Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Vaping-Related Illnesses Are Now the Focus of A Criminal Probe by FDA
EDM Friday Briefing: Vaping-Related Illnesses Are Now the Focus of A Criminal Probe by FDA

EDM Friday Briefing: Vaping-Related Illnesses Are Now the Focus of A Criminal Probe by FDA

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 20, 2019: Multiple tropical storms tie a record as forecasters continue to monitor developing disturbances in the Atlantic; remnants of Imelda trigger flooding in coastal Texas and the Houston area; another person has been diagnosed with EEE in Massachusetts; the FDA has opened a criminal probe into the nationwide vaping-related illnesses that have now killed 8 people; Hurricane Lorena is poised to move close to Cabo San Lucas and the Baja California Peninsula Friday into Saturday; the number of cases of Ebola continues to rise in the DRC as regional response efforts are curtailed by violence; Indonesia blames timber and plantation industries for wildfires that have engulfed parts of Southeast Asia in thick, heavy smoke and ash; Hurricane Jerry is expected to pass to the north of the Leeward Islands on Friday and produce heavy rainfall across the area.

1. Six named storms swirling in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean's this week reportedly tied a record. The combined active storms in both basins tied the September 1992 record, and although unusual, multiple storms churning in both oceans at one time does occur. Currently, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is also monitoring several tropical disturbances in the Atlantic Ocean, including a tropical wave just off the coast of Africa that is forecast to have a 70 percent chance of development in the next five days.

2. Torrential rainfall from remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda prompted flooding and flash floods on coastal Texas Thursday, including in the towns of Aldine, Beaumont, and Winnie. Two people are dead and first responders rescued at least 1,000 people from floodwaters, and some schools and airports were also closed due to flooding. I-45 was also shutdown on Thursday as water levels quickly rose, but was reopened early Friday morning, although more rain--up to 12 inches--is expected in the Houston area and parts of coastal Texas on Friday from the storm's remnants.

3. Another person has contracted the potentially deadly EEE--Eastern equine encephalitis--in Massachusetts. The individual, a man in his seventies, lives in Essex County, and he is the ninth person in the state to contract the rare virus. So far, eight animals and nine people have been infected in this year's outbreak, including one person that has died from the disease.

4. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is launching a criminal probe into the vaping-related illnesses that have quickly spread across the country. The probe comes after the number of cases shot up to 530 confirmed and probable cases in 38 states and one territory, up from just 380 cases a week ago, with another confirmed death on Thursday, bringing the death toll up to eight. The e-cigarette maker Juul, has been inundated with lawsuits from parents, businesses, lawmakers, and individuals across the country, allegedly for not fully disclosing the risks of its e-cigarettes.

5. Hurricane Lorena is poised to pass near the Baja California peninsula on Friday into Saturday, and hurricane watches and warnings are in effect across the area. The hurricane, a Category 1 storm, is about 100 miles east-southeast of Cabo San Lucas, and will produce high winds and heavy rainfall, anywhere from 3 to 6 inches, and up to 8 inches in some areas. While the United States will not be directly impacted by the storm, it is likely to increase moisture and bring enhanced rainfall chances to the Desert Southwest, including thunderstorms, which could produce flash flooding.

6. The number of cases continue to rise in the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The World Health Organization (WHO) reported another 15 infections, bringing the total number of cases to 3,145, with a total of 2,098 deaths and 493 suspected cases that are under investigation. An outbreak of violence in Lwemba, in Mandima--one of the virus hot spots--halted response work, including vaccinations and contact tracing, on September 14, which could have led to the increased number of cases. Minor security incidents reportedly also impacted burial and vaccination activities in Mombasa and Komanda in the past week.

7. Indonesia is accusing the nation's timber and plantation industries for its current outbreak of wildfires.  Thick, heavy smoke and ash has engulfed parts of Southeast Asia as wildfires rage, forcing the closure of schools, disrupting air traffic, and increasing health concerns across the region. According to reports, mandatory fire control reports were submitted by only 22 percent of forestry business permit holders across the nation.

8. Hurricane Jerry, a Category 2 storm, is set to move just to the north of the Leeward Islands on Friday, but is forecast to inundate the islands with heavy rainfall. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the storm is currently producing winds of 100 mph, with a minimum central pressure of 989 mb, or 29.20 inches of mercury, but is expected to weaken over the weekend. The system is also expected to be pulled north, and out into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean by forces from Hurricane Humberto.

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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.