February 27, 2020
Yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a case of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in California from unknown origin. Unlike the other cases the CDC has reported in the U.S., this case has no established connection to travel abroad or another confirmed case. California officials said the person is a resident of Solano County, northeast of San Francisco, and is getting medical care in Sacramento County. They said they have begun the process of tracking down people who the patient has been in contact with. Speaking about the case in California, the CDC said in a statement “It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19.” As reported in the Tuesday Security and Resilience Update, in recent days CDC officials have warned of the likelihood for more cases of COVID-19 and for community spread of the illness. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said, “Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Messonnier said. “It’s not so much a question of if…but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” she added.
At a press conference yesterday, President Donald Trump sought to minimize fears, noting that the U.S. is “very, very ready” for what the COVID-19 outbreak might bring. Trump spent close to an hour discussing the situation, during which time he announced that he had selected Vice President Mike Pence in charge of coordinating COVID-19 efforts. He also told reporters he’s open to spending “whatever’s appropriate” to deal with the situation. Earlier this week, he requested $2.5 billion from Congress to fight COVID-19.
February 26, 2020
The following new COVID-19 resources for water and wastewater utilities were noted in a special email WaterISAC sent to members:
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s ) COVID-19 webpage. On the webpage, OSHA indicates exposure risk may be elevated for wastewater management workers, among other types of workers. OSHA notes its existing standards apply to protecting workers from COVID-19, which are described on the webpage.
- The Water Environment Federation’s (WEF’s) coronavirus webpage, which contains The Water Professional’s Guide to COVID-19, the recording from its February 25 “Updates on Novel Coronavirus for Water Professionals” webcast, and other information and resources regarding COVID-19.
February 25, 2020
CDC Warns Community Spread of COVID-19 Could Occur in U.S., while WHO Tries to Mitigate Fears of a Pandemic
Last week, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that although unprecedented measures are being taken to slow the transmission of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the country should prepare for the possibility of community spread, as has been seen in China and other Asian countries. "The day may come when we may need to implement such measures as seen in Asia," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, referencing the closing of businesses, schools, and churches in multiple countries where transmission is now occurring within the community. On its COVID-19 webpage, the CDC states that it is likely more cases will be identified in the U.S. and that person-to-person spread will continue to occur. The CDC also notes that the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and in the U.S., adding that “current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic.” While China appears to be getting its COVID-19 situation under control, rapidly expanding outbreaks in Iran, South Korea, and Italy have contributed to fear of a greater worldwide public health challenge. However, at a press briefing yesterday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tried to rein in fears that the situation will COVID-19 will become a pandemic. “I have spoken consistently about the need for facts, not fear,” Director-General Ghebreyesus said. “Using the word ‘pandemic’ now does not fit the facts, but it may certainly cause fear.” He and his WHO colleagues tried to shift the conversation away from speculation and worst-case scenarios. Instead, they want to focus on data and preparation. In doing so, though, Director-General Ghebreyesus noted that some of the latest figures in the epidemic are “deeply concerning.”
As of today, the national public health agencies for the U.S., Canada, and Australia (WaterISAC’s member countries) have confirmed the following number of cases:
February 20, 2020
COVID-19: More Contagious, but with Lower Fatality Rate than SARS and MERS, Scientists Find
As of yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported there were over 2,000 deaths from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has now killed more people than two other recent coronaviruses combined, SARS and MERS. SARS claimed the lives of 774 people, while MERS killed 828 people. All but three of the COVID-19 deaths occurred in China, where the outbreak began and where the vast majority of cases have been reported (nearly 75,000, according to official reporting). Scientists in the country recently released the results of a comprehensive study into COVID-19 in which they compared it to SARS and MERS. They found that COVID-19 is more contagious than SARS and MERS. However, with a fatality rate of 2.3 percent, COVID-19 is not as fatal on a case-by-case basis, with mortality rates of 9.6 percent for SARS and 35 percent for MERS. But the greater spread of COVID-19 has already led to more deaths than SARS and MERS. Read more at CNN.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in WaterISAC’s member countries have not changed significantly in recent days. As of today, the national public health agencies for the U.S., Canada, and Australia have confirmed the following number of cases:
- U.S.: 15 (no change since the February 13 Security and Resilience Update)
- Canada: 8 (+1)
- Australia: 15 (no change)
On Friday, February 21, at 2 pm ET, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will host a call to provide an update on the response to COVID-19. The featured presenter is Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Dr. Messonnier has briefed during other calls intended for the CDC’s partners, such as one conducted on Friday, February 7 that WaterISAC promoted in its February 6 Security and Resilience Update. Register for the call here.
