Pennsylvania: Biden chips away at Trump’s lead with votes still left to tally.

first_imgWinning Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would clinch the election for Mr. Biden, who used his Scranton roots in an appeal to win back the once-blue state that broke for Mr. Trump in 2016. Mr. Trump has aggressively challenged voting procedures in the state and is suing to halt the counting of ballots that were cast before the deadline, among other legal challenges.- Advertisement – City election officials have not provided an update as to when they will finish counting ballots, but the collar counties around Philadelphia, including Bucks County and Montgomery County, are getting closer to a full count.Workers spent the night tallying a backlog of more than one million absentee and mail-in votes, and state officials said they expected a clearer picture to emerge with the release of more results. Mr. Biden trailed Mr. Trump by about 115,000 votes as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania Democrats are growing increasingly confident that when all the votes are counted, Joseph R. Biden Jr. will have a significant lead of more than 100,000 votes. At a news conference Thursday morning in Philadelphia, Sharif Street, a state senator and vice chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said that the party thinks Mr. Biden could win by as much as 190,000 votes in the state, driven in large part by the number of votes still being counted in Philadelphia. – Advertisement – Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, condemned the legal maneuvers.“Our election officials at the state and local level should be free to do their jobs without intimidation or attacks,” Mr. Wolf said in a statement. “These attempts to subvert the democratic process are disgraceful.”Mr. Biden is expected to gain significant ground in Philadelphia and its suburbs, where vote counters were working around the clock to sort through hundreds of thousands of uncounted votes. A number of ballots also remain in more conservative counties, giving the Trump campaign hope.- Advertisement – If the race comes down to the wire, the fate of thousands of provisional ballots set to be counted next week might also be in play. Many voters who requested mail-in ballots but decided to vote in person instead and did not bring their mail ballots with them to be “spoiled,” or rendered unusable, were given provisional ballots, said Bethany Hallam, a member of the elections board of Allegheny County. At least one Republican lawsuit was filed to throw out certain provisional ballots, and Ms. Hallam expects more are coming.Mr. Trump “sent his entire legal team to Pennsylvania to try to invalidate legal votes in whatever way possible,” Ms. Hallam said. On Thursday, the Trump campaign held a brief news conference outside the Convention Center, celebrating a court order that allowed for their observers to more closely watch the ballot counting in Philadelphia. City officials quickly filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which resulted in a brief pause in the count in Philadelphia. But it was quickly resumed. The state Supreme Court has not issued a decision as to whether they would accept or deny the appeal. – Advertisement –last_img read more

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Barrel Quick Start Grill gets charcoal ready in 6 minutes and doesn’t need lighter fluid » Gadget Flow

first_img– Advertisement – The Barrel Quick Start Grill ignites the charcoal for you in six to seven minutes! It is a seriously fast, easy, efficient, and safe way to start charcoal uniformly. And without the use of lighter fluid, gas, or any other chemical. All you have to do is make a layer of charcoal and plug in the grill. Then, in six to seven minutes, you can start cooking. There is a specially made powerful lithium battery that is available for this grill, so it can be used to cook anywhere. This battery can ignite the charcoal four times before needing to be recharged. It is great for camping, tailgating, the beach, and etc. The Barrel Quick Start Grill combines convenience with great charcoal or wood-grilled taste.last_img read more

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WateLves Under-$30 Plush Slippers Are Perfect for Indoors and Beyond

