Author Archive

By CHHS RA Bach Nguyen Note: This is part of an ongoing series of posts covering recent state legislative efforts to address the nationwide opioid epidemic. The posts are organized by federal judicial circuit, with this post covering the Fifth Circuit. As a reminder, in the federal court system, a circuit court hears appeals from a group of states, usually based on geographical region, though some exceptions exist. In this case, the Fifth Circuit is composed of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Geographically and culturally, the Fifth Circuit is a very different region than the Northeast and East Coast regions of ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Kyle Cleavenger Hurricane season is here for the East Coast, and now is time for everyone to think about proper preparedness in the event a storm makes landfall. Proper preparation for emergencies can see like a daunting task. It is also difficult to engage the local population in activities that might highlight the preparations stage of emergency management. This is why highlighting some of the more innovative and creative preparation activities around the country may give some insight into how preparation can be fun and engaging. With the peak of hurricane season around the corner, the New ...Read More
By CHHS RA Bach Nguyen Note: This is part of an ongoing series of posts covering recent state legislative efforts to address the nationwide opioid epidemic. The posts are organized by federal judicial circuit, with this post covering the Third Circuit. As a reminder, in the federal court system, a circuit court hears appeals from a group of states, usually based on geographical region, though some exceptions exist. In this case, the Third Circuit is composed of New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. As with the previous circuits, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania are focused on creating laws that limit the ...Read More
By CHHS RA Bach Nguyen Note: This is part of an ongoing series of posts covering recent state legislative efforts to address the nationwide opioid epidemic. The posts are organized by federal judicial circuit, with this post covering the Second Circuit. As a reminder, in the federal court system, a circuit court hears appeals from a group of states, usually based on geographical region, though some exceptions exist. In this case, the Second Circuit is composed of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. Much like the Fourth Circuit, Second Circuit states are also passing legislation to address the opioid epidemic. One ...Read More
By CHHS RA Bach Nguyen Note: This is the first in a series of posts covering recent state legislative efforts to address the nationwide opioid epidemic. The posts will be organized by federal judicial circuit, beginning with our home Fourth Circuit, and then proceeding numerically from the First Circuit.   Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed several bills into law on March 25th of this year. Included in the package are the Prescriber Limits Act of 2017 (HB 1432), which “requires health care providers to prescribe the lowest effective dose of an opioid;” the Distribution of Opioids Resulting in Death Act ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Bach Nguyen On Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the State of Ohio filed a lawsuit against five major drug manufacturers for the role the manufacturers played in the ongoing opioid epidemic, making Ohio the second state to do so. The suit brings six causes of action, generally alleging that “the drug companies engaged in fraudulent marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids which fueled Ohio's opioid epidemic.” The named parties in the suit include Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, Teva Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary Cephalon, Endo Health Solutions, and Allergan. ...Read More
By CHHS RA Lauren Morowit The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared that measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000 due to widespread vaccination.  However, this accomplishment has been undermined by three major outbreaks since the announcement including: the Amish community outbreak in Ohio in 2014, the Disneyland outbreak in California in 2015, and now the Somali community outbreak in Minnesota in 2017. What—or who—is to blame for these three outbreaks? The culprit is the American anti-vaccination movement.  This group’s propaganda efforts in conjunction with the false notion that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism has caused ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Bach Nguyen On May 3rd, 2017, the governor of Florida declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, echoing a similar move made by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan two months prior, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) declaration of a national opioid epidemic in 2011. As part of its state response, Florida Governor Rick Scott also approved the distribution of naxolone, a fast acting anti-overdose treatment, to first responders. Although the epidemic has been a concern of Gov. Scott for some time, the statement comes after an April 21st announcement that made federal ...Read More
