HUD Releases CDBG-CV Program Rules, Waivers, and Requirements

The United States (US) Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a Federal Register Notice (Notice) on August 20, 2020, addressing a range of issues on the use of $5 billion of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV) appropriated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to account for costs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Pursuant to the CARES Act, HUD allocated an initial $2 billion to all Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 CDBG grantees using standard statutory formulas with an additional $1 billion directed solely to states, insular areas and the District of Columbia (DC). The Notice indicates that HUD will announce the allocation of the remaining $2 billion at an unspecified future time. To view CDBG-CV allocations click on the following link: All CARES Act Grants-Excel.

This Notice adds to the body of CDBG-CV material HUD has issued since early April. Many grantees have already filed amendments to existing action plans and have begun drawing upon their CDBG-CV funds, while other grantees have taken an alternative path to incorporate the funds into their pending FY 2020 action plans.

For the more than 1,200 CDBG local government entitlement grantees, this planning process has been straight forward and facilitated by CARES Act directives and regulatory waivers designed to speed the process. On the other hand, states have awaited the recent Federal Register Notice to gain some clarity on the use of CARES Act funds directed to them and the Notice confirms signals that HUD had been telegraphing over the prior months. Collectively, these steps should enhance the ability of states to direct CDBG resources to areas in need of assistance to address COVID-19 needs.

  • Direct Action – The Notice permits states to carry out activities directly in all jurisdictions, including CDBG entitlement jurisdictions, as is generally the case for the use of CDBG disaster recovery funding. HUD’s rationale is that this step will help facilitate coordination of statewide and regional activities in response to COVID-19.
  • Minimum Funding for Non-entitlement Jurisdictions – HUD is requiring that states set aside a minimum amount of funding for small communities that are not CDBG entitlement jurisdictions. The state-by-state minimum for this purpose is the amount received as the “non-entitlement” amount in the column labeled “04-02-2020 CDBG-CV1” in the above linked Excel file.
  • Ability to Allocate to Entitlement Communities – Consistent with CARES Act language, states may also award CDBG-CV funds directly to Entitlement jurisdictions.
  • Authorization for States to Work in Tribal Areas – States may use their CDBG-CV funds to carry out activities in tribal areas but must obtain the consent of the Indian tribe with jurisdiction over the tribal area. Conversely, states may also provide Indian tribes with funds as subrecipients.
  • Increase in State Administrative and Technical Assistance (TA) Allowance – HUD has used its statutory waiver authority to increase the overall state administrative and TA cap from 3 to 7 percent (maximum split is 5 percent for admin and 2 percent for TA). Concurrently, HUD is waiving the statutory requirement for state matching amounts.

Other actions described by the Notice are also intended to facilitate the use of CDBG-CV funding for COVID-19 response. The Notice restates the CARES Act provision that removes the statutory limitation on public service expenditures for CDBG-CV as well as grantees’ FY 2019 and 2020 CDBG funds. HUD has used the Notice to extend the permissible term of emergency payments for rent, mortgages and utilities from three months to six months. HUD also made it slightly easier to qualify expenses as meeting CDBG national objective requirements through use of the urgent need criteria. Note that there is no change to the statutory requirement that at least 70 percent of a grantee’s funds CDBG-CV must benefit low- and moderate-income persons.

For economic development activities, HUD has provided relief by modifying public benefit criteria. Most notably, HUD is stating that when assistance is provided to businesses due to coronavirus-related disruption, public benefit is derived by stabilizing or sustaining businesses and assistance “may help to avoid complete economic collapse within the grantee’s jurisdiction.” Concurrently, HUD has temporarily increased both the per job CDBG investment cap to $85,000 and the goods and services investment cap to $1,700 per low- and moderate-income person benefitting.

When using CDBG-CV funds for economic development purposes, the Notice reminds grantees that they must “evaluate” such activities using HUD’s Guidelines and Objectives for Evaluating Project Costs and Financial Requirements.

An area of grantee concern that will warrant further HUD guidance relates to compliance with duplication of benefit (DoB) requirements. The CDBG-CV language in the CARES Act contains specific DoB language invoking both the Stafford Act and the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA). In brief, grantees must take care to avoid situations where a duplication of federal benefit may occur when providing assistance to an individual or entity. HUD skirts the issue by encouraging “each CDBG-CV grantee to become familiar with the range of available assistance and uses and apply its more flexible CDBG-CV assistance to unmet needs or to gaps with special attention to the coronavirus response, prevention, or preparation needs of Low-Middle Income (LMI) persons.” Many grantees have questions about exactly what the DoB standard will be in order to avoid potential audit findings and HUD will need to provide a more definitive response.

Stan Gimont is a Senior Advisor for Community Recovery with Hagerty. Stan joined Hagerty after 32 years of service with HUD. With Hagerty, Stan provides strategic advisory support focused on HUD Programs, housing issues, and long-term community recovery. From August 2016 through July 2019, Stan served as HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grant Programs. In this role he provided management direction and oversight for all aspects of the CDBG Program, including long-term disaster recovery CDBG-DR, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the National Housing Trust Fund, as well as HUD’s environmental review responsibilities. From 2017 through 2019, his leadership helped to secure $40 billion in CDBG-DR funding in response to major disasters, such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. As Director of HUD’s Office of Block Grant Assistance from 2008-2016, Stan managed approximately $60 billion in federal funding to assist the nation’s communities in addressing housing, development, and disaster recovery needs. Among Stan’s notable achievements as Director is the implementation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in response to the 2008-2010 housing crisis, oversight of CDBG-DR funding for New Jersey and New York in response to Hurricane Sandy, and management of HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition in 2014-2015.

HUD Technical Assistance Can Help Improve Housing and Community Development Program Outcomes

In support of its many programs, the United States (U.S.) Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers an extensive array of technical assistance (TA) to grantees and recipients of HUD funding. In an environment where state and local governments are experiencing unique constraints making use of annual, disaster relief, and COVID-19 funding streams, quality TA can be a game changer. TA can help communities develop an effective plan to address a wide range of housing and community development needs.

