tv State Local Emergency Management Officials Testify on COVID-19 Response CSPAN March 16, 2021 11:22pm-12:30am EDT
i yield back. >> it's time for our next panel. administrator benton, thank you for your time. please stay updated with us, and please extend our most sincere gratitude with your colleagues across the country. we will now recess to prepare for our next panel and we will return shortly. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> following a reset, state and local emergency officials tested their covid-19 response. this runs an hour. >> we'll now go to the second hearing panel, which includes the director of the governor's
office of emergency services, curtis brown, and also the co-founder of the institute for diversity and inclusion in emergency management. the tkroepbgtdirector of the tennessee emergency agency. -- patrick she handed the director of tennessee emergency management agency. in the office of emergency management. los angeles county. gentlemen, we will submit the full text of your official statements for the hearing record and i would ask each of you to keep your oral testimony to five minutes. director, let's begin with you. >> [inaudible]
>> impacted california -- over 54,000 covid-related deaths. this change extended to emergency management, and the cascading impacts of the virus forced us to pivot and re-evaluate standards and operating procedures and resources and to implement plans to respond to later surges, all the while managing concurrent disasters we are facing. since the beginning of the pandemic, our health and human services agency and many other state agencies and local
governments and departments and our great partners at fema. by applying our well-established emergency response framework and adapting it to fit the pandemic, california effected tremendous resources, and we place present charges while multifaceted and multiincident operations amid the pandemic. additionally covid-19 further worsened the equity gaps and disproportionately affected individuals. these challenges and new disasters led to unparalleled strategies focused on achieving the exwow tau distribution of kau phaud res and vaccine -- focused on achieving the eco distribution of resources, commodities and vaccine administration. while facing these challenges california worked in close
partnership with fema to implement a multitude of programs in the area of ppe, emergency feeding, emergency housing, alternate care sites and medical surge capability, mobile vaccination clinics. in fact california was the first in the nation to develop and implement specific programs in partnership with fema to assist the populations, such as the great plates delivered program which provides prepared meals through restaurants for adults 65 to older and adults 64 and under who cannot prepare meals while staying at home, and agriculture workers and food service providers who have closed or are struggling to remain open during covid-19. project room key that provides safe isolation capacity for tens of thousands of californians experiencing homelessness, and housing for the agriculture and field workers playing an
essential role in the food supply, and released inmates on probation, and reducing the risk of bringing the virus home to families. lastly, hospital training academy using the community that used fema dollars to provide meals prepared in industrial kitchens to hometown seniors and others affected in the pandemic. most recently, in partnership with fema, part of president biden's 100 sites across the nation. focusing on under served high covid risk populations, these
two sites were established in oakland and east los angeles in addition to the fixed sites and the focus on equity each site working with community-based and faith-based organizations and community leaders, the clinics penetrated into and better served the community. to date over 350,000 vaccinations have been delivered through the two mega sites with a metric represented over 60% of people of color or under served. as the state of the pandemic continues to evolve so do our efforts and partnership with fema and under the leadership of bob benton as the regional administrator, and he's an acting fema administrator to help mitigate its affects to make sure all californians have the resources to fight this pandemic. thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and thank you for your commitment to
ensure for the strong ability to response. i look forward to answering any of your questions. >> state coordinator brown. mr. brown: good morning, and thank you, madame chair woman and ranking members of the sub committee. i appreciate the opportunity to discuss the role of fema and emergency management community and the ongoing response to covid-19. including opportunities to address the disprau poor saw nut -- the disproportionate impact of disasters phaurpblg. as we passed the one-year mark, -- the disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. as we passed the one-year mark, we pause to recognize those who
have been lost from this disaster, and we recognize the hard work and resilience of frontline essential workers, nurses, doctors, public health and public safety community including emergency managers who have been responding to this disaster. those that have been losts serve as our motivation. in emergency management we try to learn lessons in order to improve for the next disaster. due to this long event it's important that we not wait until the end of this response but have critical conversations and evaluations now. 3,000 lives were lost during the tragic 9/11 terrorists attacks, and over 800 deaths due to -- 1800 deaths due to katrina, and all led to new policy, changes and additional resources. the historic impact of the covid-19 pandemic has resulted over 500,000 american deaths. it's important to note that on top of the response to covid-19,
fema, state and local emergency management has also responded to numerous other events over the last year, including major flooding, storms, protests, hurricanes, which have stressed resources. how do we learn from this catastrophic event and move forward? we have seen once again the disproportionate impact of covid-19 on communities of color, people with disabilities and marginalized communities which require the urgent integration of equity into emergency management. this event has also demonstrated the important role of fema and emergency management as a profession for coordinating responses to disasters, leveraging emergency management, hazardous expertise, and capacity building, and it's needed to move with speed to ensure a whole of government response.