By R. Justin Morris, CHHS Research Assistant On Thursday, February 13, 2014 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released its highly-anticipated Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. The framework is a national, voluntary set of standards to help both private and public organizations manage cybersecurity risks. As the discussion on this framework ensues, it’s important for us to sit back and take notice of the severity of cyber threats in the world today, and the variety in which they come that makes it so difficult to defend against them. The motives of cyber-attacks are surprisingly varied, and include ...Read More
By Christina Lauderdale, CHHS Extern On June 20, 2013, ten hospitals in Maryland performed a medical surge exercise. Staff members from CHHS developed the scenario and were present at each participating hospital to evaluate how well hospital staff responded to the mock disaster scenario. At certain hospitals, the exercise also included a hazmat situation, where several patients were exposed to an unknown chemical following a fictional train derailment in Rockville. As an evaluator, I witnessed hospital staff preparing for the possible hazmat situation by dressing in hazmat suits, arranging the outdoor decontamination area, and establishing an effective chain of command. ...Read More
By Victoria Plotkin, CHHS Extern  CHHS Public Health Program Manager Earl Stoddard III also contributed to this blog An infectious disease that appears to have originated in the Middle East is causing great concern within the medical community. There have been 84 confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and 45 of those patients have died. The methods of transmission, the incubation period of the virus, the factors that increase susceptibility to infection and the treatment regimen are all currently unknown. The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, has gone so far as to describe this ...Read More
By R. Justin Morris, CHHS Extern As any system becomes more technologically advanced, the threats to its security grow exponentially and the system becomes more vulnerable to a variety of dangers. With hurricane season in full swing, it is important for us to remember that the power grid in North America is no exception, and a system that was already highly susceptible to sabotage is now more exposed than ever. “In all my years on the Homeland Security Committee, I cannot think of another issue where the vulnerability is greater and we’ve done less,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the ...Read More
By Lyra Correa, CHHS Research Assistant Although local police will probably not be able to use “hell fire” missiles to combat the Black Guerilla Family in Baltimore City, as one writer in a recent Baltimore Sun Op-Ed suggests, having drones assist local police in tackling the increased gang and gun violence cannot be easily dismissed. The reality is that drones are already being used all over the country by local police departments and first responders. Law enforcement has recognized that drones can be used to their benefit in various ways: fighting gang violence, gun violence, search and rescue, surveillance, border ...Read More
By Joella Roland, CHHS Extern With the debate over the collection of federal data from internet giants like Facebook and Google fresh in everyone’s mind, it is easy to become disenchanted with the idea of the government monitoring and storing personal information. However, federal data has recently been used for a beneficial purpose in the city of New Orleans. In mid-June, city officials and the United States Department of Health and Human Services took three days to pilot a project harnessing existing Medicare data as a way to locate residents who are dependent on life support systems requiring electricity, such ...Read More
By Lyra Correa, CHHS Research Associate As Superstorm Sandy made its way up the East Coast, she left many struggling with flood waters, damaged homes, and massive power outages. During this storm, social media emerged as the best and most accessible tool to use in receiving and disseminating up to date information about the storm. Emergency management organizations have recognized social media as a valuable tool during emergencies simply because it is a great way to give individuals vital information while allowing the public to instantly provide their own feedback. Emergency managers and relief organizations received a lot of helpful ...Read More
By W. Sam Lauber, CHHS Research Associate   On October 22nd , an Italian judge convicted six seismologists and one regional official of manslaughter for the more than 300 deaths caused by an earthquake on April 6, 2009. A week before that earthquake, the official called in those seismologists to assess the situation. At a press conference prior to the meeting it was said that residents had nothing to worry about because the recent seismic activity released energy and lessened the likelihood of a major earthquake.  Plaintiffs in that case claimed that the remarks caused many residents not to evacuate ...Read More
  By Megan Ix, CHHS Research Associate When a tornado hit Kansas in the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy never let Toto out of her sight, despite the dangers looming. Although a fictional movie, the sentiment is real: pet owners will go to great lengths to keep their pets safe and close during an emergency. After Hurricane Katrina, a survey found that of those people who chose not to evacuate, 44 percent cited their desire to stay with their pets. Story after story emphasizes that people are often reluctant to leave their pets behind in an emergency, and may risk their ...Read More
