During a pandemic, continuity of government as well a state’s homeland services can be compromised when first responders become vulnerable to the pandemic and are otherwise taken off the line. Undersecretary for Homeland Security and Homeland Security Advisor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Jeanne Benincasa Thorpe established during the initial weeks of the pandemic a rapid statewide COVID-19 testing site for first responders to ensure accurate and timely testing. In partnership with Gillette Stadium and with the support of the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, National Guard, Massachusetts State Police, Foxboro Fire Department, and Quest Diagnostic Labs the testing site provided drive-through testings with no appointment for more than 8,000 tests to ensure public safety personnel could remain on active duty during highly uncertain times under statewide lockdown.
Thorpe oversees the Massachusetts FUSION Center, National Guard, Emergency Management Agency, Fire Administration and Office of Grants and Research Homeland Security Division. She serves as key policy and executive decision advisor to the Secretary of Public Safety and the Homeland Security Advisor to the Governor and is responsible for coordination with federal agencies, regional tasks force, local governments and private sector.
Leading the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response for public safety included coordination of public safety agencies and non-medical PPE distribution, establishing a mobile testing program for the Department of Corrections, and developing strategic testing plans for first responders and essential workers. HSToday will be interviewing Undersecretary Jeanne Benincasa on February 22nd at 12pm EST.