first_imgThese slippers include memory foam in the sole, which is ideal for supporting the foot with plenty of plushy comfort. Unlike most slippers, they aren’t fully flat. These shoes have a slight heel, which provides ample arch support. The most important detail here is that the sole is super thick, which is why you can wear them outside with ease!The design of these slippers is adorable. The outer part has a sophisticated cable knit layer, and the inside is lined with the best faux fur available, which peeks out of the top to create the upscale appearance.WateLves Women's Memory Foam Plush Fleece Lined SlippersAmazonWateLves Women’s Memory Foam Plush Fleece Lined Slippers- Advertisement – See it!Get the WateLves Women’s Memory Foam Plush Fleece Lined Slippers for prices starting at $19, available at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 9, 2020, but are subject to change.If you already have a go-to pair of slippers, these will make a perfect gift for anyone who craves extra coziness. They’re super affordable, and have won over the hearts of so many reviewers — so they’re bound to be a hit! Plus, there’s no shame in snagging a pair of yourself — even if your slipper collection is already big enough. They will quickly become a staple in your winter wardrobe!See it: Get the WateLves Women’s Memory Foam Plush Fleece Lined Slippers for prices starting at $19, available at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 9, 2020, but are subject to change.Not what you’re looking for? Check out more styles from WateLves and shop all of the clothing, shoes and jewelry available at Amazon! Don’t forget to check out all of Amazon’s Daily Deals here!Check out more of our picks and deals here!This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful, such as face masks, self tanners, Lululemon-style leggings and all the best gifts for everyone in your life. Product and service selection, however, is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post.The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. In addition, Us Weekly receives compensation from the manufacturer of the products we write about when you click on a link and then purchase the product featured in an article. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at ShopWithUs@usmagazine.com. Happy shopping! Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.Fun fact: Slippers don’t have to be worn exclusively inside the house. If they’re durable enough and built to withstand multiple surfaces, you can rock your favorite pair of slippers pretty much anywhere!- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Of course, we’re not suggesting you don your house shoes for the office or a fancy dinner party. But if you’re just popping out for a quick trip to the store or even having a casual lunch with friends, why not be as relaxed as possible? This pair of slippers from WateLves was made to be worn in all circumstances — plus, shoppers say they’re some of the most comfortable slippers they own!WateLves Women's Memory Foam Plush Fleece Lined SlippersWateLves Women’s Memory Foam Plush Fleece Lined Slippers AmazonSee it!Get the WateLves Women’s Memory Foam Plush Fleece Lined Slippers for prices starting at $19, available at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 9, 2020, but are subject to change.- Advertisement –last_img read more

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Leitners Ad Maiora futuristic hybrid smartwatch blends elegance and practicality » Gadget Flow

first_img– Advertisement – If you love classic mechanical watches, you’re also going to love the Leitners Ad Maiora futuristic hybrid smartwatch. Blending traditional mechanics with smart technology, this hybrid timepiece is elegant and practical. Using a premium automatic movement, this smartwatch stands above others that use Quartz movements. Additionally, the Ad Maiora has a full-dial E-Ink display, whereas many other hybrid smartwatches have small, compromised, or no displays. So this futuristic hybrid smartwatch is a cut above the rest and redefines the automatic watch by incorporating smart functions. This gorgeous timepiece can wake you in the morning with its alarm, monitor your exercise with its activity tracker, and keep you healthy with its sleep monitor. But that’s not all: it’ll keep you connected to your e-mails and listening to your favorite music. With superluminova, the time it displays is visible even at night. Enjoy a gorgeous timepiece with intelligent features and integrated mechanics.last_img read more

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Public and private actions of the Trump official blocking Biden transition say two different things

first_img– Advertisement – Murphy’s obstruction is becoming more dangerous by the day, with the likely release of tens of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine presenting a huge logistical challenge for the incoming administration. Dr. Anthony Fauci warned in multiple interviews over the past few days: “We want a smooth process with [vaccine distribution] and the way you do that is by essentially having the two groups speak to each other and exchange information,” likening it to passing a baton in a relay race without breaking stride.But Murphy doesn’t think the entire nation deserves as much preparation for a change of power as she personally does. Murphy “recently sent that message to an associate inquiring about employment opportunities in 2021,” ABC News reports. It would seem she plans to be looking in Trumpworld since the kind of notoriety she’s drawing for her refusal to ascertain Biden’s victory and allow the transition isn’t likely to be an asset in too many other places.“Here’s somebody who refuses to sign the letter of transition but is self-dealing at the same time,” Rep. Gerry Connolly told ABC News. “That’s a de facto recognition that there’s an incoming administration, and it’s not called Trump—it’s called Biden.”- Advertisement –last_img read more

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Governors group issues pandemic planning guide for states

