Pandemic preparedness road show begins in Minnesota

first_imgDec 14, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – National health officials came to Minnesota today to launch what was billed as the first of 50 state pandemic influenza planning meetings around the nation, emphasizing the key roles of state and local governments as partners with the federal government.The general theme of the half-day conference was that much, if not most, of the real work of preparing for a pandemic must be done at the local and state levels.An audience that nearly packed the auditorium at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul heard that pandemic preparedness consists of much more than a plan on paper or an intention to stockpile antiviral drugs.”Hope is not a plan,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael O. Leavitt said, “A plan represents our aspiration; being prepared is what we’ve demonstrated in the context of an exercise.”Accordingly, he said HHS and Minnesota officials will conduct a joint tabletop pandemic preparedness exercise sometime in the next 6 months.State and local health officials made clear the need for preparations. In a pandemic, 260,000 people in the Twin Cities might be sick at the same time, and 10,000 may need to be hospitalized—far more than the area’s current surge capacity of 2,500 to 3,500 hospital beds, said Mark Lappe, metropolitan regional hospital resources coordinator.Federal officials came to listenLeavitt highlighted the mission of this and subsequent state-level meetings with three points: pandemics happen; they are difficult to discuss and anticipate; and the federal officials didn’t come to Minnesota to “impose” their ideas.”Any state, any community, or for that matter any citizen that failed to prepare, assuming the federal government will take care of them in a pandemic, they’re wrong,” Leavitt said.Leavitt tailored his presentation to Minnesota. He described historical accounts of the 1918 pandemic in his childhood home of Cedar City, Utah, as well as the spread of pandemic flu in Minnesota, where, he said, the virus sickened more than 75,000 people and killed nearly 12,000.”There is no rational reason to believe that things will be biologically different today than they were in 1918,” he said. It’s important for states to contemplate the cascading consequences of pandemic response now: for example, school closures will affect workplaces, movement restrictions will affect trade, and shortages of supplies will mean setting priorities.The federal government’s preparations and funding are a step toward the federal fulfillment of its role, Leavitt said. In 5 years, the nation could have new cell-based flu vaccines, end shortages of annual flu vaccine, and develop stockpiles of other medications and supplies.But he said the federal government cannot handle a flu pandemic alone. He illustrated his point with a computer model of a pandemic beginning in Thailand. The model showed it would spread to the United States in 30 days and become widespread in the country over 6 weeks.”A pandemic could be unfolding in every community in a nation, simultaneously. . . . We would likely be managing it on not just hundreds but thousands of fronts at the same time,” Leavitt said. “A response to a pandemic absolutely must be at a state and local level.”DHS emphasizes partnershipsJeff Runge, MD, chief medical officer for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), likened pandemic initiatives to increasing seatbelt use and decreasing drunk driving–federal efforts that succeeded only because of effective local actions.He also emphasized the role of partnerships among federal agencies and between federal, state, and local agencies.”It will take Homeland Security and public health working together as one” to respond effectively, Runge said. He likened the partnership to a three-legged race, in which agencies link up and develop the proper pace to cross the finish line.Runge also emphasized the importance of developing relationships now. “As we learned from Hurricane Katrina, catastrophic planning cannot take place in the midst of a disaster,” he said. He urged local and state officials to collaborate with DHS’s office of state and local government coordination.Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty said today’s event was an opportunity to “bring our best together to prepare for the worst.” He added that the invitees included representatives from faith and tribal communities, poultry growers, and others, while emphasizing the importance of nongovernmental preparations as well.”Dealing with a pandemic means every institution in society has a role to play,” Pawlenty said. “This is not just the government’s responsibility alone.”Julie Gerberding, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), described the threat posed by the H5N1 avian flu virus, now widespread in Asia. The virus has infected 138 people and killed 71 but has not found a way to spread easily from person to person. The virus’s acquisition of that ability would probably bring a pandemic.If that event happens in a relatively isolated rural area, Gerberding said, “There is a good chance that we could quench