The gateway to HUD’s TA is the HUD Exchange. On this site, users can retrieve program information, access programmatic resources, obtain training materials and request various forms of hands-on assistance from TA providers funded by HUD. If you are a recipient of HUD funds and are not familiar with the HUD Exchange, a quick review of the website will reveal its depth and pay a dividend the next time you have questions about HUD funding.

One aspect of the site deserves attention relative to HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. The specific CDBG-DR page on the HUD Exchange provides users with detailed program information under the headings of Getting Started and Resources and Training Materials. For state and local officials responsible for CDBG-DR funds, these materials successfully outline how to develop and implement a program that makes efficient use of these funds. As recovery needs often change over time, the website can offer insightful help throughout the long-term recovery process.

Since December 2015, Congress has appropriated more than $42 billion for the HUD CDBG-DR program and concurrently enabled HUD to reserve $20 million for disaster recovery TA efforts. A significant portion of the TA funding remains available and CDBG-DR grantees can request different forms of help to improve program performance. Under the heading of “Program Support”, grantees have access to an “Ask A Question” feature but, more importantly, can request hands on-help from HUD’s cohort of competitively selected TA providers. These providers can:

  • Deliver in-depth assistance with implementing, operating, or administering a CDBG-DR program;
  • Address issues that may require site visits and reoccurring communication with consultants; and
  • Provide long-term assistance to build organizational skills and capacity for operating a CDBG-DR program.

Often, CDBG-DR grantees are aware of the website but tend to be less familiar with the in-depth TA opportunities and, accordingly, do not take full advantage of the resources offered. Importantly, HUD provides this service at no cost to grantees so accessing it does not create a drain on administrative and planning allowances available under the CDBG-DR grant. It does not matter where a CDBG-DR grantee is in the recovery process – action plan development, launch, execution or winding down toward closeout – HUD can help grantees address issues both predictable and unique as they pursue their recovery goals. To learn more about this help, contact your HUD field office or visit the HUD Exchange website and look under the tab labeled “Program Support”.

On a related note, as part of efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD received additional TA funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Grantees can seek the same forms of assistance related to the use of the CDBG and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding available under the CARES Act.  HUD has been displaying much of its COVID-19 response information via the HUD Exchange and will likely make more information about the range of available TA available soon.

 

Stan Gimont is a Senior Advisor for Community Recovery with Hagerty. Stan joined Hagerty after 32 years of service with HUD. With Hagerty, Stan provides strategic advisory support focused on HUD Programs, housing issues, and long-term community recovery. From August 2016 through July 2019, Stan served as HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grant Programs. In this role he provided management direction and oversight for all aspects of the CDBG Program, including long-term disaster recovery CDBG-DR, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the National Housing Trust Fund, as well as HUD’s environmental review responsibilities. From 2017 through 2019, his leadership helped to secure $40 billion in CDBG-DR funding in response to major disasters, such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. As Director of HUD’s Office of Block Grant Assistance from 2008-2016, Stan managed approximately $60 billion in federal funding to assist the nation’s communities in addressing housing, development, and disaster recovery needs. Among Stan’s notable achievements as Director is the implementation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in response to the 2008-2010 housing crisis, oversight of CDBG-DR funding for New Jersey and New York in response to Hurricane Sandy, and management of HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition in 2014-2015.

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Jeff Bokser

Jeff Bokser serves as the Vice President of Healthcare and University Programs at Hagerty Consulting, Inc. (Hagerty). The Disaster Discourse Team conducted an interview with Jeff to learn more about his professional background and the valuable expertise he brings to the Hagerty Team.

How does your previous experience contribute to your role as the Vice President of Healthcare and University Programs?

I have obtained a vast amount of experience throughout the past two decades of my career in all aspects of healthcare operations, finance, crisis management and recovery. I started my career in a New York City hospital in healthcare administration three months prior to September 11th, 2001. I was quickly placed in the hospital command center and helped the hospital respond to the events and the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.  Throughout my career, I have advanced performance in clinical and non-clinical settings and led innovation in daily operations and care delivery processes.

I have since led hospital staff in planning, executing, and responding to significant emergency events including Ebola, Hurricane Sandy, H1N1 Pandemic, (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) SARS, anthrax scares, mass-casualty surge incidents, and deploying disaster response teams and telemedicine nationally. This has prepared me for public health emergencies and the response and recovery Hagerty is providing during COVID-19. It is my experience in running complex healthcare organizations, deep understanding of public health and my passion in emergency management that contributes to my role at Hagerty and ability to help advise and shape healthcare organizations, universities and public health departments across the country as they respond to the most significant multi-faceted public health disaster in recent history.

In our country’s current COVID-19 environment, what do you believe are the most important steps to help clients in the healthcare industry?

Right now, hospitals and healthcare systems are facing significant financial challenges from the effects of COVID-19 testing, treatment, and care.  In addition, to the cost incurred for caring for COVID-19 patients, hospitals face a loss in revenue from a drop in non-COVID-19 patient visits. They are dealing with recovery in the midst of what is going to be a prolonged response. Normally there is a time when an emergency ends and recovery begins; right now, they seem to be blending. Hagerty is unique – we have vast experience in disaster response and recovery, and we are bringing them both to the table for our clients during COVID-19. Currently, the most important role we are helping with in financial recovery is identifying ways to work with federal and state funding streams to help with short-term cash liquidity and positioning for long-term financial recovery. We are also starting to see a shift to work in preparedness including After-Action Reports (AARs) for hospitals and healthcare associations, emergency operation plan enhancements and response work for planning of field hospitals, testing sites and vaccination planning.

Most of our hospital clients are still in the heat of battle with COVID-19, but we need to have a paradigm shift for the future. This Public Health Emergency (PHE) comes down to the recognition that we all have to adapt to this new normal, while recognizing that even if it doesn’t affect you as an organization now, at some point it will. We all have to work together to make a strategic change and build a stronger public health infrastructure. Historically hospitals have operated independently; we need to have a collective goal to take care of people across the country.

