Feds detail progress on pandemic preparedness

first_imgDec 29, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – In a recent update on pandemic influenza preparedness planning, the US government reported meeting more than 90% of a long list of objectives it set for itself about 6 months ago.The report charts progress on a wide range of preparedness measures, from shoring up laboratory capabilities to planning for distribution of critical medical supplies and preparing checklists for various sectors of the economy.In May, federal officials released the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Plan, a 228-page document describing how the government will cope with an influenza pandemic. The statement was a follow-up to the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan, released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in November 2005.The status report, released Dec 18, covers 104 tasks that were to be completed within 6 months of release of the implementation plan. The tasks fall into 6 categories: international efforts, transportation and borders, protecting human health, protecting animal health, law enforcement and public safety, and institutions.Of the 104 tasks addressed, 96 have been completed, and 8 are in progress, the report says. The introduction notes that even though most of the 6-month goals have been met, work on many of the tasks is continuing.Jeff Levi, PhD, executive director of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit public health advocacy group, commended federal officials for meeting most of the 6-month benchmarks in the pandemic plan.”This first phase of the federal pandemic preparedness plan moved at full speed ahead,” he said in a Dec 18 TFAH press release. “It has been an historic government-wide effort, and the release of the results demonstrates a serious commitment to transparency and accountability, allowing Americans to see how well their tax dollars are being spent to improve preparedness for a major health emergency.”The status report shows that overall progress is being made, even though media reports on pandemic flu have waned, Chris Logan, a senior policy analyst with the National Governors’ Association, told CIDRAP News. The status report is useful for state officials because it raises questions they need to be thinking about. “It’s not just the obvious stuff, it’s the implications of decisions that people need to be aware of and thinking through,” he said. “To the extent these documents help people think through the potential second- and third-order effects, they’re helpful.”Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), publisher of the CIDRAP Web site, said he applauds the Bush administration for issuing a progress report on pandemic preparedness. “But we really have to ask ourselves the hard question ‘What does it mean to be prepared?’, and right now, I don’t think we have a clue,” he said.It’s difficult to determine if the country is better prepared now than it was 6 months ago, Osterholm told CIDRAP News. He said officials need to start the difficult task of prioritizing preparation measures. “We’ve got to do a better job of understanding the key factors that will get us through a pandemic,” he said. “If there are 10 major factors and 100 little ones, you can get 90 done, but if you don’t get the 10 major ones done, you’re not prepared.”Osterholm said one problem with the status report is that it reflects a US-centered view of pandemic planning. “What happens to the world will happen to the United States because of the global just-in-time economy,” he said.A number of the activities discussed in the report are summarized below.International effortsThe federal government has informed 2 million US citizens living abroad about the latest developments in avian and pandemic flu, mainly through the US government’s main pandemic flu site, and has provided additional information through US consulates and warden networks.Also, federal officials have developed a policy for contributing to international medication stockpiles and deploying antiviral medications. The government reviewed whether or not US stockpile contributions should require liability limits, but officials found that there’s not an urgent need to propose such arrangements.The US Agency for International Development (AID) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a model compensation program for farmers affected by animal influenza outbreaks, which will be launched in early 2007 with partners at the World Bank, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Indonesian government.Work is continuing on an international strategy to contain pandemic influenza outbreaks, and the US has provided $400,000 to the World Health Organization to host workshops on proper transport of influenza samples to reference laboratories.The US State Department, along with the Department of Commerce and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drafted a pandemic preparedness checklist for US companies that have overseas operations. Three major business organizations are reviewing the checklist, and once completed, the document will be posted on the government’s pandemic flu Web site.Transportation and bordersHHS and the departments of Homeland security (DHS), Transportation, and Labor (DOL) developed a pandemic planning checklist for the travel industry and workforce protection guidelines for airline crew members and other people who may come in contact with people and cargo from pandemic-affected areas.To ensure that all border and transportation stakeholders