By Jonathan Lim, CHHS Extern On March 4th, current President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in a Tweet. Apparently, the accusation was based on a Heat Street article which stated that the FBI had sought and obtained a FISA warrant to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia. The Heat Street reporter, Louise Mensch, later emphasized that her article only talked about the application for a FISA warrant itself, and not whether there was an actual wiretap of Trump Tower. This issue raises several questions: what is ...Read More
By Jonathan Lim, CHHS Extern The recent Oroville Dam crisis highlighted America’s need to repair its many aging dams. In the Oroville case, authorities responded quickly enough that the 180,000 people most endangered by the dam’s potential failure were evacuated. This may be a dangerous sign, as the average age of our nation's 84,000 dams are 52 years old, and of those, experts classify 4,000 of those dams as "deficient."  That this crisis is a symbol of the need to reinvest in American infrastructure has already been much opined, and from both sides of the political spectrum. However, this crisis can ...Read More
  by CHHS Research Assitant Faiza Hasan Governor Larry Hogan announced on March 1, 2016 a state of emergency for opioids, amidst escalating overdose deaths in Maryland and nationwide. The state of emergency is an instrument many jurisdictions use to coordinate anti-opioid and heroin strategies. Hogan, who lost a cousin to addiction years ago, commented at a news conference at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency that "we need to treat this crisis the exact same way we treat any other state emergency," He further commented that we need to take an “all-hands-on deck” approach so that everyone can work together ...Read More
by CHHS Research Assistants Christie Chung and Charles Hilberg Substance abuse and addiction is a serious public health problem that impacts communities on multiple levels. It is estimated that at least 40 million Americans age 12 and over meet the clinical criteria for addiction that involves substance abuse, a tally that surpasses the number of individuals inflicted with heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.  Even larger, 80 million people are estimated to be at risk for substance abuse.  These numbers, not including those suffering more broadly from mental health conditions, have been quantified to cost the U.S. Government $468 billion annually. ...Read More
by Jonathan Lim, CHHS Extern On January 26, 2017, the President signed an executive order for the construction of a wall on the United States-Mexico border. The President deviated from one of his most controversial campaign promises when he admitted that the American taxpayer, and not Mexico, would pay for the wall (although he claims that Mexico will reimburse the wall later). Some estimate that the cost of an actual wall would be around $25 billion. Even before this admission, the President's now confirmed nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), retired Gen. John F. Kelly, gave a ...Read More
by Glyn Cashwell, CHHS Extern A recent December 2016 cyber attack in Ukraine has the public concerned that the U.S. could be the next victim.  Ultimately, whether a foreign actor decides to attack the power grid will likely hinge on foreign relations, as it appears that several foreign governments probably can take down the U.S. electric grid.  In explaining why our power grid might be attacked, the following are germane: the characteristics of the recent Ukraine grid attacks, the vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid, and past cyberattacks waged against the U.S. In 2015, the first cyberattack that resulted in ...Read More
CHHS is proud to support The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and the Maryland Law Review to present: The State of Cyberlaw: Security and Privacy in the Digital Age On February 10, 2017, this Symposium will address dynamic policy and legal issues related to cybersecurity, surveillance, and consumer privacy. The event will consist of four panels featuring nineteen highly respected legal scholars and practitioners. Travis LeBlanc, Chief of Enforcement for the Federal Communications Commission, will deliver the keynote address. Breakfast, lunch, and an evening reception will be provided. CHHS Cybersecurity Program Manager Markus Rauschecker, J.D., will moderate ...Read More
By Trudy Henson, Public Health Program Manager As the new year gets under way, and a new President takes office, health and transportation officials are turning their attention to a new rule, finalized January 19th, by the Centers for Disease Control. The rule, originally proposed in August 2016, deals with Control of Communicable Disease for Interstate and Foreign Travel. The CDC states that the rule seeks to create greater transparency in disease response, as well as updating certain regulations based on lessons learned from recent outbreaks, such as Ebola. The final rule, officially published yesterday, is similar to the proposed ...Read More
Maryland Carey Law offers two online degree programs: a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Law and a Master of Science in Homeland Security and Crisis Management Law. Both programs provide subject matter specialists the legal and regulatory knowledge to help their organizations gain a competitive advantage. The programs will give them the legal training they need, increasing their skill and depth. Senior CHHS Staff have developed these degree programs, serve as instructors for the courses and offer hands-on support to students. For additional information about cost and enrollment, click here Both online programs are enrolling now for classes beginning February 6, ...Read More
by Trudy Henson with Birch Barron As 2016 came to a close and many were focused on a year-end countdown, health officials were paying attention to a different tally: the alarming rate of drug overdose deaths, which nearly tripled between 1999 – 2014, and continued to increase for synthetic opioid deaths in the last few years. The findings, written about extensively in a CDC report, underscore the need for “intense attention and action.” But how can public health partners make that action most effective? "Solving the heroin and opioid addiction problem will require a united effort," says Birch Barron, CHHS ...Read More
by Mehreen Farooq, CHHS Senior Policy Analyst Initially developed by the World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE) in 2013, the Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism (BRAVE) program[1] is a collective impact initiative to promote social cohesion and public safety, with a core focus on building resilience against violent extremism through engagement, education, and specialized interventions. In 2016, the WORDE transitioned the BRAVE program to the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) to institutionalize the program in Montgomery County, Maryland and expand into other jurisdictions. On November 30, 2016 CHHS organized a kick-off event for the ...Read More
By Jason Greene, CHHS Extern Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has dubbed The Old Line State as the nation’s cyber security capital, and for good reason. Maryland is home to government agencies such as the National Security Agency, US Cyber Command, Defense Information Systems Agency, and National Institute of Standards & Technology, as well as over a dozen of the nation’s most prominent cyber security companies, to include Lockheed Martin, ZeroFox, KEYWCorporation, Tenable Network Security, and RedOwl. And let’s not forget the numerous top-ranked cybersecurity academic programs in the University System of Maryland, US Naval Academy, and leading research and development ...Read More
