Fulton Public Schools Offering Free Child Care for First Responders

The program will be held at Bush Elementary where bathrooms are close to the doors allowing students to wash their hands as soon as they walk in. This was a recommendation made by the state.
 

Fulton Public Schools will begin offering free childcare to children whose parents are first responders.

Fulton Public Schools superintendent Jacque Cowherd said the school district received a list from Governor Parson and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that included kids in the school district whose parents are first responders.

Fulton Public Schools’ list included 24 kids from 14 families. After identifying the families, Cowherd did a survey of the staff and found 14 to 16 individuals who were willing to be a part of the program. The individuals include teachers who Cowherd said will be able to help teach the students and a custodian who can keep the area clean.

Cowherd said the custodian’s husband is a firefighter and she has two kids in the medical field, so this program is close to her heart.

The volunteers will meet up on Monday and nursing staff will layout protocols to ensure the safety of those involved.

Cowherd said his biggest fear that too many people will get sick and they’ll have to shut down. In response to this fear, the program is working on gathering hand sanitizer and masks for people to wear.

Cowherd hopes they’ll be able to start as early as next Wednesday with six kids.

But, the program may end up assisting more kids as time goes on.

Cowherd said every w​​eek, the local school superintendents have a conversation and if the other districts have kids that fit the criteria for the free childcare the Fulton Public Schools will work to include them.

The program will be held at Bush Elementary where bathrooms are close to the doors allowing students to wash their hands as soon as they walk in. This was a recommendation made by the state. (Fulton Public Schools)

The program will run until May 21 and, as of now, the program will run from 6:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

By Megan Smaltz | KRCG TV

Inmate Labor Force Works to Better Themselves, County

Nearly a year after the construction of the evidence storage facility at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the Lincoln County Jail’s volunteer inmate labor force has been working on other projects designed to better the county – and themselves.

“Last year, She​​riff (John) Cottle built the Inmate Training Center, which is utilized by both inmates and disenfranchised citizens in Lincoln County to better their occupational skill set to land a great paying job,” said Lieutenant Andy Binder, public information officer. “Sheriff Cottle, employees and volunteer inmates started the second stage of construction on the Inmate Manufacturing Building. Inmates will take the skills they learned in the Inmate Training Center and apply to hands on construction of tiny homes.”

Yes, tiny homes.

Lincoln County’ inmate workforce has worked with different non-profit organizations and completed several projects. Several of those included renovating the Britton House, doing landscaping several churches and chopping wood for the Bridgeway Women’s Shelter.

“Look around Lincoln County. We are growing and in need of a qualified and trained workforce,” Binder said.

Binder also said the program has helped reduce the recidivism rate for inmates at the jail.

“(Cottle) has had a long standing vision of reducing recidivism in Lincoln County,” he said. “For many, recidivism is nothing more than lip service use by law enforcement to attempt to justify their policies and/or procedures and offers very little to a long-term strategy to reduce the number of inmates coming through the criminal justice system.

“Inmates with a future are far better off than inmates with none. Sheriff Cottle is showing the people of Lincoln County that (reversing) recidivism can be achieved, and is showing how a local work program can change the lives of families impacted with an incarcerated person.”

Inmates have to request training, or to work, and sign a volunteer form to be accepted into the workforce program. This training is open to all local and federal inmates. Federal inmates and/or inmates who transfer to prison can finish the training at their respective location. Lincoln County’s workforce training mirrors similar federal and state prisons.

Binder said when inmates volunteer for the workforce, they are enrolled in Telify (Missouri Jobs), MoJobs.gov and Connections for Success.

Connections for Success works and trains inmates in construction skills they will use in the Inmate Manufacturing Building. The program also includes curriculum to improve life skills, including balancing a budget, writing a resume and how to tackle personal programs in a more positive and meaningful way, according to Binder.

Once an inmate completes the program,  he earns his apprenticeship through the United States Department of Labor. If an inmate is released prior to completing the program he can still complete it on the civilian side of the training building.

Despite the fact the program is voluntary, or its success, critics might still consider the workforce labor program “cheap labor” or “modern-day slavery.” Binder would say it is giving Lincoln County’s inmates a chance at a better life once they’re released.

“We say, when citizens see (the inmates) working on beautification projects, working on buildings, doing non-for-profit projects, enhancing Lincoln County parks and cemeteries, stop and ask them if they consider themselves ‘modern-day slavery,’ which is a ridiculous statement to make,” Binder said. “ Ask the inmates if they feel like ‘cheap labor.’ Ask them.

