Acceptable Loss in a Pandemic-Editor's Note

Dear DomPrep Readers,

Since day one on 11 November 1998, DomPrep has been and continues to be a publication for preparedness and resilience professionals with operational and strategic responsibilities. Since then, we have published many beneficial articles on pandemics, terrorism, natural disasters, chemical weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), active shooter(s), opioids, special events, cybersecurity, etc., etc., etc. So, when local, tribal, state, and federal authorities said, “I didn’t see a bio event coming,” I took it personally and sadly considered our work to be a failure.

DomPrep has not been alone trying to drive awareness of the biothreat and its broad array of dangers. Others, especially the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, tried to advise and influence elected officials and policy makers of a certain biological incident, be it naturally occurring or by evil intent. The government even warned itself, albeit unsuccessfully. The second National Preparedness Goal clearly states, “A virulent strain of pandemic influenza could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, affect millions more, and result in economic loss. Additional human and animal infectious diseases, including those undiscovered, may present significant risks.” Additionally, President Donald Trump’s own National Biodefense Strategy states Goal 1 is to “Enable risk awareness to inform decision-making across the biodefense enterprise” and to “assess the risks posed by research, such as with potential pandemic pathogens, where biosafety lapses could have very high consequences.”

In spite of those warnings along with so many others for decades, preparedness seemed to go out the window in March 2020. Reflex, recoil, and panic replaced executing “The Plan.” The United States as well as many other nations pursued a deny, delay, and blame strategy. Politicians commandeered the microphone and blocked those on their staff with operational experience who could provide calm by revealing The Plan. Investors lost confidence and markets plunged. Others lost confidence as well. Personal protection equipment (PPE), detection, surveillance, and decontamination stockpiled caches among other essential supplies were surprisingly found to be inadequate to meet the many cries for help. The world witnessed our health care workers donning garbage bags and bandanas in lieu of proper and adequate protective gear. Government officials locked down the country to flatten the curve thereby hoping to avoid hospital surge. With those moves, they once again showed the world how fragile our resilience is.

The first sentence of my email asking DomPrep’s readers to take a survey troubled a few readers. For this, I apologize if I offended anyone. My comment, “There has been a failure by elected and policy officials, on all levels of government, to adequately understand and prepare for COVID-19,” was not intended to be political. It was not. The fact that the lack of preparedness contributed to more than 100,000 fatalities, small businesses closing, record filings for unemployed benefits, and the creation of unprecedented amounts of unsecured fake money by the United States Treasury is an undeniable problem, not a political talking point. The printing of money is a bipartisan affair with future serious consequences for everyone.

It is what it is.

The topic of acceptable loss, while unpleasant for many, is a sober look into consequence management. Deciding when and how to stop the lockdown is difficult and should be made by the subject matter experts from numerous fields, not solely politicians. Unfortunately, in today’s hyperpolarized world, many respondents to the following survey results look at this emergency management/public healthy decision through a political perspective, either protecting or criticizing their favorite politician or position. For this, I am both sad and sorry to share. We live in a volatile world right now, but we should be better than this.

The following quote helps me to better understand our current state of division. It was written in a recent commentary by Jonathan Sumption published in London’s The Sunday Times:

The lesson of Covid-19 is brutally simple and applies generally to public regulation. Free people make mistakes and willingly take risks. If we hold politicians responsible for everything that goes wrong, they will take away our liberty so that nothing can go wrong. They will do this not for our protection against risk, but for their own protection against criticism.

I would like to thank DomPrep’s talented, dedicated, and diverse readers for braving through the many hours of service, as we progress through this and other, imminent “unforeseen” incidents. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Very Respectfully,
Martin (Marty) Masiuk

Click here for the Acceptable Loss in a Pandemic report.

Martin D. Masiuk

Martin (Marty) Masiuk is president and founder of International Media Representatives Inc. (IMR Group Inc.), which was established in 1986 as an American-based media representation firm for overseas, aerospace, and defense publications. In 1998, under the IMR Group, he established, which has evolved into a highly trusted, and important information service for the multi-disclipline, multi-jurisdiction preparedness community. In 2014, he transitioned the DomPrep40 into the Preparedness Leadership Council to lessen the burden on and increase the effectiveness of operational preparedness professionals and help policy professionals make better-informed decisions. Prior to IMR Group, he served as an account representative for McGraw Hill’s Business Week and Aviation Week & Space Technology publications.



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