UWEM What's New Archive

Emergency Management News Archive

Below are news articles that have been archived by our staff. Some past articles may have been removed from the database.

Swine Flu Update 04/28/09, 13:00

April 29, 2009

The human swine flu outbreak continues to grow in the United States and internationally. Today, CDC reports additional cases of confirmed swine influenza and a number of hospitalizations of swine flu patients. Internationally, the situation is more serious too, with additional countries reporting confirmed cases of swine flu. In response to the intensifying outbreak, the World Health Organization raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 4. A Phase 4 alert is characterized by confirmed person-to-person spread of a new influenza virus able to cause "community-level" outbreaks. The increase in the pandemic alert phase indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased.

CDC has activated its emergency operations center to coordinate the agency's emergency response. CDC's goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by this swine influenza virus. Yesterday, CDC issued a travel warning recommending that people avoid non-essential travel to Mexico. CDC continues to issue interim guidance daily on the website and through health alert network notices. CDC's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is releasing one-quarter of its antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to help states respond to the outbreak. The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated guidance and new information as it becomes available.

Mass Email to UW Community on Swine Flu Preparations (04/27/09, 8:00 pm)

April 28, 2009

(Note: The following blast email was sent to ~80,000 members of the UW community with a “@.uwashington.edu” email address)

Sent on behalf of the University of Washington Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD): Many of you have learned from print, radio, TV, and/or colleagues about the swine influenza virus that has caused 68 confirmed deaths in Mexico. Animal influenza viruses usually do not cause illness in humans. This particular virus is not being transmitted from pigs to humans and you cannot get the virus from eating pork. The infection appears to be transmitted from humans to humans only.

What we know

Currently there are no reported cases of swine influenza virus in the State of Washington. On April 26, 2009, infections from the swine influenza virus were confirmed in persons living in California, Texas, Kansas, New York City and Ohio. There have also been confirmed cases in British Columbia. No deaths have occurred in the United States or Canada. The total number of cases in the United States is currently only 40. The symptoms of swine influenza are the same from the seasonal influenza. All cases in the United States have exhibited mild symptoms. These symptoms are

  • Fever > 100 degrees
  • Body aches
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Respiratory congestion
  • Possible vomiting and diarrhea

Persons returning from areas with active cases (Mexico, southern California, San Antonio region of Texas, New York City, Kansas) with the above symptoms should contact their health care provider. Seattle Campus students at the University of Washington who are exhibiting these symptoms are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment at Hall Health Primary Care Center (206-616-2495).To speak to a triage nurse at Hall Health, call 206-221-2517.

This will help the UW identify any swine influenza cases early.

Also, the UW is in the process of setting up a Campus Health System website to collect information regarding employee illness to track any unusual clusters of respiratory illnesses. More information will be distributed once this has been established.

Ways to prevent illness

Simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of spread. These include:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissue in the trash. An alternative is to cough into your sleeve if you do not have a tissue.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. You may also use alcohol based hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • If you are sick with the above symptoms, stay home from school and/or work.
  • There is no current vaccine to prevent swine influenza virus

Treatment options

There are antiviral medications that can be given to reduce the symptoms from the swine influenza virus. These work best when given within 2 days of symptom onset.

Other news

This afternoon (April 27, 2009) the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new warnings:

The CDC recommends that U.S. travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. The UW has adopted this CDC recommendation.

The WHO has issued a Level 4 Alert regarding the swine influenza virus. Level 4 is initiated when there is confirmed human-to-human transmission of an animal virus in humans. This type of virus has the potential to cause serious community outbreaks. Level 4 indicates an increased risk for a pandemic. However, it does not signify that a pandemic will occur.

The information from the CDC, WHO, and local health officials is evolving. The following websites will provide the most up to date information:

UW Emergency Management website at http://www.washington.edu/emergency US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm World Health Organization at www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/

Most UW department websites link directly to the UW Emergency Management website. This website will maintain the latest UW information regarding the swine influenza virus.

UW health and emergency preparedness and response officials and the UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases are monitoring the outbreak of swine flu. These UW groups are coordinating preparation and response activities for the UW community based on input and guidance from local, statewide and regional public health officials as the situation evolves. We will issue updates to the University community as more information becomes available.