first_imgJul 19, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The role of state officials in an influenza pandemic has been hazy, but the focus became clearer yesterday when the National Governors Association (NGA) released a guide that spells out key planning issues for top state officials.The guide, Preparing for a Pandemic Influenza: A Primer for Governors and Senior State Officials, was released during a telephone news conference. It was produced for the NGA by Stephen Prior, PhD, who is founding research director at the National Center for Critical Incident Analysis in Washington, DC. Prior is an expert on the medical response to biological weapons and bioterrorism.The primer isn’t a template for a pandemic plan; rather, it walks governors through the considerations they need to keep in mind when forming a plan. For example, in addition to coordinating healthcare during a disease outbreak, state officials may have to curb disease spread by restricting public gatherings, limiting travel, and closing schools.Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said at the news conference that a pandemic presents states with a set of challenges that are much different than a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina. Napolitano, coleader of the NGA’s pandemic and avian flu efforts, said states wouldn’t be able to draw from nationwide resources during a pandemic as the Gulf states did after Katrina.Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have warned states not to rely solely on the federal government for help during a pandemic. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, coleader of the NGA pandemic and avian flu initiatives, said at the news conference, “I think that’s a fair and realistic warning.” He said states have equal or lead responsibilities in planning for and responding to a pandemic.The overall theme of the pandemic primer is state self-reliance. Examples include increasing food storage at government facilities such as schools and prisons and stockpiling key equipment and supplies such as masks, ventilators, and antiviral medications. According to the guide, the main goals for states are to:Continue essential state servicesManage medical resources, such as prioritizing who will receive antiviral medicationsWork with the private sector to ensure that critical operations and services such as power and food supplies are maintainedForge and test key partnershipsStates are urged to develop plans now to continue state government operation during a pandemic. Telecommuting may be a way to keep essential state services going, but the report says officials will need to test plans now and ensure that they have enough bandwidth or server capacity to allow such a workforce arrangement. The report also suggests government and private sector telecommuting as tool that may be useful for social distancing purposes.Governors are advised to establish broad coordinating committees that represent all sectors having a role to play, including public safety, healthcare, critical service industries, and volunteer organizations. The purpose of the committee is to coordinate health resource delivery, maintain personnel and equipment supplies, and continue critical services.Legal issues that arise during a pandemic are detailed, along with some suggestions for reviewing state laws. For example, state laws about activity restrictions or quarantine may be needed to curb the spread of the disease; however, differences between state laws may make enforcement difficult at the regional level. In April 2005 President Bush signed an executive order that extends federal quarantine regulations to cover novel or reemergent flu strains capable of causing a pandemic. However, other situations may require individual state or local action, such as restricting public transportation or limiting public gatherings. Procedures on health credentialing should also be reviewed to see if they allow health providers from other states to provide care during an emergency.Public education campaigns and other communications strategies are another major focus of the report. “Public education campaigns should be developed now to enhance the public’s understanding of pandemic flu and build a trusted relationship with the response community,” said the author. To build greater support for pandemic plans, state officials should heavily involve citizens.Pawlenty said in an NGA press release about the report that thorough pandemic preparations will have wide-ranging benefits. “Done well, pandemic flu planning will help the nation become better prepared for all types of hazards,” he said.See also:NGA report on pandemic preparationsNGA press release on pandemic preparation reportlast_img read more

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Tests indicate mild H5N1 virus in ducks in 2 states

