Home Coronavirus EDM Friday Briefing: CDC Says Current Coronavirus Risk in US Is Low
EDM Friday Briefing: CDC Says Current Coronavirus Risk in US Is Low

EDM Friday Briefing: CDC Says Current Coronavirus Risk in US Is Low


Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 28, 2020: The CDC notes that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low, but admits the disease is still likely to spread; a massive water main break in Houston caused widespread flooding and a boil water alert for residents; multiple agencies are preparing for an emergency shelter disaster drill in Carson City; officials have identified the five victims of the Molson Coors workplace shooting that occurred in Milwaukee; a Swiss town may need to evacuate for at least a decade to remove a WWII weapons cache; state grant funding has increased the number of emergency shelter spaces and made schools in the St. John's County School District more resilient to disasters; an after-action report of the response to the Kilauea volcanic eruption in 2018 reveals gaps in information sharing due to ad hoc conversations; and the UK is bracing for its third storm this month amid ongoing, widespread and devastating flooding.

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1) At a congressional hearing on Wednesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that although the risk of contracting the coronavirus remains low in the U.S., the virus is still likely to spread. CDC officials noted that more work will need to be done to control the outbreak, and quarantines and travel restrictions could still be implemented. Health officials stated that the best way to avoid contracting any virus is through frequent and thorough hand washing, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and for people to remain at home when they are not feeling well.

2) A massive water main break in Houston, Texas, on Thursday quickly led to flooded roadways and neighborhoods, along with a request for residents to conserve water. The incident occurred on Clinton Drive and involved an eight-foot water main that broke and quickly flooded roadways, underpasses, and neighborhoods. Officials say that the water main break highlighted the need for critical infrastructure improvements across the city. Houston schools were closed, trucks were used to rescue drivers stranded in their cars amid floodwaters, and a boil water alert was issued for area residents.

3) Multiple emergency management and other public and disaster relief agencies in Carson City, Nevada, are preparing for a shelter drill that is set to take place on March 18. The drill is a collaborative effort between emergency managers from Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, and Storey counties and the Red Cross -- a disaster training event that has taken months to plan. The plan is to fully activate emergency shelters for evacuees and their pets, in order to test the sheltering capacity and the ability of the shelters to provide support services to the community in the event of a real disaster.

4) Officials have identified the five victims of a workplace shooting at the Molson Coors facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The shooter, Anthony N. Ferrill, 51, opened fire just after 2:00 p.m. and killed five of his coworkers before turning the gun on himself. Police say the shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and company officials said there will be an extended closure of the brewery campus where the shooting took place.

5) The cleanup of a massive underground World War II weapons cache in Switzerland may force the evacuation of the town's residents for at least a decade. The 3,500-ton weapons cache is located in Mitholz, and the plan was established after officials deemed the site to be an unacceptable risk to area residents, a risk that allegedly had been underestimated for years. Currently, rock movement, temperature, and gas emissions are being monitored at the site, with the cleanup is expected to begin no later than 2031.

6) State funding helped the St. John's County School District in Florida to add more than 5,000 shelter places for area disasters. The projects also increased special needs shelter spaces, which require larger square footage. In addition, the work added resilience to the local school buildings -- such as impact-resistant windows -- to help them better withstand natural disasters, including hurricanes. The funding came from the Florida Department of Emergency Management's Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program and the Hurricane Shelter Relief Deficit Reduction Program.

7) An after-action report from Hawaii's Kilauea volcanic eruption in 2018 revealed gaps in communication, organization and data management. Ad hoc discussions, limited information sharing platforms, and limited resources to develop a common operating picture during a disaster of the length and magnitude of the eruption pointed to limited resources within the county's Civil Defense. The report also showed that much of the response was well coordinated, although safety issues emerged during the operation of emergency shelters, affecting evacuees.

8) A new storm is taking aim at the United Kingdom, and the Met Office has warned communities of the renewed threat of additional and continued flooding due to ground saturation. Various levels of flood warnings and alerts remain in effect for many towns and villages across England and Wales after recent storms caused widespread, devastating, and unprecedented flooding. The current forecast calls for up to at least three inches of heavy rainfall and winds of up to 70 mph from the new storm named Jorge on Saturday. Jorge is the third such storm to hit the region in February, which includes much of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.


Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.