Opinion | Leaders who have passed the coronavirus test


Here’s what we can all learn from their success.

You cannot respond to a crisis if you do not recognize it. It sounds obvious, but it was an unusual superpower for the leaders who acted quickly: they kept their eyes open. They were fortunate to have a quick overview of the disaster and they were wise enough to take the warning seriously.

Sometimes the signs were inescapable – Microsoft had a glimpse of the virus due to its large operations in China, Smith told me.

But other indicators were darker. Newsom’s first indication of the problem was repatriation – in January the federal government began to bring Americans from affected regions of China, many to military bases in California. Newsom told me that working on this issue had caused him and other senior state officials to seriously consider what was going to happen. The repatriations, Newsom said, “underscored a sense of curiosity and importance that this crisis is about to strike our state.”

Again, obvious, and again, so rare: these leaders understood the limits of their own knowledge and, faced with difficult choices, turned to the experts.

“I didn’t do very well in science school,” DeWine told me. But after a long political career – DeWine served in the United States House and Senate and was elected governor in 2018 – he had learned to recognize the value of expertise.

“When I made decisions I regretted,” said DeWine, it was often because “I didn’t have enough facts, I didn’t ask enough questions, I didn’t have asked the right people. “

Last year, DeWine appointed Amy Acton, a renowned physician and academic in public health, as director of the Ohio Department of Health. As the virus approached, Acton alerted him to the threat posed by the Arnold Sports Festival, a bodybuilding rally founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger to be held in Columbus in early March.


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