We also need to understand that this PHE is not just about the immediate aspects of caring for COVID-19 patients or caring for COVID-19-related job loss. We are seeing the economic impact and social isolation results that will play out for years. We are going to see individuals during this time who are putting off their health needs. It is far greater than just the immediate threat of COVID-19. This PHE has societal impacts; the faster and better we can help all those components, the better off we will be.

What led you to emergency management and your public service mindset?

 I have always felt that helping others is a huge part of who I am and is embedded in my DNA. My appreciation for emergency management was born out of tragedy. As a teenager, I was involved as a passenger in a serious car accident and lost a friend. The accident set in motion my desire to make a difference in others’ lives.

In times of crisis, I have always been someone who has remained calm, which is key when stress steps in during an emergency. I always try to be prepared for whatever might come next and what needs to be addressed in advance to be threat ready. There is no such thing as complete preparedness, yet each day we need to be thinking through plans and requirements for whatever emergency we may face next. As emergency managers, we can never fall into the mindset of “we just responded to the biggest emergency,” there is always something new on the horizon. In this job, you can never become complacent.

What do you find most rewarding about working in the field of emergency management?

You have to enjoy what you do. Because of my passion and connection, I have always gravitated towards community management. I’ve always felt that when you work in our field, the work you do contributes to the fulfillment of a larger and more meaningful purpose. Our work at Hagerty – with our healthcare partners and universities across the county – is contributing to helping society and is enhancing individuals lives during what will likely prove to be one of the most trying times in our nation’s history.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to spend time with my daughters and wife, travel, golf, and work on projects around the house. Last summer I built a deck on my yard. It has come in handy with all the time we have been spending at home.

 

JEFF BOKSER is Hagerty Consulting’s Vice President of Healthcare and University Programs and has strategic expertise in all aspects of healthcare operations, finance, crisis management, and recovery. Jeff currently leads Hagerty Consulting’s Healthcare and University practice focused on COVID-19 response and financial recovery and is working with public health departments, hospitals, healthcare systems, and universities across the country. 

FEMA’s BRIC Program: A Timely Lifeline

Yesterday, as the East Coast was pummeled by strong winds and numerous tornadoes from Tropical Storm Isaias, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) unveiled the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for its new mitigation program, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC). Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Tropical Storm Isaias caused millions to lose power – there were nearly 1.4 million power outages in New Jersey alone – and power restoration is anticipated to take several days. The current outages are about half of the more than 2.7 million customers who lost power at the height of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – the largest outage in the state’s history. Events like this often cause communities nationwide to contemplate the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters and what solutions are available to help us become a more resilient nation; BRIC is one of them.

BRIC’s New Focus

Disasters cause substantial damage and disrupt socioeconomic activities in ways that we cannot fully measure. Additionally, climate variability is causing more frequent and powerful storms that are responsible for unprecedented devastation and costly disaster recovery operations. BRIC aims to categorically shift the current federal focus away from reactive disaster spending towards research-supported, proactive investment in community resilience. BRIC, which replaces FEMA’s legacy Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program, supports states, local communities, tribes, and territories to become more resilient through capability and capacity building and development of large-scale hazard mitigation projects designed to break the repetitive cycle of damage and loss.

The BRIC program will support community resilience in four tangible ways:

  1. Provide larger monetary investment in pre-disaster mitigation to reduce future disaster risk. Last year, FEMA’s PDM program allocated $250 million for mitigation and resiliency activities. That level of investment was historic in its own right, as it was the highest level of funding awarded in the history of the legacy PDM program; however, BRIC’s first-year funding doubled that investment, making $500 million available to eligible state, tribal, and territorial applicants.
  2. Place a greater emphasis on capability and capacity building to promote a culture of preparedness. BRIC sets $600,000 in funding aside – per eligible applicant – to enhance mitigation expertise, knowledge, and practice at the state and local level. Eligible expenditures can include building code activities, partnerships, project scoping, mitigation planning, and planning-related activities. This funding is designed to result in a resource, strategy, or mitigation product that will ultimately reduce or eliminate risk and damage from natural hazards.
  3. Increase project caps to allow for larger-scale infrastructure projects. BRIC changes the national competition cap for mitigation projects, which increased from $10 million to $50 million per project. This increased project cap allows for larger-scale projects that invest in public infrastructure and harden community lifelines. These projects will undergo additional programmatic review, which will evaluate not only technical merit but qualitative criteria such as the population impacted, outreach activities, future conditions, and resiliency effectiveness.
  4. Expressed commitment to nature-based solutions that promote sustainability. BRIC encourages communities to explore nature-based solutions that can serve as eligible project types and mitigate hazards such as riverine flooding, urban drainage flooding, coastal flooding and storm surge, landslides, and drought. Unique, nature-based solutions can provide short- and long-term environmental, economic, and social advantages that improve a community’s quality of life and make it more attractive to new residents and businesses. Potential project types include land conservation, greenways, wetland restoration, stormwater parks, floodplain restoration, rain gardens, and more.

FEMA BRIC and Nature-Based Solutions Presentation: Source

Next Steps

In preparation for the application period opening, FEMA will host a series of webinars to further discuss the grant program details, the agency’s funding priorities, common application pitfalls, and the new system for grant submission (FEMA GO). More information on the upcoming webinar dates and times can be found here. Registration information will be available soon.

The BRIC application period opens on September 30, 2020 and closes on January 29, 2021; however, BRIC project applications will take a significant amount of time and resources to complete. We encourage potential applicants and sub-applicants to begin their planning efforts as soon as possible.

Hagerty is here to help. While the cost share for this program is 75 percent federal and 25 percent non-federal, FEMA will provide 100 percent federal funding for management costs associated with the administration of a BRIC-awarded mitigation measure or project. Therefore, our professionals can help at little-to-no additional cost.

Hagerty’s Mitigation Team are experts in navigating the pre- and post-disaster funding world. We are available to talk about your recovery needs, including how to access all funding available through federal grant programs. To learn more, contact us.

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Amelia Muccio is the Director of Mitigation at Hagerty Consulting and a subject matter expert in disaster recovery. With over 15 years of experience in public health, disaster preparedness, mitigation, and financial recovery, Amelia has helped clients obtain $5 billion in federal funds after major disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, the California Wildfires, and Hurricane Harvey.

