On Tuesday, the Potomac Officers Club hosted its final installment of the informative Data-Driven 2021 Series, Fostering Resilient, All-of-Nation Pandemic Response, which acted as a dedicated platform for federal and industry health sector leaders to join in a synergistic discussion on the U.S.’ pandemic response and resilience efforts as new and complex challenges, like the emergence of the Omicron variant, continue to arise.
The keynote address from Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the U.S. Navy and chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, outlined the country’s struggles, accomplishments and lessons learned throughout the past two years of COVID-19 in the context of the Navy, as well as imperative initiatives for the future of pandemic preparedness in the U.S.
Following an introduction from LMI executive Christen Smith, Gillingham began his keynote with an overview of the obstacles overcome by the Navy and how the service branch has worked to keep the fleet underway and out forward in the nation’s defense through the lens of a pandemic environment.
If you missed Tuesday’s enlightening event, visit PotomacOfficersClub.com, where you can view the Fostering Resilient, All-of-Nation Pandemic Response event and other GovCon sector webinars on-demand now.
In his opening remarks, Gillingham made note of the significant strides made by his predecessors in standing up the military service branch’s medical personnel team who worked to combat communicable diseases of the past, like tuberculosis and the Spanish influenza.
Thanks to these historic efforts, the read admiral said, “Today, we maintain a trained, ready force of medical experts that are able to identify and develop treatment strategies, and their expertise and advice has been invaluable.”
He also touched on some of the Navy’s most challenging hurdles during the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, with the widespread COVID-19 outbreaks aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Kidd destroyer that affected a significant portion of warfighters.
Recognizing the dedication and unfaltering commitment of Navy service members through these trials, Gillingham said, “I can’t express enough how proud I am of the toughness and resiliency of our all-volunteer force who continue to endure during these challenging times to carry out their mission.”
Gillingham also shared that the country and the Navy are in a much better position today than they were nearly two years ago. “The vaccine helped tremendously as well as the continued applications of lessons learned, including frequent and proactive communication from senior leadership down to the deck plate,” Gillingham noted.
He said of the Navy’s strategy, “We used rapid cycle feedback to adjust areas where we got it wrong and to adapt to the dynamic behavior of this very stealthy virus.”
On a more grave note, Gillingham said there is still a “great risk of more frequent pandemics in the future,” and that we must use the lessons we’ve learned to protect the country against potential threats down the line.
“One key piece of information that must be identified and shared early in the outbreak is the genomic sequence of the pathogen,” he said. “This was a significant gap in our early response to SARS-CoV-2, and we need to address it programmatically,” Gillingham urged.
On Jan. 27, the Potomac Officers Club will host its first-ever digital currency event with industry-leading cryptocurrency experts, federal cybersecurity officials and government representatives who will lead dynamic discussions surrounding the volatile and constantly evolving global digital economy.
The forum will host a keynote address by the first National Cyber Director Chris Inglis as well as a productive fireside chat session with MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor and the Honorable Juan Zarate, global co-managing partner and chief strategy officer for K2 Integrity and a 2022 Wash100 Award winner.