Cases continue to increase globally.
1. Kettl states that "Better learning requires rewiring." Looking to the past and using the example of 9/11, Kettl looks to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security to bring various agencies under one umbrella just as the government did in 1947 combining different agencies within the Department of Defense. In the aftermath of 9/11, they resorted to the past to solve new problems. DHS failed in its response to Hurricane Katrina due to many reasons including communication breakdowns and nobody knowing who was really in charge of any operation. State and federal officials blamed one another while the people suffered. In this category, Kettl also mentions what he refers to as “asymmetric” problems which he says is the “board and predicable events that deliberately or not, take advantage of points of vulnerability in the system”. Using his example of 9/11, he explains that terrorists exposed weakness in airline security.
In the case of a viral pandemic, the U.S government is looking to the past but not in the way of repeating the same mistakes but instead learning from past outbreaks such as Ebola, Zika and SARS has prepared the U.S and the CDC for their response to the Coronavirus outbreak according to (Abrams, 2020). The U.S is initiating travel bans from the most affected areas and urges Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China and other high-risk areas. DHS is rerouting flights from China, carrying those who have traveled to China in the past 14 days and the CDC has provided staff to screen passengers at airports entering the U.S from high infection countries and has quarantined the infected at military bases (Abrams, 2020). Since the writing of this article, President Trump has also put in place travel bans from Europe. Scientists are also struggling to find a vaccine. (Abrams, 2020) notes that during the Ebola outbreak, President Obama appointed a "czar" to oversee the government's response, this aided in making the government's response smoother, as of yet, the Trump Administration has not appointed such a person but Vice President Pence is overseeing a task force. Local and state governments as well as national governments are effectively communicating with their citizens, keeping them informed on recent outbreaks, cases, advisories and the collective efforts of governments and agencies to stop the spread of the virus and to treat those infected.
One weakness that was for sure exposed in the asymmetric regarding the recent viral outbreak is the lack of health screening of people traveling from countries that are known to be vulnerable to new viruses and illnesses such as China and parts of Africa. If people from these areas were screened prior to departure and upon arrival to their destination, perhaps illnesses would be detected and these people could be quarantined and monitored, therefore; stopping the spread of the sickness to other parts of the globe. Also, it exposes the lack of sanitary conditions and healthcare in less developed nations where people are side by side with animals in poor conditions and where healthcare services are lacking in new technology or supplies due to the poverty within such countries.
2. “An instinct to reform instead to govern”. It is here that Kettl explains that government officials try to connect the dots of disaster and find solutions to stop the disaster from striking again. Using 9/11 again as an example, Kettl explains that the government’s solution was to form DHS, even though Bush didn’t want it, he agreed to it after learning that Congress was going to pass it. Kettl also explains that Bush failed to staff FEMA with people who were skilled in emergency management. In the case of a viral outbreak, following the recent Ebola and SARS scares, the U.S and other countries have failed to provide medical personnel to screen passengers arriving from countries that are at high risk of illness when they arrive in different destinations. Had this been done, perhaps the spread of these new illnesses would not have appeared in countries outside of their place of origin.
3. “An instinct to think vertically instead of horizontally”. It is here that Kettl uses Katrina as an example, arguments over the chain of command erupted. The Mayor of New Orleans was blaming federal officials for the poor response saying that they had no idea what they were doing, the governor claimed she couldn’t get a hold of anyone, nobody knew what to do and the blame game was played. In the case of viral outbreak, the chain of command is being played vertically as everyone this far seems to know their roles and their duties. CDC officials are working in ways to stop the spread of the illness, local and state governments are closing schools and canceling large gatherings, the federal government is also playing a role in directing the CDC and initiating travel bans. The chain of command seems to be understood and people know who is in charge.
4. Here Kettl describes the instinct of bureaucrats to regulate instead of perform because they are more worried about procedure than saving lives. It is here that Kettl reminds us that rules matter. In the recent viral outbreak, it seems that bureaucrats are performing instead of regulating and making sure that lives are saved through the actions being put in place to stop the spread of the illness