first_imgSep 5, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Mallard ducks in Maryland tested positive for low-pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza, and initial tests pointed to the same findings in Pennsylvania mallards, federal officials said late last week.Tests ruled out the lethal form of H5N1 virus that has spread through birds in much of Asia and parts of Europe and Africa in the past 3 years, officials said.In Maryland, researchers from Ohio State University had collected fecal samples from mallards in Queen Anne’s County on the state’s eastern shore in early August, according to a news release from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Department of the Interior (DOI). Because the mallards showed no signs of sickness, the samples were not rushed and were received by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, Aug 24. On Aug 31, nine samples tested positive for an H5N1 virus. Subsequent genetic analysis suggested that the virus was similar to low-pathogenic strains that have been found previously in North America.A similar North American strain was confirmed just days earlier in two wild swans in Michigan. Low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses are common in wild birds and typically cause minor illness or no signs of disease. The mild form of H5N1 poses no threat to humans, the USDA said.In the Pennsylvania situation, the USDA and DOI announced Sep 2 that initial mallard samples taken by state game personnel were positive for the H5 and N1 avian flu subtypes. Testing ruled out the possibility of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain in the mallards and indicated that the birds likely have the mild strain, the agencies said.Officials said that two different viruses, one containing H5 (hemagglutinin type 5) and the other containing N1 (neuraminidase type 1), may be present. Tests to clarify whether one or more strains of the virus are present are underway at the NVSL.The ducks were sampled on Aug 28 in Crawford County, in Pennsylvania’s northwestern corner, by state game personnel in collaboration with the USDA’s expanded wild bird testing program. The birds showed no signs of sickness.The NVSL will continue testing mallard samples from the two states to determine the pathogenicity of the viruses. Results are expected in about 2 weeks.Wild birds are known to harbor many influenza viruses, and it’s not unusual to find low-pathogenic strains during routine testing, the federal agencies noted.Mallards are commonly hunted, and though there is no known health risk to hunters or their dogs from contact with LPAI virus strains, the USDA and DOI recommend that hunters use common-sense sanitation and cooking procedures when handling or preparing any kind of wild game.In other news, the lethal H5N1 strain has surfaced again in poultry in Egypt, 3 months after the last human case was reported, according to a report today from Agence France-Presse (AFP). Egypt’s agriculture ministry confirmed that a new case was found on a poultry farm in Egypt’s southern Sohag province, about 305 miles south of Cairo.All poultry on the farm were slaughtered, and people who had been in contact with the infected birds were being tested, the report said.Meanwhile, China is still working on a protocol to share its H5N1 virus samples from poultry with the international scientific community, according to a Reuters report today. Agriculture minister Li Jinxiang told reporters at a news briefing that special procedures are needed when viruses are shipped abroad and that government officials were still working out the details. He said Beijing wanted to conform with World Health Organization (WHO) standards for the transfers.China has not submitted any avian flu samples since late 2004, the Reuters report said.A WHO official said China has not yet kept a promise it made last March to provide up to 20 H5N1 virus samples for analysis in WHO-linked laboratories, according to an AFP report published today.”The logistical arrangements are there to ship those viruses,” Julie Hall, a disease expert in the WHO’s Beijing office, was quoted as saying. “I don’t fully understand why the viruses at this stage haven’t been shared.”Hall said the viruses are needed for the development of vaccines and drugs. “China is very important to the jigsaw puzzle,” she added. “It has a lot of detailed information.”See also:Sept 1 USDA and DOI press release on low-pathogenic H5N1 findings in Maryland mallardsSept 2 USDA and DOI press release on H5 and N1 subtypes in Pennsylvania mallardslast_img read more

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Odd twist in TB alert: Patient is TB researcher’s son-in-law