This morning the White House released a new strategic plan for countering violent extremism in the United States by further empowering local community initiatives. While the new plan retains the goals set out by the 2011 Strategy for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States, it recognizes the current dynamics of violent extremism seen over the last several years. In particular, it emphasizes the complexity of preventing violent extremism in the age of social media and the internet. From ISIS recruits to Sovereign Citizens to White Supremacists, “violent extremist” is a general term to refer to ...Read More
by Christie Chung, CHHS Research Assistant “This is serious. . .This storm will kill you. Time is running out. We don’t have that much time left.” On Thursday morning October 6th, there was no mistaking the gravity of the situation as Florida Governor Rick Scott once again urged residents to heed evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Matthew’s landfall. Officially a Category 4 storm, and soon expected to reach Category 5 status, Hurricane Matthew has already left a trail of devastation as it moved away from the Caribbean and towards the southeastern U.S. coast.  In Haiti, where entire towns have been ...Read More
By: Christopher Smeenk, CHHS Extern There is a common denominator among the 142 school shootings that have occurred in the United States since 2013: in each instance, the perpetrator(s) attacked a “soft” target. Schools are considered “soft targets” because they are relatively unprotected and vulnerable to deadly attacks. This reality was clearly evident in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which took the lives of 20 children and six adults. That tragedy reinforced the need to develop new strategies to protect students and staff at schools across the country. In response, school districts have begun to employ innovative technology ...Read More
Ending a nearly seven months long political stalemate, Congress appropriated $1.1 billion to fund international and domestic activities related to the spread and effect of the Zika virus on September 28. The funding, which became available on October 1 with the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year, generally aligns with the World Health Organization’s coordinated strategy for addressing Zika through coordinated detection, prevention, care and support, and research. Supporting Zika Vaccine Research and Clinical Trials The appropriation bill includes $152 million to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for vaccine and medical countermeasure development. Developing a vaccine ...Read More
by Emily Rosenberg, CHHS Research Assistant Tuberculosis (TB) is no longer the long-gone threat that plagued the urban lower classes of Europe from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution. In fact, TB is now more resilient and widespread than ever. It has remained a pandemic disease throughout the world for thousands of years. It is strongest today in Southern Asia, Latin America, West Africa, and Eastern Europe.  In 2014, 9.6 million people contracted TB and 1.5 million people died from the disease. The annual decline of TB in the United States also reached its lowest point of 1.5% that same ...Read More
CHHS Senior Policy Law and Policy Analysts Preeti Emrick, J.D. and Christine Gentry, J.D., with help from CHHS Research Assistant Lauren Morowit, published an article in Disaster and Military Medicine which examined public health measures, including health surveillance and decedent disposition, and their effects on isolation and quarantine practices in six countries (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, United States, Canada, and Australia) in context of the 2014–2015 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) response, and made recommendations. Read "Ebola Virus Disease: international perspective on enhanced health surveillance, disposition of the dead, and their effect on isolation and quarantine practices" from August 31, 2016, or download the PDF, below.   DMM-PDF.pdf
Read our latest newsletter here:  Summer/Fall 2016 Newsletter
By Christie Chung, CHHS Research Assistant From world-class athletes skipping the Olympics to Florida theme parks handing out complimentary insect repellent, the Zika virus has prompted much concern and anxiety. However, the disease most widely known for its link to birth defects is just one of several mosquito-borne illnesses currently threatening global health. Mosquito-borne diseases pose a number of unique problems to public health officials. For one, there are approximately 3,500 different species of mosquitoes endemic to regions across the planet; many are vectors of transmittable diseases. Aedes aegypti alone is responsible for outbreaks of Zika, yellow fever, chikungunya, dengue ...Read More
By Lauren Morowit, CHHS Research Assistant If an emergency happens in your community tomorrow – will you be ready? September is National Preparedness Month in the United States, and government agencies are urging all citizens to consider developing an emergency communication plan.  The slogan for this readiness campaign is, “Don’t Wait.  Communicate.” Emergencies can happen at any time – with or without any warning.  However, individuals can exercise the choice to prepare practical responses before an emergency strikes in an attempt to lessen the perilous effects of a tragedy. The message being proliferated this month highlights the notion that the ...Read More
By: Christopher Smeenk, CHHS Intern Thomas Jefferson once said, “Knowledge is power, knowledge is safety, and knowledge is happiness." However, the opposite may hold true for those subjected to the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program. Is it possible that knowledge about this program is enough to hold a prisoner incommunicado for the remainder of his life, even if he does not otherwise pose a significant threat to the security of the United States? The answer to that question could potentially determine the fate of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected terrorist who, despite never being charged with a crime, has been detained in ...Read More
On August 15th, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a Notice for Proposed Rulemaking to revise current domestic and foreign federal quarantine regulations. The new provisions are the result of recent domestic and foreign disease outbreaks, including the Ebola Virus, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, and repeated outbreaks of measles. According to its explanation, the proposed provisions will “enhance HHS/CDC’s ability to prevent the further importation and spread of communicable diseases into the United States and interstate by clarifying and providing greater transparency regarding its response capabilities and practices.” A large part of the clarification comes from definitions ...Read More
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News in the headlines about “striking” results from a Zika vaccine raise hopes that even if the outbreak spreads, there may be another way to avoid its devastating effects. However, coupled with that promising news is the news that such progress relies on a funding stream that is quickly drying up, and replenishment depends on Congressional action. On Sunday, Governor Rick Scott of Florida criticized the federal government’s lag in response to Zika, stating that although Florida has responded quickly and comprehensively to the discovery of locally-acquired cases, Zika is “a national, international issue” and that Florida still “need[s] the ...Read More
