Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 29, 2009

Napolitano testimony transcript and news briefing summary

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 29, 2009

DHS has released a transcript of the opening statement that Secretary Napolitano made this morning to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  (The transcript of the more formal prepared testimony can be found in a prior post.)

The web-based transcript of the Secretary’s daily news briefing on H1N1 has not been posted as of 8:30 pm (eastern).  Today she was joined by the new Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Since I cannot point you to the full transcript, following are three excerpted paragraphs:

I know there have been some calls to close the border. I want to address that directly. First of all, it is important to know that we are making all of our decisions based on the science and the epidemiology as recommended to us by the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC, the public health community, and the World Health Organization [WHO] all have said that closing our nation’s borders is not merited here, that the focus, the public health focus, should be on mitigating the impact of this virus. And so we are following those recommendations now… 

Many parents across the country are concerned about school closures, and President Obama spoke about this earlier today. The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that schools with confirmed cases of H1N1 virus or schools with suspected cases linked to a confirmed case consider closing on a temporary basis. Some schools have already followed that advice. The best thing parents can do right now is to make sure you have a contingency plan in place so that you’ve made arrangements to care for your child in the event of a school closure

This is also a good reminder for businesses to think about contingency planning as well.  As I said, we’re going to be working through this for a while. You have to anticipate what happens if you have employees who are parents. The schools have closed. The employees need to stay home. How do you continue with your business operations? And so all of us should be dusting off our business contingency plans, looking at things such as telecommuting and the like so that operations keep on going.

The web-link to Secretary Napolitano’s comments at the news briefing is now available.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 29, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

As to closing the border, I think this situation demonstrates again that our entire relationship with Mexico needs fundamental rethinking. We are partners in the world and North America. We need to do all that the US is capable of doing to help Mexico. It is clear that even if we could close the border and we cannot without using direct physical violence against Mexican citizens we could not close the border so the Secretary DHS (who does not have the legal or actual authority or capability to close the border) and would be dependent on Presidential level decisionmaking and enforcement is making the right call politically and epidemiology wise. Yet it does seem that here instead of being hostile to border crossers the US could help Mexico by assisting those who are infected with the virus, explaining in their own language the risks, and helping share the medical burden on Mexico to the fullest degree. It is really an unprecedented situation and despite what many think it may turn out that the virus came from the Us to Mexico and not the reverse. It is time to grow up and realize that the demographics and history and now even medical relationships are closely linked. Another test for the maturity of Americans and again the deepest sympathy for the Mexicans that may very well be into a political as well as medical crisis shortly. Time will tell.

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