Katie Grasty is the Deputy Director of Mitigation for Hagerty Consulting. Katie has over 10 years of experience with federal grant management with FEMA and the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). Prior to Hagerty, Katie was the senior program lead for Hazard Mitigation with FEMA Region 9, where she managed over $2 billion in federal funds for flood, fire, and earthquake risk reduction projects.

How to Jumpstart Your Recovery from COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the nation upside down, and American lives are changing in new ways daily. Today, we are seeing positive cases surge across the country while many communities brace for the impacts of a devastating second wave. Consequently, business, community, and government leaders are continuing to face significant budget shortfalls while continuing to encumber unforeseen expenses. While federal aid to assist them with cost-recovery is available, it has been dispersed across numerous federal departments and agencies posing considerable bureaucratic challenges. Therefore, expeditious financial assistance is difficult to obtain, often resulting in consequential delays for those in immediate need.

 UnSplash: Scott Graham

Hagerty can help. In this unique environment, Hagerty professionals are prepared to support a wide range of recovery needs. Our firm has extensive experience helping clients learn how to: manage funds in a results-driven way to account for future impacts; understand what federal funding they are entitled to; and establish a sound readiness posture as they adjust to a “new normal.”

While the road to recovery from COVID-19 will be long, here are some important tips to jumpstart the process.

Take inventory and track incurred costs. It is critically important to assess the financial impact the crisis is causing, and likely to cause, a business or community. To do this effectively, first take inventory of available resources. This helps better understand where gaps are, and what is needed to fill them to ensure successful short-term response and long-term financial recovery.

While federal funding programs provide the opportunity to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many of these programs are reimbursement mechanisms that require proof of expenditure and loss. Therefore, proactive management and tracking of response activities and associated costs will be the key to success when applying for federal grants.

To begin the tracking process, here are some best practices to follow:

  • Establish clear roles, responsibilities, and procedures for document collection, organization, and review.
  • Create activity logs that can be used to track qualitative information needed to support costs infcurred.
  • Generate unique project numbers, activity codes, and descriptions for tracking costs. It is also vitally important to save all documentation associated with these costs.
  • Establish reporting dashboards and summaries to understand the financial impact and costs, as well as support future financial decision-making.
  • Communicate and train employees on the documentation and tracking process. An informed workforce is critical to future success.

Understand cost-recovery opportunities. Given the significant, unforeseen costs associated with the pandemic, Congress appropriated nearly $3 trillion, and is considering more, to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; healthcare systems and hospitals; as well as some private businesses with cost-recovery. While federal financial support is greatly needed, the increasingly complex eligibility requirements associated with it unintentionally causes many to leave eligible federal funding on the table, thereby slowing the overall pace of recovery.

To tackle this challenge, it is important to create a recovery roadmap. Once again, cost-tracking is important as expenses incurred and revenue lost must be cataloged and justified. Then it is time to strategically sequence and apply for available funding opportunities. This is best done using a single program that can actively seek reimbursement and manage any potential duplication of benefits, which could lead to grant denial. This is not a one-size fits all approach as each recovery is different and varying funding sources are available across the federal government and the private sector – each with their own grant and regulatory compliance requirements. Moreover, it is important to establish an understanding of existing funding overlaps as duplicative benefits could lead to grant denial.

Prepare for future needs. As the COVID-19 response continues to evolve and the potential for a second wave looms, it is important to take the time now to reflect upon prior response efforts to understand what worked well and what did not. After-action reporting is designed to do just that – analyze the management of and response to an incident by identifying strengths to be maintained and built upon, as well as identifying potential areas for improvement. Relevant to the pandemic, it is important to focus on critical functions that can save lives such as logistics management, supply burn rates and tracking, situation assessment and reporting, and crisis communications.

Additionally, as the response and recovery to COVID-19 continues, it is important to be prepared to simultaneously respond to other hazards. Soon, the nation will enter the historical height of hurricane season in the east and the peak time for wildland fires in the west. The pandemic has prompted new challenges and often unpredictable needs for resources, policies, and personnel – now is the time to consider these needs. In this rapidly changing environment, exercises, workshops, and other facilitated discussions should be used to test adaptations that may be necessary during a COVID-19 co-response.

UnSplash:CDC

Let Hagerty be a part of your solution. Community recovery from COVID-19 will be a marathon, not a sprint. As the nation seeks to establish a “new normal,” Hagerty understands our clients’ needs are and will continue to be dynamic, and we stand ready to address emerging priorities. We can help navigate this complicated landscape by tailoring a wide range of services to meet your needs.

With the assistance of our digital grants management tools, Hagerty’s diverse team of policy, healthcare, and financial management experts work the overall cost-recovery and reimbursement application process from start to finish, offering real-time guidance and navigation of the often complex and fluid funding streams available across all levels of government as well as the private sector. Furthermore, this process establishes automated reporting which many federal agencies require for the purpose of detailed record-keeping purposes, particularly in the event of a future audit. Moreover, because Hagerty places a premium on quality work, an investment in our services today, could save you significant time and money in the future. Throughout the long-term recovery process, our professionals emphasize the importance of timeliness and efficiency balanced with regulatory compliance. This ensures you are positioned to capture all eligible costs for reimbursement while minimizing the risk of negative audit findings and grant clawback in the future.

Additionally, even in times of significant fiscal instability and uncertainty, our experts can help at little-to-no additional cost to many of our clients. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides funding for administrative costs related to managing Public Assistance (PA) grants and the application process. This funding is available for PA-eligible applicants – state, local, tribal, territorial governments, and certain non-profit organizations – and their respective sub-applicants. This funding may be used to hire disaster recovery consultant experts, like ours, to strategically augment staffing capabilities and expedite results when they are needed the most.

To learn more about our firm and our work during COVID-19, please visit Hagerty’s ‘Disaster Discourse’ Blog.

