COVID-19: Governing Is Hard

To govern, you need people, agencies, programs and funding.

Ronald Reagan famously said that "government is the problem." Well, in a pandemic it is not the problem -- it is one of the major solutions to the problem. Note, I did not say the only solution.

We have had trouble here in the United States on many fronts with responding to the pandemic at the federal, state and local levels. Just look at Wisconsin this Memorial Day weekend. I saw photos of Lake Geneva, a place I'm familiar with, that looked like it was the 4th of July in a non-COVID-19 year. Nary a mask in sight! In about a month we'll know what immunity there is in the general population. 

This article from The Hill, Critics say Trump, Congress fumbling economic response to COVID-19, highlights federal issues, but they are replicated many times over by states, locals and individual citizens as they make choices on how to respond. 

The article highlights how we have let government atrophy and not kept up with other industrialized nations in how to approach health care as only one example. This past week I spoke with a friend of mine who has had cancer for over 11 years. Right now he is taking two different drugs that each cost over $20K a month. I told him that "I'd be dead." 

People are making tough choices all over America right now. To close the business. To go back to work -- wondering if it is safe. Are schools going to be open in the fall? Will small liberal arts colleges survive? What will I do when the government checks stop coming? 

If this is success, I'd hate to see what failure looks like!

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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