Doug Bedell — April 17, 2020, 12:19 pm

Ready for Anything: DHS and FEMA

Look through a week in the life of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and you’ll understand more clearly how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the scope of disaster response in America.

Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), DHS used to respond mainly to floods, hurricanes and other naturally occurring disasters. However COVID-19 originated, though, it’s in a different category.

Two examples:

• On April 6th, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to convert three convention centers in Virginia into temporary hospital facilities. The facilities – the Dulles Expo Center in Northern Virginia and the Richmond and Hampton Roads convention centers – will be able to provide beds for 1,107 acute patients or 1,848 non-acute patients. The conversion is expected to be complete within six weeks.

• On April 8th, FEMA and HHS delivered 80,000 nasopharyngeal swabs to various federal Community-Based Testing Sites (CBTS) locations to help surge testing capacity nationwide.

We can only be grateful that FEMA and DHS are ready for anything. That’s their charter.

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