By Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice
The past two years have brought unprecendented changes to our way of life on both a global and local scale. As a community, we sprung into action to understand the health impacts of COVID-19, gather critical resources, and adapt to new guidelines to protect our ourselves and our neighbors. The pandemic pushed us to be resilient, creative and persistent.
Pinellas County staff have been reflecting on these past two years and recently released our Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Response After Action Report, which outlines the County’s response to the pandemic thus far and highlights lessons learned for future disaster response. The County develops an after-action report to reflect on each crisis in which we activate our Emergency Operations Center.
Above all, the report shows that the pandemic required a community-wide response and that our community stepped up to help in more ways than we could have imagined. We are so grateful for your support.
County staff, partner agencies and businesses all found creative ways to help throughout the pandemic, the report notes. Organizations of all kinds came together as a part of the County’s working groups addressing many aspects of our community, ranging from nursing home assistance to food distribution. Businesses offered innovative solutions, such as adapting their manufacturing to make personal protective equipment such as face shields and hand sanitizer.
Partnerships during the pandemic led to the County’s formation of the first Pinellas County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), a group of more than 80 faith- and community-based organizations that are invested in helping the community prepare for and recover from disasters. For information on how your organization can get involved with disaster support, email email@example.com.
The pandemic has also shown County staff that more volunteers are needed for disasters, especially as hurricane season approaches. The County and other community organizations saw a decrease in volunteers during the pandemic, making it harder to meet the needs of vulnerable communities. Individuals are encouraged to sign up to volunteer during disasters, if they are able, at bit.ly/disaster-volunteer.Over the course of the pandemic, Pinellas County and partners have fulfilled more than 5,500 resource requests from local care facilities, hospitals, and first responders, totaling nearly 13 million personal protective items; kept partners informed through almost 2,000 coordination calls; and provided more than 250,000 COVID-19 vaccines and 308,000 tests, according to the report.
While the pandemic is not over, Pinellas County’s after-action report provides lessons learned from the past two years that will guide the County’s response to both the remaining impacts of the pandemic and to future disasters. The best practices and partnerships we’ve forged during this time will help us rise to the challenge of future disasters of any kind quickly and effectively.
To request a copy of the Pinellas County Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Response After Action Report, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that email addresses are public records under Florida law and are not exempt from public records requirements. If you do not want your email address to be subject to being released as part of a public records request, contact Pinellas County Emergency Management by phone at (727) 464-3800 or in writing (10750 Ulmerton Road, Largo FL 33778) instead.
As always, if you have questions or comments, you can reach me at (727) 464-3363 or email@example.com.