receive accurate and current information about quarantinable diseases, HHS, USDA, and other departments reviewed the current protocol and added several groups to the notification chain.Policy recommendations for air, land, and maritime entries and exits, including response plans and screening, were developed by HHS with assistance from 5 other federal departments.Federal security forces have been briefed by the Department of Justice and DHS about protecting shipments of critical supplies and facilities and are developing contingency plans to carry out the security responsibilities.Protecting human healthHHS, with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Veterans Administration, and medical specialty societies, developed a guide to help community planners address mass-casualty care with scarce resources. The document was released in November and is posted on the Web site of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.To coordinate and communicate effective messages to the public about pandemic flu, HHS and several other federal agencies and local officials enlisted and trained a wide range of influential community spokespeople who will be available to speak on the pandemic crisis. Risk communication strategies are also planned for local public health, community, and tribal leaders. Several government agencies have also help develop risk communication strategies (“message maps”) on avian flu, pandemic flu, antiviral medications, and vaccines.One topic of interest to state officials is the possibility of broadening the Food and Drug Administration’s Shelf Life Extension Program to state stockpiles of antiviral medications. The program allows the federal government to keep medications beyond the expiration date under certain conditions. However, federal officials determined that including state stockpiles in the program is not currently feasible.Logan said that decision is a concern for states. The federal government is providing a 25% subsidy to help states build their own antiviral stockpiles, but the drugs have a listed shelf-life of 5 years and can be used only for pandemic flu, not for seasonal flu, he said. “If a pandemic doesn’t happen before the end of the shelf-life, you have to throw the antivirals out. . . . And then states will have to go out and buy replacement antivirals for their stockpiles. That’s obviously an issue of concern for the states.”To boost vaccine production in the event of an influenza pandemic, HHS explored current production capacities of US vaccine producers and in June issued a request for proposals to retrofit their facilities to produce pandemic vaccines in an emergency.Smooth, efficient allocation of medical equipment such as ventilators and gloves is a key part of a pandemic response, and HHS and other government agencies have developed and tested a plan to distribute critical materials. The plan was tested in October, and will undergo further trials through March 2007.To speed the genetic sequencing of viral isolates during a pandemic, HHS set a goal of releasing the findings to GenBank within 1 week of diagnosis confirmation at the Institute for Genomic Research. Complete viral genome sequences can now be obtained from a clinical sample in 3 days, and HHS, with the Association of Public Health Laboratories, can publish sequence data on a human H5N1 isolate within 1 week.There were other accomplishments on the laboratory front. HHS improved access to standardized influenza reagents for use in tests and research; it can now distribute the reagents within 3 business days of a request. HHS, along with other government agencies and partners, has supplied all members of the US Laboratory Response Network with reagents and protocols to conduct tests using real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). These labs are prepared to use RT-PCR to identify and confirm pandemic flu strains within 24 hours.HHS, using DOD threat-reduction modeling tools and software from other agencies, has developed a real-time epidemic analysis and modeling system for public health use and emergency preparedness.The National Disaster Medical System has developed a strategy for deploying medical assets, such as materials and mobile medical units, held by DHS and HHS. Several federal agencies also developed a “Pandemic Influenza Playbook” that describes what public health and medical capabilities the federal government has available to support state responses to pandemic influenza.Protecting animal healthFederal agencies, with the assistance of states, launched a wild-bird testing program for H5N1 avian flu in August along with an electronic reporting system, and is working on a response strategy if such an outbreak occurs.In assessing the abilities and needs of federal animal research facilities, the USDA and DHS identified problems at a key animal influenza research facility. The departments completed a study of the facility’s deficiencies, along with plans to address its needs.Because of the risk of an avian flu outbreak in birds, several government agencies have prepared three messages based on three scenarios that can be used to deliver clear, coordinated information to the public. Federal departments, with the assistance of industry groups, have also developed food safety messages that can be customized and distributed if an avian influenza outbreak occurs.Law enforcement and public safetyThe Department of Justice, along with HHS, DHS, DOL, sponsored a forum in May for criminal justice officials on best practices to meet the challenges they may face in a pandemic