New York | State and NYC to create program to encourage healthcare workers to travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that the State of New York and the City of New York will create a program of financial incentives and other employment protections to encourage health care professionals to travel to West Africa and provide assistance treating Ebola patients to help contain this disease.

“We believe that public health in West Africa and the public health in New York are interconnected and both must be addressed,” said Governor Cuomo. “The depth of the challenge we face in containing Ebola requires us to meet this test in a comprehensive manner on multiple fronts, and part of that is encouraging and incentivizing medical personnel to go to West Africa.”

“The brave and selfless doctors, nurses and health care workers who voluntary travel to hot zones in West Africa to combat Ebola are heroes, plain and simple, and we need their hard work, courage and sacrifice to protect all of us across the globe from this deadly virus,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We must also do more to encourage additional health care professionals to join this critical fight, and the partnership unveiled today will be instrumental in growing the ranks of these valiant doctors and nurses.”

This initiative would be modeled on benefits and rights provided to military reservists. In particular, the State of New York and the City of New York will work to ensure that health care workers who selflessly travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients would have their pay, health care, and employment statuses continue seamlessly when they get back. The State would also provide necessary reimbursements – to health care workers and their employers – for any quarantines that are needed upon their return to help protect public health and safety in New York.

The State of New York is coordinating this initiative with City of New York and other local governments; state partners, including the State of New Jersey; and Greater New York Hospital Association, 1199SEIU, the New York State Nurses Association, the Medical Society of the State of New York, and other stakeholders. Additional details on the program will be announced in the near future.

“Working to contain and combat Ebola – both at home and in West Africa – is critical to the public health of New Yorkers,” said acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “This program of financial incentives and employee protections will help provide additional support to our brave health care workers, who are on the ground overseas working tirelessly to fight this disease.”

“Doctors who selflessly travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients are performing a service for us all by tackling the epidemic at its source,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “We should do everything we can to honor these heroes. Helping health care workers returning from West Africa to return seamlessly to their lives is a well-deserved right.”

“I am confident that New York’s hospitals will proudly do their part to help fight Ebola at its source by covering the salaries of their returning doctors and nurses during a 21-day quarantine should a quarantine be necessary,” said Greater New York Hospital Association president Kenneth E. Raske. “It is simply the right thing to do for these heroes, and I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership in encouraging our frontline caregivers to volunteer their services in West Africa.”

George Gresham, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East President, said: “We must support our brave healthcare workers who are on the front lines at home and in West Africa, caring for those who have been infected by Ebola. This initiative will help ensure that health care workers traveling to West Africa receive the backing they deserve for their acts of heroism. I applaud the Governor for his leadership in assisting those who care for these patients as we all work together to fight the spread of Ebola at home and abroad.”

Jill Furillo, RN, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association, said: “These incentives from the State will deliver additional support to those selfless nurses who act to treat Ebola patients in West Africa. Our hearts are with the thousands of victims of Ebola and their families, and with the caregivers who are fighting this epidemic. We support the Governor’s efforts to protect the wages, benefits, and employment statuses of nurses and other healthcare workers who travel to West Africa to care for those in need.”

Andrew Kleinman, MD, President, Medical Society of the State of New York, said: “Doctors across New York and across the world are heroically volunteering to treat Ebola patients in West Africa, and this program will help further support those efforts. We thank the Governor for his leadership in putting forward this new initiative and for the State’s ongoing work combating the Ebola crisis.”

“Hospitals and healthcare workers across the entire state have a long tradition of responding selflessly to fight public health threats like Ebola. We thank the Governor for his leadership and this new program that will help support all our dedicated healthcare workers and their brave work in West Africa.” Dennis Whalen, President, Healthcare Association of New York State

New York | Two additional hospitals designated to treat Ebola patients

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that two additional hospitals – Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) and Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (WCHOB) in Western New York – have agreed to be designated to treat potential patients with Ebola, bringing the total number of hospitals statewide with this designation to ten.