it.” But if it happens in an urban area, containment won’t be possible, she predicted.Vaccine and antiviral suppliesGerberding sketched HHS’s preparations involving vaccines and antiviral drugs. The goal is to amass enough of the prototype H5N1 vaccine to protect 20 million people—a tall order, given that it takes a much bigger dose of this vaccine than of ordinary flu vaccine to provide protection.HHS hopes to acquire 81 million treatment courses of antiviral drugs, mainly Tamiflu (oseltamivir), but has only about 4.3 million courses on hand now, Gerberding said.Later, Leavitt cautioned people not to pin too much hope on antivirals. “People have begun to equate preparedness with antivirals, and that’s a misnomer,” he said. “It’s not a certainty that Tamiflu or any antiviral will be a cure or be the key to prevention. . . . It’ll shorten the symptoms, but it’s not a solution.”He explained that HHS intends to allocate 50 million of the projected 81 million courses of antivirals to the states. A small part of the remainder (previously listed as 6 million doses) will be kept as an emergency reserve to keep the government running. The rest (pegged at 25 million courses) will be distributed to states that are willing to pay 75% of the cost.”If Minnesota decided its share [of the 50 million courses] wasn’t enough, we would be prepared to help them buy more antivirals and to subsidize it to the tune of 25%,” Leavitt explained.In a backgrounder on avian flu viruses, John Clifford, DVM, of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) explained that not all H5N1 viruses are to be feared. “Every H5N1 virus is not the same,” he said. “There’s an H5N1 virus in North America that’s low-pathogenic and that’s not the same as H5N1 in Asia.” The H and the N refer to just two of the flu virus’s eight genes, he said.If the dangerous H5N1 virus in Asia is going to reach North America, it will most likely travel in birds following the Alaska flyway, said Clifford, chief veterinarian for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.Wildlife officials have taken 12,000 samples from birds in Alaska in the past 7 years and have not seen the virus, Clifford said. Birds using the Atlantic flyway are also being tested, he added.If the Asian strain of H5N1 reaches US shores, the USDA’s goal will be to eradicate it, Clifford said. The agency has a stockpile of 40 million doses of avian flu vaccines for poultry, including 20 million doses that are effective against the H5N1 Asian strain, he added.Minnesota’s pandemic planMinnesota Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach said Minnesota was one of the first states to develop a pandemic plan, starting in 1999. She outlined a variety of measures under way or envisioned in the plan:For surveillance, the state has 27 hospitals and clinics that routinely report flu cases to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which is closely linked to the CDC, she said.The state legislature recently clarified state laws on isolation and quarantine.The MDH is working with local agencies around the state to make sure that people who would be isolated or quarantined in a pandemic would have access to essential services.The state would close or cancel public venues and events if necessary, including even church services. “We would discontinue church services, and that would be very, very difficult for many people,” Mandernach said.The MDH has a program to provide health information to the roughly 11% of Minnesotans who don’t understand or speak English. Called Emergency and Community Health Outreach (ECHO), the program provides messages in six languages.The state is tracking hospital resources and considering options for setting up and staffing overflow facilities.Last week state officials practiced how they would distribute a shipment of medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, a task that requires multiple approaches.One concern is a shortage of mechanical ventilators. “We do not have and will not have enough ventilators in Minnesota,” Mandernach said. “So it’s really going to be a matter of planning for and maximizing the use of resources.”She also called for individuals to prepare for a pandemic by taking steps such as stockpiling some water and food. “A two-way radio should be on our Christmas list this year,” she said.In conclusion, Mandernach said, “We are in a marathon, and there is no finish line. The day that we think we’re prepared is the day that we’ve lost the race.”Hospital infection control to be crucialLappe, the Minneapolis–St. Paul region’s hospital resource coordinator, was one of a long succession of local officials who spoke on their pandemic preparations. He said rigorous infection-control practices in hospitals will be an important part of coping with a pandemic. That means providing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff members and making sure they use it.Lappe predicted very heavy use of PPE in a pandemic. For example, he estimated that a hospital with 88 nurses who changed their gloves about every 10 minutes would go through 16,000 boxes of gloves in 8 weeks.He also said hospital staff members will need to make their own personal and