How has the idea of community featured in attempts to build resilience to emergencies? The paper explores this question by presenting evidence from interviews with emergency responders across the world in the midst of the early and uncertain phases of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although reflecting different contexts, we discern two ways in which the notion of community featured in authorities’ narrations of their efforts to respond to the pandemic. Firstly, we demonstrate how community was deployed as a discursive mechanism that offered a particular framing of the vulnerabilities the pandemic instigated. Departing from accounts that reduce people’s identities to demographic categories, the deployment of community stressed that the pandemic’s effects should be understood by the different, yet coexistent, vulnerabilities it brought to the surface for people. Such renditions of vulnerability paved the way for styles of governance that prioritised adapting to the pandemic’s uncertain and indeterminate unfolding in the absence of prepared plans. Secondly, addressing a register of collective social life between individuals and the state, an emphasis on community engendered the decentralised arrangement of emergency governance with which resilience has become synonymous. Here, community proved pivotal in temporarily expanding resources to deal with an emergency whose effects threatened to exceed governments’ pre-existing capabilities. We substantiate this claim through examining how allusions to community worked to enrol non-state based efforts at response into a broader public security apparatus. Enveloped within the broader politics of emergency resilience, community shaped how the pandemic’s effects were understood whilst also ensuring adequate provisions for its governance.