by Christie Chung, CHHS Research Assistant Large-scale events pose unique safety and security concerns for law enforcement officials. In addition to anticipating common disruptions such as public drunkenness, fighting, and petty theft, police officers must grapple with the fact that special events provide an attractive target for terrorist attacks. The nature of such events—large, excitable crowds in confined spaces—makes planning for contingencies exceedingly difficult. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s Bastille Day attack on the Promenade des Anglais demonstrates the tremendous potential for tragedy posed by such events and the importance of preliminary planning. Running a distance of approximately four and a half miles, ...Read More
By Lauren Morowit, CHHS Research Assistant The recent announcement of locally-acquired Zika cases in Florida, a count currently at fifteen, has the public health and medical world on alert.  The potential panic that could ensue from an outbreak of the Zika virus in the United States serves as a catalyst for discussing the benefits and dangers of sharing data in public health emergencies. The trade-offs involved in sharing scientific information early and maintaining the review process emphasize the need for establishing a system for publishing and communicating data in the midst of a disease outbreak.  The primate center at the ...Read More
With every day, more and more news headlines bring details about Zika, its spread, and the U.S.’ various response. Here’s a short roundup: Numbers of cases of Zika in the U.S. continue to rise, as more and more citizens are tested. In the Miami area, the number of confirmed cases has risen to fifteen. At least 33 members of the military have tested positive for Zika, including one pregnant woman. The first clinical trial of a potential Zika vaccine is underway, although continued progress depends on Congressional funding, which is running low. One of the trial sites for a Zika ...Read More
On Saturday, July 30th, a torrential rainstorm caused widespread flooding in Ellicott City, Maryland, killing two, and causing devastating damage that will take months, or perhaps years, to repair. The storm dropped over six inches of rain in two hours in the historic downtown area, which is especially prone to flooding due to being a small valley surrounded by steep hillsides. The rain caused the nearby Patapsco river to surge up to six feet in an hour, and floodwaters consumed Main Street in the early evening, as residents and visitors took in a late evening meal at the many popular ...Read More
As August approached, the U.S. turned its attention to Florida, which began making headlines in late July for a case of potentially locally-acquired Zika virus. On July 29th, the Florida Health Department stated it believed there was “active transmission of the Zika virus,” based on four cases that were detected earlier in the Miami-Dade area. By August 1st, thanks to intensive testing in the area suspected of housing the Zika virus, those numbers had been revised to include at least 10 new cases. The response to the news of local transmission in the U.S. has been swift, and in many ways, ...Read More
by CHHS Research Assistant Jie Liu Our nation’s threat from public mass shootings remains elevated. According to a cross-national study of 171 countries, the United States has the most public mass shootings in the world. Between January 2009 and July 2015, there were at least 133 mass shootings in the U.S. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people are killed, which does not include gang killings or slayings that involve the death of multiple family members. Recently, the typical response to active shooter and mass casualty incidents (AS/MCIs) involves ...Read More
by Christie Chung, CHHS Research Assistant              For nearly the price of a paintball gun, you could buy an AR-15. Though most generally go for around $1,000 to $2,000, the most popular rifle in the U.S. retails for as low as $215.19 online.  Nicknamed “America’s Rifle” by the NRA, the AR-15 is a civilian variant of the M-16 rifle used by the U.S. Military. Since Colt began marketing the rifle in 1960, the weapon has been widely adapted and made available through a number of other manufacturers. Lightweight and highly customizable, the AR-15’s shooting capacity is limited only by the ...Read More
by Trudy Henson, CHHS Public Health Program Manager As the world continues to watch the Zika virus epidemic unfold—Spain recorded its first case of sexually-transmitted Zika virus this week—and Congress attempts to pass a $1.1 billion dollar bill to help fund the fight against Zika, people are increasingly asking: who pays for pandemics? This week, two prominent articles sought to answer that question. In a paid post to The New York Times, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wrote about the importance of preparing for pandemics. At the heart of that preparation—the “vital” key to everything from collaboration, research, and ...Read More
by by Jie Liu, CHHS Extern In the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Zika Situation Report on June 16, the Emergency Committee concluded that “there is a very low risk of further international spread of Zika virus as a result of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.” However, just recently, the Number 1-slated Olympic hopeful golfer, Jason Day, has announced he won’t participate in the Olympics out of concern for the Zika Virus. He joins a number of athletes who have chosen not to attend the 2016 Olympics. As the world continues to watch the Olympics’ approach and Zika’s effect on it, here ...Read More
  From The Baltimore Sun: CHHS Senior Law and Policy Analyst Chris Webster, J.D. and Academic Program Manager Mike Vesely, J.D. are leading the initiative over the coming months. After the initial phase, there may be continuation of the project.    
Our partners in Montgomery County will host a presentation open to the public to address the County's plan for fighting the Zika Virus.  Wednesday, June 29, 6:30-8:00pm, Sidney Kramer Upcounty Regional Services Center, 12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown, MD 20874. For more information on the Zika virus, see the CHHS vlogs, or check out this pre-recorded Zika town hall previously held in Montgomery County.    
by Christie Chung, Research Assistant In the wake of 9/11, airports face the difficult task of balancing national security concerns with the need for customer convenience and efficiency. This summer travel season from June through August, approximately 231 million passengers will fly on airlines across the country—up 4% from the same period last year. However, if the weeks preceding these summer months are any indication, the bottlenecks caused by security screening will continue to delay flights, frustrate passengers, and stymie travel plans. Against this backdrop of growing exasperation with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform ...Read More
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CHHS’ Public Health Program Manager Trudy Henson, J.D., sits down with our own Maggie Davis, J.D., Senior Law and Policy Analyst, for a discussion of the Zika virus including preventing its transmission via mosquito control, planning and prevention efforts by State and local agencies, and guidance for individuals on how to protect themselves.