outbreak. Information from the forum is available on the Web site of the Bureau of Justice Assistance. In addition, a consortium of criminal experts was convened in conjunction with the forum to guide ongoing criminal justice planning efforts.To address emergency response issues, DHS and several other government agencies will host a forum in February for selected federal, state, local, and tribal officials. The group will review interim guidance and adopt a national pandemic flu planning model.Checklists for law enforcement personnel and emergency responders on issues such as prepandemic vaccination have been developed by HHS and DOL. The documents, which were reviewed by police unions and other professional organizations, also include planning checklists for correctional facilities.InstitutionsGovernment officials have developed preparedness exercises with private-sector partners, and templates of the exercises are available for use by other interested groups. Business continuity guidance was developed and published on the government’s pandemic flu Web site.Interim guidance on environmental management and cleaning practices, including the handling of potentially contaminated waste materials, has been developed. The guidelines are intended for healthcare facilities, homes, schools, and businesses.Unfinished tasksEight of the tasks were not completed by the 6-month deadline, and the report notes that work on each is continuing. They include measures to:Draft a report analyzing the pros and cons of invoking the Defense Production Act to procure medical countermeasures during a pandemicImprove the speed of mortality surveillance through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting SystemEstablish a protocol for state governments on how to request federal military assistance under the Insurrection ActAdopt and test a planning and preparation model for emergency response systemsPublish interim guidance on environmental management of pandemic flu virusesPublish final pandemic planning guidelines for critical infrastructure owners and operatorsHelp critical infrastructure entities conduct collaborative exercises to test essential functions and identify critical planning, response, and mitigation needs.See also:Summary of progress, National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Planhttp://www.flu.gov/professional/federal/stratergyimplementationplan.htmlNational Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Planhttp://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/homeland/pandemic-influenza-implementation.htmlHHS Pandemic Influenza Planhttp://www.flu.gov/planning-preparedness/federal/hhspandemicinfluenzaplan.pdfDec 18 TFAH press releasehttp://healthyamericans.org/newsroom/releases/release121806.pdfNov 2006 AHRQ report “Providing mass medical care with scarce resources: a community planning guide”http://archive.ahrq.gov/research/mce/mceguide.pdflast_img read more

Bucksport football team going big on offense in 2019

first_img Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Bio Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at mmandell@ellsworthamerican.com. Latest Posts MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020center_img BUCKSPORT — Keeping up with the Bucksport offense has rarely been an easy task for opposing football teams over the years. Last season, the Golden Bucks made that task borderline unfair.Few teams in Maine high school football history have posted the sorts of numbers Bucksport did in 2018, a season in which the Golden Bucks averaged 48.2 points and surpassed the 50-point mark in five of their 10 contests. Loaded at every offensive position, Bucksport went 8-2 and finished the year as the Class D North runner-up.This season, the Bucksport offense has some shuffling to do at the skill positions as three key players, running backs Carter Tolmasoff and Luke Wardwell and wide receiver Tyson Gray, have graduated. Yet even if there are some uncertainties as to how the Golden Bucks can replace those players, the team has one thing that can give any offense a leg up: size.Everywhere from the backfield to the offensive line, this Bucksport team has bulk that would make even some mega-school powerhouses in football-crazed Florida, Ohio and Texas jealous. From the experienced veterans all the way down to the young newcomers, the Golden Bucks are set to tower over Class D North defenses when the regular season starts next week.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder text“We have a lot of kids who are very big and very strong,” Bucksport head coach Joel Sankey said. “When you look at the team we have this year, I think that’s going to be one of our biggest advantages.”At running back, Bucksport boasts three players who tip the scales at more than 200 pounds. Freshman Jaxon Gross is the Golden Bucks’ largest player at the position at 215 pounds, though sophomores Ty Giberson and Josh Miller are close behind at 210 and 205, respectively.Hard-nosed backs who play their roles as bruisers, Gross, Giberson and Miller also boast the strength needed to bowl over opposing defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties. That will give Bucksport a different look at running back in comparison to last year’s team, which used the blazing speed of Tolmasoff and Wardwell to run past Little Ten Conference foes.“They all bench 200-plus [pounds] and squat 400-plus [pounds],” senior offensive lineman David Gross said of the team’s three running backs. “It’s insane to be that strong at such young ages.”Bucksport’s Brady Findlay (left) and Aden Trinity run an option play play during high school football practice Aug. 23 at Bucksport High School. Bucksport’s offense averaged 48.2 points per game last season. