What does it mean that COVID-19 was declared a disaster/emergency by multiple levels of government across the United States? How does the structure of emergency governance affect emergency managers responding to the pandemic? Dr. Samantha Montano, an assistant professor in Emergency Management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (formerly University of Nebraska-Omaha), and Dr. Patrick S. Roberts, an associate professor at Virginia Tech University's Center for Public Administration & Policy both discuss how government agencies in the United States respond to emergencies and the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 in terms of the field of Emergency Management. Both experts on American systems of Emergency Management, Dr. Montano and Dr. Roberts talk about the current state of emergency management and disaster governance in the U.S. and its historical roots in the “Civil Defense” approach of the Cold War era. They explain some of the basics of emergency management in the U.S., like the Stafford Act, and how emergency governance is being enacted in response to COVID-19. In addition to this important context Dr. Montano and Dr. Roberts both weigh in on the challenges facing government officials and emergency managers as well as illuminate what is inhibiting effective coordination and disaster response in late March 2020. For further reading: Disasters and the American State: How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Public Prepare for the Unexpected Disasterology Stafford Act
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