“Today we are continuing to err on the side of caution in order to protect the public’s health and safety,” Governor Cuomo said. “In joining the eight other designated Ebola treatment centers across the State, these two hospitals are further bolstering our level of preparedness here in New York. As we continuing to expand the list of designated treatment centers to ensure geographic diversity, New Yorkers should rest assured that we are doing everything necessary to safeguard against the risks of Ebola.”

“Today’s announcement is another step toward ensuring that New York is prepared to contain Ebola and protect the health and safety of New Yorkers,” said acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “In addition to the designated centers, we continue to work with all hospitals so that they are prepared and have appropriate protocols in place to identify and isolate a suspected case of Ebola.”

As part the New York’s Ebola Preparedness Plan, the State has taken steps to protect the public health and safety of its citizens, and contain this disease. New York State’s Ebola plan calls for designated hospitals statewide – which are equipped for the isolation, identification, and treatment of Ebola patients – to handle all Ebola cases.

With today’s announcement, the following ten hospitals have now agreed to be designated to treat potential Ebola patients. Additional hospitals are expected to be designated in the near future.

  • Bellevue in Manhattan
  • Erie County Medical Center
  • Montefiore in the Bronx
  • Mt. Sinai in Manhattan
  • New York Presbyterian in Manhattan
  • North Shore Health System in Nassau County
  • Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse
  • University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester
  • Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island
  • Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo

The designated Ebola hospitals are regional trauma centers affiliated with medical schools that provide specialized critical care to patients. The designation of Ebola treatment centers does not lessen the need for all hospitals to be able to appropriately and rapidly identify, isolate, diagnose and stabilize suspect Ebola patients.

Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced additional screening protocols for Ebola at JFK and Newark International Airports. Among other measures, these additional screening protocols included the mandatory quarantine for any individual who had direct contact with an individual infected with the Ebola virus while in one of three West African nations (Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea), including any medical personnel having performed medical services to individuals infected with the Ebola virus.

Today, the Governor also announced with Mayor de Blasio that the State of New York and the City of New York will create a program of financial incentives and other employment protections to encourage health care professionals to travel to West Africa and provide assistance treating Ebola patients to help contain this disease.

New Brunswick | NB Power prepared for possible weekend weather event

NB Power is closely monitoring this weekend’s predicted snowfall, wind gusts and rain, and is reminding customers to be prepared for the potential for weather-related power outages.

NB Power line crews are fuelling and stocking trucks with equipment in advance of a system that is expected to bring snow, rain and strong winds into the province on Saturday night, Nov. 1, and into Sunday.

A response plan is in place to relocate crews around the province as required. NB Power is in close contact with neighboring utilities and local contractors in the case their assistance is required for customer restoration.

If your power goes out during a storm, you can search for, and report your outage on NB Power’s mobile site by entering your phone number or account number at www.nbpower.com or by calling 1-800-663-6272.

Customers are encouraged to take the following steps to be prepared:

  • Make sure your cellphone is fully charged and your phone number is up-to-date on your account beforehand by calling 1-800-663-6272. This will help you search and report outages in your area.
  • Keep a flashlight and safety light sticks handy to use in place of candles to avoid fire hazard.
  • Have a full tank of gas for snowblowers and generators.
  • Have a battery-operated radio and spare batteries ready as many radio stations operate using emergency power. NB Power works with the radio stations during power restoration work to keep you informed.
  • Have an emergency kit on standby with supplies including a first aid kit, prescriptions, water and non-perishable food.

More storm preparedness tips are available on NB Power’s website.

Ontario | Mandatory carbon monoxide alarms protect everyone

The City of Ottawa wants to remind all residents that, just like smoke alarms, working carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are now mandatory for all homes in Ontario.

On October 14 the Province of Ontario announced that the Ontario Fire Code now makes it mandatory to have CO alarms in most residential properties. Any residential property with a gas-fired appliance or attached garage must have an alarm. These must be installed near all sleeping areas in residential homes and in the service rooms, and adjacent sleeping areas in multi-residential units.

It also declared the first week of November as Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. Owners of properties with six or fewer residences have six months to comply and those with more than six residential units have one year to comply.

