Homeland security laws would have dramatically lessened the impact of COVID-19. The two most recent were prepared by the Trump White House in 2018.
I have a Master’s Degree in Homeland Security from the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security, and am the author of “Foundations of Homeland Security, Law and Policy, 2nd Ed.” (Wiley, 2017). I practice law in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Website with links, citations, and video. https://HomelandSecurityLaw.US
White House Documents from 2018 say we are prepared. “The United States actively and effectively prevents, prepares for, responds to, recovers from, and mitigates risk from natural, accidental, or deliberate biological threats.”
President Trump knew about the seriousness of the threat in 2018. “Biological threats are among the most serious threats facing the United States and the international community…can cause death, sicken, and disable on a massive scale… can originate in one country and spread to many others…far-reaching international consequences.”
The President claimed, “This National Biodefense Strategy brings together and puts in place for the first time, a single coordinated effort to orchestrate the full range of activity that is carried out across the United States Government to protect the American people from biological threats.”
This administration knew that we would suffer more than just medical problems. They also knew about all the other things that were going to happen. One of the Strategy’s objectives is to “Reduce the cascading effects of international biological incidents on the global economy, health, and security.”
The president chose the “Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs … as the lead for [biodefense] policy coordination…”
The president “established a Biodefense Steering Committee which shall be chaired by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The other members of the Committee shall include the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency…”
What has the Steering Committee been doing since 2018? Where is the Steering Committee today?
Another law was written: “To improve the ability of the United States to prevent, prepare for, and respond to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.” It addressed:
‘Health and safety protection of workers’
‘National Disaster Medical System…for public health emergency’
‘Advance registration of volunteer health professionals’
“stockpile of drugs, vaccines, supplies.”
These following laws ensure public health monitoring.
A 2002 public health law created national communications and monitoring networks for public health departments to share information.
The Pandemic Preparedness Act of 2006 established “a near real-time electronic nationwide public health situational awareness capability … to share … information to enhance early detection … potentially catastrophic infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies …”
A 2007 law’s primary mission is to “… rapidly identify, characterize, localize, and track a biological event of national concern by integrating and analyzing data… (both national and international)…”
The military has a role too. The Center for Medical Intelligence was created in 2009 as the “the premier producer and coordinator of all-source medical intelligence … for global force protection and homeland health protection to safeguard U.S. interests worldwide.”
The 2015 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency Plan “… coordinates the development, acquisition, stockpiling … of medical products … to … respond to a variety of high-consequence public health emergencies, whether naturally occurring or intentional.”
Today, we are having problems with every subject discussed in these laws. Everything that was thought about and legislated over the past 20 years, was reaffirmed by President Trump in 2018. Our response is contrary to what homeland security has been planning for two decades.
That we might encounter a virus like this has been a concern for 20 years. Cascading effects were predicted. This was foreseeable.
These laws created the legal framework that would have dramatically lessened the impact of COVID-19. These laws would have made our response almost routine.