early in the response fema was not fully leveraged and empowered to do that, and it negatively impacted with us working on the state level, and improving our coordinated response to disasters requires prioritizing equity to support communities most at risk, and we also need to build diversity management capacity at the state and local level, recognizing the new normal. more frequent and impactful disasters and the growing impacts of climate change. despite the challenges of this response and issues to address moving forward, i am hopeful due to recent actions of congress and the biden administration, the new resources are enabling us to move forward with our campaign while continuing to contract trace and get our schools open and support vulnerable virginians. we are opening vaccination centers in our hardest hit
communities. i am appreciative for the signing of the rescue plan, and it includes $100 million for the program. having strong leadership at fema is required to ensure we have resilience building and address the issues. we appreciate the leadership of the interim administrator, mr. benton. in closing, thank you madame chair woman for providing an opportunity for emergency management to offer recommendations, and i am happy to answer any questions from the sub committee. thank you. >> next we will go to director
shehan. >> thank you. i am the director of the tennessee emergency management agency. i am grateful for the invitation and the opportunity to speak with you today. first i want to acknowledge the loss of more than 11,000 tennesseean s. and all of us have experienced -- nearly all of us have experienced the loss of a friend or loved one and our hearts ache with our fellow americans that suffered loss. i want to express sincere gratitude for the dedicated work for more than a year now. i want to express my gratitude for local responders and local emergency managers, the local
national guard and fema for the work they have continued to do in the challenging times. the pandemic has challenged those in ways expected and they have stepped up and helped. in tennessee in 2020, we have been tested over and over again starting in january of 2020, the tennessee department of health and emergency management agency and the governor's office and a number of other departments convened to examine the situation that was developing in china and those from europe coming in on the spread of the novel coronavirus. we used that opportunity to look at our plans and protocols and try to prepare for the road that
was ahead of us. shortly after we began convening those we were struck on march 3rd by a series of deadly tornadoes, the largest which had a 60-mile track and it hit nashville and tracked almost due east taking 25 lives and destroying hundreds of homes and damaged millions of dollars worth of infrastructure. tennessee is a night-time tornado capital of the united states, and we have more nighttime tornadoes in the state of the union, and they are the deadliest. i am grateful for the quick work of fema following that disaster, and i am also incredibly grateful for the work of our county emergency managers and partners. i think we showed the investment
over the last five years we made in working together and collaborating and building a collaborative emergency management paid dividends. while the disaster of the tornadoes was widespread and sudden and struck in the middle of the night, our system worked collaboratively. it was heart warming to see the outpouring of the voluntary spirit as thousands of tennesseeans poured in to help with the response and recovery of that disaster. then on march 5th, tennessee had its first confirmed covid case, a physician that attended a conference in massachusetts was confirmed by our suburb emergency department, the first of more than 660,000 cases we would have here.