“Inmates are giving back to their community in more ways than any of the naysayers. Doing something positive for once in their lives should be championed, not put down. We ignore the noise and keep moving forward because this is not about Sheriff John Cottle, it’s about changing broken lives and impacting Lincoln County in a positive way to enhance the quality of life for all the people.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to create the type of change the citizens of Lincoln County can see and believe.

“We want citizens to say, ‘that guy was nothing but trouble, but now he has completely changed his life and moving in a positive direction.’ Who does not like a success story?” Binder said. “Our goal is to ensure all people in Lincoln County can benefit from the programs Sheriff John Cottle has implemented. That has been the direction of the Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff John Cottle’s leadership. It’s taken a few years to get here but we are moving in the right direction for both inmates and for disenfranchised citizens in Lincoln County.”

By S​hawn Singleton | Lincoln News Now.com

Boone County Sheriff’s Office Implements Techniques Being Adopted by Hospital

Sheriff ​Dwayne ​Carey ​(center) ​​poses with ​ ​Jamie Callahan with Show-Me Ductless (left) and  ​Bill Wise with WCS Construction (rigt), ​the contractors who installed the disinfectant tent​, which will be used to disinfect staff and equipment  ​.(Boone County Sheriff’s Department)  

The Boone County Sheriff​’​s Department installed a disinfectant tent in the Sally Port at the Boone County Jail ​in early April in an effort to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the jail.

The disinfectant tent, which was installed by local contractors, projects a mist of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution on people walking through the tent.

All persons entering the Jail will now pass through the tent and the hydrogen peroxide disinfe​​cting mist prior to being allowed to enter the Boone County Jail.

On Friday​, April 10​, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department announced the same disinfectant stations were installed at both University Hospital and the Woman’s and Children’s Hospital.

​A​ Facebook post​ stated​,​ “Dr. Beckett and numerous staff members are excited to have another tool at their disposal to assist with disinfecting staff and equipment. We appreciate Dr. Beckett and the local contractors including us with this innovative idea to add to the numerous other protocols and procedures we have implemented to try and prevent COVID-19 from entering our Jail.”

See how it works by visiting https://www.facebook.com/BooneCountySD/videos/1426806330839488/

 
By Megan Smaltz | KRCG TV

Missouri’s First Responders Now Eligible for Worker’s Comp for COVID-19

IAFF 2nd District Vice President Mark Woolbright speaks at a press briefing where Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced an emergency rule allowing first responders to receive workers’ compensation for time off related to COVID-19. (Photo/Mike Parson Facebook)
 


Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday said an emergency rule will allow firefighters, police and other first responders to receive workers’ compensation if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are quarantined because of it.

The rule creates the assumption that a first responder was exposed to the virus while on duty, Parson said.

The order will take effect in 10 days but apply retroactively to cover first responders who already have been diagnosed with the virus or are under quarantine, Parson and state labor Director Anna Hui said at a news conference announcing the emergency rule.

Missouri’s worker compensation laws normally require an employee to prove he or she got sick or injured on the job.

Jefferson City police officer Jeremy Bowman, who is with the Fraternal Order of Police, joined Parson and Hui at the news conference. Bowman said the virus has impacted first responders across the state, including eight officers in St. Louis who have it and 55 who are quarantined, 13 officers in Springfield who are quarantined and several awaiting results, and five in Kansas City with the virus and 25 quarantined.

“Many, many law enforcement agencies and fire departments around the state are having similar experiences,” Bowman said. “To be clear, nearly every first responder agency in the state will have a diminished workforce because of COVID-19 illness or quarantine protocols. As police officers, we never know if the next person we encounter might be exposing us to coronavirus.”

Knowing the virus will now be treated as a duty-related illness “will allow peace of mind” for officers and their families, Bowman added.

Mark Woolbright, with the International Association of Fire Fighters, said he knows of at least 10 firefighters who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 70 fire districts, fire departments and ambulance districts he represents in St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Thirty-three first responders have been quarantined. Now, instead of the firefighters using their earned sick leave, they will be eligible for workers’ compensation because the illness is considered work-related, he said.

Parson, a former sheriff in Polk County, said Tuesday, “Our first responders risk themselves every day, especially right now.” He said the state continues to struggle to make sure first responders have the gear they need to protect themselves.

Woolbright, a fire captain with the Pattonville Fire Protection District, said it can be a scary time for firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. “This is a big deal, this is a really big deal to our members.”