Swine Flu Update (04/26/09, 10:00am)

April 28, 2009

The University of Washington is closely monitoring the global, national, statewide and regional implications of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico and the United States. Campus health and emergency preparedness and response officials and other support departments are in contact with regional public health officials in monitoring these fast-moving events are are discussing options and preparedness a mitigation steps that may be necessary to minimize the impact the UW.

More information will be posted as required. UW students, faculty and staff are recommended to review the UW's pandemic flu information found on the UWEM website.

Swine Flu Update (04/27/09, 12:05 pm)

April 28, 2009

(04/27/09, 12:05 pm)

Human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in the United States. Human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection also have been identified internationally. The current U.S. case count is provided below.

Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection (As of April 27, 2009 1:00 PM ET)

State # of laboratory confirmed cases California 7 cases Kansas 2 cases New York City 28 cases Ohio 1 case Texas 2 cases TOTAL COUNT 40 cases

An investigation and response effort surrounding the outbreak of swine flu is ongoing.

CDC is working very closely with officials in states where human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) have been identified, as well as with health officials in Mexico, Canada and the World Health Organization. This includes deploying staff domestically and internationally to provide guidance and technical support.

CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the agency's response to this emerging health threat and yesterday the Secretary of the Department Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, declared a public health emergency in the United States. This will allow funds to be released to support the public health response. CDC's goals during this public health emergency are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to assist health care providers, public health officials and the public in addressing the challenges posed by this newly identified influenza virus. To this end, CDC has issued a number of interim guidance documents in the past 24 hours. In addition, CDC's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is releasing one-quarter of its antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to help states respond to the outbreak. Laboratory testing has found the swine influenza A (H1N1) virus susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated guidance and new information as it becomes available.

Swine Flu Update 04/27/09 7:45 am

April 27, 2009

CDC Health Update

Distributed via Health Alert Network April 26, 2009 21:45 EST (11:45 PM EST) CDCHAN-00283-09-04-26-UPD-N

Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Update: New Interim Recommendations and Guidance for Health Directors about Strategic National Stockpile Materiel

Situation Update: As part of an ongoing investigation into an outbreak of swine influenza A (H1N1) in the United States and Mexico, CDC today announced confirmation of an additional 13 human cases of infection with swine flu in the U.S, bringing the total number of cases to 21 so far. At this time, cases of swine influenza have been confirmed in California, Kansas, New York City, Ohio and Texas. Based on the rapid spread of the virus thus far, public health officials believe that more cases will be identified over the next several weeks. Case counts are updated daily and available at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm.

CDC has activated its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the agency's response to this emerging health threat and today the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in the United States. CDC's goals during this public health emergency are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to assist health care providers, public health officials and the public in addressing the challenges posed by this newly identified influenza virus. To this end, CDC has issued a number of guidance documents in the past 24 hours. In addition, CDC's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is releasing one-quarter of its antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to help states respond to the outbreak.This Health Alert Network update is intended to alert recipients to newly available guidance and provide information regarding the deployment of the SNS.

In addition, clinicians should consider swine influenza infection in the differential diagnosis of patients with acute febrile respiratory illness who have either been in contact with persons with confirmed swine flu, or who were in one of the five U.S. states that have reported swine flu cases or in Mexico during the 7 days preceding their illness onset.

Patients who meet these criteria should be tested for influenza A, and specimens positive for influenza A should be sent to public health laboratories for further characterization. Clinicians who suspect that a patient has a swine influenza virus infection should obtain a nasopharyngeal swab from the patient, place the swab in a viral transport medium, refrigerate the specimen, and then contact their state or local health department to facilitate transport and timely diagnosis at a state public health laboratory. CDC requests that state public health laboratories promptly send all influenza A specimens that cannot be subtyped to the CDC, Influenza Division, Virus Surveillance and Diagnostics Branch Laboratory.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and guidance should be considered interim and will be updated frequently.

April is Washington State Disaster Preparedness Month

April 26, 2009

(04/01/09) Governor Chris Gregoire has proclaimed the Month of April as Washington Disaster Preparedness Month. During this month the focus will be on earthquake safety and preparedness. When the shaking starts - will you know what to do? Learn the actions to take during an earthquake to ensure your safety, that of your loved ones, and your employees.