tennessee also conducted more than 7 million covid tests since that time. on april 12th and 13th, another series of storms and tornadoes hit the eastern grand division of tennessee and that disaster coupled with the wake in may, and then the christmas bombing has bought a lot of destruction to tennessee. policies that fema has done well, and imagine management has -- and emergency management has pulled well together to address our need. tennessee's vaccination plan has
been lauded for choosing equity and i will just flag, too, that equitable distribution of vaccine or aid takes times and for a myriad of reasons for lack of access and transportation and a lack of trusting government programs, the equitable distau -- distribution will take time, and in some ways we will have to be patient. we have to make the vaccine available, but in tennessee's model we held out in allocations specifically to ensure that we don't leave out communities that have been most impacted and as my colleagues, curtis brown indicated, we know the african-american community has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, both in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and we are able to see that and act on it and i would encourage whatever we do with vaccinations deployed, we continue to be patient in ways that are meaningful.
i just want to thank you, again, for the opportunity to be here and talk a little bit about what challenges tennessee has faced and i look forward to answering any questions you might have. >> thank you, ma'am. >> and last but not least, to correct or -- director mcgowan. >> it's nice to see you. last time we were here in the operation emergency center, honorable members of the sub committee, i serve as the director of los angeles office of emergency management. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the response to covid-19 and our partnership with fema. i would like to acknowledge the incredible toll covid-19 has taken on our county and throughout the world. in los angeles alone, covid-19
caused more than 22,000 deaths and infected over 1.2 million people. i want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to los angeles health care workers and first responders, and disaster service workers for compare -- for their commitment and steadfast resolve. they truly represent the measure of -- the full measure of public service. by srur khau of our size los -- by virtue of our size, los angeles county faces numerous challenges during natural disaster, human-caused dis disasters. fema identified los angeles county as having the highest risk index of all other counties in the country. this underscores the critical importance of los angeles county to continue to build our emergency management capabilities and mitigate the natural risks of natural disasters and similarly address our response to disasters like the covid-19 pandemic. on march 4th 2020, los angeles
proclaimed a local emergency due to covid-19, the county's emergency operation center immediately activated and from day one our actions were to coordinate and support the county's efforts in mitigating the pancreatic cancer. and it resulted in uninterrupted continuation of the county's essential services while also allowing for the distau pwaougs of tens of millions of critical pieces of ppe, and the administration of millions of covid-19 tests and millions of doses of vaccination, and the dis distribution of millions of meals to the community, and the local management of hundreds of millions of dollars in fema's public assistance program. in los angeles county it's truly been a whole community response. the county's emergency management mission requires this, and it's ever presence in
our strong organizational partnerships with fema and the governor's office of emergency services. no one governmental organization can do this alone. there have been numerous positive results from this partnership, and the first was fema's rapid approval of expedited projects. and supported our ability to continue to provide these critical services and response functions to our community. the second was fema support for nonsheltering which resulted in project room key, a collaborative effort with the state and the county and the los angeles homeless authority to secure hotel and motel rooms for people experiencing homelessness in our county, and it helps to prevent the spread of the virus in our communities and has the added value of bringing capacity
and protecting our hospitals and health care system. the third fema's effort to support the distribution of vaccines to residents from communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. fema's partnership with the california state university of los angeles has resulted in the administration of hundreds of thousands of vaccination doses in some of our counties's hardest hit communities and i will reference bob's earlier comment about the hub and spoke model where the cal state l.a. sight serves as the hub and then we have mobile sites that spoke off of that. finally i want to express the county's appreciation and support for president biden's actions in 2021, directing fema to provide 100% reimbursement for programs retroactive to the start of the emergency as well as actively. the costs have been bourne
significantly by local -- costs have been borne significantly by local jurisdictions, including hrafpl sz county. -- including los angeles county. the pandemic is not over and we understand there's a long road ahead and we appreciate our partnership with fema and hope to continue to improve our recovery efforts. i recommend exploring more integration with the fema response capabilities at the state and local organization level, and streamlining the administration of public assistance programs, including minimizing the administrative burdens on local jurisdictions, and three, resizing grant methodologies and requirements for performance periods like the performance grant. and all of those under the consideration of the new national risks index that shows that los angeles county has a significant significant impact. thank you so much for this opportunity to appear before the
sub committee and i look forward to any questions you may have. >> director, i understand that during the pandemic the state of california worked with fema, local governments and the restaurant industry to develop a program called great plates, which also has been adopted elsewhere in the country. can you explain what great plates is, how it has worked and if you believe it's a model for providing food assistance during and after other kinds of dis asters? >> thank you, congresswoman.
