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EXPLORE NORTHEASTERN

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in recent history in terms of the scale of its impacts. It is fundamentally unique from other disasters because it does not have a distinct start, nor will it have a clear end. Additionally, every community across the country is facing the dual crises of the public health emergency and severe economic disruption, and frequently the solutions to one are at odds with the other. Traditional disaster recovery processes often rely on the assumption that a disaster will have a distinct end. This has created a complex set of unforeseen challenges for FEMA and state recovery offices.  

Shortly after the pandemic began to have significant effects on U.S. public health and economic systems, GRI undertook a regional effort to develop Rapid Needs Assessments in each of the six New England states to provide to FEMA, state, and local decision makers. FEMA asked GRI to examine the economic impact of COVID-19 on each of the states to quickly identify and provide insight on complex interdependencies, unaddressed problems, and economic recovery priorities. 

Key Highlights from the State of Connecticut:

  1. Engagement and analysis highlighted that COVID-19 exacerbated racial wealth gaps across the state. However, it also exposed that the gaps, in turn, complicate economic recovery efforts, creating a dangerous cycle that requires equitable, resilience-based action to solve.  
  2. While much of the focus on healthcare has been on the ability for workers and hospitals to deliver care, analysis revealed that COVID-19  will have long-term impacts on the economic aspects of the healthcare sector which is an anchor economy and major employer in many cities and town.  
  3. Small and micro-businesses, which often operate at small-margins and with little to no cash reserves found themselves unexpectedly unable to continue normal operations. These businesses did not immediately have specialized technical support to pivot to new business models and have streamlined access to the variety of relief programs available. 

In each of the states, the Rapid Needs Assessments enabled federal, state, and local stakeholders to make real-time decisions, build solutions-based teams, and progress effectively and efficiently through traditional national disaster protocols within a uniquely dynamic environment. Economic recovery efforts continue across the country, and GRI continues to support recovery in Region 1 through Operational Support Liaisons that are working directly with the states and solutions-based teams to operationalize the priorities and actions identified in the Rapid Needs Assessments and through close engagement with regional stakeholders. 

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