is using Open Opportunities as a central location for federal agencies to post details and temporary assignments related to coronavirus (COVID-19). Open Opportunities is a governmentwide platform offering professional development opportunities to current federal employees. If your agency is interested in participating:

  • Updated: Coronavirus Guidelines for America — The White House Coronavirus Task Force has issued an updated version of this document.
  • Frequently Asked Questions — An interagency website, organized by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, for definitive information on the public’s most frequently asked questions. The site currently features content from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of the Treasury, and Small Business Administration.
  • Small Business Resources — The White House Coronavirus Task Force has provided this information on various assistance programs available to small businesses.
  • FEMA Rumor Control — Helping the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A great resource for social media – if you see a rumor, reply back with the correct answer and link to the FEMA Rumor Control page.
  • FEMA How You Can Help — Learn the best way to donate, volunteer, or provide critical supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Web Guidance

First, when standing up a page on your website specific to COVID-19, please FOLLOW THE REQUESTED URL STRUCTURE to the best of your ability: https://www.agency.gov/coronavirus

Second, STAY IN YOUR LANE. Only post information directly related to your agency on your agency’s Coronavirus page.

  • Once your agency’s page is live, please FORWARD THE LINK to usagovemergency@gsa.gov for inclusion on the “What the U.S. Government is Doing” lane on USA.gov.

  • If you add a significant news release or update to the public, please FORWARD THE URL OF THE ARTICLE to usagovemergency@gsa.gov for inclusion as well.

Third, LINK TO THE PRIMARY LANES OF COMMUNICATION for the disease.

  • Link to all three lanes (see below) from all publicly-released materials related to COVID-19.

  • Link to all three lanes prominently on your agency’s Coronavirus page.

  • Link to any (or all) of the three lanes elsewhere on your agency website as appropriate.

  • If your agency has agency-specific coronavirus information (where you “own” that lane), promote that specific information on your homepage BEFORE promoting the three lanes. It doesn’t make sense for coronavirus.gov or usa.gov/coronavirus to send people your way to have the public be first presented a link back to coronavirus.gov.

  • If your agency does not have agency-specific coronavirus information to present, include a link to coronavirus.gov on the homepage of your agency website. Prominence of display and additional locations to place the link is at agency discretion and should be based on user analytics (focus on where your users would be looking for this kind of information).

Fourth, at this point, please DO NOT CREATE A LOGO or any other distinct visual treatment for COVID-19. To provide for some level of consistency of presentation, a high-resolution copy of the image that CDC has been using can be found at https://phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=2871.

Fifth, learn more about how to update your web pages with Schema.org’s newly released tags in the post on WhiteHouse.gov, Connecting Americans to Coronavirus Information Online.

Follow the guidance below to implement Schema.org tags on all relevant pages with coronavirus content:

Lanes of Communication

Coronavirus.gov

https://www.coronavirus.gov

This is a primary lane of information for the public regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is a portal for public information that is curated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force at the White House, working in conjunction with CDC, HHS and other agency stakeholders. Coronavirus.gov will link to the appropriate Federal agency website as the authoritative source for that information as necessary.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) landing page on CDC.gov is the latest public health and safety information from CDC and for the overarching medical and health provider community on COVID-19. The site contains consumer and medical information on how the virus spreads, symptoms, prevention and treatment, stigma, cases and what to do if you are sick, along with frequently asked questions.

What the U.S. Government is Doing

https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus

Spanish: https://www.usa.gov/espanol/coronavirus

Landing page on USA.gov that is cataloging all U.S. government activities related to Coronavirus (COVID-19). USA.gov can support both English and Spanish content.

Social Media Guidance

Follow the following handles and retweet/share information relevant to your agency.