He said it should bring some relief to first responders especially as they head into the next few weeks when the pandemic is expected to peak in Missouri. Woolbright is second district vice president for the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association, the union representing rank-and-file officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, said the emergency rule was a “game changer.”

Jeff Roorda, business manager for the union, said that current workers’ compensation regulations put the burden on the employee to show that an injury or disease happened in the line of duty. Parson has done “a good thing for our cops today and we can’t thank him enough,” Roorda said in a statement.

Roorda said the numbers Bowman cited at the news conference, of eight officers with the virus and 55 quarantined, are about a week old. Roorda said Wednesday, “They could be as high as double that but we can’t confirm it because the department is being so secretive.” Roorda said the union is sending the Police Department a letter complaining about the lack of transparency on the numbers.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Police Department declined Wednesday to tell the Post-Dispatch how many of its officers have tested positive for the virus and how many are quarantined. “We do not discuss the health status of employees,” police spokeswoman Evita Caldwell said in an email.

By Kim Bell | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

High School Student 3D Prints Face Shields for Law Enforcement, Others

Introducing Project Face Shield! The CSA, CPS, and local 16-year-old future engineer Konnar Jones is switching from respirators to making face shields. Hospitals and first responders are asking for these shields – 5,000 or more are needed. The group is also asking other local 3D print owners to join them in their efforts. The website with the shield files is attached. The group is also  working on protocol for getting the shields shipped to them for distribution. Information will be posted soon on the Columbia STEM Alliance website…
Http://www.columbiastemalliance.com

https://www.prusa3d.com/covid19/

 

Healthcare providers biggest challenge is still a shortage of personal protective equipment.

One Columbia high school student saw the need in the community and he printed a solution.

Konnar Jones is 3D printing face shields to donate to hospitals and first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.

He prints 30 face shields a day with 24/7 printing. Jones said he had to go through several design changes.

“It’s just hours and days worth of changes,” Jones said.

He’s working with Executive Director of the Columbia Stem Alliance Craig Adams. Their goal is to print 6,000 face shields.

Adams said the hard part is finding things like elastic, and the acetate material for the visor.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be able to help people. My family is a law enforcement family. So that’s just what we do. I’m finally being able to help people with the skills that I have. It’s just rewarding and I love it,” Jones said.

Adams said Jones has been 3D printing since the fifth grade.

“It’s impressive. He’s a really special individual. He was driven from an early age to do this. He’s got some great training from the career center and the classes he’s taken,” Adams said.

Adams said he doesn’t look at Jones as a 16 year old anymore. He said he views Jones as a colleague.

“Its phenomenal to see what somebody can do when they’ve got the skill and they’ve got the motivation and the curiosity that it takes to do that,” Adams said.

Jones said he would like more people to join the project.

If you’d like to donate money, materials or 3D print face shields reach out to Craig Adams craigadams1965@gmail.com.

For more information please visit Columbia Stem Alliance’s website and Facebook page.The grou

Hospitals Now Allowed to Share COVID-19 Patient Info with First Responders

An FDNY provider wears personal protective equipment outside a COVID-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have long resisted sharing any protected health information (PHI) about patients with their public safety partners – even when sharing that important information was permissible under HIPAA. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the HHS Office of Civil Rights (which enforces HIPAA) has issued important guidance to those facilities that should help clear the ​​way for better information sharing about COVID-19 infected patients with law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and EMS agencies.

The March 24, 2020, guidance clarifies that the HIPAA privacy rule permits a covered entity (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities) to disclose the PHI of an individual who has been infected with or exposed to, COVID-19, with law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders and public health authorities. The circumstances described in the guidance are exceptions to the general rule that covered entities may not disclose PHI to others without authorization of the patient and are not new – they’ve always been in the regulations:

  • When the disclosure is needed to provide treatment. Permits disclosure of PHI about an individual who has COVID-19 to EMS personnel who will provide treatment while transporting the patient to a hospital emergency department or other location.
  • When notification is required by law. Permits disclose of PHI about an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 in accordance with a state law requiring the reporting of confirmed or suspected cases of infectious disease to public health officials.
  • To notify a public health authority in order to prevent or control the spread of disease. Permits disclosure of PHI to a public health authority (such as the CDC, or state, tribal, local and territorial public health departments) that is authorized by law to collect or receive PHI for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability, including for public health surveillance, public health investigations and public health interventions.
  • When first responders may be at risk of infection. Permits disclosure of PHI to a first responder who may have been exposed to COVID-19, or may otherwise be at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, if the covered entity is authorized by law to notify persons as necessary in the conduct of a public health intervention or investigation. HIPAA permits a county health department to disclose PHI to a police officer or other person who may have had contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, for purposes of preventing or controlling the spread of COVID-19.

