By County Manager, Chris Coudriet
As I shared this past November, New Hanover County Commissioners and staff developed an innovative model, through the use of American Rescue Plan funds, to create a Pandemic Operations Team to support the community in our continued fight against COVID-19. They will not only support today’s efforts but will continue as COVID-19 becomes more endemic, and also respond to different variants and other novel diseases that are not yet here or known at this time. I’m pleased to share that the team is coming together, and in December our Pandemic Operations Manager Jon Campbell started in his role. Jon and his team have already demonstrated how valuable they are in organizing COVID testing and vaccination sites, distributing testing supplies equitably in the community, and offering N95 masks to local partners and residents at various locations. So for my message this month, I have asked Jon to share some information about who he is and what he thinks is important as we move forward. That conversation is below…
Tell us about your background and why you were interested in this role.
Jon: Prior to transitioning to the pandemic operations manager position with New Hanover County, I have been working in the Emergency Department for 13 years as a Physician Assistant and over the past year was assisting New Hanover County with vaccine distribution as a member of the Army National Guard. I was excited to learn about the pandemic operations manager role as this was a new, progressive division designed to immediately help our community and plan for future pandemics, and would allow me to use the skills that I have enjoyed most in my previous roles.
What is the most important information our community should know right now related to COVID?
Jon: COVID has affected everyone in our community in some way and it’s important to acknowledge this. We all need to focus on what we can control, and this starts with an individual. It’s important to live a healthy lifestyle to ensure your immune system is robust, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and get an adequate amount of sleep. Beyond this, consider getting the COVID vaccine/booster, stay home if you’re not feeling well and consider wearing a mask if you will be in congested areas.
What can we expect in the coming months related to the pandemic?
Jon: The COVID pandemic has served as a learning experience for all of us. We’ve seen several variants emerge and different medical therapies evolve for treatment of individuals with COVID. It is difficult to know exactly what the next several months will bring; however, the Pandemic Operations Team will work to stay abreast of trends in the pandemic to best support New Hanover County.
What is your vision for the Pandemic Operations Team?
Jon: My vision for the Pandemic Operations Team is to support our community through the current COVID pandemic by providing ease of access to vaccines, testing supplies and education. The team will work with our community to move forward in the current pandemic as well as preparing and equipping our community to address any futures pandemics.
What are a few of your trusted resources and sources of information?
Jon: It can be difficult to navigate all of the information available relating to COVID. Some of the resources I’ve found most accurate and informative are the Centers for Disease Control website – cdc.gov, and I also listen regularly to a podcast called, This Week in Virology. The podcast does a series every Saturday called “COVID-19 Clinical Update” that reviews any new research but also answers questions that listeners have sent in.
I appreciate Jon’s expertise, his medical background, and his familiarity with our county operations. I believe we are in good hands with his leadership.
Our county employees are bright, talented, and committed to public service and I plan to offer several public service profile articles this year featuring various staff members. I look forward to you hearing from them and learning about the incredible work they are accomplishing on behalf of and directly for our community.