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CHHS' Public Health Program Manager Trudy Henson, J.D., sits down with the Baltimore City Health Department's Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen for a discussion of the Zika virus, its potential impact in Maryland, and what we can do to prepare:
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Get the app. Activate alerts. Save a life. The principle behind the free-to-use PulsePoint app is simple: cardiac arrest events occur in public places every day, and CPR-trained community members may be seconds away. The PulsePoint app uses mobile device technology to connect CPR-trained users with people in need of their life-saving skills. PulsePoint is integrated with the 911 dispatch system, so the app identifies the need for help the instant an emergency takes place. App users are alerted through their phones when they are in close proximity to a cardiac arrest, at which point the app directs users to ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Marissa Johnson The relationship between the U.S. tech industry and government hangs in the balance as Apple, Inc. and the FBI continue to disagree over unlocking one of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.  A magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court of Central California ordered Apple to provide the FBI with software to access the locked iPhone that was once used by Syed Rizwan Farook. The phone was last backed up six weeks before the shooting, so the FBI has access to all of the information except from the weeks leading up to the tragic event. ...Read More
CHHS Cybersecurity Program Manager Markus Rauschecker and Senior Law and Policy Analyst Ben Yelin, both also adjunct faculty at Maryland Carey Law, discuss the Apple v. FBI case:  
By CHHS Research Assistant Lauren Morowit On February 1, 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects an international public health emergency.  In particular, the Americas are being plagued by a virus that researchers and the general public have little knowledge of with respect to both long-term and short-term side effects.  After the WHO was previously scrutinized for the delayed response to the Ebola crisis, the WHO decided to be more proactive about the Zika virus outbreaks by declaring a public health emergency.  But what does that mean, exactly, and what ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Marissa Johnson The Center for Health and Homeland Security partnered with the University of Maryland’s School of Law and the Universities at Shady Grove to host a Cybersecurity Symposium on February 5th. The event included seven speakers that informed the attendees on privacy issues, assessing risk, emerging law and policy trends and more. Nancy Libin, partner attorney at Jenner & Block, spoke on civil liberties and privacy. This topic was particularly interesting because the Obama Administration recently met with social media leaders to discuss the government monitoring online communications. In these meetings they discussed the government’s ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Chaitra Gowda The 15th anniversary of 9/11 is approaching, and every year we are faced with even more terrorism at home and abroad. Over the past year attacks carried out or inspired by ISIS alone have resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths across the world: the most recent attack on American soil being the San Bernardino, California shootings. The never dwindling statistics have had agencies and entities including Congress and the Obama Administration attempting to eliminate, or at the very least limit, terrorist attacks. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), recognizing that terrorism has evolved into ...Read More
On February 2, the New York Times reported that a case of Zika virus had been sexually transmitted in Texas. The first known case of its kind in the U.S., a patient was infected by someone who had traveled in Venezuela. The new case is causing health officials to change their advice to Americans visiting where the virus is present, and continues to raise the profile of a virus that the World Health Organization is calling a global emergency. Although the virus has been found in 20 countries, cases in the U.S. have been few and far between. If you’re ...Read More
In a 7.2 square mile area along the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River, the City of Annapolis houses the State Capitol, seat of Anne Arundel County government, and the prestigious United States Naval Academy. The 38,000 residents and 1,000,000 visitors per year enjoy the City’s small businesses and old town environment, but what they do not see are the diligent efforts made by the City’s officials to maintain high levels of operational readiness and multi-agency coordination to ensure their safety while they enjoy their day-to-day activities. The Mayor’s Public Safety Initiative for Businesses recognizes the importance of the informed community ...Read More
It may be hard to think about a warm-weather pest like mosquitos when the region is still digging out from record snowfalls, but that’s exactly what the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) is asking people to do: focus on the Aedes mosquito, the main transmitter of the Zika virus. On Thursday, the World Health Organization “rang a global alarm” about the Zika virus, citing its rapid spread in South America—particularly Brazil—and stating that as many as four million people in the Americas could be affected by the end of the year. ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Maraya Pratt In anticipation of the predicted blizzard that was to hit Baltimore and surrounding areas this past weekend, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Maryland starting Friday morning at 7:00 am. The declaration, according to Hogan, was to allow for the coordination of “all available resources – to prepare to clear roads, manage incidents, and recover from this storm.” Generally, a state of emergency allows the Governor to access certain resources, like the National Guard, in order to better equip the state to respond to a disaster. However, ...Read More
By CHHS RA Jules Szanton On November 13th, terrorists murdered at least 130 victims in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris, France.  While concerned people around the world learned of the attacks through traditional media sources, millions of social media users learned about the attacks through a more personalized medium: a Facebook tool.  This tool, called Safety Check, has the potential to change the way people connect with family and friends after surviving a disaster.  If Facebook can move a critical mass of these post-disaster conversations online, the social media giant could relieve phone networks from the stress and failure ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Jules Szanton Over the past several years, several high profile data breaches have proved costly to American firms and citizens, and the public is increasingly concerned that online data is vulnerable to hackers.  The federal government, however, is in a tricky position when it comes to countering these challenges: many people don’t trust a prominent federal agency charged with countering cyber threats, and most are unwilling to sacrifice privacy to gain online security. For several years, Congress has been wrestling with the question of how to help websites protect user data without making the same user ...Read More
