There have been 40 confirmed diagnoses of H1N1 virus in the United States. The CDC is updating this number and providing additional information at: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/index.htm (The CDC has indicated an official update will be forthcoming at 1:00 pm eastern. Numbers will increase and various numbers will be reported. For consistency I will stick with the CDC official count as shown on their webpage.)
The Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services has taken statutory action as follows:
As a consequence of confirmed cases of Swine Influenza A (swH1N1) in California, Texas, Kansas, and New York, on this date and after consultation with public health officials as necessary, I, Charles E. Johnson, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pursuant to the authority vested in me under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 247d, do hereby determine that a public health emergency exists nationwide involving Swine Influenza A that affects or has significant potential to affect national security. (April 26,2009)
In Mexico the suspected death-toll from swine flu has increased to at least 149. The government has closed all schools — pre-school to post-graduate — nationwide. (See San Francisco Chronicle for more.) (Again, numbers will increase, reports will vary.)
The World Health Organization has increased its alert level to Phase 4 in a six step pandemic warning system. Phase 4 is meant to communicate that, “verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause community-level outbreaks. The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic… Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.” (The alert level link above provides helpful detail.)
In accordance with the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5, and the National Response Framework, the Secretary of Homeland Security has been identified the Principal Federal Official (PFO) for Domestic Incident Management. At the Sunday White House briefing John Brennan, the President’s Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism said, “Secretary Napolitano, who is the principal federal official for domestic incident management with responsibility for spearheading our efforts.”
According to the National Response Framework, the Principal Federal Official acts “to facilitate Federal support to the established ICS Unified Command structure and to coordinate overall Federal incident management and assistance activities across the spectrum of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.” (my emphasis)
Wednesday the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hear testimony from Secretary Napolitano regarding coordination of the federal response to swine flu.
Is the foregoing accurate? In terms of existing law, regulation, policy, and strategy what else is of equal importance? Is the Public Health Service Act the law that is most applicable here? Are there other laws especially germane to the task ahead? How about HSPD-21? Is it being used? If so, how? If not, why not? The question does not assume a right-or-wrong answer. How about the PKEMRA?
It seems to me that this blog’s best contribution is trying to capture what is happening in the policy-and-practice nexus. Can we discern how prior investment in law, regulation, policy and strategy is paying-off now? If it is paying-off, how and why? If it is not paying off, how and why? Good or bad (and let’s not miss the good news) what does this tell us about effective law-making, rule-making, policy-making and strategizing?