October 31, 2017
Matthew P. Shearer, Ashley S. Geleta, Amesh Adalja, and Gigi Kwik Gronvall

The Center conducted a study to determine how public health in the United States can best be bolstered by engaging with community pharmacy in the near-term future. For the purpose of this study, community pharmacy is defined as the collective group of US independent and chain pharmacies (e.g., traditional drug stores, grocery stores with pharmacies, mass merchants with pharmacies).

Public Health & Healthcare Preparedness


ACA Open Enrollment 2018.  IMPORTANT: The 2018 Open Enrollment Period runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. This year's Open Enrollment is shorter than ever, so it's important to act quickly. If you don't act by December 15, you can't get 2018 coverage unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Plans sold during Open Enrollment start January 1, 2018.
(Healthcare.gov, 10/17)


Letter to the Honorable Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary, Department of Health & Human Services.
Several Democrat senators write to express deep concerns with the Department of Health & Human Services' draft Strategic Plan for FY2018-2022, which consistently prioritizes ideology over science and fails to address the diverse health needs of the people the Department serves.  (US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, 10/27/17)

Rapid Laboratory Identification of Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup C as the Cause of an Outbreak - Liberia, 2017.
CDC researchers describe a cluster of unexplained illness and deaths among persons who had attended a funeral during April 21-22 in Sinoe County, Liberia.  (CDC, 10/27/17)
Contributions of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Implementing the Global Health Security Agenda in 17 Partner Countries.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assists partner nations to improve IHR 2005 capacities and achieve GHSA targets. To assess progress through these CDC-supported efforts, CDC researchers analyzed country activity reports dating from April 2015 through March 2017.  (CDC, 10/26/17)

Trump Just Declared a Public Health Emergency to Combat the Opioid Crisis. Here's What That Would Do.
 The move comes nearly three months after Trump's opioid epidemic commission in July said that the president should "[d]eclare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act." 
The main practical effect of the declaration is to waive regulations to speed up resources going to the opioid epidemic.  (Vox, 10/26/17)

See also: 
Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis Meeting.
 The Council makes recommendations regarding policies, strategies, objectives, and priorities; addresses the development and application of new technologies; and reviews the extent to which progress has been made toward eliminating tuberculosis. 
Time will be available for public comment. Comments should be submitted in writing by email to the contact person listed below. The deadline for receipt is Monday, December 4, 2017. The meeting will be held on December 11-12, 2017.  (Federal Register, 10/26/17)
House Advances Bill to Provide Chemical Detection Devices to Combat Illicit Fentanyl Trade.
Authored by US Reps. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act would provide US Customs and Border Protection with the latest chemical screening devices and scientific support to detect and intercept synthetic opioids like fentanyl.  (Homeland Preparedness News, 10/26/17)
Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Examines Federal Response Efforts in Wake of Recent Hurricanes.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing Tuesday to examine the US Department of Health and Human Services' preparedness for and response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.  (Homeland Preparedness News, 10/26/17)

Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017.
CBO and the JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would reduce the deficit by $3.8 billion over the 2018-2027 period without substantially changing the number of people with health insurance coverage, on net.  (Congressional Budget Office, 10/25/17)
Advice for Providers Treating Patients in or Recently Returned from Hurricane-Affected Areas, Including Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.
The purpose of this HAN advisory is to remind clinicians assessing patients currently in or recently returned from hurricane-affected areas to be vigilant in looking for certain infectious diseases, including leptospirosis, dengue, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, vibriosis, and influenza. Additionally, this Advisory provides guidance to state and territorial health departments on enhanced disease reporting.  (CDC, 10/24/17)
Overcoming Obstacles to Polio Eradication in Pakistan.
Children were deprived of polio vaccine in several regions occupied by the militants making them inaccessible and hard to reach. Common myths and misconceptions were rife in most reluctant communities. Our biggest hurdle was "how do we change their mindset," while they eyed us with suspicion and disdain.  (CDC, 10/24/17)
FDA Releases 2015 NARMS Integrated Report.
Today the US Food and Drug Administration, along with its National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) partners, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, released the 2015 NARMS Integrated Report. The annual report highlights antimicrobial resistance patterns in bacteria isolated from humans, raw retail meats, and animals at slaughter. The report also provides information derived from whole genome sequence data about resistance genes for all Salmonella and some Campylobacter isolates.  (FDA, 10/23/17)
Building the Future Preparedness and Response Workforce.
After the September 11th terrorist attacks, public health departments needed a way to track the preparedness-related training of professionals in their state, region, or locality. The TRAIN Learning Network was established in 2003 to offer a solution to the tracking challenge and help train the next generation of the public health workforce.  (CDC, 10/23/17)
The Ecology of Emerging Zoonotic Diseases.
During this COCA Call, participants will gain a broad understanding of how spillover and disease emergence occurs. This COCA Call will use Nipah virus and Ebola virus as case studies and discuss effective interventions that reduce the risk of spillover of both known and unknown pathogens from wildlife. We will also discuss efforts that are currently underway to enhance the global community's capacity to detect and respond to the emergence of novel zoonoses. The call will take place on November 2, 2017, 2-3 PM EST.  (CDC, 10/20/17)
Healthier World, Safer America: A US Government Roadmap for International Action to Prevent the Next Pandemic.
This report provides analysis of the importance of developing a robust pipeline of new drugs, diagnostics, vaccines, and other technologies for diseases likely to become pandemics, and outlines recommendations for action from the US government to prevent the next pandemic.  (PATH, 10/17)
BARDA Industry Day.
BARDA remains committed to engaging with our industry and government partners to fulfill our mission, saving lives and protecting America through the research and development of medical countermeasures against serious threats. The theme of BARDA Industry Day 2017 is: Innovation in products and partnerships for flexible, dynamic response capabilities. The event will take place November 7-8, in Washington, DC. Registration is required.  (MedicalCountermeasures.gov, 10/17)