Earlier this week, it appeared that the Mid-Atlantic could be in the crosshairs for a potentially dangerous Atlantic tropical cyclone.  Several weather models Monday and Tuesday showed soon-to-be Hurricane Joaquin making landfall in the Chesapeake Bay, which would have been a major natural disaster for the surrounding areas. As the Capital Weather Gang blog from the Washington Post put it, a direct landfall would have meant 6 to 12 inches of rain, damaging winds, downed trees and electrical lines, storm surges and widespread flooding from streams and rivers. However, over the past couple of days, the models have gradually shifted ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Maraya Pratt September is National Preparedness Month, which can effectively serve as a reminder to take the necessary steps early that will adequately prepare you to stay safe during any public emergency or crisis. This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.” Just as the nation must ensure that communities as a whole have the support and resources needed to respond and recover, individuals should also take responsibility to ensure both their and their families’ necessary preparation. Public health is an area that does not immediately come to mind when thinking of ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Jules Szanton Imagine this scenario: You read in the paper that a chain department store where you frequently shop has suffered a data breach.  Hackers implanted malware into the company’s payment system, stealing credit card information from millions of the company’s customers.  Since you shop at the department store frequently and have a store credit card, you suspect that your card is among the roughly 1.1 million cards to be compromised. You check your credit card statement online. Sure enough, you find several large charges that you did not make. After several hours of calling customer ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Fangzhou XIE In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the nation witnessed a burgeoning era of numerous counter-terrorism tactics. Over time, criticisms arose as to whether those precautionary measures truly serve to prevent terrorism, or are merely placebo to calm down unsettling public nerves, and at what cost?  The United States (US) is not the only nation to face this crisis; other countries such as the United Kingdom (UK) also have a history of developing and applying counter-terrorism measures with limited success. On September 2, 2015, CHHS invited Dr. Genevieve Lennon, a renowned UK legal scholar specializing ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Hanna Ernstberger Recent peaceful gatherings outside the Baltimore Circuit Courthouse are a stark comparison to the riots that tore through the city in April. Throughout the past few weeks, protesters have assembled, with little incident, in front of Courthouse East to speak their opinions regarding pre-trial motions in the ongoing Freddie Gray case. The drastic difference may be due to hindsight, giving the city time to cool off, or it may be due to the pre-trial motions thus far being determined favorably to protestors.  But it may also be, in part, due to the city’s newfound preparation. ...Read More
Continued training is imperative to maintaining a well-qualified, effective workforce – especially in emergency response fields where best practices evolve with every emergency.  Traditional training programs, however, may not always be the best approach.  Traditional training occurs in person, in real time, and often represents a large investment in paid time/lost productivity venue and travel expenses.  For those in the emergency management and public health fields, as well as first responders, this commitment in time and effort is not always possible. Online training, or eLearning, provide effective and responsive workforce training anytime and anywhere.  ELearning generally refers to any type ...Read More
Traditional police responsibilities have expanded tremendously since Hurricane Katrina touched down in New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Katrina not only highlighted the need for officials in Louisiana and nationwide to enhance preparedness and coordination efforts, but also emphasized the need for local police to broaden their roles during a crisis. Typical police training focuses on keeping communities safe through prevention and detection of crime, traffic stops, investigative techniques, and arrests. Self-defense tactics and firearms training are also required for officers to meet government regulations and maintain minimum safety standards. However, after Katrina and similar natural disasters, police executives have ...Read More
In his final news conference as president in January 2009—three and a half years after Hurricane Katrina—President George W. Bush still faced criticism regarding the federal government’s response to the disaster. “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed.” President Bush conceded that mistakes were made, but he rejected the allegation that the federal response was slow. This debate regarding federal action during Hurricane Katrina has continued among scholars, politicians, policy makers, and emergency management professionals well beyond President Bush’s term in office. “Slow” after all is ...Read More
The silver lining within the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina was the redoubling of federal, state, and local focus on responding to crises that by their devastating nature overwhelm governmental resources. From the 9/11 attacks in 2001 to the Katrina episode in 2005, most emergency management attention was focused on preventing and responding to terror attacks. Katrina demonstrated that severe weather events (superstorms, tornadoes, wildfires, flooding) and infectious disease outbreaks (e.g. Ebola) are just as threatening, and often more threatening, to the American populace. In the wake of Katrina, it became apparent that the governmental apparatus initially focused on prevention ...Read More
In its “Lessons Learned” document from Hurricane Katrina, the George W. Bush administration noted that although Federal, State, and local agencies had communications plans and assets at the ready, the plans and assets were, “neither sufficient nor adequately integrated to respond effectively to the disaster.” Furthermore, the report stated that the inability to communicate effectively among first responders, "clearly impeded coordination and communication at the Federal, State, and local levels.” According to a report issued by the U.S. Army War College, the communications failures were significant enough to cause, “undue death and destruction in” in affected areas.[1] As we approach ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistants Jules Szanton and Elizabeth Millford Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rejected Maryland’s appeal for $19.4 million in expenses that city and state governments incurred during the civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.  Maryland’s aid application – and the application’s rejection by FEMA – offers a deeper look at when FEMA does and does not recognizes an event as a disaster. Maryland sought federal reimbursement under the federal Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act).  The Stafford Act allows the federal government to declare a “major ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Jules Szanton Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are confronting a resurgence of Ebola after several encouraging months when the virus seemed to be nearly extinguished from West Africa.  Public health experts suspect a number of factors are leading to a rise in the infectious disease.  The resurgence lends new urgency to the effort to develop and test an Ebola vaccine, a badly needed tool in the struggle against the highly infectious disease. By late spring, the West African Ebola outbreak seemed to be under control.  