april 2020

Resilience

The Epitome of Failure – Part 1

by William H. Austin -

At about 6:15 a.m. on 8 November 2018, an iron hook holding up a 115,000-volt line broke, dropping the live wire and sparking a blaze. Thirty minutes later, what would come to be known as the Camp Fire was out of control. Officials ordered the evacuation of the nearby town of Paradise, home to 26,000 people. The town was soon burned to the ground. Within hours, the fire destroyed 13,893 homes and killed more people (85), than any other California wildfire.

Commentary

Call to Action for “Unprecedented” Events

by Catherine L. Feinman -

News agencies often use the term “unprecedented” when referring to COVID-19 and other recent disasters and events. Unprecedented refers to something that was not known or experienced before. However, it is often used synonymously with the word “unexpected.” Of course, COVID-19 did not exist before 2019, Hurricane Sandy did not exist before 2012, the U.S. was not attacked by terrorists on the scale of 9/11 before 2001, and so on.

Commentary

Triggered Collapse, Part 6: A Nationwide Call to Action

by Drew Miller -

Similar to pandemic preparedness, the U.S. government is not doing enough to prepare for failure of municipal water systems when the electric grid goes down. Government programs do not address loss of law and order or cessation of food production and delivery services. Elected and appointed officials often downplay the number of deaths to be expected and the lack of preventative measures. They also do not acknowledge people taking advantage of stresses on law enforcement to loot and maraud in the event of a collapse. Swift action is needed now to mitigate potential consequences of a future triggered collapse.

Reports

Public Health Principles for a Phased Reopening During COVID-19: Guidance for Governors

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress, most jurisdictions have implemented physical distancing measures to reduce further transmission, which have contributed to reductions in numbers of new cases. This report considers transmission risks and proposed measures for phased reopenings by decision makers at the state level.

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Reports

Disaster Financial Management Guide

This guide identifies the capabilities and activities necessary to prepare and successfully implement disaster financial management while maintaining fiscal responsibility throughout response and recovery operations. The principles, concepts, and resources contained in the guide can support jurisdictions in identifying the resources needed to support their community, increase the efficiency of recovery efforts, and reduce the likelihood of audits and financial penalties for the jurisdiction.

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Updates

NIH to Launch Public-Private Partnership to Speed COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Options

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Foundation for the NIH are bringing together more than a dozen leading biopharmaceutical companies, the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to develop an international strategy for a coordinated research response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resilience

Inventions Birthed by Necessity

by Daniel M. Gerstein -

If necessity is the mother of invention, the new coronavirus is quickly birthing a lot of innovations. Parts of U.S. society may be forever changed by this pandemic. As of 13 April 2020, the United States had over 550,000 confirmed cases and nearly 22,000 deaths, with emergency preparedness and response agencies preparing for much more to come. Combinations of social distancing, home quarantine, closure of schools and universities, and case isolation are now being extensively practiced. Creativity is being implemented each day to overcome response barriers to those at work and meet the needs of those asked to stay at home.

Updates

U.S.–Israeli Robot Accessory Arm Provides Enhanced Capabilities and Precise Manipulation

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate joined Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and the Israel National Police Bomb Disposal Division to develop a new accessory arm as part of the Upgrade Explosives Ordnance Disposal Robot Project. The robot accessory arm facilitates research, development, testing, and evaluation activities and delivers enhanced capabilities to law enforcement and public safety personnel in both countries.

Updates

Safe Paths: A Privacy-First Approach to Contact Tracing

Fast containment is key to halting the progression of pandemics, and rapid determination of a diagnosed patient’s locations and contact history is a vital step for communities and cities. Smartphones can aid in this process. A team led by MIT Media Lab Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar is designing and developing Safe Paths, a citizen-centric, open source, privacy-first set of digital tools and platforms to slow the spread of pandemics, like COVID-19.

Reports

Emergency and Disaster Management Case Study – Standing Panel on Intergovernmental Systems, March 2020

The National Academy of Public Administration Standing Panel on Intergovernmental Systems developed a case study assessing the system specific to emergency response in the United States. The case research investigates how government emergency management strategies and disaster preparation and mitigation efforts have evolved over time in this country, to highlight steps backward and forward.

