The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced critical actions to advance development of novel coronavirus medical countermeasures. As with any emerging public health threat, the FDA will collaborate with interagency partners, product developers, international partners and global regulators to expedite the development and availability of medical products needed to diagnose, treat, mitigate and prevent such outbreaks.
The Event 201 pandemic exercise, conducted on October 18, 2019, demonstrated a number of important gaps in pandemic preparedness as well as some of the elements of the solutions between the public and private sectors that will be needed to fill them. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, World Economic Forum, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have proposed seven recommendations.
The elderly are particularly vulnerable to disasters given the increased likelihood of having physical or mental health conditions or being socially isolated due to a lack of a support network. It is important for counties to assess the needs of and have plans in place to assist their elderly populations in the event of a disaster.
Many studies have shown that firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) responders have a high likelihood of experiencing an assault since they respond to calls in varied locations, often paired with only one or two colleagues. Researchers on the Stress and Violence to Fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER) study found many improvements organizations can make to mitigate the risk and impact of assaults on their responders.
The updated Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic Training is now available. It features a revised Disaster Medical Operations section, updated Terrorism and CERT section, and new hazard-specific annexes. Find the new curriculum materials online and order free copies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency publications warehouse.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) Program Management Office has updated IPAWS to implement enhancements that will strengthen Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). The WEA enhancements improve upon current WEA capabilities already in use by federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial emergency management, and public safety officials nationwide.
Rapid advances in pathogen genomics have ushered in a new era of “precision public health.” Next-generation sequencing is already enabling more effective investigations of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, better-targeted tuberculosis control, and more timely and granular influenza surveillance to inform the selection of vaccine strains.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the first Project BioShield contract to fund the advanced development needed to support the expanded use of an existing antibiotic to treat exposure to inhalational anthrax. If the additional development work is successful, the antibiotic could become the first antibiotic developed and procured through Project BioShield to treat potentially drug-resistant bioterrorism agents.
When disaster strikes, critical infrastructure failures – from loss of power and water to failures of information technology infrastructure and systems – can follow. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection has tools, resources, and partnerships to help respond more effectively in an emergency.