Kyle McPhee, currently Director of Preparedness Programs for Hagerty, is an experienced management professional who has worked with international, national, regional, state, local and private-sector organizations in the areas of emergency management, homeland security, business continuity, and public health preparedness.  His expertise includes project management, planning, facilitation and evaluation related to various topics including catastrophic incidents, mission ready packages, mass care, and evacuation

Hospital Financial Recovery in the Midst of a Prolonged Response

As outbreaks of COVID-19 occur across the country, hospitals and healthcare systems continue to respond with live-saving resources and heroic measures to treat and care for patients. The response to the pandemic has created significant financial challenges for hospitals and healthcare systems from the effects of COVID-19 testing, treatment, and care. In addition to the cost incurred for caring for COVID-19 patients, hospitals face a 54% drop in patient visits originally from the cancelation of non-emergency and elective procedures. Deferral of procedures is continuing with the fear that one will get infected with the highly transmissible virus simply by going to a hospital for care.  As a result, hospitals’ staggering losses in revenue are mounting. According to a new study by Strata Decision Technology, United States (U.S.) hospitals are losing an estimated $60.1 billion a month and facing a 114% increase in uninsured patients from individuals losing employer sponsored insurance.

Our team at Hagerty Consulting is working with hospitals, healthcare systems, and universities across the country to maximize federal and state short-term liquidity funding opportunities and long-term cost recovery. We craft custom cost recovery roadmaps by understanding the unique expenses incurred along with revenue lost to strategically apply the various state and federal programs available to meet the needs of each institution.

Available Federal Funding Opportunities

To help offset lost revenue and costs incurred for testing, treating, and caring for COVID-19 patients, the federal government allocated $175 billion in relief to hospitals. This funding has been allocated through the Health & Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund (PRF) as follows:

 

In addition to the $175 billion in relief through the HHS PRF, hospitals are eligible to apply for funding through various other programs, with up to $616 billion in available funding through known allocations and funding streams.

Prospective Federal Funding Opportunities

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The HEROES Act would provide an additional $100 billion appropriation for the PRF along with new provisions for unobligated PRF funding– originally allocated from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement (PPPHCE) Act — can be distributed and utilized. Currently, the HEROES Act is being considered by the U.S. Senate. If enacted, the law will likely have much needed application-based distributions that will help healthcare providers not only with incurred eligible expenses from caring for COVID-19 patients, but also lost revenue.

On June 12, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives also introduced the COVID-19 Hospital Forgiveness Act. This Act would facilitate loan forgiveness for hospitals and healthcare providers who applied for and received Medicare accelerated and advanced payments. Without the COVID-19 Hospital Forgiveness Act, the $40.4 billion total loan amount will begin to be repaid by providers who received loans. These payments would begin in August of 2020 through the offset of additional Medicare payments.

Hospitals are facing a severe economic crisis. Our team at Hagerty Consulting offers real-time guidance to navigate the complex and dynamic disaster recovery funding available,  including programs through the CARES Act, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Program, the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), and other federal and state grants available to support recovery. Our diverse team of policy, healthcare, and financial management experts work with our hospital and healthcare system clients from start to finish in the complex application process to seek and maximize federal and state reimbursement for COVID-19 incurred costs and revenue loss. We emphasize timeliness and efficiency balanced with regulatory compliance to position organizations to capture eligible costs for reimbursement without experiencing de-obligation in the future.

The COVID-19 emergency is an unprecedented public health and economic challenge. The robust federal funding provided so far has been essential for hospitals to be able to continue to deliver much needed medical care. Going forward, additional federal funding will be necessary to properly outfit our public health infrastructure and prepare hospitals that are caring for the sickest of COVID-19 patients while advancing financial recovery in the midst of a prolonged emergency response.

 

Jeff Bokser is Hagerty Consulting’s Vice President of Healthcare Programs with strategic expertise in all aspects of healthcare operations, finance, crisis management, and recovery. Jeff has over 20 years of experience as a senior leader at NewYork-Presbyterian and Yale New Haven Health. He advanced performance and increased revenue in clinical and nonclinical settings and led innovation in daily operations and care delivery processes. Jeff is nationally recognized in the healthcare sector for his transformational leadership in the areas of emergency and crisis management; security and safety; pandemic and surge planning; and business continuity. Jeff was the system-level executive responsible for Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Management, Business Continuity, Crisis Management, Safety, Security, and Regulatory Compliance for the entire continuum of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital & Healthcare System enterprise. He served as Incident Commander guiding 40,000+ employees through numerous internal and external emergency response and recovery operations including Hurricane Sandy, Ebola, H1N1, and 9/11.

US Department of Homeland Security Offers Preparedness Funding Opportunity for State and Local Governments

As COVID-19 continues to stress disaster preparedness capabilities of municipalities across the nation, gaps in readiness have become more apparent. Globally, the United States (US) has the largest number of COVID-19 cases, with more than 2.8 million cases nationwide. In some regions of the country, COVID-19 case numbers are declining; while in others, case numbers continue to rise. All the while, our country has been faced with growing civil unrest, as well as the ever-present threat of natural disasters and other hazards. Soon, we will enter the height of hurricane season in the East and the peak time for wildfires in the West.

When one community faces a hazard or threat, neighboring communities often experience cascading impacts from the issue. The impacts of COVID-19 will likely be with us for a long time to come, making preparedness all the more critical for both business continuity and public safety. Yet, as state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments consider investments in community preparedness (such as mitigation projects, readiness planning, and other response measures), cost is a frequent limiting factor.

To address this, Congress established the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program (RCPGP) in 2018. This grant program, designed to make progress towards the DHS’s and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Preparedness Goal, seeks to close catastrophic incident preparedness gaps, support existing regional preparedness initiatives, and encourage innovative disaster readiness solutions through investment in capabilities at the state and local level.

FY 2020 RCPGP and Pandemic Preparedness

In the DHS Appropriations Act of 2020, Congress appropriated $10 million for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 RCPGP. In FY 2020, each RCPGP award will not exceed $1 million; therefore, it is anticipated that between 10 and 20 awards will be made nationwide.

New for FY 2020, FEMA has added pandemic preparedness as a program objective; focusing on Community Lifelines and Core Capabilities essential to pandemic planning and response activities. Acknowledging the current COVID-19 crisis, eligible applicants are encouraged to submit project proposals that address regional pandemic preparedness gaps and identify the specific, fundamental community services and response capabilities that will be improved through the proposed project.