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Commentary

Triggered Collapse, Part 5: Gaps in National Disaster Planning Scenarios

by Drew Miller -

In contrast to experts’ estimates of millions of deaths, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pandemic influenza planning scenario refers to just 87,000 casualties – not much more than a bad seasonal flu. This version of the scenario seen in public forums has planning assumptions on virus lethality, worker absenteeism, and maintenance of law and order that are irresponsibly optimistic. When planning for security, it is better to err on the side of worst-case scenarios. The DHS uses 15 National Planning Scenarios. Scenario 3 is “Biological Disease Outbreak – Pandemic Influenza,” and Scenario 4 is “Biological Attack – Pneumonic Plague.”

Healthcare

Reconsideration of Healthcare Providers in the Age of COVID-19

by Matthew Minson -

Lately, there have been a number of discussions about protecting healthcare workers, bolstering the ranks with volunteerism, and utilizing alternative care sites and providers. There have been call-ups of retired clinicians of all stripes, field promotions of health sciences students, and alternative venues for care like telemedicine. However, one group that does not seem to be as considered or fully addressed is that of home health workers. Although they are often tangentially referenced in healthcare environment conversations, this unique, variable, and incompletely accounted landscape is potentially an area of increased risk for providers, patients, public spread, and mortality.

Updates

Mutual Aid Resource Planner

In the aftermath of a disaster, emergency responders regularly rely on mutual aid support from neighboring towns to help response and to cover the area while recovery efforts continue. In its research on improving mutual aid partnerships, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate developed an application to help jurisdictions create better mutual aid plans.

Reports

Small Groups, Big Weapons: The Nexus of Emerging Technologies and Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism

This report surveys three emerging technologies – synthetic biology, additive manufacturing (commonly known as 3D printing), and unmanned aerial systems – and examines the nexus of each with nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons agent proliferation. It examines how non-state actors might use these emerging technologies to overcome traditional barriers against the development and employment of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

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Updates

New Mathematical Model Can More Effectively Track Epidemics

A new model developed by National Science Foundation-funded researchers at Princeton and Carnegie Mellon improves tracking of epidemics by accounting for mutations in diseases. Now the researchers are advancing their model to allow leaders to evaluate the effects of countermeasures to epidemics ¬– before they deploy them.

Updates

HHS Accepts Donations of Medicine to Strategic National Stockpile as Possible Treatments for COVID-19 Patients

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) accepted 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated by Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, for possible use in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or for use in clinical trials.

Commentary

A Family Tradition – Old School Florida Smuggling, Chapter 16

by Robert C. Hutchinson -

The evolution of drug smuggling and related crimes in south Florida can be viewed through one family and their many criminal associates. The Barker Family entered the smuggling business in the 1970s and transitioned from marijuana to cocaine and illegal aliens by the 1990s. Through drug and alien loads, broad conspiracies, and multiple deaths, the smuggling group was active, successful, and notorious. This is an account of old school Florida smuggling through the long thread of one small family. It is a bit of a history lesson and a fascinating journey back in time.

Commentary

A Family Tradition – Old School Florida Smuggling, Chapter 15

by Robert C. Hutchinson -

The evolution of drug smuggling and related crimes in south Florida can be viewed through one family and their many criminal associates. The Barker Family entered the smuggling business in the 1970s and transitioned from marijuana to cocaine and illegal aliens by the 1990s. Through drug and alien loads, broad conspiracies, and multiple deaths, the smuggling group was active, successful, and notorious. This is an account of old school Florida smuggling through the long thread of one small family. It is a bit of a history lesson and a fascinating journey back in time.

Healthcare

Use Caution: Retirees & the Direct Clinical Setting

by Matthew Minson -

To help with the increasing surge of COVID-19 patients, there have been a number of calls to re-enlist retired physicians and nurses in the healthcare setting. These calls from those within the government and the clinical setting are understandable on the surface. However, some elements are not being fully considered and could actually have harmful effects if not implemented effectively.

Resilience

Military Use for Continued Law Enforcement During the Pandemic

by Andrew Roszak -

As the United States continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, police departments across the country are beginning to feel the impact of the virus on their day-to-day staffing. In New York, three officers have died, more than 900 members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 3,200 have called out sick. In Detroit, Michigan, two officers have died due to the coronavirus, including a 38-year old dispatcher and one-fourth of the force is quarantined. In Puerto Rico, the entire police department of Rincón is quarantined. In California, law enforcement officials are exploring the option of assigning detectives, administrative personnel, and special operations personnel to street duty. However, the country has other reinforcements that should be deployed.