  By Ben Yelin, CHHS Research Associate Almost two weeks after Superstorm Sandy made landfall in the Northeast United States, it’s stunning to still see how awful her devastation has made life for millions of people across New York and New Jersey.  As I write this, there are half a million power outages in those two states. Gasoline rationing has begun and patience is way past wearing thin. It should remind those of us living in the Baltimore/Washington area how close we came to all of this. It got me thinking…how lucky did we get?   First of all, science ...Read More
W. Sam Lauber, CHHS Research Assistant Most people know of drones in the context of the U.S.’s latest strategy to kill targets in hotspots like Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  Soon they may know them personally as U.S. federal and state agencies utilize the advantages of that technology, such as longer flight time with less fuel, the ability to hover in one spot, and less expensive maintenance, in their jurisdictions to fight crime. To prevent abusive use of drones requires directly-applicable law. Currently there is none, and while the courts are capable, they are too slow. The most prudent step forward ...Read More
By Megan Ix, CHHS Research Associate Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans almost seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. Although there are strong parallels between the storms, Hurricane Isaac is making landfall on a city that has focused on becoming better prepared and more resilient. In advance of Hurricane Isaac’s landfall, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for the State of Mississippi and the State of Louisiana. Long before the emergency declaration though, work has been ongoing to prepare New Orleans for the impact of hurricane season. Spearheading a $14.5-billion effort, the U.S. Army Corps of ...Read More
CHHS Research Assistant  Ben Yelin The 2012 Summer Olympics being in London on July 27th, but there is one private security company certain not to win any medals. British company “G4S” was awarded an Olympic security contract, and promised to provide 10,000 security officers to man the city during the games. But G4S was not able to summon the 10,000 guards they promised- not even close. At this time, only about 5800 officers will be trained and ready to work when the Olympics begin. As a result, the British military has been forced to put more than 3,500 soldiers on ...Read More
Ben Yelin, CHHS Research Assistant   Ever since the violent “derecho” storm hit the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area on June 29, 2012, and left 1.5 million regional power customers without electricity for up to a week, there has been renewed attention to putting power lines underground to better prevent power outages. Dense downtown business districts were largely spared from mass outages because buried power lines were protected from severe winds and falling trees. So why can’t we bury all of our power lines underground? The main answer, of course, is cost, but there are many reasons why at least some investment ...Read More
Lisa Piccinini, CHHS Research Assistant The Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission recently concluded that in preparing for and responding to the massive 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami the Japanese government, regulators, and operators of the Fukushima power plant “betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents.” The commission, which was created pursuant to post-tsunami legislation by the Japanese National Diet, classifies the three nuclear meltdowns, various explosions, and the release of radiation that displaced tens of thousands of residents, as part of a “manmade disaster” made possible by collusion between the government and the plant. What made this ...Read More
William Pons, CHHS Research Assistant When people think about espionage, they think James Bond or shadowy figures conducting back alley business in a foreign language to gain access to nuclear launch codes. While the reality of espionage may have never been so glamorous, the recent discovery of high-tech computer worms—used to sabotage Iran—has signaled a significant paradigm shift in the conventional wisdom behind state-sponsored espionage and the capabilities of cyberweapons.  In June, the New York Times published an article detailing the use—by the Bush administration and Obama administration—of cyberweapons to physically damage the Iranian Natanz uranium enrichment facility. The article ...Read More
By Megan Ix, CHHS Research Assistant The reemergence of some vaccine-preventable diseases is a growing cause for concern in the United States. A key reason behind this reemergence is the decline in child vaccination rates. Often parents may have unfounded fears as a result of misinformation or false assumptions and “opt-out,” or choose not to have their children vaccinated. While public health education campaigns in favor of child vaccinations can be effective, vaccine-preventable outbreaks continue and trends show that vaccination rates are declining. High vaccination rates are crucial to protecting the public from certain diseases, and a decline in vaccination ...Read More