Eligibility and Application Requirements

State and territorial governments are eligible to apply if one or more of the 100 most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), per the Census Bureau’s 2019 Population Estimates, is located within their state or territory. Likewise, local governments are eligible if they are located within one of the 100 most populous MSAs. For a complete list of the 100 most populous MSAs, see Appendix B of the DHS Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) FY 2020 RCPGP. Moreover, collaboration at the state, territorial, and local level is encouraged, as only one application will be accepted per MSA.

Applications will be reviewed and scored by demonstrated need, project design, impact, and budget; bonus points will be given to applications that address regional pandemic preparedness, benefit multiple states or localities, or commit to 10 percent or greater cost share in the proposal.

A complete application will include the following elements:

  • Project Narrative
  • Budget Worksheet
  • Completed Application Forms and Agreements
  • Written Statement

Eligible applicants should submit their application at least one week prior to the 5 p.m. EDT, July 15, 2020 application deadline. The anticipated award date is September 1, 2020. 

Stay updated and learn more here:

 

Kyle McPhee, currently Director of Preparedness Programs for Hagerty, is an experienced management professional who has worked with international, national, regional, state, local and private-sector organizations in the areas of emergency management, homeland security, business continuity, and public health preparedness.  His expertise includes project management, planning, facilitation and evaluation related to various topics including catastrophic incidents, mission ready packages, mass care, and evacuation.

Spotlight on Cyber: The Role of Cybersecurity in COVID-19 Response

Throughout the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, cybersecurity has had an increasingly important role in providing platforms for essential services, protecting data and systems, and helping organizations adapt to a new normal. As services and data move online and into the cloud, there is a heightened focus on cybersecurity and how organizations can enhance their cyber preparedness capabilities. The following details three key ways that the role of cybersecurity has grown and evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kaitlyn Baker: Unsplash

The Evolving Role of Cybersecurity

  1. Increased Cyberthreats.

Cyberthreats have risen as cybercriminals seek to take advantage of the pandemic with malicious cyber activity. According to an alert from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), cybercriminals used content related to COVID-19 to deploy malware, phishing attacks, and malicious domain names. Sentinel Labs also noted an increased number of attack campaigns using the Trickbot and Formbook platforms, with a focus on malicious applications targeted at teachers searching for online educational tools. Other attack types have used links purporting to contain information about COVID-19 family leave, tax relief, or package shipping.

Cyberthreats are expected to continue to rise as the pandemic persists. According to a report on the global cyberthreat landscape, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) projects an increase in malicious cyber activity such as online scams in response to the economic downturn that has accompanied the pandemic. This rise in cyberthreats has increased the need for security measures, as well as emphasized the importance of recognizing the signs of a malicious link or download.

  1. Widespread Use of Online Services and Platforms.

Due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures, many services and functions have been moved online or into the cloud. As these services are relocated to online platforms, security measures must be put in place to protect them. With an increase in remote work, hijacking or “bombing” of video conferencing tools has become a common threat, allowing sensitive data to be accessed by unauthorized users and published to public forums. Some services that involve personal data, like driver license registration, have also been encouraged to move online to increase accessibility and limit unnecessary travel. This has created new vulnerabilities that must be counteracted with appropriate security measures.

The vulnerability of online platforms and data has created a higher demand for cybersecurity services, with an expected 12% compound annual growth rate in the cybersecurity market between 2019 and 2021 and 70% of organizations expecting to increase cyber security spending following the pandemic. This growth signals a greater role for cybersecurity within a diverse range of sectors; as more organizations choose to digitize services, they will require measures to secure their services, platforms, data, and users from cyberthreats.

Mati Flo: Unsplash

  1. Rising Need for Innovative Solutions.

During the pandemic, public and private sector entities have been called upon to develop new systems, policies, and protocols to meet emerging needs. Cybersecurity professionals have been vital to supporting the implementation of new and innovative programs. Some state governments, such as Montana, have introduced new chatbot systems to answer resident questions and reduce the number of support calls made to government offices.

In other cases, creating innovative solutions has involved addressing the cyber inequities revealed by COVID-19. As sectors such as education and healthcare move online, lack of access to broadband has deepened existing disparities. According to the EdWeek Research Center, 64% of school district leaders with a larger (more than 75%) proportion of low-income students said lack of technology access among students was a “major challenge” to teaching. In response, solutions to increase internet access, such as school buses retrofitted with WiFi hotspots, have been established. As stay-at-home orders and closures remain in effect, cybersecurity stakeholders will be key partners in creating solutions to meet emerging needs.

WHAT CAN YOUR ORGANIZATION DO?

As organizations continue their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to re-evaluate current protocols and postures, identify vulnerabilities, and implement solutions to address gaps in the area of cybersecurity. Consider the following recommendations for enhancing your organization’s cybersecurity for the current threat landscape:

  • Use a risk assessment to evaluate your organization’s vulnerabilities and prioritize ways to minimize risks. This provides your organization with a better understanding of its risks while allowing you to determine short, intermediate, and long-term goals for increasing cyber resilience while managing competing response priorities.
  • Foster collaboration between cybersecurity stakeholders and response partners. Diverse stakeholders will need to work together to identify effective solutions to emerging issues. Cybersecurity stakeholders should be prepared to coordinate with public and private sector partners to implement measures that contribute to cyber preparedness.
  • Establish a continuity of operations plan. As organizations seek to maintain their essential functions during the pandemic, continuity of operations (COOP) plans can serve a critical role in directing activities and defining roles and responsibilities. Organizations can use these COOP plans to identify priorities and ensure cybersecurity considerations are integrated in their operations.
  • Document lessons learned and areas for improvement. While many steady-state projects are currently on hold, organizations can plan for recovery by taking note of their gaps and successes in managing cybersecurity during pandemic response. Documenting lessons learned will support activities like cybersecurity planning, training, policy development, and exercise design in the future.