April 23, 2009

(04/08/09) UWEM recommends that all UW units and departments to practice the "Drop, Cover & Hold" actions as part of the statewide Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness drill on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 from 9:45 to 10 AM. Take a few minutes out of the morning to reinforce these important steps that have saved many lives in previous earthquakes.

The UW does not require mandatory participation in the statewide drill, but does recommend that units, departments, offices, buildings and individuals voluntarily take a moment to review the basics of "Drop, Cover and Hold" in their worplaces, classrooms and residences.

Operation Crash Start is TODAY

April 14, 2009

(04/30/09) From 1- 4pm, nearly 90 members of the UW's disaster response management team will participate in the annual (simulated) EOC disaster drill, called "Operation Crash Start". This annual drill will simulate the university's coordinated response to a major disaster impacting the campus and surrounding community. We will be testing the effectiveness of how we coordinate our campus resources and messages in protecting the lives, property and environment of the UW Seattle campus. Click here for more information. THE DRILL WILL NOT IMPACT UW OPERATIONS!

Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference

April 08, 2009

April 14 -15, 2009 Tacoma Convention Center Tacoma, WA

The Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference is the largest and most successful regional emergency preparedness conference in the Pacific Northwest. It attracts top-notch speakers with expertise that includes earthquake research, contingency planning, school preparedness, technology, news media, and public health. Speakers and exhibitors provide cutting-edge information on subjects such as business continuity planning, school safety, public health preparedness, homeland security, and public information.

Registration is now open! Early bird prices until February 20th!

Prepare in a Year - March Tip

April 01, 2009

-(03/17/09) Water is essential for survival. The ground trembling and shaking caused by earthquakes can crack or break the lines that bring fresh water in your house. You may have to rely on three days or more on the water you have stored. How much water should I store? Which containers are good? Can I improve the taste of stored water? Is adding liquid bleach recommended? Find answers to these questions.

UW Disaster Programs Featured in New UW Dept. of Ed Publication

March 17, 2009

(February 23, 2009) The UW's emergency and disaster preparedness programs are featured as one of only a handful of successful campus disaster preparedness programs. Click on the title to be sent to the hotlink (in PDF format) of this 72-page report that was released by the US Department of Education.

Prepare in a Year - Home Preparedness

February 23, 2009

(02/03/09) Imagine trying to move through your house to check on your loved ones after an earthquake - what hazards would you encounter?

The most common personal injury resulting from an earthquake is cut feet. Broken glass from picture frames, mirrors, or other glass objects can cause serious injury, and even death. A simple fix: secure your wall hangings and other items to reduce this risk.

Prepare in a Year

February 03, 2009

(Jan. 12, 2009) We often think that "it won't happen here", but as we have seen in recent years, disasters such as floods, severe winter storms, and extended power outages do occur across our state. We must accept this as reality and assume responsibility by taking action to prepare ourselves, our loved ones, homes, pets and neighborhoods.

Prepare in a Year is an innovative and simple approach to disaster preparedness. Simply choose one hour each month and complete the designated activity. You can start any time of the year, but why not start this month and make disaster preparedness a part of your New Year's commitment.

UWEM Annual 5-Year Strategic Plan Update: Public Comment Period

February 02, 2009

(Jan. 9, 2009) UWEM Staff and the Emergency Management Planning Committee welcome comments to and questions on to the university's 5-year emergency management strategic plan update. Click here for copy of the 2009-2014 DRAFT plan. Please submit your comments to disaster@u.washington.edu by January 31, 2009. Thank you.

UW Prepares for Potential for Nasty Winter Weather

January 02, 2009

(Dec. 16, 2008) In anticipation of another blast of nasty winter weather, the UW encourages all students, faculty and staff to prepare themselves for severe conditions. UWEM staff constantly monitoring weather reports and are coordinating both our internal communications as well as working closely with City, state and regional partners to plan for possible service interruptions or delays. STAY TUNED….

Changes to KIRO Radio

January 02, 2009

(11/25/08) Starting January 1, 2009 KIRO Radio 710 AM will change over to an all Sports format. KIRO 97.3FM will become all news. Hence, KIRO 97.3 FM & KOMO AM 1000 should be listed as the designated emergency broadcast stations for the greater Seattle metro region.

