Early this year, experts within the New Jersey Department of Health began reviewing social media posts emerging out of China’s Hubei province, launching careful daily monitoring of the progress of the Covid-19 outbreak. On March 18 and 21, respectively, Governor Phil Murphy ordered schools to close and residents to stay home.
Embedded in the state’s response to the pandemic is Henri Hammond-Paul MPA ’19, a senior advisor with the N.J. Department of Health. In this Q&A, he provides an overview of the progression of the state’s actions, its highest priorities, long-term policy considerations, and how his Princeton education prepared him for his role in this crisis.
Prior to arriving at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Hammond-Paul worked in crisis management at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, focusing on increasing resiliency to manmade and natural shocks and stresses. He has also held various positions overseas with the U.N. World Food Programme, where he focused on humanitarian assistance and food security concerns in countries affected by natural disasters and conflicts. He began his career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay.
Q. When did you and your team begin planning in earnest for a robust COVID-19 response? What did the earliest efforts look like?