Hagerty Consulting, Inc. (Hagerty) has the experience and expertise to support organizations in cybersecurity preparedness efforts, as well as pandemic planning, business continuity, and COOP. We stand ready to help with your organization’s assessment, planning, training, and exercise needs to enhance cybersecurity and emergency response strategies in the midst of the evolving COVID-19 response. To learn more about Hagerty’s cybersecurity service line, contact development@hagertyconsulting.com or visit our cybersecurity microsite and use our free Cybersecurity Assessment Tool to evaluate your capabilities.

 

Erin Bajema is a Managing Associate in the Preparedness Division working out of Hagerty’s headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. Erin has supported planning and exercise design initiatives across a diverse range of subject areas including cybersecurity, pre-disaster recovery and redevelopment planning, cost recovery, housing, damage assessments, active threat, and air transit.

COVID-19 Cases Experience an Uptick in the United States While Europe Considers Reopening Measures

June 26, 2020 AT 6:00 PM  EDT

On June 25, the United States (US) recorded 40,401 new COVID-19 cases; the highest recorded number of confirmed cases in a single day since the previous record of 36,291 on April 24, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. The US is currently leading the rest of the world, both in the current official count of COVID-19 cases and reported COVID-19-related deaths; the country reported 2,422,310 cases and 124,416 deaths

The US experienced a 25 percent increase in new COVID-19 cases for the week ended June 21, compared with the prior week. According to a  Reuters analysis Arizona, Florida, and Texas faced  record increases in new cases last week. Of the different states experiencing an increase in infections, Texas faced one of the greatest surges, with 24,000 new COVID-19 cases for the week that ended June 21; increasing 84 percent since the previous week. Florida also experienced a swell of new cases, increasing 87 percent in the prior week to almost 22,000 COVID-19 cases, while Florida’s positive test rate for COVID-19 patients almost doubled to 11 percent. Arizona additionally has experienced an influx of new COVID-19 cases with 17,000 new cases, a 90 percent increase, compared with the previous seven days.

In response to the increase of confirmed cases, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared the state would “pause” reopening the economy, while Arizona Governor Doug Ducey cautioned Arizona residents to stay at home, without invoking any additional measures. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield stressed that the case numbers within the US were likely to be understated, and the final tally might be far greater than what is currently being reported. The new estimates are based on results from antibody testing that identifies immune cells that react to SARS-CoV-2. Redfield said the new serology tests have shown “about 10 times more people have antibodies in the jurisdictions tested than had documented infections.”

The European Union (EU) aims to lift travel restrictions at its borders starting on July 1, and EU ambassadors met to discuss the criteria necessary to allow travel to Europe, including having an infection rate lower than  the EU. At present, EU diplomats are considering allowing approximately 50 countries to restart flights within the EU, based on the established requirements. This initial list excludes the US, Brazil, and North Macedonia. Travel to and from China would be allowed. 

Victor He: Unsplash

Despite talk of resuming travel, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge cautioned that Europe has experienced an increase in weekly COVID-19 cases “for the first time in months” on June 25. Kluge listed 30 countries that have seen an increase in new cases, while an additional  11countries faced a “significant resurgence” in cases that might  “push health systems to the brink once again in Europe” if kept unchecked.

The Hagerty Team encourages our readers to heed advice of international health organizations, government agencies, and local officials when responding to and protecting against COVID-19. The Hagerty Team will continue to provide information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation.

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DISASTER DISCOURSE CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

On 100 Days of Deployment and the Importance of Intelligence in Salt Lake County’s Response

THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2020 AS OF 4:00 PM EDT

Over the past 110 days, I have been deployed to Salt Lake County, leading a team of Hagerty professionals supporting the emergent response, and early recovery effort happening here in Utah. The challenges had been unprecedented, and the collaboration, innovation, and dedication demonstrated by all responders – from those in the Emergency Coordination Center (ECC), to the quarantine and isolation facilities, hospitals, testing locations, firefighter crews, law enforcement personnel, and beyond – is exemplary of communities and partners rising to meet their objectives.

Profile of Salt Lake County, Utah

Salt Lake County’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was documented on March 4, a date which seems ages ago. Over the past 100+ days, the County has been successful in maintaining pressure on the virus:

  1. We were concerned about the rate of cases increasing exponentially. High transmission rates of the virus between individuals would have a compounding impact.
  2. We were concerned of the hospital systems having to resort to crisis standards of care and collapse. The potential and ever-present threat of exponential growth could lead hospital beds, Intensive Care Units (ICUs), and ventilators to become a precious commodity. Overrunning these resources could lead to additional deaths.
  3. We were concerned that we could not understand the spread of the virus in the community. Understanding COVID-19 has been limited due to its novel nature. Knowledge of its characteristics continues to be explored and documented.

A key of being able and to continue to overcome these challenges has been the role of intelligence operations as part of Salt Lake County’s COVID-19 response.

Salt Lake County’s COVID-19 Response Intelligence Section

Understanding the value of data and information that is critical to informing evidence-based decisions has been a foundational pillar of Salt Lake County’s emergent response efforts. Two weeks into the response, Unified Command (comprised of the County Mayor, Director of Emergency Management, and Director of the Health Department) understood that a comprehensive intelligence capability was needed to support response efforts and established the Intelligence Section. As Intelligence Section Chief, my directives from Unified Command were clear:

  • Conduct analysis of COVID-19 and its cascading effects in Salt Lake County.
  • Develop comprehensive situational awareness by examining and monitoring trends and challenges that link Salt Lake County to the state, national, and global response.
  • Work with the other Sections and provide action-oriented reporting to support the emergent response efforts.
  • Ensure findings were being distributed to response partners.