The World Health Organization declared Liberia to be Ebola-free on May ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Elizabeth Millford This is the question that many Americans are asking themselves after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the second major landmark case to challenge President Obama’s 2010 healthcare law. On Thursday June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court revealed its decision on the most recent case involving Obamacare. The case in question, King v. Burwell, challenged the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on one of its main principles – the federal insurance subsidy. The most important thing to know about this ruling is that does not change anything, at least not in terms of medical insurance prices or ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Jules Szanton When a country or region is struck by a natural disaster, act of terror, or disease outbreak, it isn’t long until an economic threat rears its head: declining tourist visits. In an era when news travels quickly and tourists have choices, areas that have suffered from high-profile disasters frequently find their tourism industries devastated. Even if the level of risk is objectively low, tourists can be scared to travel whether out of fear of a recurrence or disappointment over the potential quality of their visit. That’s the situation facing South Korea, as the country ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Elizabeth Millford Don’t be surprised if you see Google or Microsoft employees working alongside emergency responders the next time a disaster strikes. On June 17 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hosted a special signing ceremony at their Headquarters in DC, where seven private sector technology companies signed agreements to participate in FEMA’s new emergency management program, Tech Corps. These agreements, in the form of Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), establish that the seven companies – Cisco Systems, Google, Humanity Road, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, Intel, Joint Communication Task Force, and Microsoft – will provide volunteer ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Maraya Pratt The most recent measles outbreak that occurred at Disneyland last December affected nearly 150 people and subsequently prompted the California Assembly to vote to substantially limit vaccine exemptions for school children. Vaccination rates in California have substantially decreased in recent years as parents have declined to comply with the mandatory laws. A study in California has found that over 10% of parents use the personal belief exemption to avoid the state’s vaccine mandates, which has contributed to the state’s reputation of being an “anti-vaccination hotbed.” Many of the failures to inoculate children are the ...Read More
When you hear the word plague, it might call to mind images from centuries ago. However, this week the public health world was reminded the past is never quite behind us when a 16-year-old Colorado boy died from a rare strain of septicemic plague. Thought to have been contracted from bites from infected fleas, septicemic plague is a rare form of the plague where the bacteria directly enters the bloodstream. Typically, transmission of any form of the plague occurs when fleas that live on infected rodents such as rats, squirrels, and prairie dogs, bite humans. Because plague symptoms often look ...Read More
Sunday, June 21st, South Korea’s health ministry reported three new cases of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The total number of individuals infected is now at 181, and the death toll is at 31. In spite of the three new reported cases, however, there has actually been an overall drop in reported new cases. South Korea has been under fire for failing to control MERS more quickly. At the center of that criticism is one hospital in particular, the Samsung Medical Center, where the first case of MERS appeared in May. Before this initial MERS patient was diagnosed and properly ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Elizabeth Millford Memorial Day weekend brought a lot more than patriotic celebration to Central Texas. More than four weeks of near-constant rain culminated in a flash flood that devastated towns and homes and ultimately claimed the lives of at least 23 individuals, including many children. In the span of just a few hours, the Blanco River in Wimberley, Texas crested more than three times flood stage, measuring 44 feet before the gauge was ripped away in the current. In 2005 hurricane Katrina’s widespread devastation, which resulted in the loss of more than 1,000 lives, led to a ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Drew Ricci With the recent emergence of wireless connectivity in medical devices, taking someone’s life could all too easily lay in the hands of predators nowhere near a patient’s bed-side.  The majority of today’s medical devices that possess wireless connectivity have frightening security flaws that leave them susceptible to remote hacking. Moreover, many of the devices are vulnerable to third-party manipulation because they can be accessed without a password altogether, or by entering a default password such as “1234” or “admin.” In a recent 2-year study conducted by Scott Erven of Essentia Health, Erven identified current medical ...Read More
If you lived in Maryland this past winter and had school-aged children, you may have had one or two mornings where you thought to yourself: who decides to close schools for inclement weather? (You may have also wondered: what were they thinking?).  As tough a job as it might be to make the decision to close for inclement weather, it’s even tougher when the circumstances are for public health reasons—such as an infectious disease outbreak. South Korea is learning this lesson as it responds to Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. As part of its response to ensure the respiratory ...Read More
Although the Ebola outbreak in Africa has been largely contained, the global public health community is far from getting a break. Hong Kong just announced a “red alert” against non-essential travel to South Korea due to its concern about Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS; and late yesterday the story broke that a traveler in the U.S. from India has been sent to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).  Both stories drive home the importance of rapid diagnosis and proper response procedures, especially in the age of international travel. Although MERS, has been present ...Read More
Recent civil unrest in Baltimore has caused numerous organizations, both public and private, to institute an array of emergency protocols in order to better protect staff and resources. The most common steps taken are to evacuate buildings and to cease operations for a limited time. Using the term “evacuation” might sound extreme, but evacuations are something inculcated to the American populace from a very young age, i.e. school fire drills. A fire drill is just a rapid evacuation of a structure due to some danger present within the building. In these situations it is safer for the occupants to be ...Read More
If you live or work near Baltimore City, or even if you follow national news, you know that tensions have been mounting in the two weeks since Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody. Those tensions began with questions into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Gray’s arrest and death, and then led to protests. Monday, after Freddie Gray’s funeral, many people became violent, throwing objects at police, looting, and setting fire to cars and in some cases, buildings. In response to the unrest and rioting, and at the request of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive ...Read More
The recent tragic events in Charleston South Carolina, where the world witnessed South Carolina Police Officer Michael Slager shoot and kill an unarmed and fleeing Walter Scott, magnify the need to evaluate tactics and training of our American Police Departments. There are nearly one million police officers that keep our communities safe in this country, and for the majority of officers, they do their jobs remarkably well in spite of the inherent dangers of being a police officer. In the year 2013, 114 police officers lost their lives in the line of duty and hundreds more were injured. It can’t ...Read More
