I hope that you are all staying safe and well, as some restrictions initially aimed at mitigating the magnitude and intensity of the pandemic are beginning to lift in Washington and beyond. During the last month, I joined the COVID-19 Work Group of the EPA Science Advisory Board, whose charge is to identify and prioritize information needs associated with efforts to re-start suspended operations. Our focus is the evidence base which will inform tiered initiatives for getting people back to work and back to school.
It is clear that there is a profound need for science-based strategies to ensure safe workplaces and childcare options, without which people will struggle to resume on site and in person workplace interactions. In advance of a widely available vaccine, these steps will require critical information about exposure and infection, about distributional inequities in contagion and response, about adequate and safe disinfection practices, about contact tracing, about transit system related exposure, and more.
While the medical field’s front line care of the sick and suffering, coupled with epidemiological modeling of the virus, are central to protecting public health at the peak of the pandemic - public policy and management decision-making will be pivotal in getting people safely back to work and school. Our field offers the tools and frameworks necessary for managing the tradeoffs and uncertainties that will accompany every step of the journey ahead. It is fascinating and fulfilling work that requires the sustained and collective efforts of all of us. I appreciate the many Evans community members who are engaging in all aspects of this work, as well as the future efforts of our students, as we continue to fight the pandemic and rebuild.