Formation of the Intelligence Section based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) seemed novel yet necessary for a pandemic emergency. Critical to our efforts were:

  • Intent from Unified Command. Along with the directives mentioned previously, the Intelligence Section was provided milestones of success and a vision for products – key tenets of Intent from Unified Command. This Unity of Command from County leadership – trust with one another and the response teams; a forward-leaning, scientific-driven approach; and clear objectives to drive action – allowed the Intelligence Section to think creatively and collaboratively. Our efforts broke beyond merely understanding the trends of the virus but allowed us to study its impact on vulnerable populations, attrition of public safety agencies, and the reactivation of Salt Lake County.
  • A Multi-Agency Approach. When information belongs to no one, its impact in a dynamic and uncertain response can be valuable to all. The Intelligence Section, while being attached to Salt Lake County’s Epidemiological Bureau, was not exclusively staffed by public health professionals. This unique relationship allowed epidemiologists to focus on disease surveillance, while creating a collaborative space for multidisciplinary analysis. Our team is multi-agency and has representation from firefighters, emergency management, law enforcement, and the Hagerty contract team. This approach facilitates deeper analysis into the behavior and effects of COVID-19 across Salt Lake County, including its communities, populations, public safety agencies, and hospital systems.
  • Actionable Intelligence. The end products of the Intelligence Section could not be just a thesis of discovery or repackaging of another document. The products need to support or elicit an action focused on helping Salt Lake County’s response efforts. In the initial briefing with members of the Intelligence Section, a clear and simple phrase emerged: “So what?” Throughout our operation, the Intelligence Section challenged themselves and one another to produce intelligence notes and analysis that could be directly injected into and inform the decision-making process. Documents were designed to be short and get to the point, with additional materials accessible to operational leaders. Tomes of paper would get our Section Chiefs nowhere. This mindset of action, even in the “brain trust” of ICS Sections was key to helping Salt Lake County instill targeted interventions and strategic messaging into the response.

As Intelligence Section Chief, David Schuld led a multi-agency effort to collect information and produce analysis that would support the evidence-based decision-making process of Salt Lake County’s COVID-19 response. Activities included advising Unified Command, producing reports, participating in Command and General Staff meetings, and facilitating portions of briefings related to information and analysis.

Looking Back, Preparing for the Long Haul

Looking back through my days of being Intelligence Section Chief, the following initiatives come to mind in Salt Lake County being able to lean forward and counter the initial spread of the virus:

  • Integration across major organizations. A key to our success in the initial weeks of response was an ability for major organizations across Salt Lake County to come together for a common cause. In events like a pandemic, time is a valuable resource. Relationships between leaders and agencies are key to being able to effectively address an incident. I applaud the professionalism and dedication of the traditional and non-traditional responders in Salt Lake County. I saw emergency management principles be applied to response. I also saw individuals such as librarians and arts and culture personnel lean forward in the interest of their community, becoming teams to support quarantine and isolation facilities, running Points of Distribution (PODs) for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), and providing aid to high-risk and vulnerable populations. Ego has no place in an emergency incident, and it is critical that leaders instill this ethos prior to the response phase. We are all in this together.
  • Planning, training, and exercises. Organizations in Salt Lake County had worked on building out plans that could support responding to a pandemic. Continuity of Operations (COOP) and comprehensive emergency management planning initiatives were key to those working in the ECC and in the field to have an understanding what they should be doing and how their actions impacted meeting objectives of the incident.

Exercises are also critical to refining capabilities, even now in the midst of the long haul of sustained response. Key to information sharing and analysis was Salt Lake County’s participation in Hagerty’s Hunter Seeker exercise. This innovative exercise places participating agencies into a multi-day exercise environment where intelligence operations can be refined and gaps in communication and coordination within the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) can be identified. Whether the incident scenario is a pandemic, an active threat, or a natural disaster like a wildland fire, exercises like Hunter Seeker are critical to strengthening information sharing capabilities.

Looking into the future, communities should plan for vaccinations and setting up and operating PODs. The challenges of these processes are immense for COVID-19. Communities should engage in advance planning and strengthen their operational readiness by assessing plans, developing training, and conducting exercises.

  • Emphasis on enabling. I have mentioned this line once already, but it is worth restating: We are all in this together. Collaboration and a mindset of enabling the whole community to participate in response efforts is key. COVID-19 is unlike any other disaster before – no other incident in our nation’s history has had every state and territory in the United States (US) under a simultaneous Federal Disaster Declaration. .

No idea is a bad one. To Incident Commanders and Section Chiefs across the country: enable your teams to address challenges and find solutions, even if they have never been considered in emergency management before. The creativity and dedication I have seen here in Salt Lake County never ceases to amaze me. Empower teams, implement innovation (including the establishment of an Intelligence Section in a pandemic response), and respect the value your team members bring to the response. These are important characteristics of crisis leadership, and its value is even more accentuated with a sustained response.

More than 100 days in, I offer communities and responders across the country with these words of advice and perspective: our efforts to maintain pressure on the virus have only begun. At the time this Disaster Discourse was published, there is no treatment to COVID-19, and we do not have a vaccine. Our hard work in maintaining pressure on the virus to date has been contingent on the public’s participation in prevention and mitigation efforts, including practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings when social distancing is a challenge, and demonstrating health etiquette. The public has also been key in investigating spread of the virus through testing and contact tracing. As we move further away from the initial days of COVID-19 in our communities, we must overcome the fatigue of this long response with steadfastness and vigilance. The participation of the public, as well as maintaining strong intelligence capabilities, is key to our work. Our efforts continue to matter.

I want to thank all those deployed with me and working across the country and in their communities to respond to COVID-19. Keep up the fight…your dedication to the cause is seen every day.

David Schuld is a Deputy Director of Preparedness with Hagerty Consulting and is currently deployed to Salt Lake County to support COVID-19 response and recovery. Mr. Schuld served as Intelligence Section Chief for Salt Lake County’s emergent response to COVID-19, and has now been seconded as Special Assistant to the Mayor for COVID-19 Response and Recovery, supporting the sustained health response and the implementation of the adaptive and long-term recovery planning initiatives on behalf of the Mayor of Salt Lake County. Prior to COVID-19, Mr. Schuld led Hagerty’s Active Threat Portfolio, and is a nationally recognized leader in comprehensive and integrated response planning and operations. His policy experience includes serving as a military research analyst for the European Parliament in Brussels, serving as Military Legislative Assistant for a member of the US House of Representatives, political advisor to the British Army, and Crisis Management Advisor for the British Government in the US. Mr. Schuld is originally from Ohio, and studied political science at John Carroll University, has a graduate degree in public policy and administration from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and completed Air Command and Staff College with the US Air Force.