  by Oleg Pelekhaty In the wake of Japan’s largest recorded earthquake and subsequent tsunami, Japanese nuclear energy officials continue to grapple with the increasingly serious situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. The situation highlights the importance of multiple redundancies and the utility of adopting an all-hazards approach to planning and preparedness activities. Immediately after the 9.0 earthquake, engineers performed an emergency shutdown of the reactors, known as a SCRAM. A SCRAM halts the nuclear chain reaction and attempts to absorb energy, while coolant pumps remove the heat the fuel rods continue to produce. If the heat is ...Read More
By Rianna Brown CHHS Research Assistant, fall 2010 Did you know the recession is over? A few short months ago we learned that the nation's recession, one of the most severe economic crises since the Great Depression, was finally over. In fact, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, it ended way back in June 2009. This was certainly welcomed news - a sign that the sun would soon be emerging from an otherwise gloomy sky. But, before the celebrations could even begin, reality set in. Experts subsequently warned that months, possibly years, of hard economic times likely still ...Read More
By Gregory Sunshine CHHS Research Assistant, summer 2010 Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, I took part in several rebuilding trips to the Gulf Coast. On my first trip to New Orleans, I found a box containing waterlogged wedding memorabilia belonging to the elderly woman who owned the house I was working on. She explained that the photos and trinkets were from her marriage to her late husband, who passed away during a hurricane. Naturally, I assumed she meant Hurricane Katrina, but I was wrong. The woman explained that her husband died during a hurricane years earlier. While my mind went to ...Read More
By Andrew Bennett CHHS Research Assistant, summer 2010 A mother wakes up at 3:30 a.m. and, on the way to the bathroom, peeks her head into her fourteen-year-old son's bedroom to check on him. As her eyes adjust to the dark she realizes her son is not in his bed. She feels a cool breeze and discovers the window is open. Her mind tries to comprehend what has happened. Where is her son? She notices that the room is a little more of a mess than usual - almost as if there had been a struggle. She calls 911. The ...Read More
By Melissa Kim CHHS Research Assistant, summer 2010 HIV and AIDS made headlines back in the early 1980s when doctors discovered that HIV was being transferred through blood donations. At the time, being infected with HIV was a death sentence, and the number of deaths from HIV and AIDS continuously increased until 1995, when protease inhibitors were introduced to the market. The advancement of medicine allowed HIV/AIDS patients to live longer and healthier lives; it just cost them roughly $12,000 a year. Today, HIV/AIDS may be making a comeback, only this time the culprit is not lack of science, but ...Read More
By John Roche CHHS Research Assistant, summer 2010 Here's the scenario: It's October 2010. The Orioles have reached the playoffs and the Ravens season is underway. Both teams have a game on the same Sunday evening, and the Camden Yards area is mobbed by excited fans. At M&T Bank Stadium, Ravens fans are celebrating a victory as time expires. The excitement of the occasion turns to sudden panic as a suspicious package is located in M&T Bank Stadium and someone screams "BOMB!"  People flee from the stadium and panic spreads to the patrons entering Oriole Park. At that moment, an ...Read More
By Meaghan McCann CHHS Research Assistant, summer 2010 There is a surprising addition to list of lessons learned from the U.S. response to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak: sometimes being over-prepared has its own risks. As of July 2010, more than 40 million doses of swine flu vaccine have expired and 30 million more are expected to expire by early fall, which means that nearly half of the entire U.S. supply of the vaccine will have gone unused. Combined, the cache of 70 million expired doses will be one of the largest in history, nearly four times the volume of leftover ...Read More
By Gregory Sunshine CHHS Research Assistant, summer 2010 In the event of a radiological emergency, people who live within a 10-mile radius of nuclear power plants will hear a system of sirens sound the alert.  However, for their deaf and hard of hearing neighbors, the sound of the sirens alone provides no warning whatsoever. According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission ("NRC") regulations, each nuclear power plant must have an emergency notifications system for its surrounding 10-mile "emergency planning zone." The purpose of the sirens is to let residents know that some type of emergency has occurred, and to tune to their television ...Read More
By Melissa Kim CHHS Research Assistant, summer 2010 After 910 confirmed cases and the deaths of five infants, California declared an epidemic of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, on June 23.  With 600 more possible cases under investigation and the expected peak still to come in July or August, this could be the state's worst pertussis outbreak in 50 years.  California is not alone in this crisis.  Outbreaks have also been reported in Illinois, Michigan, and Oregon, with increased numbers of cases across the country. Pertussis outbreaks are cyclical and recur every 2-5 years.  The last episode in California was ...Read More