Despite Our Losses, Americans and NCSL Are Adapting
Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve noticed how Americans and our institutions have responded quickly by innovating and adapting. Even though it seems to many that we are sometimes living these quarantine days in slow motion, the pace at which American institutions, and the American people, pivoted to combat the threat has been truly remarkable.
Despite the awful loss, pain and suffering that the virus has caused for too many in the United States and throughout the world, I believe that we will look back and marvel at how we responded:
- Our health care system focusing all its knowledge and effort on treating the afflicted.
- The scientific community working to understand and address the new viral threat.
- Teachers finding creative ways to keep children engaged through distance learning.
- Parents, who are pivoting so often they are spinning, trying to manage working from home, supporting learning and keeping everyone safe and fed.
- Grocery stores reinventing the shopping experience to keep customers safe.
- Small businesses innovating to keep as many people employed as possible.
- Businesses, large and small, shifting operations to produce ventilators and other vital medical equipment.
The list could go on and on. Everyone has had to adapt, and most have done it with grace and resolve. Could it have been even better? Sure. Yet, the way Americans have risen to the crisis has been phenomenal, and that’s led to hundreds of thousands of lives saved.
NCSL’s pivot has been not so much about what we do as how we do it. Yes, we’re working from home and often playing leading or supporting roles in the efforts listed above. But our work remains the same: supporting legislators and staff as they focus their attention on the critical role legislatures are playing in this crisis. I’m incredibly proud of the way NCSL staff have stepped up. It’s been remarkable, and we know that legislators and staff from every state have noticed because engagement and compliments have skyrocketed.
NCSL staff innovated and rallied to produce resources and programs in record time. They were in constant contact with legislative leaders, chairs, rank-and-file members, staff and others to provide up-to-the minute research, programs and information. In April, NCSL held more than 10 webinars related to COVID-19 on public health, the economy, workforce, education, energy and several other topics. The number of legislators, staff and others participating in these programs crushed past webinar attendance records.
We were one of the very first policy organizations to put together webpages on COVID-19. In about a month’s time, the “NCSL Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for States,” page logged more than 1.4 million visits.
NCSL outhustled most news organizations the night the U.S. Senate passed the big stimulus bill. By the time the vote closed, NCSL had a full summary of the bill and what it meant for states on our website and out to our members, well ahead of news alerts merely skimming the bill’s highlights from CNN, Fox, Politico and others. The webpage had tens of thousands of visits the next day.
NCSL has been a key source for the media, too. In fact, in one week, NCSL was cited more than 1,700 times by newspaper and broadcast journalists across the country with a reach of nearly 1 million news consumers.
NCSL will continue to work hard to provide research and information for legislatures. And, like all Americans, we will continue to react, innovate and adapt to the unprecedented world we find ourselves in.
Tim Storey is the executive director of NCSL.
In the photo: NCSL Executive Director Tim Storey in a screenshot taken during a recent remote all-staff meeting.