22 June 2020

COVID-19 in America: A Massive Mess, An Opportunity to Make Your Mark

If you ask an average American when they realized that COVID-19 might be more than just a distant headline from international news, they will probably tell you March 11.

That’s because millions of us tuning in to watch the Utah Jazz take on the Oklahoma City Thunder were instead told the National Basketball Association was suspending its season. That same night, one of America’s favorite actors and cultural icons, Tom Hanks, announced he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19.

We watched in shock as confirmed cases exponentially grew in the U.S. from about 1,000 that evening to nearly 10,000 one week later, to almost 70,000 one week after that. (On April 27, we breached 1 million cases and in mid-June, we logged more than 2 million.)

Like many other parts of the world in those first moments, normalcy and routine abandoned us.

Leaders asked us to work from home, to suspend travel, to stay six feet from each other. We were asked to take care of ourselves, our communities and our customers; and navigated a varying set of recommendations and ordinances from our states and federal government while doing so. Plus, people were getting sick and it became very clear that some would not recover.

Simply put: It was a mess.

When the world becomes a massive mess with nobody at the helm, it’s time for artists to make their mark.”

Canadian singer and songwriter Joni Mitchell

In March, April and May, I watched my colleagues across the country become artists … and make their mark.

Siemens employee Greg Siwicki printed face shields in his home basement.

In short order and on their accord, Siemens employees started 3D-printing face covers and face shields, so they could donate them to the healthcare workers who didn’t have enough PPE (personal protective equipment) to do their jobs safely.

Teams in Atlanta, Ga., lent their manufacturing expertise and connections with production companies to scale up the production of face shields by a local university. Our Innovation Center in Orlando, Fla., designed, tested and produced face shields and masks that were donated to a local hospital.

We also answered the call from customers. Field techs continued to service our transportation providers. Our techs visited hospitals, nursing homes and manufacturing plants – all which needed inspection, repair or maintenance of their fire life safety, security and building automation systems. We even helped the U.S. Army Corps build temporary hospital space in New York, an original epicenter for the outbreak in America.

America quickly identified that COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting those with lower socio-economic statuses. The U.S.-based Siemens Foundation responded with $1.5M in grants to 12 community health centers, which are our largest primary care provider in the nation for the medically underserved and uninsured, including in communities of color.

Yes, we faced a massive mess … but I remain amazed and have such admiration for the colleagues who became artists and stood together to collectively make our mark.

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