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELLElsewhere, the Golden Bucks return much of the offensive line that paved the way for last year’s dominant rushing attack with Dawson Eaton joining 2018 starters Julian Shook, Owen Gaudreau, Gavin Billings and the elder Gross in the trenches. Gross (first-team offense) and Billings (second-team offense) were All-LTC selections last year, and Shook was a second-team selection at tackle in 2017.After an offseason of work in the weight room, Bucksport’s linemen are back even bigger and stronger than they were a year ago. Stifling the Golden Bucks on offense will require defenses to establish consistent penetration, and given the experience and stature of this offensive line, that might prove difficult.“We average like 250 pounds up front,” Gross said. “It’s crazy.”At tight end, Cameron Soper, the tallest player on offense at 6-foot-4, will add another dimension to the Golden Bucks’ blocking schemes. He’ll also be a weapon in the passing game for quarterback Brady Findlay, who has a full year as a starter under his belt after replacing Chase Carmichael, the LTC’s all-time leading passer, last season.“Brady’s looking very good,” Sankey said. “We’ve had success with quarterbacks here over the years, and he’s been one of those players for us. A lot of it comes down to timing patterns and the three-step drop, and Brady has really picked that up.”Bucksport’s first regular season game will be at home at 7 p.m. next Friday, Sept. 6, against Mattanawcook Academy. The two teams most recently met in the Class D North semifinals last season with the Golden Bucks exploding on offense in a 77-36 win.A showdown with Mattanawcook, another perennial threat in the LTC, will provide an ideal opening test for a Bucksport team looking to maintain momentum after three years of incremental improvements. It could also yield an early answer as to how much a dedicated offseason in the weight room has paid off for these Bucks.“We’ve had a lot of guys show up for us and buy in during the offseason, and our weights have gone up tremendously,” Gross said. “Football is finally here, and when you put in the work like we have not just in the summer but the spring, too, it just motivates you even more.” Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all)last_img read more

March 30, 1992: Sammy Sosa is traded to the Cubs, and his enigmatic baseball legacy begins

first_imgSosa was signed as a high-schooler out of the Dominican Republic, and made his debut at age 20 for the Rangers. He would be traded once to the White Sox for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique, and after a few years of disappointment with Chicago — and the White Sox determining they were a player away from really competing for a World Series — the South Side and North Side combined for a trade.MORE: 20 things you might not remember about Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout gameSosa went on to hit more than 600 home runs in his career, while Bell, an established major league outfielder, would have two really bad seasons with the White Sox before retiring. There’s really not much of a debate as to who won the trade, even if it seemed like the right deal at the time for the South Siders.But more than anything, Sosa’s legacy isn’t — or shouldn’t — solely be defined by his alleged steroid use. Of course, Sosa was part of the summer that saved baseball in 1998, when his home run chase with Mark McGwire resulted in fans coming back to the sport to watch them chase Roger Maris’ home run record. (Lest we forget, Ken Griffey Jr. finished with 56 long balls that season, too).While Sosa’s dominance was confined over a six-year stretch, you literally cannot tell the history of baseball without him, which is why his Hall of Fame candidacy — or lack thereof — has been so confusing. For some reason, the history of the summer of ’98 tends to focus solely on McGwire. While he ended the season with 70 big flys, Sosa, too, broke the single-season home run record that year.Sure, some of that is semantics, because McGwire got there first, but Sosa still finished the season with 66 homers, which is, frankly, a lot. And it was, in fact, a broken record.MORE: Remembering Jimmy Wynn — and two tape-measure home runs On this day in 1992, Sammy Sosa still had dark skin.While the former slugger’s skin pigmentation has taken a turn for the obscure, this day in history hasn’t: because it was the day Sosa and reliever Ken Patterson were traded to the Cubs for George Bell. Only eight players in baseball history have more career home runs than Slammin’ Sammy and, in hindsight, he’s being unfairly punished for juicing when steroids are arguably what saved baseball in the ’90s. People tend to focus on the negative of Sosa’s career (the congressional hearing, the Mitchell report) more than what he did (brought fans back).Sosa got a small bump in voting percentage this past cycle, climbing to 13.9 percent — the highest his percentage has been. But he has two more years on the ballot and is roughly 60 percentage points away from election, so he’ll likely face the same fate as McGwire and live out his eligibility on the ballot before falling off.But Sosa, like McGwire before him, deserves better. And while his career leaves behind something of an enigmatic legacy, there’s no denying that that legacy started on this day 28 years ago.last_img read more