great plates was an idea launched in april of 2020. it's a program that aims to provide meals, again, to adults 65 and older and adults 60 to 64 who are at high risks designated by cdc guidelines and who are eligible to access free meals while staying at home or are eligible for other nutrition programs. the program also supports local restaurants and other food providers and agriculture workers who have closed or are struggling to remain open during the covid-19 pandemic. to date the program has served over 28 million meals to older californians since the program's launch in april. using the emergency feeding program framework approved by fema, oh, yes, in partnership with our california health and human services to implement the program, and the program is locally led with the designated local government leader,
including all fiscal data requirements reporting and participant provider enrollment, and they provide technical assistance and engages directly to make sure the program runs smoothly and provides any additional clarification or resources to make the program supportive, and the website that allows local governments to par -- participate in the program. overall the program has been very successful. obviously with the number of meals that have been served, it really is a model for providing food assistance and it works well for populations seeking at this particular circumstances in the pandemic, and it does, we believe, has merritt init, and -- have merit in other types of
disasters for the ability that have additional needs where seniors have the ability to get out and get the assistance that they need. so we believe as time goes on, congresswoman, this is a program that can be a model in emergency management and can be idealized across the country. -- and can be utilized across the country. >> can you elaborate on some of the other innovative programs that california has developed in response to the pandemic? >> sure. so some of the other interesting programs, obviously the project room key, which was the ability to identify hotel rooms working with the hotel industry and the idea was to provide safe isolation capacity for tens of thousands of californians experiencing homelessness. this was an idea to get homeless people -- people who are homeless off the streets. safe as possible.
where they could be supported with meals and contact tracing and keep them as safe as possible. that program has been working very well and been very, very successful. as well housing, a similar program, housing for the harvest which provides temporary noncong -- noncongregate shelters for farm workers. many of our migrant workers come in and their general culture is to congregate as a family. we were seeing a high degree of covid spread in those. we had to work with them to be able to establish these housing opportunities. again, much like a hoteling program and be able to get them to uptake. we saw then we started to drop
in the number of cases that we saw in the spread. so, again, the housing for the harvest, we used in the central valley, hard hit central valley. hard hit imperial valley along the monterey coastline. down in very much county. -- in ventura county. these were all areas where we see a lot of our agricultural industry and the program proved relatively successful for that. those are a couple different key programs we implemented that were -- had a great uptake and were very successful. >> mr. fleischman. >> thank you, madame chair and to all the witnesses, i appreciate you participating and your patience being in this second panel. madame chair, i want to specifically welcome mr. patrick shehan, i have worked with this gentleman extensive in the great state of tennessee in his capacity. we've been through disasters together, but he and i have both
worked very well with fema. it's great to have patrick and all of our guests with us. i'm going to in the interest of time move forward with my first question. i'll direct it to mr. sheehan first, but i am solicitous of all the other witnesses to get their thoughts as well, to get varying perspectives. last year the governor's office contacted me about fema and was proposing these were changes that were proposed regarding the reimbursement for ppe in terms of classifying ppe as increased operating costs. or emergency protective measures. this change in classification could have huge impacts on state budgets with damaging public health results. my question is in two parts. have you run into challenges with inconsistent classifications and secondly,
what would be the budgetary impact of absorbing increased operating costs into your state and local budgets? >> thanks, congressman, for the question. so from january 2021 moving forward, the kinds of actions that we took to provide ppe and sanitizing materials with schools, it's considered eligible, but those actions that we took in tennessee to help provide ppe and sanitizing materials, cleansing materials, cleaning goods to class rooms so we could have safe reopening of schools last year, so the actions in tennessee that we undertook in july and august, those were considered or determined to be increased operating costs as opposed to an emergency protective measure. i disagree with that estimation or the way that that was