February 13, 2020
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has prepared two public service announcements (PSAs) regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus, now officially renamed COVID-19 – coronavirus disease, 2019 – by the World Health Organization (WHO). The announcements address actions the general public can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In one announcement, the CDC notes it expects more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including some person-to-person spread. For now, the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. have not increased since last week (14). The number of confirmed cases in Canada and Australia are also holding steady, with seven and 15 cases in those countries, respectively.
February 11, 2020
The CDC has published Initial Public Health Response and Interim Clinical Guidance for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak, which describes 9 of the first 11 U.S. 2019-nCoV patients, and Persons Evaluated for 2019 Novel Coronavirus, which takes an in-depth look at how CDC responded to clinical inquiries regarding possible 2019-nCoV cases. Additionally, CDC has made available a recording of the coronavirus response call it hosted on Friday, February 7 (WaterISAC announced the call in the Spotlight section of its February 6 Security and Resilience Update). During the call, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, shared guidance for the private sector, including what CDC knew at that point and is doing in response to the outbreak.
As of today, the national public health agencies for the U.S., Canada, and Australia have confirmed the following number of 2019-nCoV cases:
- U.S.: 12 (no change since WaterISAC’s Thursday Security and Resilience Update)
- Canada: 7 (+2)
- Australia: 15 (+1)
February 10, 2020
CDC's Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to 2019 Novel Coronavirus
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published interim guidance for businesses on how to prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCov). Some of the recommended measures in the guidance include actively encouraging sick employees to stay home, separating sick employees, and performing routine environmental cleaning, among others. The guidance also includes planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of 2019-nCoV. Read the guidance at CDC.
As of today, the national public agencies for the U.S., Canada, and Australia have confirmed the following number of 2019-nCoV cases:
February 5, 2020
CDC Briefing on Coronavirus Response
On Friday, February 7, from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm ET, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will convene a webinar to provide an update on the response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. The featured presenter is Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Dr. Messonnier will share guidance for the private sector, including what CDC knows at this point and what CDC is doing in response to this outbreak. We will also have time for questions and answers. Register at Zoom.
WaterISAC continues to monitor the outbreak of 2019-nCoV, including the number of confirmed cases and the assessed public health risk in its member countries. In the U.S., the CDC reports there are 11 confirmed cases (no change since WaterISAC’s Tuesday Security and Resilience Update). The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reports 4 confirmed cases (+2 since Tuesday), and Australia’s Department of Health indicates it has 14 confirmed cases (+2 since Tuesday). The CDC and the PHAC have both indicated the public health risk for their countries is low at this time. Australia’s Department of Health has not provided a similar public health risk assessment, although it has emphasized the country is well-prepared for the situation.
February 4, 2020
On Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency for the ongoing situation with the 2019 novel coronavirus, or “2019-nCoV.” The declaration provides aid to the nation’s healthcare community in responding to 2019-nCoV. The U.S. government has also taken unprecedented steps related to travel in response to 2019-nCoV, including suspending entry into the country of foreign nationals who have visited China within the past 14 days (announced via a Presidential proclamation issued on January 31). Measures to detect this virus among those who are allowed entry into the U.S. (U.S. citizens, residents, and family) who have been in China within 14 days also are being implemented.
Yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported there are 11 confirmed cases in the country of 2019-nCoV, a number that has not changed since last week. It also continues to note that while this situation is a very serious public health threat, the immediate risk to the American public is believed to be low at this time. The CDC adds the cases of person-to-person spread of 2019-nCoV, the first of which was reported last week (and discussed in the January 30 Security and Resilience Update), have occurred among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, the origin of the virus in China. And it emphasizes that the virus is not currently spreading in U.S. communities. Nonetheless, the CDC recommends everyone do their part in helping it to respond to this public health threat. For everyone, this means taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs. For anyone who may have the 2019-nCoV infection, the CDC asks them to refer to guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading the illness to others. For travelers and employers of people who travel, the CDC recommends they stay abreast of travel notices related to this outbreak.
