Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Unknown Virus Closes 46 Schools in Colorado
EDM Friday Briefing: Unknown Virus Closes 46 Schools in Colorado

EDM Friday Briefing: Unknown Virus Closes 46 Schools in Colorado


Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 22, 2019: Sydney is blanketed in thick, heavy smoke for the fourth day as bushfires rage; multiple counties in Oregon receive generators just ahead of the winter season; two Air Force pilots were killed during a training exercise in Oklahoma; a Philippine Airlines flight makes an emergency landing after it suffered engine failure on take off out of Los Angeles International Airport; three officers were attacked when they confronted a suspect in a restricted area at McCarren International Airport; 46 schools in Colorado are closed for a second day due to an unknown virus outbreak; an eleven state hepatitis A outbreak may be linked to blackberries sold at Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets; and more than 1,000 patients may have been exposed to communicable diseases at a hospital in Indiana.

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1) Thick, heavy smoke from raging bushfires blanketed Sydney in New South Wales, Australia for the fourth day in a row. The heavy, particle-filled smoke has jettisoned air quality levels to the worst ever recorded, and the unprecedented levels have pushed the city into the top 10 in the global pollution index--a very rare occurrence. Dust and smoke has also reduced visibility to 100 meters in some places, and the streets are deserted as people remain indoors to avoid the thick, heavy, dust-filled smoke.

2) Multiple counties in Oregon will be able to respond to storms and other natural disasters more effectively with new generators they have received--just before winter kicks into full gear. The generators were purchased through a Resiliency Grant Fund, and will help supply power--and thus heat--to shelters, hospitals, and homes during disasters and natural weather events, such as snowstorms. Emergency management officials are also asking residents to be sure they are as prepared as possible for the coming winter season and potential power outages by ensuring they have identified any gaps in their supplies or plans--both at home and at work.

3) Two Air Force pilots were killed in a training mishap in Oklahoma. The incident occurred Thursday morning at around 9:10 a.m. at the Vance Air Force Base, when one of two T-38 training planes involved in a training mission, crashed during landing, turned upside down, and the nose broke off. This is the first fatality at the base since 2000, and the investigation into the crash could take up to two months.

4) A Philippine Airlines flight returned to Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday just after take off when one of its engines caught fire, prompting the pilots to make a mayday call to air traffic control. Flight #113, a Boeing 777, departed LAX at 11:38 a.m., bound for Manila with 342 passengers and 18 crew on board, when on take off, the right engine caught fire and failed. The pilots declared an emergency and returned immediately to the airport, however, since the aircraft had full fuel and passengers, the rough landing, coupled with the weight, blew the tires.

5) An officer-involved shooting occurred in a restricted area at McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas Thursday morning. The suspect--who reportedly had gained access to the airport tarmac--attacked three officers and knocked one unconscious, when they approached him for being in a restricted area of the airport. After attacking the officers, he was shot by police and was being treated at University Medical Center for related injuries.

6) A virus outbreak closed 46 schools in Colorado on Thursday and Friday. Officials in the Mesa County Valley School District 51, located near Grand Junction, closed the 46 schools due to an unknown virus that has spread rapidly through the school system. According to school officials, the virus is highly contagious, and that coupled with the identification of a second virus, prompted the decision to close all the schools--which will remain closed until after Thanksgiving break.

7) A Hepatits A outbreak may be linked to blackberries sold at Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets. The product was sold between the dates of September 9 and September 30, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 11 cases of the disease so far, at least four of which have been hospitalized. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers in 11 states to avoid eating the berries, including in Nebraska, where the outbreak is believed to have begun.

8) More than 1,000 patients at a hospital in Indiana may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis due to poor sterilization practices by a technician. A sterilization technician at Goshen Hospital in Goshen, reportedly skipped a step in the multi-step cleaning process, possibly preventing the tools from being completely sterile. The cleaning errors occurred between April 1 and September 30, and the hospital is offering free testing for hepatitis B, C, and HIV, to the 1,182 patients identified that reportedly may be at low risk of being infected.


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.