determined. i think if fema now says those are indeed emergency protective measures, that those should be consistently classified as emergency protective measures. we undertook those actions then not as an increased operating cost but as a way to safeguard the well being of teachers and students and faculty and staff and schools. >> thank you. who would like to jump in and participate further? i'll open it up. >> congressman curtis brown from virginia. i agree with director sheehan, these are protective measures, and life safety goods for our citizens and essential workers, and as i stated in my written testimony, having all the tools including the full support of
the federal government in terms of providing these funding at 100% reimbursement is essential for our ability to respond. so providing us on the state and local level with that funding frees up other resources to support other essential government functions that are outside of the emergency declaration. >> thank you, sir. would anyone else care to respond? >> congressman, this is mark from california. first, let me say we've been absolutely so appreciative for our fema partners. they have been right with us in being able to find innovative ways to be able to cover the costs of all of these things. i think early on in the pandemic, you know, we all believed that the items that were brought up by my colleagues from virginia, tennessee, are eligible emergency protective measures. and they are things that whether it's ppe or ventilators, you
know, it was a lot of requirement upon the states to have to go out and procure much of this equipment at the time, the federal government wasn't providing the resources, the strategic national stockpile was not operating efficiently or effectively. we weren't getting the resources needed. it was incumbent upon the states to procure this equipment, and you know, for schools, for opening schools, for keeping teachers safe, to making sure our transportation workers, our frontline workers have the ppe where necessary, these were all things a really would be something that needed to be eligible under emergency protective measures. and even if we hadn't used all the ppe at the time we needed it, you know, you don't know that as well as the surges that we're going to reoccurring. now we are most of the states are in a place where we are -- we have resources in our
warehouse. we're ready to deal with a surge and be prepared for that. these are all things that have a direct correlation to the response to covid and really should be a reimbursable item. >> thank you, sir. with that, i will yield back. >> mr. rutherford. >> gentlemen, as a first responder myself for many years in kind of enjoying the federalist ideology that the individual states and localities control their own destiny, that's one of the areas that i think is most interesting in this pandemic, and the reason i say that, i know in florida and maybe it's because of our
familiarity with emergency management as a result of hurricanes coming through every year which was never fun, but also the development of the national incident of management system, i don't believe there's any agency, local, state, within florida that's not compliant at the highest levels. and so my question is this. one of the challenges that i see with covid-19 was the fact that normally when you a disaster, you get resources that come in from outside your state to assist. but that clearly didn't happen here, because the disaster was, in fact, nationwide. so -- and i know states like --
it was mentioned vest, in virginia. how much more difficulty was created by number one the fact that assistance couldn't come from outside the state except at the national level? and then the issue of dealing with a pandemic in lockdown and your own people being impacted by this? and if everything sort of virtually, i guess. can you talk a little bit about your experience with that? >> >> thank you, congressman. yes, it is difficult within this virtual environment, we want to
follow health and safety protocols. within emergency management, we have support. that was limited because everyone was dealing with the emergency at home. we have tried to scale up resources within the state through the department of health and working with the reserve corps to leverage retired medical professional medical doctors and nurses, and funding from the federal government to leverage contractors and pull in our state agencies as well. right now we have a goal of 1000 state employees to support vaccination centers. it has been a difficult response
environment, but we have been creative. we appreciate the support from the private sector who have changed the operations. we had a couple places that used to make beer and wine, and changed operations to make hand sanitizer and things of that sort. we have had to innovate and create in real time. the faith-based community who are most directly connected to the communities of color. it has been all hands on deck response given the scale and impact of the disaster. >> thank you. the response, what singular -- i would not say singular, i'm sure there are many -- what is the most important changeover for emergency management at the
statewide level? >> thank you, congressman for the question. over 19 has provided this evolution of response. in los angeles county we have endured multiple incidents that occurred while cova 19 responses occurred. one thing that is highlighted for us is our ability to build out with the use -- in california we have disaster service workers which empower local governments and state government to have county or city municipal employees be tasked to do work toward disasters, and leverage these things, and learn from those lessons so we can apply that to future disasters such as an earthquake, and see what our true exposure risk is.
