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At the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the nation turned to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s regular briefings as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director explained the nature of the novel coronavirus, offered guidance for mitigating its spread and dispelled misinformation during the quickly-evolving crisis.
Milwaukee looked to Dr. John Raymond, Sr.
Every day of Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order, Raymond, the president and chief executive officer of Medical College of Wisconsin, joined Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president Tim Sheehy for a live COVID-19 webinar briefing, providing updates on case numbers, PPE shortages and hospital capacity concerns. As the crisis escalated, Raymond helped Milwaukee’s business community understand the difficult realities of the pandemic with the goal of allowing them to make informed decisions about their own operations.
For his efforts to provide accurate information as the state and businesses navigated their responses to COVID-19, Raymond will be recognized with BizTimes Media’s Regional Spirt Award at BizExpo, which will take place virtually on Aug. 19-20.
Underpinning Raymond’s daily 5-minute health update was a significant amount of research and preparation.
“Being up to date about COVID-19 developments is a daunting challenge,” Raymond said. “I usually start the day with a database search of published scientific literature, then scan pre-publication servers, and then look at Google and social media for trending COVID-19 topics.”
“I also was very fortunate to be able to draw upon the expertise of MCW physicians and scientists specializing in virology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, occupational health, and mental health, as well as MCW’s outstanding librarians. Having regular webinars with an open floor for audience questions early in the pandemic motivated me to diligently review COVID-19 developments every day,” he added.
The webinar partnership between MMAC and MCW — initially brokered by MCW senior vice presidents Mara Lord and Greg Wesley, who had been working on separate projects with MMAC and Milwaukee 7 when the pandemic hit — was aimed at addressing the “twin challenges” of COVID-19 as a health crisis and an economic disruptor. MCW had also been working with Arik Johnson, managing director of intelligence and analytics firm Aurora WDC, on several projects at the time, so it was a natural fit to turn to the firm for its real-time virtual conferencing services.
“We recognized the need for good information and interpretation of the evolving science associated with COVID-19, and for bringing the best minds in the region together to plan for a safe and responsible re-opening of our economy,” Raymond said.
While COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to the state this year, Raymond said he is glad to play a role in the response effort.
“Obviously, I would prefer that we would not be facing a pandemic unlike any since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918,” he said. “Having said that, it has been immensely gratifying for me to see so many MCW faculty members step forward to offer valuable advice and guidance and to partner with so many sectors of our society – government, businesses, the news media, faith-based and minority communities, educational institutions and accrediting groups. Those efforts have enhanced the visibility and value of MCW as our state’s health and sciences university, and allowed us to build a foundation of partnerships that will benefit our region for many years to come.”