DHS Announces Latest COVID-19 Initiatives
Tuesday, April 28, 2020 | Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced recent initiatives to defend the country from COVID-19.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released the Critical Infrastructure Operations Centers and Control Rooms Guide for Pandemic Response, which is geared toward all 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by the federal government. The guide provides considerations and mitigation measures for operation centers and control rooms but can be applied further to any critical node that is required to continue functioning in a pandemic environment.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is deploying federal funds in support of state response efforts. Federal funds are being deployed to help ensure that healthcare providers have the critical resources they need to provide rapid care and treatment to COVID-19 patients in hard-hit areas across the U.S. Since April 20, FEMA has obligated around $400 million to support state response efforts, bringing the total amount to $6.1 billion thus far. This includes an additional $100 million in funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program to help first responders access personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical medical supplies during the outbreak.

FEMA also continues to expedite the movement of critical supplies, including masks, respirators, gloves, goggles and surgical gowns, from the global market to medical distributors in various locations across the U.S.

William Bryan, senior official performing the duties of the under secretary for Science and Technology (S&T), provided an update on key research findings from S&T’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) at the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. His update covered emerging results and trends from studies conducted at NBACC including the effects of sunlight and humidity on the virus as well as findings on common disinfectants that can kill the virus.

S&T also updated its master question list (MQL), a compilation of available research on operationally relevant questions to aid decision makers in the COVID-19 response. The MQL covers what is known about the virus, what additional information is needed, and who may be working to address these fundamental questions. New entries include references to how much agent will make a healthy individual ill, how the virus spreads from one host to another and what treatments are effective.

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