public health


Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 19, 2020: Coronavirus deaths surpass 2,000 as the number of cases in China nears 75,000; a new earthquake early warning app allows users to receive a vibrating countdown to when the shaking will begin; a deadly fire at a library in California has claimed the life of at least one firefighter and left one firefighter missing; hundreds have been forced from their homes due to flooding in Mississippi, with more rain forecast for the area Thursday and Friday; a road has collapsed in Tennessee after a landslide tumbled two homes into the Tennessee River over the weekend; two women are dead after their vehicle fell off the Fisher Island ferry in Miami; at least seven African nations are battling widespread hunger after the worst locust swarm in decades; and a new multi-agency coordination center will find its home at the Gary airport in Indiana.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

1) China reported another 1,749 cases of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases across its mainland to 74,185, with a total of 2,004 people having died from the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there have been 92 cases of COVID-19 that were spread by human-to-human contact across 12 countries. Globally, the total number of cases has reached 827, with five deaths. More than half of those infected were on the quarantined Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan.

2) A new earthquake early warning app will allow users to set a threshold for when the app goes off. The app, QuakeAlertUSA, will sound audibly to let the user know just how bad the shaking will be and then provides a vibrating countdown to the real shaking. The user will also be provided with information regarding the imminent quake, its intensity, magnitude, and distance from the epicenter. Other information that the app will provide includes how long before the shaking will begin and whether to drop, cover, and hold on.

3) A large and deadly fire broke out in a library in Porterville, California, claiming the life of at least one firefighter and leaving another missing. Units from the Porterville Fire Department, CalFire, and Fresno County Fire helped fight the blaze, which broke out inside the Tulare County Library at around 4:00 p.m. The library normally closes at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, and it is unclear if anyone was inside the building when the blaze broke out. According to reports, the building was built in 1953 and does not have a sprinkler system.

4) Hundreds of homes in Mississippi have flooded, and more rain is expected to fall overnight Tuesday to Wednesday. Flash flood watches issued by the National Weather Service were in effect on Tuesday for areas from Mississippi to central Alabama, with the flash flood watch still in effect for parts of Mississippi through Wednesday morning. The worst flooding was recorded in Jackson, Mississippi, along the Pearl River. More rain is forecast in the area for Thursday and Friday.

5) Relentless rain sent two homes tumbling into the Tennessee River over the weekend during a landslide. The landslide, which occurred in Hardin County, Tennessee, has now caused a portion of Glendale Road to completely collapse. Officials fear the damage may not be over yet. The collapse occurred Monday night, but continues to grow. Local officials are warning residents and onlookers to avoid the dangerous, unstable area.

6) Two women are dead after their car plunged off the Fisher Island ferry in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday. Dive crews located the vehicle near Fisher Island within hours, but the two women were found unresponsive. According to reports, the car somehow fell off the Fisher Island ferry. The ferry shuttles people and their vehicles between Miami Beach and Fisher Island, a private luxury community. The incident is under investigation.

7) Nations in east Africa have been battling the worst locust outbreak in decades. The swarms of locusts are eating their way through food sources, causing difficulties for nations that are already battling food shortages after three years of drought and flooding, including Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. The locusts have now entered South Sudan, a nation reeling from years of civil war and widespread hunger, followed by devastating floods that caused millions to flee their homes in December.

8) A new Multi-Agency Coordination Center is to be located at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. The new center, meant to be a regional coordination and collaboration location for NIISSA (Northwest Indiana Information and Sharing Security Alliance) members, will host state and federal emergency preparedness agencies. The center was created in response to a flooding event in 2008, which closed I-80/94 for 10 days and cost local industries millions of dollars. The plan to use the Gary airport was introduced by the NIISSA group, whose members work in both public and private sectors throughout five counties in northern Indiana. These sectors include public safety, emergency management, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and cybersecurity.