WaterISAC is also continuing to track developments regarding 2019-nCoV in its other member countries. In Australia, there have been 12 confirmed cases; in Canada, there have been 4 confirmed cases. Similar to the U.S., Australia has stated foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in mainland China will not be allowed to enter the country until 14 days after they have left or transited through mainland China. Additionally, it has issued advice and imposed requirements on Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family who recently left mainland China. Canada has indicated travelers should expect increased health screening measures, but it has not instituted travel restrictions like those of the U.S. and Australia.
Acknowledging that the public risk is perceived to be low and that 2019-nCoV infections are not spreading, WaterISAC nonetheless encourages members of the water and wastewater community to consider potential impacts to their organizations and operations of the situation changes and the response actions they would take. One of the potential impacts includes absenteeism from work, such as if employees become infected, fear that they have become infected or that they will become infected at work, or stay at home to care for a family member who is infected. Another impact is in terms of the supply chain, especially if organizations rely on materials from China, where the production and shipment of goods has slowed. For these and other potential impacts, WaterISAC encourages its members to review their business continuity and pandemic response plans, if available. For organizations that do not have such plans, the following resources stored or linked to on the WaterISAC portal can be of assistance (this list is not exhaustive):
- Business Continuity Planning in the Event of an Influenza Pandemic: A Reference Guide (WaterISAC and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies)
- Business Continuity Planning for Water Utilities (Water Research Foundation, U.S. EPA, and the American Water Works Association)
- Business Continuity Planning Suite (FEMA)
- Pandemic Impacts to Lifeline Critical Infrastructure (DHS)
January 30, 2020
Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first person-to-person spread in the U.S. of the novel coronavirus named “2019-nCoV.” The CDC said a patient in Chicago contracted 2019-nCoV from his spouse, who had recently traveled to China. The patient who traveled to China is a woman in her 60s who is doing well but is hospitalized to keep the virus from spreading. Her husband is about the same age and is in stable condition at a hospital. Health officials are currently investigating to identify other people who may have come into contact with the couple, but CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield stressed the virus is not "spreading widely" across the community. "It's important to note this spread was among two people in close contact for an extended period of time," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Person-to-person transmission is reported to be occuring in China, where the 2019-nCoV infections originated and more than 7,000 cases have been confirmed (resulting in an estimated 170 deaths). Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has just declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a global health emergency, acknowledging that the disease now represents a risk beyond China. The declaration — officially called a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — serves as notice that the world’s top health advisory body rates the situation as serious. Read more at the CDC, The Hill, and The New York Times.
January 28, 2020
WaterISAC is continuing to track news and information being provided regarding an outbreak of a novel coronavirus, named “2019-nCoV,” that is causing respiratory illness. As WaterISAC reported for its January 21 Security and Resilience Update, 2019-nCoV was first detected in Wuhan, China and has since spread elsewhere in the country as well as to other nations around the world. Confirmed cases have been reported in the U.S. (5 confirmed cases), Canada (2 confirmed cases), and Australia (5 confirmed cases). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated person-to-person infection within the U.S. has not been detected at this time. That is, the confirmed cases involve people who recently traveled to and returned from the vicinity of Wuhan, China, where they are assumed to have been infected. However, Chinese officials report that sustained person-to-person spread is occurring in their country. The CDC adds that past coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS, were able to spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughed or sneezed, similar to how flu spreads. While the CDC is treating this is a very serious public health threat, based on current information, it considers the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public to be low at this time. Read more at the CDC.
January 21, 2020
First Case of Mysterious Coronavirus Identified in the U.S.
A person in Washington State is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, the first confirmed case in the U.S. of a mysterious respiratory infection that has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more in Asia. The outbreak of the virus began in Wuhan, China, a city of about 11 million people. Nearly 300 cases have been reported to date in the country, including in other large Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Cases have also been confirmed in Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. Many of the patients lived in or traveled to Wuhan, as is the case with the U.S. patient who began experiencing symptoms after returning from a trip to the region around the city. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to confirm the case in an announcement later today. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) will meet tomorrow to decide whether to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency. For now, there is little information about the new virus and it’s unclear who may be at risk. Read the articles at The New York Times and CNN.