first_imgMay 31, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – As information piled up in the case of a man with a rare and dangerous form of tuberculosis (TB) who took multiple international air trips, it was revealed today that he is a lawyer and the son-in-law of a microbiologist who studies TB at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).The patient, who has extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB), was identified in news reports today as Andrew H. Speaker, 31, an Atlanta lawyer. This afternoon, the CDC issued a news release in which Robert C. Cooksey, a research microbiologist in the CDC’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, announced that he is Speaker’s father-in-law and said Speaker did not contract TB from him or from CDC labs.Speaker became the subject of the CDC’s first forcible isolation order since 1963 after he returned to the United States from a wedding trip to Europe that involved not only two transatlantic flights but also several international flights in Europe. His case has also triggered a hunt for airline passengers who may have been exposed to XDR TB.The CDC announced on May 29 that Speaker, acting against medical advice, had flown from Atlanta to Paris on May 12 and from Prague to Montreal on May 24, thereby putting dozens of fellow passengers at risk for the dangerous infection. At that point health officials knew he had multidrug-resistant TB but didn’t know it was XDR TB, according to the CDC.After he returned from Canada to the United States by car, the CDC reached him by phone, and he voluntarily went to a hospital in New York City, where he was ordered into isolation. The CDC subsequently flew him to Atlanta, where he was held in isolation at a hospital. A CBS News report today said Speaker has been taken to National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, which specializes in respiratory diseases.Cooksey, in the CDC statement today, said he is a 32-year CDC veteran and studies a wide range of bacteria, including those that cause TB. “As part of my job, I am regularly tested for TB,” he stated. “I do not have TB, nor have I ever had TB. My son-in-law’s TB did not originate from myself or the CDC’s labs, which operate under the highest levels of biosecurity.”I wasn’t involved in any decision my son-in-law made regarding his travel, nor did I ever act as a CDC official or in an official CDC capacity with respect to any of the events of the past weeks,” he continued.”As a parent, frequent traveler, and biologist, I well appreciate the potential harm that can be caused by diseases like TB. I would never knowingly put my daughter, friends or anyone else at risk from such a disease.”XDR TB is described as TB that is resistant to the two most important first-line TB drugs (isoniazid and rifampin) and the two most important second-line drugs (a fluoroquinolone and an injectable agent—amikacin, kanamycin, or capreomycin), according to the CDC. The agency says 49 cases of XDR TB occurred in the United States between 1993 and 2006.Both regular TB and XDR TB are believed to spread when TB bacilli from a person with the disease become aerosolized as a result of coughing, sneezing, speaking, or singing, the agency said. The bacilli can float in the air for several hours, and those who breathe them in can become infected. Patients may survive the disease if they have excellent medical care, but it is often fatal where medical care is limited, the CDC has said.TB manifests itself slowly, and Speaker remains in apparent good health, according to the CDC and news reports. Officials said his infectiousness appears to be low (but not zero), since TB bacilli have not yet shown up in microscopic examination of his sputum.His infection was discovered in January when a chest x-ray obtained for unrelated reasons revealed a lesion in his right lung, CDC officials said during a news briefing yesterday. Subsequently a culture revealed that he had TB, and initial drug treatment proved ineffective, said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.In a meeting with Fulton County health officials and his doctors on May 10, Speaker was told that he had multidrug-resistant TB and was advised not to make his planned trip to Europe, Cetron said yesterday. But because of what CDC officials have called “compelling personal reasons,” he made the trip anyway. From an interview with the patient, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday that the purpose of the man’s trip was his wedding and honeymoon.While he was in Europe—on or around May 22—the CDC learned that Speaker had XDR TB, Cetron said yesterday. That led to frantic attempts to reach him and keep him from taking any more commercial flights. But officials failed to intercept him until he was back in the United States.Focus is on transatlantic flightsDuring yesterday’s briefing, the CDC filled in many details about Speaker’s airline flights and the overall sequence of events.Officials said the patient took five flights within Europe, in addition to his two transatlantic flights. However, the agency is focusing mainly on contacting those who were on the transatlantic flights, because the risk of TB transmission in short flights is much lower than on long flights.Previous investigations showed that “flights shorter than 8 hours in duration did not pose a significant risk, and so we’re really concentrating on those prolonged flights,” Cetron said.As reported previously, Speaker flew from Atlanta to Paris on Air France Flight 385 and from Montreal to Prague on Czech Air 0104.The Air France flight had 433 passengers and 18 crew members and may have lasted as long as 13 hours, Cetron reported. According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, passengers in the two rows fore and aft of a TB patient are most at risk for infection. That means about 40 to 50 passengers from that flight, plus the crew, are at risk, Cetron said.He said the patient probably sat “somewhere around row 51,” but investigators were still trying to pin down his seat number yesterday.Concerning the flight from Prague to Montreal, Canadian officials have obtained a passenger manifest and determined that the patient sat in seat 12C, Cetron said. He said the flight had 191 passengers and 9 crew members, and about 30 passengers would have been in the at-risk part of the cabin. That flight also lasted more than 8 hours.The CDC hopes to reach as many of the passengers as possible and advise them to undergo an initial TB test and a follow-up test 2 months later. But officials said that getting the passenger lists from the airlines and then tracking the passengers down is a slow, difficult process.As of yesterday, the agency hadn’t succeeded in finding any of the at-risk passengers through its own investigation, though some had begun to come forward as a result of news reports on the case, Cetron said.He noted that the CDC is currently working on new quarantine rules that would enable the agency to access electronic passenger manifests within 24 hours after a plane’s arrival. The regulations were proposed in November 2005 and have gone through a public comment period. “We hope to expedite and bring [the regulations] to closure very quickly,” Cetron said.Also during the briefing, Cetron listed the shorter flights Speaker took while in Europe: Paris to Athens on May 14, Air France 1232; Athens to a Greek island on May 16, Olympic Air 560; Nikonos to Athens on May 21, Olympic Air 655; Athens to Rome on May 21, Olympic Air 239; and Rome to Prague on May 24, Czech Air 0727.Many questions during the briefing focused on why Speaker wasn’t prevented from flying to Europe in the first place and why public health officials didn’t try to stop him before he returned to the United States.”I think there’s a difference of opinion about whether anybody condoned his travel,” Cetron said. “I think it’s very clear from the conversations we had with the health department that they clearly told him not to travel.” He said a “written affirmation” of the no-travel advice was prepared, but it arrived after he had left.Cetron said a CDC official reached the patient by phone when he was in Rome, told him about the XDR TB findings, and made clear in “no uncertain terms” that he should not fly commercially. At that point the agency was considering sending a plane to fly the man back to the US, among other options, he reported.But when a former CDC official who now works for an Italian health agency went to the patient’s hotel to give him more information, he was already gone, Cetron said.”It’s very unfortunate that this whole situation wasn’t prevented on the front end,” he commented.See also:Nov 2005 CIDRAP News story on proposed CDC quarantine rules pertaining to travelershttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/panflu/news/nov2205travelers.htmllast_img read more

