On 22 occasions this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via SMS messages to their mobile devices regarding safety and security matters. All of these alerts dealt with the increasingly dangerous situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Most important for this report:
ELDERLY SHOULD AVOID TRAVEL
Starting last Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the Nat'l Inst of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, began issuing warnings for older Americans and those with "underlying conditions" that they should avoid travel and large crowds due to the threat posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
"If you're a person with an underlying condition — and you are particularly an elderly person with an underlying condition — you need to think twice about getting on a plane or on a long trip."
"And not only think twice, just don't get on a cruise ship."
AVOID CRUISE SHIPS
This warning was backed up later in the day by a formal travel alert issued by the U.S. State Department warning American citizens, and in particular, those with underlying health conditions, to not undertake travel by cruise ship, both from a health perspective, but also because many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships, as well as prevented passengers from disembarking.
ARMY SUSPENDS TRAVEL TO / FROM S. KOREA
Also on Sunday, the U.S. Army suspended travel for all soldiers and their families to and from South Korea, including those scheduled to attend professional military education in the United States, due to concerns about the fast-spreading coronavirus.
NATIONAL GUARD TO NEW ROCHELLE
On Tuesday, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of NY Governor Cuomo's order to deploy National Guard units to New Rochelle, a suburb located just NE of the Bronx, in order to set up a one mile containment zone around a cluster of more than 120 cases of the coronavirus. Many of these cases have a direct connection to the Temple Young Israel synagogue, where a 50-year-old lawyer, who was later hospitalized because of the virus, had attended events. The National Guard troops were expected to help clean public spaces and deliver food to those who are in quarantine. Schools are closed, and sporting events and worship services are not allowed in the containment zone.
GLOBAL PANDEMIC DECLARATION
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic based on alarming levels of spread, as well as the severity of the impact.
WHO defines a "pandemic" as an epidemic of infectious disease occurring on a scale crossing international boundaries and affecting a large number of people. According to WHO's Director General Terdos Ghebreyesus, “We expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.”
TRAVEL BAN FROM EUROPE
Also on Wednesday, President Trump suspended all travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. Within the actual proclamation language, it is pointed out that as of March 9th, the Schengen Area had exported 201 coronavirus cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.
Specifically, this presidential action suspends the entry into the United States, as immigrants or non-immigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. For clarity, the travel ban does not apply to any lawful permanent resident of the United States, any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or those falling into several additional related categories.
CDC LEVEL 3 TRAVEL NOTICE FOR EU
Also on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control issued Level 3 (Avoid Nonessential Travel) Notices for 29 European nations due to the widespread sustained transmission of the coronavirus.
Concurrent to the release of this CDC travel notice, the Dept. of Defense issued a new set of travel restrictions (PDF) banning all DoD uniformed personnel, civilian personnel and family members traveling to, from, or through any locations having a CDC Level-3 (Avoid Nonessential Travel) designation for the next 60 days. This includes all forms of official travel, including Permanent Change of Station, Temporary Duty, and government-funded leave.
GLOBAL HEALTH ADVISORY
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department issued a Global Health Advisory advising U.S. citizens to reconsider all travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.
PRESIDENT DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY
On Friday, President Trump formally notified Congress that the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the United States constitutes a national emergency. This Presidential Proclamation triggers the release of tens of billions of dollars in additional funding to combat the outbreak, as well as provides emergency authority to the President and Secretary of Health and Human services to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of different federal programs during the duration of the public health emergency.
In addition to all of these different government actions, entire school districts, as well as college and university networks, have suspended classes or transitioned to online course delivery in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Major corporations across the US and EU are encouraging their work forces to telecommute or are staggering work hours. Many states have banned large gatherings of more than 200 people, and many houses of worship have canceled regular services. Major sporting events in the US and EU have also been canceled, including suspension of NHL and NBA regular season play, as well as the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. In general, the overall effort is a non-pharmaceutical intervention known as social distancing. If people are not gathering in groups, the spread of the virus is slowed significantly.
OFFICIAL CASE NUMBERS
World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control (U.S.)
Johns Hopkins CSSE (Interactive map updated multiple times daily)
WHO RISK OF SPREAD & IMPACT ASSESSMENT
China Very High
Regional Level Very High
Global Level Very High
PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS RESOURCES
Official Coronavirus Information Pages:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration
Public Health Agency of Canada
Infection Prevention and Control Canada
World Health Organization
Official Pandemic Preparedness Guidance:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Department of Homeland Security / Ready.Gov
World Health Organization
(While some of the resources below were prepared for pandemic influenza, the broader guidance contain therein is directly applicable to the current coronavirus crisis).
Home Care for Patients w/ Suspected Coronavirus Infection
Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza
Fundamentals of Emergency Planning for Schools
Healthcare Systems Preparedness for COVID-19
Pub Health Guidance for Community-Level Preparedness & Response (SARS)
Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist
Faith-based & Community Org. Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Checklist
WHO Checklist for Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Planning
Get Your Workplace Ready for Pandemic Flu
Dept of Defense Coronavirus Response Page
DHS Supplemental Instructions For Inbound Flights
View Last Week's Issue
Additional Coronavirus News Items
Venezuela confirms two coronavirus cases, suspends school
How the coronavirus is deadliest for the over-80s
Worst-case coronavirus models show massive US toll
Woman who survived coronavirus shares her early symptoms
Coronavirus patients who recover can be left with damaged lungs
China And S. Korea Models Seem Like Only Way To Contain COVID-19s
Leaked gov records reveal 'the first coronavirus case emerged in NOVEMBER
Italy & ROK's coronavirus outbreaks show disparity between deaths and tactics
Lessons for the world: How South Korea is tackling coronavirus
Coronavirus in S. Korea: How 'trace, test and treat' may be saving lives
Coronavirus: with a pandemic confirmed, the race is now for a vaccine
Sepsis — a common cause of death from coronavirus
Coronavirus: Europe now epicenter of the pandemic, says WHO
WHO warns Europe is coronavirus 'epicenter' as cases, deaths rise
Coronavirus: Italy hits single-day record with 250 deaths
Italy's coronavirus death toll surges as Lombardy seeks tougher curbs
Italian doctor says overwhelmed hospitals are at 'complete saturation'
Italy on pace to run out of beds for critically ill coronavirus patients
Dramatic satellite footage shows 'notable drop' in air pollution over Italy
Spain declares state of emergency, military brought in to contain coronavirus
Spain to declare state of emergency as Covid-19 cases soar to 4,209
Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany become the latest to close their schools
Coronavirus begins shutting down public life across Germany
Coronavirus is France’s 'greatest health crisis in a century', says Macron
Czechs close borders from March 16 over coronavirus spread
Russia rushes to copy China and build a new hospital to deal with coronavirus
Coronavirus: Europe ramps up support for ailing firms
Escape from Europe: Americans scramble to board the last flights out
How many will die of coronavirus in the UK? A closer look at the numbers
Coronavirus: Queen postpones trips to Cheshire and Camden
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment around the clock and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.