Homeland Security & Disaster Preparedness
FBI Opens Inquiry Into Whitefish's Puerto Rico Contract.
If the FBI's preliminary inquiry develops into a full investigation of the contract, it would join several other reviews of the contract already underway.  (CNN, 10/30/17)
Emergency Communications: Overlap and Views on the Effectiveness of Organizations Promoting the Interoperability of Equipment.
This report discusses (1) the missions and memberships of organizations that promote the interoperability of emergency communications, and to what extent, if at all, they are overlapping or duplicative, and (2) selected stakeholders' views on the effectiveness of the efforts of these organizations.  (GAO, 10/30/17)
Critical Infrastructure Protection: DHS Risk Assessments Inform Owner and Operator Protection Efforts and Departmental Strategic Planning.
This report describes: (1) DHS's risk assessment practices in 3 of 16 critical infrastructure sectors and private sector representatives' views on the utility of this risk information, and (2) how this risk information influences DHS's strategic planning and private sector outreach.  (GAO, 10/30/17)
With Thousands Still in Shelters, FEMA's Caution About Temporary Housing Hinders Hurricane Recovery.
FEMA went on a mobile home-buying binge, spending nearly $300 million on 4,500 units, the largest purchase of the homes since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, federal contracting records show. Another 1,700 mobile homes in FEMA's inventory were also readied. Yet most of those homes remain warehoused.  (Washington Post, 10/28/17)
FEMA Had a Plan for Responding to a Hurricane in Puerto Rico - But It Doesn't Want You to See It.
The plan, known as a hurricane annex, runs more than 100 pages and explains exactly what FEMA and other agencies would do in the event that a large storm struck the island. The document could help experts assess both how well the federal government had prepared for a storm the size of Hurricane Maria and whether FEMA's response matches what was planned.  (ProPublica, 10/26/17)

USDA Offers Support to People and Communities Affected by California Wildfires.
Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced today that USDA is making resources available to help rural people and communities recover from the effects of California wildfires.  (USDA, 10/25/17)
Clear Talk for First Responders.
For first responders, such as firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians, a successful outcome to a mission-and perhaps the difference between life and death for them and those they are helping-depends on their communications system. NIST has developed a new tool that uses ns-3,an open-source network simulation software, giving researchers the ability to virtually recreate any emergency scenario and draw upon a variety of environmental, structural, technological and human behavioral factors that could impact the performance of future LTE cellular devices.  (NIST, 10/25/17)

Climate Change Information on Potential Economic Effects Could Help Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Fiscal Exposure.
Climate-related impacts, such as coastal property damage, have already cost the federal government billions of dollars, and these costs will likely rise in the future. GAO found that information on the economic effects of climate change is developing and imprecise, but it can convey insights into the nation's regions and sectors that could be most affected.  (GAO, 10/24/17)

Radiological & Nuclear Disaster Preparedness
Low-Dose Radiation: Interagency Collaboration on Planning Research Could Improve Information on Health Effects.
The Department of Energy and other agencies have also invested millions to better understand the health effects of low-dose radiation, but uncertainty remains. Given the reduction in funding for low-dose radiation research, agencies will need to work together to determine how to best use resources to address research priorities in the area. GAO recommends that Energy lead efforts to enhance such interagency collaboration.  (GAO, 10/26/17)
EPA Publishes Two Essential Communication Resources for Radiation Emergencies.
At the beginning of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised and released the 2017 edition of the Protective Action Guide (PAG) Manual, which aids public officials in preparing an emergency response plan for radiological outbreaks or attacks. To further assist during radiological incidents, EPA has recently published two companion documents in conjunction with the PAG Manual that additionally instruct public officials how to communicate safety information when its needed most.  (Homeland Security Digital Library, 10/11/17)

Science & Technology Policy
Wait for Trump's Science Adviser Breaks Modern-Era Record.
Donald Trump has now gone longer without a science adviser in place than any recent first-term US president - by any measure.  (Nature, 10/24/17)
This Week's Hearings
2017 Hurricane Season: Oversight of the Federal Response. US Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. 10/31/17, 10 AM. Dirksen 342.  More

Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act: Achieving the Promise of Health Information Technology. US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. 10/31/17, 2:30 PM. Dirksen 430.  More

Assessing FEMA's Preparedness and Response Capabilities. US Senate Committee on Homeland Security. 11/1/17, 10 AM. Capitol Visitor Center, Room 210.  More

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