People to Watch: A.J. Schall
Director, Delaware Emergency Management Agency
A year ago, it might have been unlikely that the head of Delaware’s emergency management agency would be named as someone to watch for the year ahead. But the COVID-19 pandemic has upended any sense of normalcy in the First State.
Delaware Emergency Management Agency Director A.J. Schall has guided the direct response to COVID-19, from identifying and setting up field hospitals in case of overflow of hospitalized patients to distribution of a solid and consistent testing plan throughout the state. Along with Gov. John Carney and Dr. Karyl Rattay, the director of the state Division of Public Health, Schall has served as a weekly public face during the crisis.
In the upcoming months ahead, Schall’s department will play a critical role in the immunization of Delawareans, as the first rounds of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in mid-December. The first hundred nurses in the state have been vaccinated, and federal guidance suggests that if Delaware and the rest of the country continues on this path, herd immunization may be achieved as early as April.
A missing piece to the state’s COVID response might also be put into place: rapid antigen testing. Schall announced the state will start a pilot program in the coming days, so that residents could get results within hours instead of days. That will better identify cases and slow the spread of the virus.
Schall will continue to play a pivotal role in the new year, as defeating the virus is the only way business in Delaware can finally return to normal.