and all the while be creative like mr. brown has said. about leveraging new things we have never leveraged before, partnerships with the private sector. i think it is across the entire country, partnerships with hand sanitizer and masks. one thing that has been unique, we have strained every resource. it has been scarce because everyone needed it, whether personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, sanitation equipment. to be creative at the local level to solve those problems was a good lesson learned. >> we do not have to depend on china to supply what we need either. >> thank you very much. i have several questions that i
would like to ask. i would like to ask the following questions for the whole panel. what lessons have you all learned from this pandemic that will assist you in responding to future disasters? >> i think jan on anything come this particular event really amplifies the whole issue about coordination and building the ability to work together when resources are stretched thin, we learned we need capacity within
the country. there should be no reason, none, in the united states of america that state and local emergency managers are straining for resources of this style when we have such a critical crisis on our hands. the ability to make sure we are growing in the same direction through a communications plan that is adopted at the state and federal level. these are people's lives we are talking about. we are very disjointed. we have commodities that were old or nonoperational. we talk about nims, i cannot be more relieved when fema came on the scene to help to coordinate uhhs. they do not understand the role
and what is going on in the ground. it is a top down organization. if you do not have the awareness on the ground, you will never know what your needs will be. these are key lessons learned. i would close by saying it may need to be broadened to address issues of the pandemic. the ability to stretch the staff in a big way. when you look at other agencies, if they are less bureaucratic and thinking about the immediate need, they may have under their own authority the ability to leverage resources at a more expedited fashion. and then giving an expedited cost recovery which will help local government stay afloat while we deal with this long-term disaster where we need those funds immediately.
>> thank you. i second everything he mentioned. i would highlight the importance of equity and the impacts and disasters, time and time again with every disaster we see the folks who suffer the most are communities of color, people with this abilities who suffer whether it is a flood, hurricane or natural disaster. how do we change our programs and policies to build resilience ahead of time and work with speed to mitigate the loss of life and those negative impacts? that has been a core part of our response. we have a health equity task force as part of our command that guides our resource planning, working with fema and the funding provided by congress or vaccination centers.
we used a strategic approach to identify those areas that have been hardest hit by covid-19. a large number of impoverished communities. i am in danville, virginia where our first cvc opened yesterday. we are vaccinating those most at risk and vulnerable. seniors, communities of color. equity is guiding our response. as we move forward looking at fema policies, grant programs, equity is the guide of what we do. it will take a lot of work and intentional action. if we are able to be successful for future disasters, we will protect those who need the most support. thank you.
>> the first thing that touches on the supply chain issue, our domestic manufacturing capability needs to be reevaluated. perhaps along the lines of defense industrial base or what capacities we need domestically to ensure the safety and well-being of all americans. towards emergency management, we can build policy and addict ability and consistency -- policy and predictability and consistency. and across regions, mike counterparts and i talked about how fema policies are applied and interpreted differently from region to region. after what the director said, the staff needs a comprehensive
review and probably an overhaul. it is 35 years old at this point. it is time -- we have learned a lot about emergency management in the last 35 years. we need a piece time look at this where we are not forced by some event. really comprehensively emergency management needs comprehensive overhaul. the last thing i will say, and this is something i share with my team often, if something can happen, it will happen. if it has happened, it will happen again. we are going to have additional pandemics in the future, we will continue to have disasters while facing public health crises. we need to face these crises with that lens.