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A shot in the arm for preparedness: Former CEO offers what’s needed to engage your CEO

first_imgIn epidemiology we have a saying: What gets counted, gets acted upon.Public health officials are far more likely to try to prevent or reduce the number of cases of disease X if we are actively looking for and tracking such cases. Not so the diseases we aren’t tracking (the common cold, for example). No doubt the same principle holds true for your organization’s priorities. If your CEO makes something a priority, so does your company.The top two questions I hearIn all of my interactions with business preparedness staff around the world, regardless of the size or mission of the organization, the two questions I continually hear loud and clear are:How do I engage my CEO or executive suite in pandemic influenza preparedness as a priority?How do I sustain over time a commitment to the priority—and the flow of resources to support it?I understand how important the answers are, because I’ve seen the following scenario over and over: Preparedness “happens” when a CEO understands the profound toll a pandemic can exact on the organization’s business, employees, and customers and subsequently commits resources for ongoing planning efforts—even when competitors have all but dropped the preparedness ball. CEO awareness and commitment may not mean that the preparedness staff has a green light to do anything and everything it needs, but the organization is a far cry more prepared than others who lack CEO buy-in.A champion in the ring with youTake heart. You have a new and invaluable ally when you’re working with your executive team and, specifically, your CEO. His name is William Parrett, and he’s the former CEO of global professional services firm Deloitte Touche. Run now to the nearest bookstore or link to an Internet bookseller and purchase a copy of The Sentinel CEO: Perspectives on Security, Risk, and Leadership in a Post-9/11 World (Wiley: 2007). Better yet, buy a boxful so everyone on the organizational chart above you—all the way to the top—has a copy. It’s a riveting, and at 186 pages a manageable, read.This man has credentials—and authority. His career spanned nearly four decades as he served many large national and multinational businesses. He cofounded the Deloitte Global Financial Services Industry practice and served as its first chairman, and only recently stepped down as Deloitte’s CEO. Bill, as I have come to know him, understands firsthand the implications of catastrophic risks: He was in the World Trade Center in 1993 during the first terrorist attack on that building.Following the 9/11 attacks, Bill substantially increased Deloitte’s investment in security upgrades. But unlike many organizations, Deloitte took a broad approach to security risk and leadership. The firm didn’t just concern itself with natural disasters or terrorist attacks; it considered and responded toall of the possible dangers that lurk in our world. Bill’s book provides the behind-the-scenes thinking and action that went into Deloitte’s preparedness activities. It focuses on two broad issues that he considers “of compelling interest and significance”:The evolution of corporate security and risk management into an executive-level functionDealing with the unexpectedClear and compelling quotesFor those of us struggling to maintain the everyday activities of pandemic preparedness, plodding our way though the quagmire of others’ and our own pandemic fatigue, this book is welcomed new energy for what we do. Chapter 6, “Imagine the Unimaginable: Avian Flu” represents a clear and compelling warning shot across the bow of any CEO’s corporate ship. Here are a few examples from the book:Without mincing words, Bill states: “A full-blown avian influenza pandemic would exceed any recent crisis the world has faced.”In the subsection, “A question not of if but when,” he explains why the eventuality of a pandemic cannot be compared to the “fevered speculations of a global Y2K meltdown” that never materialized.Cutting straight to the heart of our dilemma, he notes: “Yet in many circles, the threat of a pandemic still seems remote and not terribly concerning. While most businesses have established plans to deal with natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and cybertheft, few have done anything to prepare for a pandemic.”He observes: “Strangely, there has been relatively little public discussion about the likely effect of a pandemic on business and commerce. A widespread flu outbreak would have the potential to cripple supply chains, decimate labor pools, and greatly diminish the ability of trading partners to meet scheduled obligations.”In short, an internationally respected former CEO suggesting to other CEOs that they have their “heads in the corporate sand” may be more powerful than any document or briefing you can provide your boss.I have had the good fortune to work with Bill and the security and preparedness staff at Deloitte. While I’m not going to tell you they have all the answers—nor would they—I remain impressed with the ongoing and truly thoughtful progress they are undertaking to better prepare their organization for the next pandemic. Bill’s book outlines some of those activities.The gift of insightSo, in a world where business-related pandemic planning seems to get harder to pursue every day due to waning concern and interest, Bill Parrett’s book is a gift. It helps readers frame how pandemic preparedness must fit into the entire corporate picture of security, risk, and leadership, and it gives us the language to drive home the point.I can only hope that this book makes theNew York Times business bestseller list soon. Do everything you can to make that happen, and just maybe your CEO will take more interest in what you are doing in the trenches to prepare your company to survive.—Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, is Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP), Editor-in-Chief of the CIDRAP Business Source, Professor in the School of Public Health, and Adjunct Professor in the Medical School, University of Minnesota.last_img read more

