Our "New Normal" - How We Are All Coping with COVID-19

ACEC/MW President Elect Pedro Capestany comments on the changes that ACEC/MW and the entire A/E industry are making to adjust to the "New Normal" admidst the COVID-19 crisis.
This time of year, we are normally gearing up for the busy construction season while still trying to figure out if we have a chance in our office March Madness Basketball pool (and I'm declaring that this is the year I would have had a perfect pool!). Over the past several weeks, our lives, our work, and our communities have changed as we fight to stop the spread of the Coronavirus and the disease, COVID-19.  Our “New Normal” now focuses on teleworking, distance learning, social distancing, self-quarantining, and the temporary loss of what we all did as part of our everyday lives.

The most important thing for all of us is to stay safe and healthy and to protect our family, friends, coworkers and our community. If we do our part to “flatten the curve” we will all get past this quicker. So, what can you do? Most companies have already closed offices in accordance with the CDC guidance, and staff are working from home. Travel and in-person have been either cut back or eliminated. We all need to practice these measures and keep our contact to a minimum to stop the spread.
ACEC/MW and the Board have taken those similar steps. We eliminated in-person meetings for our committees, we have postponed our monthly luncheons, and we have cancelled leadership conferences. We are also making ourselves a resource to our members and our clients on the latest information and news regarding the virus. On our website you will see links that are regularly updated with the guidance from the CDC and other health organizations. We reached out to our client agencies and offered our assistance to them in determining their course of actions and to communicate those actions to our members and the A/E community. We have been regularly communicating with Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and we are providing their latest information regarding closures and restrictions. All three jurisdictions have ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses, which went into effect by Wednesday, March 25, 2020. The definition of essential business includes the construction and public works professionals and those businesses, both public and private that support construction and public works. 

As with any challenge, we are also looking at the positives that can come out of this. We are exploring the use of web-based meeting share software and the potential for future monthly meetings being conducted virtually. As we continue to be a resource to our members, we are also looking at how we can continue to provide that support with on-line training, especially in the areas of technology and virtual work and the impacts to the design and construction of our projects.

Lastly, with the passing of the $2 Trillion stimulus package, Infrastructure is poised to be a major factor in how our economy not only rebounds but grows. We have the opportunity to make a significant difference as we look to hire new staff to meet the needs of new projects and programs. The A/E industry is essential to keep the economy afloat and we will be essential to its growth. We must all be ready to do our part - ACEC/MW is ready to support our members and their clients.

For now, the most important thing we can do is continue to practice the safety and health recommendations, heed the requirements to stay at home and to practice social distancing. Let's all get together to be part of the solution that “flattens the curve” and gets us past this virus. Welcome to our “New Normal!” 
Stay safe and healthy!

Pedro Capestany, PE is the President of ATCS Capital Infrastructure, PLLC a Washington DC Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) Civil Engineering firm. He has 29 years of experience in civil engineering, program and construction management and public administration in the fields of transportation, building and heavy civil construction. Pedro has managed and administered construction programs for local, state, and federal owners with total construction value over $10 billion. He serves on the ACEC/MW Board of Directors as President Elect.


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