San Diego County released an independent COVID-19 after-action report this week that identified numerous strengths in the County’s response to the world-shaking pandemic.
The strengths cited by the report were wide-ranging and included:
- Quickly issuing local and health emergencies.
- Keeping the public informed with daily, data-filled updates.
- Training, expanding and accelerating “test, treat, trace” teams.
- Using established partnerships to organize mass vaccination events.
- Using data and tools like the Public Health Institute’s Healthy Places Index to ensure outreach, education, vaccinations and treatment equitably reached underserved and vulnerable communities and people.
The report also included 16 recommendations in its improvement plan section. Five of those recommended that the County continue actions it was already taking.
California requires local jurisdictions to issue after-action reports to review disaster response and recovery efforts when governments declare a local emergency.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and the County’s response to it continues, the local and health emergency declarations and proclamations the County issued in March 2020 ended Feb. 28.
Hagerty Consulting conducted the after-action study and wrote the 281-page report. It is an outside group that helps government prepare for and recover from disasters. Hagerty reviewed documents, and interviewed and surveyed County employees and external stakeholders to create the report. External stakeholders included the local healthcare community, community organizations and other groups.
The report focused on six areas: response strategy; operational area coordination; public information management; data reporting; community and business support and recovery; and continuity of operations plans and functions.
Recommendations for improvement in the report that the County was already doing included:
- Continue “table-top” exercises, training and quarterly drills to prepare for future emergencies.
- Continue to publish materials and information in a variety of languages.
- Continue to invest in and develop emergency response dashboards.
- Continue to keep County Continuity of Operations Plans up to date.
New recommended actions included:
- Ensure all County departments have Continuity of Operations Plans that include considerations for remote work.
- Build up operational capabilities to store and distribute supplies that medical staff would need at all responding healthcare facilities.
- Examine existing civil service rules and memorandums to identify and address barriers to hiring staff in temporary positions during emergencies.
The after-action report included a summary of the three-plus-year-long pandemic and a 13-page timeline of significant events. It also noted the County’s response was recognized with seven national awards from the National Association of Counties, and two awards from the California State Association of Counties.
The public can review the full after-action report here.
To get more information about the County’s ongoing response to COVID-19, go to the County COVID-19 website.