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms should be tested at least once a month and replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When you change your clocks this weekend, also change the batteries in all your household alarms and emergency kits.

If the audible trouble signal sounds on your alarm:

  • Check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it.
  • If it still sounds, or you suspect CO in your home, have everyone in the home exit to the outdoors and then call 9-1-1.
  • Remain at the fresh air location until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Find out more on carbon monoxide safety at http://ottawa.ca/fire

Manitoba | Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service institutes Ebola screening protocols

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) officials today provided the public with an update on the Department’s screening of 911 emergency medical calls related to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

“I want to reassure the public that the WFPS is prepared to handle a call involving a potential Ebola-infected patient,” said WFPS Chief John Lane. “Although the risk of infection remains extremely low in Winnipeg, the WFPS will continue to practice and strengthen our processes for responding to a possible case of Ebola and other infectious diseases. Regular communication with our partner agencies such as the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has provided the WFPS with access to the most up-to-date procedures in dealing with Ebola.”

The WFPS’s Medical Director, Dr. Rob Grierson, echoed the Chief’s confidence in the Department’s level of planning and preparedness: “I am very pleased with the work that the WFPS has undertaken in preparing for a potential case of Ebola in the city. The risk of Ebola occurring in Winnipeg remains very low but citizens can be confident that WFPS responders responsible for the care and transport of a possible Ebola case have the required equipment and training needed to maintain public safety.”

As part of its preparedness for Ebola, the WFPS’s Communications Centre has adopted a screening process for emergency calls to assist in identifying possible scenarios where the WFPS responders responsible for the care and transport of a possible Ebola infected patient are required to use enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE).

Since implementation of the screening process on October 10, 2014, at 5:00 p.m.:

Total number of 911 calls received by WFPS 4084*
Total number of calls meeting the requirement for enhanced screening via phone 1283*
Total number of calls that met consideration for Ebola precautions and required further investigation by an EMS medical supervisor 8*
Total number of calls where paramedics were required to transport a suspected case of Ebola to a health-care facility 0*

*Information current as of Friday, October 31, 2014 at 7:00 a.m.

The WFPS would also like to encourage citizens to get their annual flu vaccine.

Preparations for Ebola are consistent with requirements for other infectious diseases, including more common influenzas and gastrointestinal illnesses. The legacy of the WFPS’s current planning activities will be greater responder and citizen protection from all infectious diseases in the future.

For information on Ebola Virus Disease, please visit Government of Manitoba – Public Health

Alberta | Province continues to prepare for potential Ebola cases

While the risk of Ebola virus in the province remains low, Alberta continues to gear up for potential cases to ensure the safety of health-care workers and Albertans.

“Even though there hasn’t been a case of Ebola in Canada, we continue to ramp up our efforts to prepare for a potential case in our province. We’re meeting weekly with health leaders from across the country to share information about the latest and best available infection prevention and control measures to protect Albertans and our health-care workers.”

Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health

Update on Alberta’s Ebola preparedness

  • More than 110 Ebola education and training sessions have been held for Alberta Health Services (AHS) staff across the province in the last two weeks.
  • More than 1,700 people have attended these sessions.
  • About 80 more training sessions will be taking place in the next week.
  • An Ebola information video has been developed for health-care providers.
  • New guidelines for nutrition, food, linen and environmental service staff.
  • Enhanced guidelines for:
    • infection, prevention and control in acute care,
    • infection, prevention and control for waste management,
    • rapid assessment and triage for patients with fever, and care for seriously ill potential or proven Ebola cases.
  • Ebola personal protective equipment (PPE) packs, which include the current PPE recommendations for staff dealing with suspected or confirmed cases, have been sent to the four acute care facilities designated to care for suspected or confirmed cases in Alberta, as well as all regional and urban hospital emergency departments, urgent care centres and several additional sites. These starter packs bring together the PPE that are already available at these facilities into easy-to-use sets.
  • Since August, AHS has used its Emergency Coordination Centre to develop and implement Ebola guidelines and protocols in Alberta.

The Government of Alberta will continue to work closely with Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada to make sure the appropriate safety measures are in place.