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Lab lapses sparked anthrax false alarm in Idaho

first_imgSep 11, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Cross-contamination of clinical specimens in two Idaho hospital laboratories that were conducting proficiency tests triggered brief concern about a potential anthrax attack in 2006, underscoring the value of proper lab practices, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Two clinical specimens from two different hospital labs were found on the same day to contain Bacillus anthracis. But both labs at the time were testing their ability to detect pathogens that bioterrorists might use, and the organisms turned out to be a nonvirulent anthrax strain used in those tests, according to the article in the Sep 12 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.”The two reports resulted briefly in alerts to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and precautionary treatment of one of the patients for anthrax,” the report says.In one case, the Utah Public Health Laboratories (UPHL) detected B anthracis in a specimen that had initially been tested in a southern Idaho hospital lab. The hospital lab had sent the specimen, from a man who had suffered a dog bite, to a commercial lab, which ran morphologic tests and sent the sample on to the UPHL.On Jul 18 the Utah lab determined that the sample contained B anthracis and notified the FBI and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare of the finding, which led to notification of the patient and his healthcare provider.However, direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests by the Utah lab indicated the anthrax strain was nonvirulent. The UPHL sent a sample to the CDC, which determined on Jul 24 that the organism was the Sterne strain of B anthracis, a nonvirulent strain used in animal vaccines and lab proficiency tests.In the second case, a hospital lab in another part of Idaho suspected anthrax in a specimen taken from a man who had an inflamed incision from hand surgery. The hospital sent the sample to the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories (IBL), which found an organism “phenotypically consistent” with B anthracis. DFA and PCR results, however, were the same as in the first case.The IBL received the isolate Jul 18, the same day the Idaho health department was notified of the first case. “Because two possible anthrax cases had been reported on the same day, the possibility of a bioterrorist act was considered briefly; however, the PCR results of case 1 suggesting a Sterne strain made this possibility seem less likely,” the report says.The second patient’s surgeon was informed of the anthrax test result and referred him to an infectious disease specialist, who started precautionary treatment for anthrax. Meanwhile, the state health department told the FBI about the case. The IBL conferred with the CDC and determined it was not necessary to send the isolate for further analysis.A follow-up investigation revealed that the IBL had sent proficiency test samples containing the Sterne strain to the two hospital labs and other Idaho sentinel labs on Jul 12. In case 1, the hospital lab manager concluded that the patient specimen arrived and was set up for culture on the last day of work on the testing sample, but no other details were learned. In the second case, a hospital lab worker reported that the patient specimen and the proficiency sample were set up for culture in the same biosafety cabinet within minutes of each other.The exact mechanism of cross-contamination could not be determined for either case, the report says. But investigators learned that the Sterne strain “was isolated from the patient specimens only after broth enrichment of wound specimens, a practice generally not considered appropriate for nonsterile sites such as wounds.””This report underscores the need to use good laboratory practices to minimize cross-contamination of specimens during set up and analysis, not only when dealing with proficiency samples, but also during daily operation with patient specimens,” the CDC states.In addition, the report says that reference labs and epidemiologists should be notified when proficiency samples are being sent to sentinel labs in their areas. In particular, public health epidemiologists who monitor reportable diseases should be notified when lab proficiency testing is scheduled so they can be alert for potential cross-contamination, while maintaining vigilance for real biologic threats, the CDC advises.CDC. Cross-contamination of clinical specimens with Bacillus anthracis during a laboratory proficiency test—Idaho, 2006. MMWR 2008 Sep 12;57(36):993-5 [Full text]last_img read more

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