family preparations for a pandemic. He estimated that only about 1% of the 4,500 employees at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis have begun preparing. “I feel we need to make it mandatory for staff to do something” to prepare for a pandemic, he said.George Gerlach, administrator of Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor in southwestern Minnesota, said the pandemic planning goal for expanding hospital surge capacity in his rural area seems nearly impossible.A few years ago, he said, hospitals in his 16-county region were advised to develop a surge capacity of 500 beds. That seemed “insurmountable” at first, but the region has made progress.”In contrast to the 500-patient surge capacity we’ve prepared for . . . the numbers for pandemic flu are overwhelming,” he said. “We’ve been advised to prepare for three to five times our current surge capacity” and to be able to maintain that level for several months.In other comments at the meeting, Gov. Pawlenty said Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of CIDRAP, which publishes this Web site, is organizing a “national business summit” on pandemic preparedness.David Olson, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said the business summit will be “a 2-day session in February where we’ll walk small, medium, and large companies through what they can do to prepare for this.”last_img read more

Update on the latest in sports:

first_imgPARIS (AP) — With discussions ongoing over whether the U.S. Open or the French Open can even take place later this year, a new digitally friendly tennis tournament starts Saturday in southern France with four Top 10-ranked players involved.Co-founder Patrick Mouratoglou hopes the Ultimate Tennis Showdown can change the way tennis is viewed by allowing a younger audience to access the raw feelings of players.The UTS features ATP Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas and U.S. Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini. There will be 10 players with matches every weekend for five weeks in a round robin format.Matches will be streamed live with organizers saying every sight and sound will be captured.DOPING DIACK TRIAL Associated Press June 8, 2020 Caldwell was awaiting sentencing this month after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, along with several other former NFL players. He also served prison time on a 2014 drug charge.COLLEGE BASKETBALL-GREEN BAY-RYANGreen Bay picks Ryan as new hoops coachGREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay is turning its men’s basketball program over to Will Ryan.Athletic director Charles Guthrie has announced that the school and the 41-year-old Ryan have agreed to a deal in principle, though final contract details are still being worked out. FOOTBALL-OBIT-CALDWELLReche Caldwell fatally shotTAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Former University of Florida and NFL wide receiver Reche Caldwell was fatally shot Saturday night in his hometown.Caldwell’s mother confirmed her son’s death to the Tampa Bay Times, saying police told her they believe her son was ambushed outside his home in a possible robbery attempt.Caldwell was drafted by San Diego in the second round in 2002. He had 152 catches for 1,851 yards and 11 touchdowns in six NFL seasons — four with the Chargers and one each with New England and Washington. The school has announced that Riley died early Sunday morning at 72. No cause of death was given.Riley was a four-year starting quarterback at Florida A&M and a Rhodes Scholar candidate before he was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the 1969 NFL/AFL draft. Moved to cornerback by head coach Paul Brown, Riley had 65 career interceptions for 596 yards and five touchdowns in a 15-year career with the Bengals. He also recovered 18 fumbles, and his interception total ranks fifth in NFL history.Although named a First Team All-Pro three times and a second teamer on two other occasions, Riley still hasn’t been elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite his impressive statistics. He landed on the All-Pro First Team in 1983, his final season.Riley coached the Rattlers from 1986-93, going 48-39-2 with two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles. He took A&M to the second-ever Heritage Bowl, losing to Grambling State in 1992.NFL-OBIT-ZOOK Ex-Falcons DE Zook diesATLANTA (AP) — Former NFL defensive end John Zook has died in his native Kansas after a long battle with cancer.Zook originally was taken by the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth round in 1969 but was subsequently traded to the Atlanta Falcons. He teamed with Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey to give the Falcons a dynamic combination at defensive end from 1969-75. Zook never missed a game during his tenure with the Falcons, starting 97 of 98 contests. He made his only Pro Bowl appearance in 1973, joining Humphrey in the all-star game.Zook played his last four seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals before retiring after the 1969 campaign.His brother, Dean Zook, confirmed the death to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. VIRUS