The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person. It is spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids – not through casual contact.

Global | Ebola update – 31 Oct 2014 – 13,567 cases in eight countries with 4,951 deaths

There have been 13 567 reported Ebola cases in eight affected countries since the outbreak began, with 4951 reported deaths. Intense transmission continues in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. All 83 contacts of the health-care worker infected in Spain have completed the 21-day follow-up period.

A total of 13 567 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in six affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States of America) and two previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal) up to the end of 29 October. There have been 4951 reported deaths. The cases reported are fewer than those reported in the Situation Report of 29 October, due mainly to suspected cases in Guinea being discarded.

A total of 13 540 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD and 4941 deaths have been reported up to the end of the 29 October 2014 by the ministries of health of Guinea and Sierra Leone, and 25 October by the Ministry of Health of Liberia. All districts in Liberia and Sierra Leone have now reported at least one case of EVD since the start of the outbreak. Of the eight Guinean and Liberian districts that share a border with Cote d’Ivoire, only one in Guinea is yet to report a confirmed or probable case of EVD.
A total of 523 health-care workers (HCWs) are known to have been infected with EVD up to the end of 29 October: 82 in Guinea; 299 in Liberia; 11 in Nigeria; 127 in Sierra Leone; one in Spain; and three in the United States of America (two were infected in the USA and one in Guinea). A total of 269 HCWs have died.

WHO is undertaking extensive investigations to determine the cause of infection in each case. Early indications are that a substantial proportion of infections occurred outside the context of Ebola treatment and care. Infection prevention and control quality assurance checks are now underway at every Ebola treatment unit in the three intense-transmission countries. At the same time, exhaustive efforts are ongoing to ensure an ample supply of optimal personal protective equipment to all Ebola treatment facilities, along with the provision of training and relevant guidelines to ensure that all HCWs are exposed to the minimum possible level of risk.

Five countries (Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, and the United States of America) have now reported a case or cases imported from a country with widespread and intense transmission.

In Nigeria, there were 20 cases and eight deaths. n Senegal, there was one case and no deaths. However, following a successful response in both countries, the outbreaks of EVD in Senegal and Nigeria were declared over on 17 October and 19 October 2014, respectively.

On 23 October, Mali reported its first confirmed case of EVD (table 2). The patient was a 2-year old girl who travelled from Guinea with her grandmother to Mali. The patient was symptomatic for much of the journey. On 22 October the patient was admitted to Fousseyni Daou hospital in Kayes. Samples for laboratory confirmation were sent to SERAFO in Bamako and were positive for EVD. The patient died on 24 October. Three suspect cases were identified and have been discarded. To date, 85 contacts have been identified and are being followed up. A WHO preparedness team was already in Mali to assess the country s state of readiness for an initial case. t was immediately repurposed to provide expertise and support to Malian health authorities in infection prevention and control, contact tracing and in the training of health-care workers. A WHO team and key partners remain in Mali and continue to provide support.

In Spain, the single patient, who was infected in Madrid, tested negative for EVD on 19 October. A second negative test was obtained on 21 October. Spain will therefore be declared free of EVD 42 days after the date of the second negative test if no new cases are reported. All 83 contacts of the HCW infected in Spain have completed the 21-day follow-up period.

There have been four cases and one death in the United States of America. The most recent case is a medical aid worker who volunteered in Guinea and returned to New York City on 17 October. The patient was screened and was asymptomatic on arrival, but reported a fever on 23 October, and tested positive for EVD. The patient is currently in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, one of eight New York State hospitals that have been designated to treat patients with EVD.

Two HCWs who became infected after treating an EVD-positive patient at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Texas, have twice tested negative for EVD and have been discharged from hospital. Of 176 possible contacts, 99 are being monitored and 77 have completed 21-day follow-up.

