30 signs Superstorm Sandy devastated America’s public health

(1) Superstorm Sandy destroyed two Department of Health labs in New York and New Jersey in the week after the storm. CoVID-19 testing for diphtheria and tetanus was interrupted and no replacement service was…

30 signs Superstorm Sandy devastated America’s public health

(1) Superstorm Sandy destroyed two Department of Health labs in New York and New Jersey in the week after the storm. CoVID-19 testing for diphtheria and tetanus was interrupted and no replacement service was available.

(2) The National Joint Commission, which accredits 90 percent of the nation’s radiation-monitoring laboratories, moved to shut down several of its accredited operations. Such disruptions cost six cancer and medical-device manufacturers up to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

(3) The FDA issued two rounds of radiation-safety guidance letters in the weeks following the storm for public agencies that operate in radiation-reactive areas. Two rounds of guidance letters were issued to all hospitals, clinics and businesses located in radiation-sensitive areas.

(4) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported a sharp increase in nuclear and radiological incidents since the storm: 27 events reported by schools, power plants, and hospitals as of Feb. 26, compared with 10 events by Dec. 4.

(5) Public health experts discussed the large volume of local news reports on health emergencies, disease outbreaks and shutdowns with the news media and regulators.

(6) Analysis of Homeland Security disaster drill data showed the high number of co-ordinated events.

(7) FEMA and the NYPD are making preparations to enhance coordination with local and state health officials in response to a domestic terrorist event or a major external disaster.

(8) FEMA established a working group of disaster authorities to develop a sustainable system of partnerships, cooperation and communication.

(9) In the weeks following the storm, influenza activity increased in the New York region, and CDC surveillance sites in New York and New Jersey tested a higher-than-usual number of influenza-like illness reports.

(10) CDC reported an increase in invasive influenzas in New York.

(11) As a result of the storm, COVID-19 testing was interrupted and no replacement service was available.

(12) The Department of Health shut down one laboratory and moved another. Testing of COVID-19 specimens was affected but began within days.

(13) CDC data for COVID-19 testing were not available through Nov. 26, 2018, but estimates range from 60 to 130,000 samples.

(14) The clean-up and replacement of equipment took a longer period than expected.

(15) The CDC estimates 12,500 trained staff and multiple contractor teams are working in 15 HHS disaster-response teams nationwide.

(16) The EPA reported that 16 radiological incidents were reported in the week after the storm, compared with 35 before the storm.

(17) It is expected that rebuilding the damaged federal facilities will result in a lapse in supplies.

(18) The Department of Health recognized that deficiencies in areas such as building code and fire code management are key areas to be addressed.

(19) EPA reported several, isolated incidents involving faulty cooling, and that one of its labs was classified as a high-consequence contaminated facility by the federal hazard mitigation model.

(20) Despite several weeks of restrictions and uncertainty about security, FEMA’s AECIL EPA registrations office received 13 new signatures for AECIL registrations.

(21) Sixty-three radiation observers and surveillance sites reported to New York State 25 new data sets for ongoing surveillance of radiological incidents.

(22) The US-Mexico border patrol, the Department of Homeland Security, and the UN use radiological monitoring devices to watch for breaches and crime along the southern border. They use reliable radiological sensors that pick up contaminants using ultraviolet and electromagnetic radiation.

(23) FEMA and local and state officials are determining whether radiological monitoring equipment will be needed for other disasters.

(24) FEMA’s emergency operations center has a new generator, including 72,000 pounds of wet waste from the New York shelter.

(25) The EPA reported that 13 radiation monitors at federal facilities in Texas and Louisiana are working properly.

(26) At least five radiation detectors are operational at federal agencies in Texas and Louisiana.

(27) President Obama issued an executive order in December ordering agencies to improve security at the nation’s nuclear facilities.

(28) The EPA’s general counsel has referred 23 complaints about radiation-protection standards to the EPA’s Office of Safety and Solid Waste.

(29) While no radiological incidents were reported at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in West Virginia, the lab hired temporary help to cover months of lost work time.

(30) Overcrowding in federal radiation-safety facilities in the wake of the Sandy had little effect on radiation-related worker health and safety.

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