OUTBREAK-MAYERBoxer Mayer tests positive for COVID-19, out of return boutUNDATED (AP) — Junior lightweight contender Mikaela Mayer has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been pulled from the co-main event of Las Vegas’ first major boxing card since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.Mayer announced her positive test on social media two days before her scheduled bout against Helen Joseph in the Top Rank show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.The former U.S. Olympian is asymptomatic but says she tested positive for the virus on Saturday. The rest of Mayer’s camp has tested negative, including her longtime coach. Update on the latest in sports: Harvick turned in another dominating run at Atlanta Motor Speedway, cruising to victory over Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. Harvick won for the second time since NASCAR returned from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, adding to his emotional victory at Darlington in the first race back.Harvick came into the day having led 1,138 laps on the 1.54-mile Atlanta trioval, far more than any other driver in the 40-car field.He now has 51 wins — breaking a tie with Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson for the 12th spot on the career list. Three of those triumphs have come at Atlanta Motor Speedway, including in 2001 and 2018.Busch ended up second, followed by Truex, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin. Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was seventh in what may have been his final Atlanta appearance. Johnson plans to retire as a driver after the season.NASCAR acknowledged the social unrest in the country and vowed to do a better job of addressing racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The son of former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan comes to Green Bay after posting a 14-13 record in his lone season as the head coach at Division II program Wheeling in West Virginia.COLLEGE FOOTBALL-IOWA-STRENGTH COACHIowa coach denies racial misconductIOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle denies any “unethical behavior or bias” based on race.Several black former players posted on social media Friday night about issues they saw in the football program, attributing many of them to Doyle. He was placed on administrative leave Saturday, part of a decision made by coach Kirk Ferentz in what he called “a defining moment” for Iowa’s football program. NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed drivers and teams on the track before the race, saying. “The black community and all people of color have suffered in our country, and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better.”Bubba Wallace donned a black T-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter.” Wallace is the only African American in the top-level series.FOOTBALL-OBIT-RILEYFormer Bengals star Ken Riley dead at 72ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Ken Riley was a ball-hawk defensive back in the NFL before serving as a head coach and athletic director at his alma mater, Florida A&M. In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic:— Sports fans again will be able to fill stadiums in New Zealand after the government removed restrictions on public gatherings imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand will move from midnight Monday to alert level 1 under which life returns almost to normal, though border restrictions remain in force. New Zealand has succeeded in eradicating the coronavirus; as of Monday it had no active cases of Covid-19 and hadn’t recorded a new infection for 17 days.— Spanish league president Javier Tebas said Sunday he is in favor of having fans back in stadiums as soon as regions are cleared by health authorities. However, that contradicts an earlier message by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who said it wouldn’t be fair for some clubs to have fans and others not. Spain has been gradually lifting confinement restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some regions have entered advanced stages that could allow them to have matches with at least some fans in the stadiums.TENNIS-NEW TOURNAMENTNew tennis tournament in France aiming for younger audience Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNASCAR-ATLANTAHarvick wins as NASCAR recognizes social unease following death of FloydHAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — Kevin Harvick is a winner at the site of his first NASCAR Cup victory. Massive sports corruption case finally heard at Paris trialPARIS (AP) — A sports corruption trial involving allegations of doping cover-ups and illicit payoffs at the top of track and field has opened in Paris.In six days of hearings, the court is due to hear evidence that Russian athletes paid millions of dollars to hide their suspected doping so they could compete at the Olympics in 2012 and other competitions.Lamine Diack, who served as president of the sport’s governing body for nearly 16 years, is one of the alleged recipients of the payments. The 87-year-old Diack was present in court today, wearing a white face mask.last_img read more