When the disclosure of PHI to first responders is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public. This exception has not been used often under HIPAA as it is ordinarily a rare occurrence when it would be invoked – rare until now that is, with a nationwide pandemic of a dangerous and highly contagious virus! This exception permits disclosure of PHI to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to a person or the public, when the disclosure is made to someone they believe can prevent or lessen the threat, which may include the target of the threat.

This exception permits a covered entity, consistent with applicable law and standards of ethical conduct, to disclose PHI about patients – who have tested positive for COVID-19 – to fire department personnel, paramedics, EMTs, ambulance services and others charged with protecting the health or safety of the public. To make the disclosure, the covered entity must have a good faith belief that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or minimize the threat of imminent exposure to such personnel in the discharge of their duties. This exception gives hospitals and any medical facility receiving an EMS patient the authority to share with that EMS agency and its personnel who transported the patient whether the patient was a positive COVID-19 patient, without the authorization of the patient.

ONLY SHARE PRIVATE HEALTH INFORMATION THAT IS NECESSARY TO SHARE

One important consideration, as explained in the guidance, is that except when required by law or for treatment disclosures, a covered entity must make reasonable efforts to limit the information disclosed to that which is the “minimum necessary” amount to accomplish the purpose for the disclosure. For example, in sharing PHI about a positive COVID-19 patient, it would likely not be necessary to share information about the patient’s other diagnoses or non-contagious medical conditions.

THE HIPAA GUIDANCE PROVIDES REAL-LIFE EMS EXAMPLES

OCR specifically uses two common EMS examples in explaining the regulations:

Example 1: A covered entity, such as a hospital, may provide a list of the names and addresses of all individuals it knows to have tested positive, or received treatment, for COVID-19 to an EMS dispatch [center] for use on a per-call basis. The EMS dispatch [center] would be allowed to use information on the list to inform EMS personnel who are responding to any particular emergency call so that they can take extra precautions or use personal protective equipment (PPE).

Under this example, the OCR states that a covered entity should not post the contents of such a list publicly, like on the EMS agency’s website or through distribution to the media. A covered entity also should not distribute compiled lists of individuals who are COVID-19 positive to EMS personnel. Instead, it should disclose only an individual patient’s information on a “per-call basis.” Sharing the lists or disclosing them publicly would not ordinarily constitute the minimum necessary amount of information to accomplish the purpose of the disclosure (i.e., protecting the health and safety of the first responders from infectious disease for each particular call).

Example 2: A 911 call center may ask screening questions of all callers, for example, their temperature, or whether they have a cough or difficulty breathing, to identify potential cases of COVID-19. The call center is permitted to inform a police officer being dispatched to the scene of the name, address and screening results of the persons who may be encountered so that the officer can take extra precautions or use PPE to lessen the officer’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, even if the subject of the dispatch is for a non-medical situation and even if the dispatch center is a covered entity under HIPAA. (And most public agency 911 centers are not covered entities under HIPAA, so the HIPAA regulations would likely not apply to them).

This example would most certainly permit a situation where the 911 center shared essential information about a COVID-19 patient with any responding EMS or first responder entity. But what information may be shared with first responders and EMS? The minimum amount of information that would be necessary so that responders may take appropriate precautions to minimize the risk of exposure, such as PPE including masks and face shields. OCR says this may also include the patient’s name and the results of their COVID-19 screening.

HOSPITALS MAY SHARE PRIVATE HEALTH INFORMATION WITH EMS

These rules and the guidance are very helpful in ensuring that EMS agencies have access to essential information about contagious patients they transport. They help take away the “hide behind HIPAA” approach that some hospitals and facilities have followed to completely shut down any sharing of patient information with EMS. The problem is that this is a permissive regulation – meaning that hospitals “may” share this PHI with EMS – but they are not required to do so.

ENTER RYAN WHITE

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 is a federal law named in honor of an Indiana teenager who lost his life to AIDS after contracting the disease through a tainted blood transfusion. The act requires a medical facility to notify, upon request, an emergency response agency if a patient transported by that agency to the medical facility is diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening infectious disease. The notification provisions are now contained in the Public Health Services Law of 2019, Title 26, Part G. It’s been applied in the context of AIDS, Ebola and SARS in the past.