Public Comments on new UW Winter Weather Policy

December 16, 2008

(11/26/08) UWEM is accepting public comments on a new UW Severe Winter Weather Procedure. This general proposed procedure will guide the decision making process and supplement other UW policies and procedures that are followed to determine the need to "suspend operations" at the UW-Seattle campus. Comments will be accepted until December 12, 2008. Click for a PDF version of the document. Comments can be sent to disaster@u.washington.edu

2 New Students Named to Campus Disaster Advisory Committee

December 09, 2008

(11/26/08)Two new students have been selected to represent both the graduate and undergraduate student body as the newest members of the UW's Emergency Management Planning Committee (EMPC). Jason Padvorac, a Senior in Bioengineering and Timothy Carter, a graduate student in Environmental and Health Sciences were appointed by the ASUW and GPSS respectively to serve for the next year on the EMPC. The EMPC was established in 2003 to provide advice and guidance to the UW's disaster and emergency management programs, and specifically to the UW Emergency Management Office.

New Emergency Preparedness Training Offered

December 02, 2008

(11/25/08) The new Plans & Training Manager, Siri-Elizabeth McLean, is offering one hour training sessions to groups that request on Emergency Preparedness.

Cold and Flu Season is Here!

November 25, 2008

(Nov. 18, 2008) Remember to cough into your sleeve to prevent spreading germs. Know someone who is not up to snuff with their coughing etiquette? Send them this fun video!

State EOC activated due to floods in Western Washington

November 17, 2008

(November 12, 2008)The State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated at a Phase II at 10:00pm Nov 11 in response to flooding condutions on several Western Washington rivers. Heavy rainfall has caused rivers in Mason, Grays Harbor, Whatcom, Clallam, Skagit, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Lewis and Thurston counties to approach or exceed flood state. County emergency operations centers have been activated in Kind, Pierce, Lewis, Whatcom and Snohomish counties.

Steve Charvat Re-Elected as CREW Secretary

November 12, 2008

(Oct. 17, 2008) UWEM Director Steve Charvat was re-elected for a third term as the Secretary of the Cascadia Regional Earthquake Workgroup at its quarterly meeting in Sidney, BC. In this role, Steve is part of the CREW Executive Board and one of the four Executive Officers. CREW is a regional earthquake consortium made up of members from the public and private sectors stretching from British Columbia to Northern California.

Crime Incident on Red Square @1:00 pm

October 31, 2008

(10/30/08 Updated 2:39 pm) Shortly before 1 p.m. today, a man whose name is not yet known set himself on fire in the central seating area of Red Square on the University of Washington campus. University Police say he sustained severe gasoline burns on a large portion of his body. Medical personnel responded at the scene. According to UW officials, the man is not a student at the University. More details will be posted as they become available.

Who Depends on You? (10/03/08)

October 30, 2008

When emergency strikes, are you prepared so that you can take care of those depending on you? If an earthquake struck the Puget Sound region today, would you know how to get in touch with your children when the landlines are down the cell phones are jammed? If there were a heavy snow fall this winter and roads became impassable, would your elders be safe?

Children, spouse/partner, elders, pets, friends and work are depending on you. Make sure you are prepared to take care of them when the next disaster strikes. THEY NEED YOU! Join Siri McLean in a discussion about what everyone should know about protecting their loved ones.

This next workshop will be offered on:

October 29, Health Sciences, Room T-663, noon to 1:00 p.m.

UWEM Awards $100K in Grants: 5th Year of Successful Internal Grant

October 03, 2008

(09/16/08) A number of UW departments and operating units (including UW Medical Center, Laboratory Medicine, Housing, Earth & Space Sciences, Human Resources, Athletics and UW Technology) were recently awarded a total of $100,000 in internal emergency preparedness grants as part of the fifth year of the UW-internal emergency preparedness grant program. 17 proposals were submitted. The year, for the first time, nearly 100% of all departments received full or partial funding for projects that will enhance the UW's disaster preparedness efforts. Click here for a summary of the successful proposals (PDF). All projects must be completed by June 1, 2009.