CHHS Extern Lisa Bowen also contributed to this blog    Resilience    noun re·sil·ience \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\ : the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens : the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc. Several recent public health crises – Ebola, Measles, and the 2014-2015 Flu Season to name a few – make apparent the need for public health partners to develop and maintain resilient public health infrastructures.   These well-publicized incidents and others like them occur against the backdrop of the essential services provided by ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Laura Merkey Wikimedia, the parent company of Wikipedia, in conjunction with several other groups including Amnesty International USA, the ACLU, and the Rutherford Institute, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Justice challenging a mass surveillance program that utilizes “upstream” surveillance. Upstream surveillance occurs when the backbone or infrastructure of the internet is tapped in order to collect data about individuals, both within the U.S. and abroad. The NSA methodically sweeps through the internet traffic as it flows in and out of the U.S. on fiber-optic cables, searching ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Lisa Bowen The dramatic decrease in lead poisoning rates after the removal of lead from gasoline and the ban on lead-based paint is a perfect example of how public health interventions are more successful when public health policy is enacted. Unfortunately, it usually takes seventeen years to translate scientific evidence into policy. However, outbreaks of a highly infectious disease seem to act as a catalyst for the creation of public health laws and regulations. Only three months into 2015, 173 people in 17 states have been infected with measles. While there is a slight risk of catching ...Read More
Leaders in emergency service fields are frequently faced with difficult choices. Crucial decisions about where to allocate resources, time, and money are all too often based on habits and guesswork rather than reliable data. However, innovative programs across the country are increasingly demanding high-quality information to support decision making in the field. In support of this effort, CHHS is working with partners across Maryland to develop information management systems that promote a data-driven and evidenced-based approach to emergency response. The goal is simple: build systems that produce easy-to-understand data that will help emergency services leaders address the most important decisions ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Andrew Weissenberg In the aftermath of the Charlie Hedbo attacks in Paris, an unlikely “hero” has emerged. When fighting ISIS, most figured it would be by air and land. However, the global hacker collective, Anonymous, has recently staged a hacking campaign against ISIS. Anonymous became an online force around 2003, but did not truly start its “hacktivism” until 2008. In response to the tragic attacks at Charlie Hebdo, a group of hackers claiming affiliation with Anonymous took down Ansar-Alhaqq, a French jihadist website.  This website translates as “defenders of the truth”, and features articles such as “44 ...Read More
The Gubernatorial Inauguration of Larry Hogan, Maryland’s 62nd Governor, took place on January 21st, 2015. While the ceremony lasted a total of 3 hours, the planning process spanned over 2 months. It’s difficult to predict when or where an emergency or disaster might take place. Special events however, are known ahead of time and allow for planning and preparation in advance. In today’s emergency management conscious world planning for the unexpected is routine, but for special events, up to date plans and situational awareness is key. Maryland’s Inauguration planning process began in early December of 2014, when the event’s major ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Jackie Togno The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) funding bill is set to expire tomorrow, February 27, 2015. In November, President Obama issued an executive order that offers protection to an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and would permit them to work legally if they have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. The House-approved amendments to the $40 billion DHS funding bill would cut off funding to implement Obama's new immigration orders as well as the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, which DHS created in 2012 to offer legal status ...Read More
While the country’s attention has moved beyond last Fall’s Ebola panic, a new public health threat has emerged from a particularly disturbing place: a major U.S. hospital system. The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) health system notified 179 patients last week that they may have been exposed last fall to Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which is a type of “superbug.” The patients were exposed during certain endoscopic procedures at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The health system confirmed that 7 patients had been infected, and 2 had died as a result of the infection. A superbug refers to bacteria ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Lisa Bowen Online health clinics are the 21st century’s version of a house call. Individuals no longer have to travel to and wait in line at a doctor’s office. Instead, patients can receive a diagnosis, treatment plan, and even prescriptions from the comfort of their homes. Individuals who use online health clinics also decrease the number of people they expose, which could be crucial during an infectious disease outbreak. According to the Pew Internet Project, in 2012, 72% of internet users used the web to access health information, but healthcare professionals are still the preferred source of ...Read More
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser last week reversed the decision by the City’s previous administration to encrypt radio communications in the Metropolitan Fire Department. The change in policy comes on the heels of a deadly smoke incident aboard a Metro Train that took the life of one passenger and left numerous others treated at local hospitals as a result of smoke inhalation. During the response stage of this event, officials determined communications were hampered, which may have delayed their response. I first addressed the pitfalls of public safety radio encryption in 2011 – DC Police Decision Jeopardizes Interoperability. At the ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Mona Qureshi The year 2000 was supposed to mark the end of measles in the United States; however, in 2014 measles came back with a vengeance. From 2001 to 2013 measles cases in the US hovered around 200 cases annually, but in 2014 they spiked to 644 reported cases, largely traced to a group of unvaccinated Amish volunteers who visited the Philippines during a measles outbreak. Only one month into 2015, more than 100 cases have been reported with most stemming from an outbreak this past December at the California amusement park Disneyland. Measles is a ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Andrew Weissenberg Imagine booting up your computer and opening your email to find a message from the police. It alleges you were spotted surfing illegal websites, and that the police would not stop pursuing you unless you paid a fine. The price for not paying is to have all the files on your computer encrypted, leaving you unable to access them. This is not a new movie plot. It is an international phenomenon called Ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware, which infects a user’s computer or smartphone, encrypts the hard drive, and then demands money to ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Jackie Togno The French government has been under immense pressure to increase national security in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks where seventeen people were killed earlier this month. People throughout France are now in fear of future attacks and many believe that the terrorist threat has yet to be subdued within the country. Although it is already considered one of the strictest countries in Europe in terms of national security policy, the French government has responded with increased counterterrorism methods to prevent further acts of terror. Just two weeks after the attacks, France announced that ...Read More
