Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 12, 2016: Public health officials say that Zika virus could be worse than originally thought, Massachusetts schools receive a series of bomb threats, and Chicago police officers will soon be using body cameras.
- U.S. health officials said yesterday that Zika virus is "scarier" than first thought and that the impact of the virus on the U.S. could be greater than predicted. So far, there have been 346 confirmed cases of Zika in the continental U.S. but officials fear that hundreds of thousands of infections could appear in Puerto Rico.
- At least a dozen schools in Massachusetts received bomb threats yesterday. Most of the threats all came in the form of automated "robo-call" bomb threats. State police, local police, K9 units, and fire departments all responded and at least one school was evacuated. No suspicious packages were found and all classes resumed as usual.
- Officers in the Chicago Police Department will soon begin wearing body cameras. The department is receiving 450 body cameras, which reportedly will be worn by officers in some of the most gang-plagued areas of the city. Interim Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that wearing body cameras will help the department rebuild trust with residents.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a warning, urging Texas residents to remain vigilant and beware of possible scams and fraudulent schemes when engaging businesses for disaster-related recovery and repairs. FEMA also offered up tips and advice on how disaster-stricken residents can avoid becoming the victim of a scam.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that a Massachusetts company will pay fines for violating clean water laws. Advance Coatings Co. of Westminster, MA will pay penalties totaling $38,860 for an unauthorized discharge into the Nashua River.
- Late last month, the White House issued a memorandum on drought resilience that called for expansion on efforts that work to decrease the drought vulnerability of communities within the U.S. The memorandum urged collaboration among city, state and federal agencies to fight the growing threat of drought in the nation.
- Police arrested hundreds of protesters in Washington, D.C. yesterday after more than 600 people participated in a sit-down demonstration against corporate money in politics. Democracy Spring, a coalition of more than 100 progressive groups, led the protest. The group is urging Congress to pass legislation limiting undisclosed and big-donor money in politics.
- Bruce Shisheesh, the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, Canada, declared a state of emergency over a series of suicide attempts. In the community of approximately 2,000 people, 11 reportedly attempted suicide on Saturday. And that came after 28 suicide attempts in March. The isolated tribe in northern Canada has few resources to respond to an emergency of such magnitude.