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CTEH’s John Kind on Keeping COVID-19 Contained

3 min read
John Kind, 49, grew up in Murray, Kentucky, and graduated from Murray State University in 1993. He earned a Ph.D. in toxicology in 2000 from the University of Georgia in Athens.
Kind worked as a toxicologist at Terra Inc. for seven years before joining the Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health in North Little Rock in 2007 as a project toxicologist. He was named director of toxicology at CTEH in 2010 and principal toxicologist in 2017.
Kind leads the Toxicology Emergency Response Team, monitoring the air and the environment after hazardous material incidents.

What is CTEH’s standard response to an emergency?

No two emergencies are the same. Our mission is to help companies, governments and communities prepare for, respond to and recover from threats to their environment and people. This may include sending a team of toxicologists and industrial hygienists to a chemical release. It could also be deploying field technicians to a semi-truck rollover or a disaster team to assist with damage assessments and rebuilding after a flood.

During COVID-19, we initially helped with decontamination planning and implementation. As the virus spread around the globe, that quickly evolved into COVID-19 health and safety assessments and management, including for national and international TV and film productions, digital contract tracing platforms and large-scale testing programs.

Has CTEH worked on a contagious health threat before COVID-19?

CTEH has an in-house team of scientific experts with deep expertise in worker and public health protection. Since our company was founded in 1997, we have helped prepare for and respond to international outbreaks, including the flu, SARS, Ebola and others. Fortunately, none reached the scale of COVID-19.

Does it make your job harder when health situations become polarized?

No matter the situation, our mission is to safeguard workers, communities and the environment. COVID-19 has presented unique challenges, but the industry and business clients we’ve worked with share this strong commitment to protecting employees’ health and safety.

How differently could the pandemic have been handled in the early days and months?

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving. Hindsight is 20/20, but I strongly believe the scientific community should be applauded for its continued efforts to help keep the public safe.

What is the biggest misconception about COVID?

It’s impossible to pinpoint one misconception. Due to its ever-evolving nature, there’s been lingering confusion or, in many cases, misinformation about COVID-19. That’s why, throughout the pandemic, we’ve focused on being a trusted resource to our clients, partners and the general public by providing the latest scientific guidance from our nation’s public health agencies. We even rolled out a new blog series on our website, cteh.com, to address some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve encountered.

What’s the most important lesson you and your company have learned from the COVID pandemic?

CTEH strives to deliver the most innovative solutions possible to help our clients prepare for, respond to or recover from threats, whether it’s a natural disaster, hazardous materials spill or global pandemic. More than ever, COVID-19 has reaffirmed the importance — and ability — of our team to be nimble and creative when it comes to tackling new challenges. Over the last year, we’ve successfully combined our vast in-house scientific, data management and response expertise to unveil a full suite of customizable COVID-19-related digital tools, including a contact tracing system, biomonitoring and screening services, asset management platforms and more.

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