As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, CIWC safety program changed. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH), strongly recommended that all people seek out local safety trainers who can help identify ways to prevent infectious disease. Under Covid-19 all essential workers need training that is usually only required for hazardous material handlers and workers that routinely come in contact with bio-hazards like infectious diseases.
The local trainers Dr. Collins refers to are available through the NIH’s program for workers exposed to infectious diseases and bio-hazards, a program run through the National Institute for Environmental Health Science (NIEHS), and one which funds local and national non-profit training centers.
In the Midwest region this federal training program is coordinated by the Midwest Consortium for Hazardous Waste Worker Training at the University of Cincinnati and its College of Medicine.
Beginning in 2019 the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center (CIWC) became a member of the Midwest Consortium. When the pandemic hit, CIWC was designated as a lead trainer in Ohio for COVID-19. CIWC is a vital training center capable of leading a large scale worker and volunteer training program. Our critical intervention was providing free food and free Covid-19 awareness training at Cincinnati Public Schools food distribution sites, where we trained and and helped feed thousands.