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Science Not Shutdowns

Opinion

COVID-19:

Science Not Shutdowns

Mr. Arthur J. Simental

August 2, 2020

Trump’s Nationwide Shutdown in response to COVID19 will go down as one of the greatest failures of leadership in America’s history. We face a global catastrophic crisis not seen in a century that continues to break records for deaths and has now singlehandedly caused more economic damage than any other disaster in a few short months. The Trump Administration’s response to this chaos has undoubtedly been the worst national response in history. In the face of this global threat, States and communities are left to fend for themselves. With no clear plan or help to come to the rescue, the nation continues to resort to implementing highly varying social distancing practices and mixed levels of shutdowns.

What more could be expected from a failing Federal Government and a Republican political party in power that disregards any logical plan, science, homeland security, emergency management or public health policy, all while continuing to fire scientists, experts, and leaders from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency who dared to speak up. National emergencies and crisis, once the greatest unifiers of the nation and the American people, have become one of the greatest political divides pitting politics over the health and safety of the nation.

Social distancing continues to be haphazardly applied by States as the best defense against COVID19. When social distancing fails then the outcry for shutdowns begin, followed by political protests for and against shutdowns. Some important context on “Shutdowns”: Shutdowns evolved from the practice of “Shelter-in-place”, which was an emergency order or action initiated as a last resort during an emergency or disaster when nothing else could be safely done or attempted, and the best action was to try and holdout the best you can and “ride out the storm” until the danger had passed. Shelter-in-place has seen more use over the last decade, typically during active shooter incidents, hazardous materials releases and severe weather. Trump’s implementation of a nation-wide shelter-in-place or “shutdown” is undoubtedly the single greatest failure of leadership and response to a national crisis. It is a cry for help, a panicked effort, and a clear sign that those in power don’t know what to do and that there are too few experts, scientists and problem solvers left to forge a path ahead to safety. Instead of meeting this historic challenge, Trump often tries to change the reality of the situation and has acted like COVID19 is no longer an issue and passes blame to all but himself, for a crisis that he for months called a hoax, willfully ignored, and continues to downplay present-day.

Dr. Fauci one of the few scientists and experts on the White House COVID19 Task Force is a fading voice, that despite being trusted more than the President, appears to be disregarded for the President’s political agenda and has become a target of contention for trying to do what is needed to save the nation from COVID19. He is one of a few voices remaining that is trying to save a nation that is burning in chaos. With science being disregarded for politics, we are left with nothing else but to shut-down and pray that we will survive this nightmare.

Why is it that science is being ignored? Why have we not embraced the disruption and sought to overcome this tremendous challenge? Nothing about COVID19 or pandemics is unprecedented. Pandemics have long impacted the world and are noted throughout some of the world’s most famous history. How is it that we can create such scientific and technological marvels that put a man on the moon, in the most uninhabitable environments for human life and build electric cars but we can’t overcome a predictable event that America has been planning and preparing for, for years? What is shocking is America’s failure to innovate, to embrace this disruption and overcome the challenges before us. Instead the President and Republicans would rather risk the lives, health and safety of the people, forcing them to work and reopen without clear guidance, a plan or means to ensure their safety and the safety of families across the nation.

Why do we not engage our great science, academic and industry sectors across the nation to innovate and develop new scientific, engineering and technological solutions to COVID19 beyond going all in on waiting for an effective cure that may take up to two years plus to develop and deliver? COVID19 at its heart is really an infrastructure issue that should serve as a reflection on America’s aging infrastructure, healthcare systems, poor sanitation and outdated technologies that are incapable of meeting the challenges of COVID19 today. Why are we not re-imaging how we conduct government and business operations? Why are we not making work environments and communities safe by investing in engineering and technical solutions that will work now in the interim until a long-term solution is available? We need to be investing into the future of America today so that we are no longer impacted and disrupted so severely ever again by any future emergency, pandemic or disaster.

Facilities across America have long had a terrible record of maintaining good sanitation and hygienic work environments, everyone can attest to abysmal public restroom conditions that make us cringe at the thought of having to use them. We need to be investing in advanced sanitation technologies to promote good hygiene practices such as touchless doors, restroom fixtures, automatic sanitizers and surface disinfectant appliances. HVAC technologies exist today that can provide for air purification and sterilization. Even portable HEPA and UV air purifiers are available and can be deployed to high risk areas for COVID19. This absolutely needs to be implemented in every facility across the nation to reduce the exposure to COVID19 in enclosed environments. We need to be investing heavily into environmental, health and safety controls that will substantially reduce and mitigate the risk of airborne pathogens, viruses, bacteria and allergens. Further, technologies under development such as Far-UV lights that can be implemented at entrances and exits for every building that instantly kill viruses and bacteria while being safe for human contact need to be a building standard across the nation. We have the means to make every community safe and resilient to not just COVID19, but future pandemics and disasters. We need Congress, the Senate and the President to listen to scientists, academics, researchers, and bring them together with innovators and leaders of industry to build a better America today!

Author Bios:

Arthur J. Simental, M.S.

Biography

Mr. Arthur J. Simental is an Adjunct Instructor and Homeland Security & Emergency Management Subject Matter Expert for the College of Security Studies at Colorado Technical University, and is the Founder of C&S Resiliency Solutions Ltd. Mr. Simental has a decade of service in Government, Homeland Security & Emergency Management and Emergency Services. Mr. Simental has served at the local, county, regional, state level and in the private and non-profit sectors in healthcare, space & defense, security and education working with critical infrastructure facilities.

Mr. Simental possesses a Master of Science in Homeland Security, Emergency Management and Public Health from Colorado Technical University, a Bachelor of Arts in Emergency and Disaster Management from American Military University, an Associate of Applied Science in Homeland Security/Emergency Management from Pikes Peak Community College, and an Undergraduate Certificate in Cybersecurity from Colorado State University.