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COVID19 and Technology

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Jennifer Adams
April 5, 2020

Unprecedented, fighting a war, no way to make a peace deal, death toll could be high, work from home, school from home, essential travelling only, social distancing

Some of those thoughts are reminiscent of a war, and some are new or used only in dire situations when public administrators are unable to explain, describe or get the point across.

States are beginning to accept the only way to slow the spread and defeat this invisible enemy is to, “Flatten the curve,” to reduce the number who will be infected daily. This purpose is not only to reduce the number of lives lost but also to give our medical facilities time to prepare for the surges to come. Our medical systems are already overwhelmed and have not been provided enough necessary personal protective equipment to stay safe and not contract this virus. Companies that normally would not fathom making these supplies are creating and finding ways to provide these goods as quickly as possible by changing the way their factories usually manufacture items.

Governors all over the United States are giving stay-at-home or lockdown orders to attempt to fight this enemy. Due to the potential of the community spread of this enemy, Governors (at least in Ohio) have moved their press corps into other areas of the capital so they can spread them out. They have also reduced the number of staff needed to provide a daily press conference. Modern technology has also provided others, such as senators and National Guard Generals, to Skype, Zoom or use Facebook video during the press conference. News broadcasting has become very distanced; many are now streaming from home live during the news. This has provided a glimpse into their homes.

The United States President has finally succumbed to the inevitable and increased his stay-at-home guidance through another month. Staying at home is part of the social distancing that will help flatten the curve; the less people we are around physically, the less likely we (collectively) will be infected or pass the virus to one another. However, even with these orders in place, the number infected, those needing medical care and inhabited ICU beds will increase monumentally.  As we know by examining other countries, we (The United States) will lose hundreds of thousands to this enemy.

Stay-at-home orders, whether from the Health Department or by Executive Order of the Governor, provide for allowable essential businesses to remain open that are directly tied to the supply chain; however, they may only remain open if they follow the social distancing and hygiene guidance.

The ever-increasing demand on not only the electric grid but also the internet and its speed is becoming overwhelming. This demand has been created as a result of social distancing. This simply means staying at home and away from others (physical distancing); this includes work, school and the like. Distancing is what we (collectively) were doing prior to the invasion of COVID19.

Modern technology and emerging trends in such have created generations of persons that do NOT know how to communicate with each other face to face. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. have created this format where we can “chat”, “like”, and even “follow” a person and never have to even speak to them or have a truly human experience. Today, during this turbulent and unprecedented time of war, these same technological systems are allowing us (collectively) to follow guidance and keep physical distance from others and yet still stay connected to one another. As Institutions of Higher Education and K12 students attempt to complete this school year, the education system has been overwhelmed by how to use much of the emerging technology that is available and how to transfer an in-person class to a digital one.

All that being said, I, an introvert, am grateful to have this modern technology to be able to see another human during these rough times and those that are to come. There is a new normal that is being created day by day, and together we will all get to the other side; maybe not unscathed, but we will make it. 


Author:

Jennifer A Adams, MPA
Emergency Management Planner
Adams Consulting
[email protected]
Twitter: @tr33s4ever

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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