As of 28 October 2014, there have been 66 cases (38 confirmed, 28 probable) of Ebola virus disease (EVD) reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including eight among health-care workers (HCWs). In total, 49 deaths have been reported, including eight among HCWs. All suspected cases have now been discarded.
No new reported contacts are being followed. Twenty days have passed since the last reported case tested negative for the second time and was discharged. The Democratic Republic of the Congo will therefore be declared free of EVD 42 days after the date of the second negative test if no new cases are reported. This outbreak is unrelated to the outbreak that originated in West Africa.

Global | WHO updates personal protective equipment guidelines for Ebola response

As part of WHO’s commitment to safety and protection of healthcare workers and patients from transmission of Ebola virus disease, WHO has conducted a formal review of personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines for healthcare workers and is updating its guidelines in context of the current outbreak.

About the PPE guidelines

These updated guidelines aim to clarify and standardize safe and effective PPE options to protect health care workers and patients, as well as provide information for procurement of PPE stock in the current Ebola outbreak. The guidelines are based on a review of evidence of PPE use during care of suspected and confirmed Ebola virus disease patients.

The Guidelines Development Group convened by WHO included participation of a wide range of experts from developed and developing countries, and international organizations including the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Médecins Sans Frontières, the Infection Control Africa Network and others.

“These guidelines hold an important role in clarifying effective personal protective equipment options that protect the safety of healthcare workers and patients from Ebola virus disease transmission,” says Edward Kelley, WHO Director for Service Delivery and Safety. “Paramount to the guidelines’ effectiveness is the inclusion of mandatory training on the putting on, taking off and decontaminating of PPE, followed by mentoring for all users before engaging in any clinical care.”

Guidelines were developed from an accelerated development process that meets WHO’s standards for scientific rigour and serves as a complement to the Interim infection prevention and control guidance for care of patients with suspected or confirmed filovirus haemorrhagic fever in health-care settings, with focus on Ebola, published by WHO in August 2014.

Use of the personal protective equipment

Experts agreed that it was most important to have PPE that protects the mucosae – mouth, nose and eyes – from contaminated droplets and fluids. Given that hands are known to transmit pathogens to other parts of the body, as well as to other individuals, hand hygiene and gloves are essential, both to protect the health worker and to prevent transmission to others. Face cover, protective foot wear, gowns or coveralls, and head cover were also considered essential to prevent transmission to healthcare workers.

“Although PPE is the most visible control used to prevent transmission, it is effective only if applied together with other controls including facilities for barrier nursing and work organization, water and sanitation, hand hygiene, and waste management,” says Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation. Benefits derived from PPE depend not only on choice of PPE, but also adherence to protocol on use of the equipment.

A fundamental principle guiding the selection of different types of PPE was the effort to strike a balance between the best possible protection against infection while allowing health workers to provide the best possible care to patients with maximum ease, dexterity, comfort and minimal heat-associated stress.

In this situation where evidence is still being collected, to see what works best and on an effective sustainable basis, it was considered prudent to provide options for selecting PPE. In most cases, there was no evidence to show that any one of the options recommended is superior to other options available for healthcare worker safety.

Further work is needed to gather scientific experience and data from the field in systematic studies, in order to understand why some health workers are infected in the current outbreak and to increase effective clinical care. WHO is committed to working with international partners on these issues to build this evidence base.

Massachusetts | Boston launches regional climate preparedness effort

Today, on the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the City of Boston will be convening a regional summit to better prepare Greater Boston for the impacts of climate change. The announcement also marked the kickoff of an international design competition focused on climate preparedness, as well as an update of the City of Boston’s ongoing climate efforts.

“There is no issue more urgent than climate action. When we work together, the steps we take do more than protect us: they can bring us closer together, they can create good jobs, they can improve our health, our public space, and our civic life,” said Mayor Walsh. “I look forward to working closely with the MAPC, the Metro Mayor’s Coalition, and the Commonwealth on this critical issue.”

The half-day summit, which will be held at the University of Massachusetts Boston next spring, is a first-of-its-kind convening on regional climate preparedness and will establish a mechanism for coordination of regional, cross-government action going forward. It will include regional and state agencies such as MassPort, MassDOT, and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), as well as Mayors from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s (MAPC) Metro Mayor’s Coalition. The Metro Mayor’s Coalition includes Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Melrose, Medford, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Brookline, Winthrop, and Braintree.