our memories as human beings are very short when it comes to disastrous events. emergency managers, whether fema from the state of tennessee, at a county level, we need to take a long holistic view about what we can do to make our nation more resilient, make our communities more resilient. we have to keep that in mind. >> i will keep my remarks quick. an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. ling off of what everyone else said, and adding to it, we have seen the pandemic do what most of the other catastrophic disasters have done, they exacerbate the pre-existing issues within society. whether it is health equity, a
variety of other things, food insecurity to name a few, we should be investing in those. we talked about emergency management, but a big part of the pandemic has been the structural and systemwide challenges that we face, and the pandemic has exacerbated those problems. an earthquake will do the same thing, wildfires do the same thing. to continue to invest in programs will be critical to make sure in future disasters, that society and systems that support society are resilient and robust enough to whether those storms. -- weather those storms. >> i have another question about the emergency performance grant. the rescue plan act of 2021 provides funds for emergency management performance programs. can you tell us how you have
received assistance during the pandemic, and how your state and community have used these? >> i will start with the way we can improve, i think the emergency management performance grant has some administrative burdens and timelines associated with it that do not make it the most effective at leveraging what i call the big problems. a lot of programs use the emergency performance grant to tackle things that are low hanging fruits. in general, most of our emergency performance grants are geared toward purchasing or maintenance of effort or critical supplies within our emergency operations. we also use them to develop
critical plans like our emergency operations plan. and sometimes organizations including los angeles county use them for critical staffing positions. there are different buckets the emergency management performance grant goes toward. it would be a more effective grant if we could leverage it with less restrictions or administrative burdens on it, then we could target it toward more substantial challenges. >> i'm going reverse order this time. >> thank you, chairwoman. i think mr. mcgowan was touching on this. in some ways they also become more complex, they have added administrative burdens to it.
empg is the primary preparedness funding mechanism for emergency management in the united states. yet we find no matter who is president, that program is on the chopping block or faces reductions. congress has to restore the full amount, which is needed. we rely on empg at the county and state levels, and it builds the capacities to manage disasters. when tennessee sends first responders to florida or the virgin islands or puerto rico or to the carolinas, a lot of those capabilities have been funded and bolstered by the emergency management performance program. it needs the ability and
predictability, and the need for a longer time horizon. we have opportunities to bolster these capabilities over time. they take predictability so we can budget for it. >> mr. brown. >> thank you. i agree with my colleagues. empg is essential to our ability to respond and build capacity at the state and local level. we do need to eliminate complexities with that. and also look at what does emergency management look like in the 21st century, and additional funding and support to build capacity at the state and local level. last year we were dealing with three simultaneous statewide disasters including covid-19. we have dealt with our busiest hurricane season. realistically and strategically,
how can we build at the single local level. a couple of my emergency managers are one person or part-time staff. they are supported through empg. they are able to manage the full responsibility of preparedness and mitigation response and recovery given the impacts of climate change and more frequent disasters will be important. i think collectively as a professional along with congress and the administration look at how to recognize the innovation and advances, and ensure we have the resources needed to face these challenges we are facing today. >> you have such exceptional emergency chairs on this panel, they are hitting on all cylinders. i said this before publicly,
empg is underfunded. when you think how we are seeing more complex, by scope, by scale , by type of events, the adversity and impact on our communities, the frequency of these events, you amplify that by climate change, bio hazards, pandemics. the emergency management community needs resilience built in. the emergency management across the country is nothing by comparison to what needs to be invested into it to help local and state emergency managers be able to build that capacity, that sustainability to deal with all hazards. multiple directors here today, including myself, we dealt with the worst wildfire season. we had an earthquake. we had the pandemic.
