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Summer Journal

Volume 29, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

CDC country office sign in Liberia

Countries need to be prepared to handle emergencies. Having the right laws in place is an important part of the preparation.

When laws are not clearly defined, responders can have a hard time figuring out what to do during a public health emergency and who has the authority to take action. When a deadly disease outbreak hits, this can have devastating consequences.

Liberia knows firsthand what can happen when laws don’t match the needs in the field. Their experience with the recent Ebola epidemic exposed gaps in legal authority during the response. This is one reason why Liberia’s government recently reached out to the GHSA Public Health Law Project. The project team is helping them document issues that could be improved by updating Liberia’s public health law, which was last fully revised in 1976.

Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda

Bucket of bleach for washing of hands before entering public buildings and entering counties

Ebola preventive measures in Liberia: Buckets of bleach to wash hands before entering public buildings and entering counties.

The GHSA Public Health Law Project takes a close look at how the law can help (or hinder) countries as they prepare to handle public health emergencies through the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). Right now, over 50 countries around the world are working through the GHSA to improve their ability to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats. The GHSA Public Health Law Project currently covers nearly half of the GHSA countries. The team helps analyze the laws of a country and provides training to country officials to help them understand the importance of law as a public health tool.

The team begins its work by gathering information about existing laws and talking to experts about how public health law works in their country. In Liberia, the team found that people felt unclear about their roles during the Ebola response. As one country health official told the team, “There is confusion about roles in an emergency and enforcement. What is the role of the police? The ministry of health? The military? [This] needs to be better defined.”

Public Health Law in Liberia

Before the CDC team arrived in Liberia, the Ministry of Health’s Legal Counsel were already taking the lead to help modernize the law. This is a massive undertaking that the Government of Liberia hopes to accomplish as soon as possible.

The Liberian Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Legal Counsel and CDC’s Country Office Director invited the CDC project team to help them reach this goal through research and analysis of where there may be gaps in the law. The project team worked with a team from the University of North Carolina’s School of Government, who were invited for public health law support by Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer.

CDC Public Health Law team

From Left to Right: Jeff Austin (University of North Carolina), Emily Rosenfeld (CDC), Akshara Menon (CDC), Tomik Vobah and Aimee Wall (University of North Carolina)

Liberia will be able to use the information gathered by the team as they update their public health law. Once the laws are updated, the next step is making sure people are aware of them. A county health official laid out the problem he saw in Liberia: “Fundamentally, what is wrong is that the public health law is not widely known.” This official had been a practicing doctor for 11 years, but he had only read Liberia’s public health law for the first time two weeks prior to talking with the team.

Planning for the Future

The GHSA Public Health Law Project is being done collaboratively between CDC’s Center for Global Health and the Public Health Law Program. The project is compiling the laws from these countries into a single, searchable database to give a more complete picture of the legal landscape relating to the GHSA. The legal data obtained from this project will be a valuable resource when countries want to update their public health laws.

This initial legal mapping phase is only the beginning. What is really vital is how countries will use this information to help guide their work. The law can be an effective tool in meeting global health security goals and protecting people’s health — not only when a crisis hits, but every day.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to present at the Business Continuity Institutes regional forum in Liverpool, the aim of the presentation me and my colleague gave was to ask the question;

Do you consider data security as part of your business continuity plan?

Surely it is isn’t it?

But you may be surprised at just how many people don’t believe it is. With IT BCP, we look at the big problems and large incidents, the complete failure of a system, the loss of a computer room or the loss of a building, however like with so many things in IT, it’s the little things that can get you and these little things sometimes slip the net.

It’s those perceived “little things” that we wanted to look at with the audience and share why in our opinion data security should be a significant part of your IT continuity plans.



We all face a number of risks every day. Yet, we do not respond to each and every risk. We engage in risk-ranking our responses. Some are more risk than others and some are more catastrophic than others. So, we engage in risk ranking each day and allocate our time and attention accordingly.

The same applies, or should apply, when managing a compliance program. Resources are limited and compliance officers face a variety of risks. It is important, however, to rank these risks and then allocate time, attention and resources in accordance with these risk rankings.

The Justice Department and the SEC understand exactly how such a process works and expects to see risk-ranking systems incorporated in a compliance program. Once a company engages in risk ranking then the compliance officer is justified in assigning more resources to higher risk and reducing resources to lower risk activities. Assuming that such strategies are applied consistently and documented, there is no way the government will second-guess or recalculate risk ranking procedures.



Regular and informative communication with your staff keeps the pulse of your organization beating. Employees value transparency, connectedness, and being in the know. When you, as an organization, make an active effort to communicate with your people when an incident occurs, or when an announcement affects their well-being, they know that their time, safety, and security are being respected.

Investing in an employee notification system such as AlertMedia enables you to streamline important communications to your staff—the people that make up and run the heart of your organization.

So, how can you use an employee notification system to best reach and connect with your employees?

Educate your employees, your audience. 