“Our cities share infrastructure, our residents cross borders every day between work and home, and our natural resources—rivers, wildlife, coastlines—intersect our region. We are one region and neither the Atlantic Ocean nor the weather will respect municipal boundaries,” said Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We will be more resilient when we share common principles and work toward shared goals. This summit is an opportunity to ask how we can use a shared understanding of climate science to make smart decisions about our shared infrastructure, to engage our common stakeholders, and challenge ourselves to take a broad look at our climate threats and not adapt but mitigate our impact on climate change.”

“It is essential that communities in the Boston metropolitan area work together on climate change,” said Richard C. Rossi, Cambridge City Manager. “Climate change is creating new stresses on our communities, and while we are individually doing a lot within our borders, what is missing is a regional strategy.”

“Climate change is a threat that municipalities throughout our region are already confronting. Chelsea, a coastal city, knows this is not a challenge we can face alone, and we are excited to work with our partners in the Metro Mayors Coalition to find common solutions,” said Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash. “The effort we’re launching today will ensure that all communities are aware of the effects that climate change will likely bring to the region, and will empower us with the tools we need to be prepared.”

“The impacts of climate change do not respect municipal boundaries,” said Marc Draisen, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). “It’s incredibly important that all of the cities and towns in Greater Boston work together to address issues like sea level rise, coastal flooding, and rising temperatures. Cooperation and planning are the keys to success.”

The announcement was made at the Architecture Boston Expo (ABX) 2014, hosted by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), and coincided with the kickoff of the international design competition “Boston Living with Water.” The competition is being led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Mayor’s Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space, the BSA, and the Boston Harbor Association.

The competition invites multi-disciplinary teams to submit design solutions to sea-level rise for three sites in the City that will help better prepare the site and the surrounding community for climate change. The three sites are located in the North End, Fort Point Channel, and Morrissey Boulevard. The competition will conclude in the spring, with a first place prize of $20,000. It is funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, and the Barr Foundation. Details about the design competition can be found at www.bostonlivingwithwater.org.

These announcements build on the City of Boston’s ongoing climate preparedness efforts. A year ago, the City released the report, Climate Ready Boston: Municipal Vulnerability to Climate Change, which was a cross-departmental effort led by the Mayor’s Office of Environment, Energy, and Open Space.

“Last year’s vulnerability assessment was a critical step to making Boston’s municipal operations more prepared for the impacts of climate change,” said Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “We continue to build on this study and take action across all departments to ensure we are prepared for the future climate.”

The report identified the City’s vulnerabilities to climate change in order to help departments take action to prepare. In the past year, the City has made significant progress on reducing these vulnerabilities, especially in the areas of emergency response, extreme heat preparedness, flood and stormwater management, capital planning, and community engagement. Efforts include:

Backup power at emergency shelters: As a result of $1.32 million in grant funding from the Commonwealth, four emergency shelters will be getting solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays to provide at least three days of backup power during an emergency. In addition, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) are conducting an Emergency Generator Study to outfit four BCYF Community Centers with emergency generators.

Facility improvements to address extreme heat: BCYF has purchased tents and water access (sprinklers) to help handle extreme heat at outdoor programming sites during the summer. In addition, the BCYF Paris Street Community Center capital project includes installation of an emergency generator and air conditioning throughout the building, allowing the facility to serve as a cooling center.

Increased food resilience: With funding from the Kendall Foundation and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives has recently commissioned a team to complete a city-wide food resilience study. The Department of Neighborhood Development also continues its efforts to transform vacant lots into urban agriculture.

Flooding and stormwater management: A number of green infrastructure projects that help mitigate flooding have recently been completed or are underway.

  • The Public Works Department worked with the Charles River Watershed Association and the Boston Groundwater Trust to repave an alley in the South End with porous pavement.

Increased education and awareness: Greenovate Boston, Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), and OEM have teamed up to deliver concerted messaging during National Preparedness Month. This included the launch of a new webpage with daily tips, as well as a community preparedness event that attracted over 200 residents.