we had power outages, all at the same time. it takes a lot of capacity, training and ability to navigate that, and ultimately serve the public. we are asking more of emergency management than we ever have in the history of the country, and that has to be reflected by the funding level first, but secondly it has too many -- it is built on an old-school format and needs to be reevaluated and opened up and broadened for flexibility so state and locals can utilize that in the most perfected way possible. >> i have one more question. this has to do with the issue in los angeles. the city was impacted most by the pandemic, particularly in my
district of east los angeles, which suffered high rates of infection and mortality rate. rates are lagging compared to other parts of california as a whole. this has been touched on somewhat, but could you address the challenges you face in these communities, and the steps you are taking to address those challenges, particularly as they pertain to vaccinations. >> thank you come a congresswoman for the question. health equity and the distribution of the vaccine in an equitable fashion have been a top priority. every board of supervisors meeting, we address the prioritize station of efforts. our department of public health is looking at the different metrics to evaluate areas
hardest impacted and work with the greater framework to make sure we are pushing through the vaccination dosages that we can have the most impact in those heavily underserved and impacted areas. we have over 400 providers as part of the l.a. county network that can distribute doses of vaccinations. i want to highlight the great partnership with mark and bob as it relates to the fema site set up at cal state los angeles. and the day-to-day support that goes to that site, and reaching into our communities and community-based organizations to set up mobile vax sites. we are seeing the trend go in the right direction as far as getting vaccinations in the areas most impacted. every day -- every day i see
marketed increases in those impacts. one thing we have observed over time, over the last two months, mobile vaccine sites, even though the capacity and throughput might be on a day-to-day total smaller than the main sites, gets to those communities in a more effective manner. it is a three-pronged strategy. we have to use big vaccination sites and make sure we can keep up with the supply provided. we need to use our public-private partnerships with pharmacies and health clinics and our hospitals. and thirdly, mobile vaccine sites to get to the least impacted areas. when we talk about vaccine hesitancy, one thing we noticed when we have gone to the mobile sites and talk to people, there
is a good word-of-mouth story that is being told in these communities. they trust their community members than the government public information officers putting out information. we are seeing that snowball start to occur where the community is talking with the community, they trust their community-based organization and faith-based organizations, and it is building momentum in the right direction. >> you hit the nail on the head. from the beginning, i said it is about relationships. it is a one team effort. the county, partners in the communities within l.a. county, fema and oes are helping and working together to address looking at the county as a
whole. we are identifying vaccine deserts, areas that are underserved. communities of color. the mega site, we chose cal state l.a. in east los angeles strategically to address and put that mega site smack dab in the middle of one of the most underserved part of the county of los angeles. it is the mobile clinics that are the hub and spoke, and they could not be successful without building relationships with faith-based leaders, and community leaders at large. it has taken a little bit to build trust, there is a lot of misinformation about the vaccines. putting those mobile clinics in the right location, we now have mobile clinics stationed in
south-central los angeles, and parts of east l.a. outside and around the mega site. those sites, we are really able to penetrate, and we are seeing -- we are at almost 70% of people of color and underserved. within the fema state site, what we are patrolling, less than 30% of non-people of color. it was the other way around when we started. it is a good trend. the governor has made a metric, the first 40% of vaccines to the underserved. we meet that equity metric for all vaccines that will be pushed out by all the counties in the state. from the state perspective and leadership perspective, equity
and making sure the underprivileged and underserved and people who have the hardest time getting the vaccine and have been hugely impacted are the ones who get the vaccine first. it is continuing to work well, but we cannot take our foot off the gas pedal. we have to continue to work with the community, because once you build the level of trust, you have to maintain that level of trust. >> the past year has been challenging for our country and the entire world. with infections declining a vaccinations increasing, there is light at the end of the tunnel. i hope we are never again faced with the pandemic of these proportions. if we are, i know we can count
on fema and emergency managers at every level to help see us through it. i want to extend my sincere thanks for your testimony in your service. since there are no more questions, this stands adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> "washington journal," every day we take your calls on the issues of the day. wednesday morning, north dakota republican congressman on climate and energy policy, immigration and congressional news of the day. then on wednesday the house votes on reauthorizing the violence against women act, and removing the deadline to ratify the equal rights act. watch "washington journal," live at 7:00 a.m. eastern, wednesday morning.
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