Since my AC is on the fritz today and it’s going to be 100 degrees-plus in the Washington, DC, metro area, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at what’s been happening in data center cooling lately.

It turns out, quite a bit.

Probably the most significant development for future data facilities is Google’s deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) to manage cooling equipment at some of its hyperscale centers. Light Reading’s Brian Santo reports that the DeepMind platform has already produced a 15 percent improvement in power consumption, which, for Google, translates into millions of dollars saved per year. DeepMind, developed in Britain and acquired by Google in 2014, uses pattern recognition and intuitive algorithms to not only monitor and adjust cooling conditions but even recognize what information it lacks to make informed decisions and guide sensor deployment and other structural upgrades. Google says it is now looking to deploy DeepMind across its global data footprint.



Knowledge assets are critical to any business remaining functional and competitive, yet this data is routinely exposed to the risk of theft and overlooked in cybersecurity risk management. According to a new report from the Ponemon Institute and law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, the organizations are increasingly ineffective at safeguarding data like trade secrets, product design, development or pricing, and other proprietary information.

As breach notification laws, regulatory requirements, and reputation considerations draw more focus to cybersecurity surrounding personal data of customers or personnel, businesses are leaving more risk on the table regarding their most valuable assets, and that risk has a notable price tag.

In the past year, the average cost of remediating these attacks was about $5.4 million, and half of respondents estimated the maximum cost would range over $250 million, with seven out of ten placing it over $100 million. What’s more, on average, respondents believe only 35% of the losses resulting from knowledge asset theft would be covered by their current insurance policies.



(TNS) - York County, Pa., commissioners approved a five-year contract Wednesday worth more than $2.1 million for maintenance of the county's emergency management systems.

The deal with Patriot Communications, LLC in Elkton, Maryland, on behalf of the county's Department of Emergency Services, which encompasses 911 and emergency management, runs from Aug. 1, 2016 until July 31, 2021.

The system had been maintained through multiple contracts of various lengths by Harris Corp., which is still in charge of switching the county's radio system from T-Band to 700 MHz.

Eric Bistline, the department's executive director, said the maintenance contract was put out for bid to receive competitive offers even though the department isn't required to do so.



(TNS) - Nicholas County’s new schools superintendent said Thursday that three of the county’s schools — Summersville Middle, Richwood Middle and Richwood High — won’t be able to reopen their buildings in time for the Aug. 19 start of classes there and that she doesn’t know if they can be reopened at all.

Donna Burge-Tetrick said she’s aiming to have all three schools’ students start on schedule, but she’s still working on how to accomplish that. She noted that the plan could include portable classrooms and/or sharing of other school facilities between two separate schools’ students, like how Kanawha County’s public school system is temporarily sending displaced Herbert Hoover High students to Elkview Middle.

Burge-Tetrick’s revelation that three more West Virginia school buildings won’t reopen on time in the wake of the late-June flooding continues to reverse the prior notion — based on other school officials’ past statements — that all flood-affected schools were likely to start classes on schedule for the upcoming school year.



Charleston, W.Va – All survivors who sustained damage or losses from the June flooding can get help from local Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs).

If you need an accommodation or assistance due to a disability, please notify Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff at the time of registration or anytime throughout the assistance process.

Survivors can meet face-to-face with various agencies and service providers at each DRC. All FEMA DRCs are equally accessible to people with disabilities and provide assistance tools. Use the DRC Locator at http://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm to find the DRC closest to you.

The DRCs meet Rehabilitation Act standards:

  • Every disaster survivor has equal access to disaster registration information and assistance.
  • DRCs offer effective communication options including: captioned phones, iPads with video remote interpreting; American Sign Language interpreters upon request; amplified telephones and listening devices for people with hearing loss; phones that display text; and magnifiers for people with vision loss.
  • FEMA documents are available in both Braille, large print, and other formats upon request.

FEMA assistance does not impact government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, Social Security, or other benefits.

Follow these links to access informational videos in ASL:

Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by visiting: www.DisasterAssistance.gov; the flood pages at www.WVflood.com; fema.gov/disaster/4273; twitter.com/femaregion3; and fema.gov/blog.

The Weather Network identified in a March report four “terrifying disasters waiting to happen.”

One was deadly, exploding lakes in Africa. These are rare events known as limnic eruption and happen when CO2 builds up over time from nearby volcanic activity. Another potentially catastrophic event would be the onset of giant space rocks hitting the Earth.

This would be a global catastrophe, because particles in the atmosphere would block up to 70 percent of sunlight for the first couple of years. Besides that, particles suspended in the stratosphere would warm, stripping the Earth of about 55 percent of its ozone layer.

Two of the potential catastrophes would take place in the U.S., including the eruption of the supervolcano that rests beneath Yellowstone National Park. The report said that if the volcano were to erupt, it would produce enough ash to bury nearby cities and dust those on the coasts. The good news is that the last time this happened was 70,000 years ago and the “repeat” time would be 700,000 years.



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