Better prepared buildings and development:

  • The BRA has implemented a mandatory climate preparedness questionnaire as part of the Article 80 development review process. So far over 60 projects have completed this new requirement.

  • The Mayor’s new Housing 2030 plan incorporates climate preparedness goals and actions.

  • This fall, the City added a new partner to its property insurance team. FM Global is an international, mutual-insurance firm with a focus on loss-prevention engineering. FM Global will work with the City to identify and prioritize solutions for risks to the City’s 33 largest buildings, and contribute loss-prevention expertise to the City’s building design processes. The risks of flooding and high winds, which will increase with climate change, are priorities at FM Global. Through this partnership, the City gains research and engineering expertise to help address these risks.

These efforts, along with future actions to better prepare the community, will be part of the 2014 Climate Action Plan Update, which will be released the second week of November for public comment. Interested parties may view and comment on the draft strategies and actions currently posted at Engage.GreenovateBoston.org.

Vermont | State is carefully monitoring travelers from Ebola-affected regions

The Vermont Department of Health has requested a Vermonter who has just returned from West Africa to enter voluntary quarantine and active monitoring for fever or symptoms of Ebola for 21 days. This individual agreed, and began quarantine on Oct. 27.

This person does not have an elevated temperature, has no signs or symptoms of illness and is not a health risk to anyone at this time. A person infected with Ebola cannot pass the infection on to others until he or she has symptoms – and then only through direct contact with bodily fluids. Ebola is not an airborne virus.

Public health and law enforcement officials from Vermont met this individual at JFK International Airport on Oct. 27, and provided transport back to Vermont.

Federal officials assessed this person before allowing travel back to the U.S. and concluded there was not a health risk to the traveling public. The reason for the Vermont Health Department to request quarantine in this circumstance is that the individual was in the West African countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone with the stated intention of personally investigating the Ebola epidemic in those countries, and while he has represented himself in public statements as a physician, he is not licensed as a doctor or health professional in Vermont. He was not traveling or affiliated with any governmental, public health, medical or aid organization.

“We do not know whether this person had exposure to the virus while in West Africa,” said acting Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan. “Because we can’t determine this – and combined with what we know about this person’s unsupervised travel, intent to help as a medical doctor, and his statements – we are taking the precaution of quarantine while we actively monitor temperature and symptoms for 21 days.”

Twenty-one days is the longest it can take from the time a person is infected with Ebola until that person has symptoms of Ebola. Any individual returning to Vermont from the affected countries will be actively monitored during that time and, depending on individual circumstances, active monitoring may include voluntary or mandatory quarantine.

This action is being taken both to protect others and ensure this person receives early and high quality care in the unlikely event that illness develops. Throughout the 21 days of quarantine, this individual will receive twice-daily health checks, plus food, shelter and other comforts. Local public health officials will be monitoring and in contact with this individual throughout quarantine.

To protect privacy and security, neither this person’s identity nor the location of quarantine will be released by the state.

Quarantine and Active Monitoring
Quarantine is a well established, although rarely used, public health action that separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. If a person is under quarantine, it means that he or she must stay in their home or at an alternate location deemed appropriate by the Health Department.

Active monitoring means that health officials stay in daily contact – by phone or other technology and/or visit for the entire 21 days following a person’s last possible date of exposure to Ebola virus.

If a traveler begins to show symptoms, the Health Department will take immediate action to implement protocols to transport the patient to a designated facility such as Fletcher Allen Health Care. The Health Department has been working closely with health care providers and hospitals to prepare in the event a symptomatic individual requires treatment.

About Ebola
Ebola is a dangerous viral disease that is epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where public health and health care infrastructure has been insufficient to control its spread.

Ebola is only spread through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who is sick or has died from Ebola. Health care workers or people caring for patients with Ebola or the dead are most at risk of contracting the disease.

Ebola is NOT spread by casual contact. It is not spread through the air, water or food produced in the U.S. Ebola does not spread easily from person to person like the flu, measles or active tuberculosis.

Be well. Practice big medicine.