April President's Message
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Posted by: Janiele Maffei
When I wrote the president’s message for the March SEAONC newsletter in late February the outbreak of what was to become a global pandemic had been ravaging Wuhan, China since late December. January 21 the first COVID-19 death was reported in the US in Washington state. By January 30 the World Health Organization had declared a global health emergency and cruise ships were quarantined in major ports around the world. On February 26 Northern California confirmed the first indication of “community transition” within the US.
Like hundreds of others, I innocently elbow-bumped my way through the National Earthquake Conference in San Diego the first week of March. March 10 I visited Chico State as an EERI visiting professional where signs declared the campus a “No Handshake Zone”. On March 13 the US declared a National emergency and by March 17 COVID-19 was confirmed in all 50 states and San Francisco Bay Area residents were ordered to shelter-at-home. The US now leads the world in confirmed cases. I am writing the president’s message for the April SEAONC newsletter in my home office where I have been working for the last two weeks of local quarantine. All of California has now been asked to self-isolate and, like most of you, I conduct all of my meetings and calls through by web or phone.
A SEAONC past-president asked how it was to be the “war-time” president and while I smiled at that moniker, however, I want to assure our members that along with the SEAONC and SEAOC boards I continue to take my responsibilities to uphold the mission and vision of the organization seriously. To continue to advance the practice of structural engineering and keep our members and the public safe the SEAONC board converted all board and committee activities to web or phone-based meetings. The board also decided to proceed with the scholarship, honors, nominating, and excellence in engineering subcommittees and we are working on how we can appropriately acknowledge their results.
The SEAOC board has discussed the Annual Convention scheduled for Maui in September. Obviously, Convention deliberations include a primary concern for the health and safety of the membership, following expert reports on the pandemic timeline, and reducing any financial burden due to cancellation or low attendance. No decisions on the Convention have been made at this time but we will keep the membership informed.