CHHS Senior Law and Policy Analyst Christopher Webster also contributed to this blog. Last week, an electrical fire in the Washington D.C. metro caused heavy smoke outside the L’Enfant Plaza Station. Dozens of passengers were trapped amidst thick black smoke. Carol Glover of Alexandria, Virginia tragically lost her life in the event; and, over 80 others were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation and other serious injuries. In the aftermath of the event, both local and national media have focused on the failure of emergency communications systems; specifically the 800 MHz radio, which did not function properly in the metro tunnels. ...Read More
Co-authored by Ellen Cornelius and Markus Rauschecker - CHHS Senior Law and Policy Analysts as well as Adjunct Professors for Law and Policy of Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland School of Law Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about yet another cyber incident. With more and more high profile cyber hacks occurring, government, the private sector, and individuals are looking for solutions, but also wondering what’s next. Here are the top six cybersecurity issues we see for the coming year: Sony Hack – The fallout from one of the largest hacks ever will continue. Administration officials have repeatedly stated that ...Read More
After the highly publicized events which led to the death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo. police officer, Darren Wilson, and the varying eye witness accounts that both substantiated and refuted the version of Officer Wilson, there has been a wave of national support for mandatory police body cameras. President Barack Obama recently held a public safety summit at the White House that was attended by police executives, civil rights groups, and political leaders to discuss how the police and the community can bridge the gap of trust that was apparently void in Ferguson. At the conclusion of the ...Read More
By CHHS Extern Timothy Rice Politicians have claimed that cyber attacks “can shut this country down” and are “the equivalent of today’s nuclear weapon.” Combined with the widespread threat of terrorist activity, the term “cyberterrorism” invokes fear in the public and puts government on high alert. The debate about whether cyberterrorism poses a threat to homeland security must begin with a proper understanding of cyberterrorism in the first place. If we apply the accurate definitions, the concept of cyberterrorism is narrower than most people imagine but still calls for robust defensive postures. There is yet no legal definition of cyberterrorism, ...Read More
A month ago, the Ebola outbreak was dominating the nightly news in the United States. One infected patient in Dallas had died, and an unknown number of medical professionals had been exposed. A man returning from Western Africa came to New York, rode the subway and went bowling. A nurse was quarantined in New Jersey under what she described as “inhumane” conditions. The outbreak even found its way into our own backyard, as the University of Maryland Medical Center handled a suspected Ebola patient. Over the past few weeks, however, Ebola left the front pages. The only person who had ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Laura Merkey Imagine if when faced with a life-threatening situation, ambulatory care is readily accessible and only a few minutes away, by air.  That is exactly the thought that occurred to Alec Momont, a 23 year-old student from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, after his parents lost a neighbor to cardiac arrest because an ambulance wasn’t able to arrive in time. Momont, as part of his final project for the Delft University, has designed an ambulance drone that can fly at 60 miles per hour and has a built-in defibrillator.  In essence, Momont’s idea is ...Read More
By CHHS Law and Policy Analyst Christine Gentry While public opinion favors mandatory quarantines of asymptomatic individuals with possible exposure to Ebola and several states are establishing quarantine policies, little discussion has been given to the cost of quarantine.  Naturally, overall cost will depend on the level of quarantine in place, from mandatory quarantine enforced by state order to voluntary isolation and monitoring. Regardless of the level and method of enforcement, however, most quarantine practices will involve health care services, security or enforcement, and ancillary support services.  While the public health infrastructure is in place to respond to Ebola and ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Laura Merkey Recent news reports and the media have been inundated with accounts of extremist attacks and shootings geared at government buildings or officials. Canadian citizens were shocked when a lone gunman, recently identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, fatally shot a soldier who was guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Zehaf-Bibeau, who was shot and killed in the attack, was Canadian born, had a prior criminal record, and had recently converted to Islam. Shortly after the Ottawa shooting, a man who has been identified as Zale H. Thompson attacked four New York City Police officers, injuring ...Read More
Last week, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented its Active Post-Arrival monitoring program to prevent a domestic Ebola outbreak. Under this program, the six states—which includes Maryland, New York, and New Jersey—that see approximately 70% of travelers from West African countries affected by the Ebola epidemic were asked to begin actively monitoring travelers from impacted countries for 21 days. In days following this announcement, controversial quarantine resulted in Nurse Kaci Hickox’s confinement in an isolation tent at a New Jersey Hospital while medical experts and government leaders debated how best to monitor healthcare workers returning ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Andrew Geltman With the creation of new technologies people inevitably find new ways to make money off of them. One such person, Jon Schultz, is in the business of purchasing and reselling domain names. Schultz’ niche however, is purchasing domain names reflecting public health topics that have the potential to become major international crises. Schultz engages in this business by researching emerging diseases. His research has led him to make several high profile acquisitions including, and Schultz gathers such domain names as a form of modern day prospecting. He hopes that the domains ...Read More
Over the weekend, the debate dominated headlines: should states enact a policy for quarantining and isolating individuals potentially exposed to Ebola? New York, New Jersey, and Illinois had already answered “yes”; others, including President Obama, and the Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, argued “no,” citing among other concerns, “unintended consequences.” At the center of the debate was Kaci Hickox, a nurse who returned from West Africa and was quarantined under New Jersey orders. Over the weekend, she described her quarantine as inhumane, and today she has been released to continue her quarantine in her own ...Read More
By CHHS Research Assistant Laura Merkey While the Ebola outbreak is a global concern and has sparked collective fear and apprehension, it is undisputed that healthcare workers have suffered great losses and still face the greatest amount of risk.  In the United States (US), two nurses who helped treat Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas have contracted the virus. One of those nurses, Nina Pham, was transferred to the Special Clinical Studies Unit at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The facility has one of four biocontainment units in the ...Read More