A better approach to managing COVID-19 and its effects
Keywords:COVID-19, pandemic, emergency management, response
In the COVID-19 pandemic, treatment of the virus, prevention of its spread, and dealing with its secondary effects on the economy and society have been left to the states and local governments, businesses and other public and private institutions, with the federal government furnishing only feeble support to the primary responders. I argue that COVID-19 is a national disaster, and as such, the federal government should have mounted a massive response under the auspices of the National Response Framework and the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. During my 30-year career administering federal disaster assistance, I worked throughout the United States and its territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. I participated in many imaginative uses of the federal disaster authorities and programs to address serious and unique problems faced by people and their local, state, or territorial governments. During my disaster relief career, the nation never faced a disaster impacting every geographic area and segment of society as COVID-19 has. While the 9/11 attacks shocked the nation, the destruction was restricted to small areas of two cities, and the nation-wide cessation of air travel and other business and social disruptions were short-lived. More than ever before, the extent and severity of the disastrous effects of COVID-19 called for maximal engagement of the National Response Framework to mobilize the combined resources of the country to overcome multiple problems of astounding complexity.
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