On April 11th, 2020 the Pentagon announced a $133 million mask-making project to battle COVID-19. That sounds great but aren’t we a little late? States and cities have already contracted many of their supplies through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact allowing them to contract as wide as the globe will allow. Governor Cuomo of New York and Governor Newsom from California were basically in an E-bay battle for supplies in March. President Trump activated the National Emergencies Act while the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act stepped into high gear. Yet, we were not prepared. We still aren’t but why? We don’t have a formidable plan besides paper legislation that allows this or that. Paper in fire today and tomorrow if we don’t change our mitigation ways.
FEMA has mitigation plans that are prepared with a database of suppliers, volunteers, workers, and storage when they enter a destruction zone. The military, as we have witnessed, also has a lengthy inventory of Standard Operating Procedures for enacting a recovery and care operation. Congress needs to have more on paper than permissions per law starting with a massive database of companies helping us today.
Instead of invocating the Defense Production Act to legally encourage companies to help Americans, we could have a database of companies that have helped us. We know who are making masks, ventilators, gloves and more. We know who we can turn to in the next pandemic.
Next, we need a database of the workers who have stayed on the frontlines from the mail carriers and sanitation laborers and truck drivers to the doctors, nurses, and janitors. These people are a precious commodity far beyond the worth of a mere stimulus or Hero check. They are the people making America sustainable during a crisis. You can’t beat that with money. These people could be entered into a database due to their sheer bravery and knowledge. This may remind you of movies we have seen where there’s a crisis and some incredible person is called in to help save the world. Instead of just one person being called in, we are all called in to share our expertise. What many people don’t realize is we see different patterns of actions on the frontlines such as traffic, supply delivery, and communication to name a few. This database will save lives.
Volunteers are the core of American business and community. There are millions of people transgressing a deadly disease to help their neighbors. From Meals on Wheels to the Red Cross, we are keeping each other alive and well. The federal government could have another database of these volunteers for the next crisis. Yes, we keep saying the next crisis but there will eventually be another. Nothing is perfect. The federal government could do an automatic call for these volunteers during the next crisis personally and immediately. Don’t ever think that volunteers want to be ignored. A call by Uncle Sam would encourage and compliment them.
Mitigation should include testimony from all volunteers and frontline workers as well. Surveys should be sent to everyone involved with pertinent questions on what they’ve seen that may help us prepare for the next crisis. This data should be analyzed and included in mitigation plans.
All of these options need to be placed into a legislative act, they can’t just be lists. The Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act can be amended to legally include the databases of companies, workers, volunteers, and information pertinent to affecting the next crisis. As we have seen, you can’t just depend on Uncle Sam or your local politician to quell a crisis, you need everyone and everything on deck. The pandemic and national emergency acts have been in place for over a decade but here we are again scrambling to sustain and recover. We need to make changes now, as an amendment to keep America safe and healthy. Call your political leaders today and tell them you want the master crisis plan updated and amended.