Blogs from 2016

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: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/harford/belair/ph-ag-ems-study-0629-20160629-story.html 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: https://youtu.be/5Z-mZrKQ-14
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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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMEYItF9o0c  
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