But does the Ryan White Law apply to hospitals and this COVID-19 pandemic? We believe that it does – and so does nationally known EMS infection control expert and author Katherine West, BSN, MSEd. According to West, “COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which is in the SARS-CoV family. SARS-CoV and Novel Influenza A viruses are on the CDC list of Potentially Life-Threatening Infectious Diseases: Routinely Transmitted Through Aerosolized Droplet Means which we believe would encompass this novel coronavirus. As such, we believe COVID-19 notifications would be covered by the Ryan White Law.” In that case, West explains, “hospitals would be required to notify the EMS agency designated infection control officer, and then that officer would need to determine whether an exposure to EMS agency personnel actually occurred.”

To help ensure the health and safety of all personnel, EMS agencies should make sure that all pertinent assessment and medical history information is thoroughly documented on the patient care report – especially any signs or symptoms that a patient may have that could indicate active or potential infection with the COVID-19 disease. All EMS field personnel must promptly report a potential COVID-19 patient exposure to a supervisor as well as hospital personnel. Hopefully, with better knowledge about what’s permitted under HIPAA, combined with an understanding of the need to share COVID-19 patient information with EMS providers, hospitals and medical facilities can do the right thing to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the EMS community.

The OCR Guidance can be found here.

 
By Steve Wirth, Esq., EMT-P | Policeone.com 

Supreme Court Responds to Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Jails, Prisons

In response to questions about the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in prisons and county and city jails, ​on March 30 ​the Supreme Court of Missouri sent all state judges a letter calling attention to the various rules and statutes governing pretrial release of individuals charged with offenses but not yet found guilty as well as those governing release of individuals who have been found guilty and sentenced. 

 
In doing so, the Court leaves decisions about the release of any particular individuals to the discretion of local judges to make appropriate decisions under the facts and circumstances of each particular case. 
 
The verbiage of the letter, ​which is ​available on the Missouri Courts’ COVID-19 alerts page, is included below:

Re: Jail Populations and the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Dear Judges,

As a result of recent inquiries regarding the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in prisons and county and city jails, the Supreme Court of Missouri wants to call attention to the following rules and statutes.

In 2019, this Court revised its bond and pretrial release rules. Rule 33.01 addresses a defendant’s right to be released from custody pending trial. Rule 29.18 provides individuals detained as a result of a probation or parole violation also have a right to release prior to any final hearing on the matter. Likewise, Rule 37.15 addresses a defendant’s right to be released from custody following an ordinance violation.

Once a defendant has been convicted and sentenced, the power of courts to order release of an incarcerated offender is governed by statute. Missouri courts have the statutory authority to release an offender sentenced to a term in the county jail on judicial parole. Specifically, section 559.100.1 provides:

The circuit courts of this state shall have power, herein provided, to place on probation or to parole persons convicted of any offense over which they have jurisdiction, except as otherwise provided in section 559.115, section 565.020, sections 566.030, 566.060, 566.067, 566.125, 566.151, and 566.210, section 571.015, section 579.170, and subsection 3 of section 589.425.

This authority is limited by section 559.115.1, which provides: “Neither probation nor parole shall be granted by the circuit court between the time the transcript on appeal from the offender’s conviction has been filed in appellate court and the disposition of the appeal by such court.”

Section 559.115.2 further provides that, subject to the limitations in section 559.115.1 and 559.115.8, courts “have the power to grant probation to an offender anytime up to one hundred twenty days after such offender has been delivered to the department of corrections but not thereafter.”

The Court appreciates your continued efforts to prevent the spread of COVID19 in your respective jurisdictions.

Sincerely, GEORGE W. DRAPER III Chief Justice

Supreme Court of Missouri Extends Precautionary Measures to Combat COVID-19

In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Supreme Court of Missouri today extended through Friday, May 1 its statewide suspension of most in-person proceedings, subject to certain listed exceptions for urgent matters required under the constitution or state law or otherwise necessary to protect health or safety.

Despite the restrictions, the state’s courts remain open to conduct necessary business, though access to court buildings – including the Supreme Court Building – has been limited to help prevent the spread of the disease. The Court’s order does not affect a court’s ability to consider or rule on matters and does not affect required deadlines through the state’s electronic filing system.

The Court’s order authorizes local courts to determine how best to conduct the excepted proceedings and other necessary court business. The Missouri Courts COVID-19 alert page – https://www.courts.mo.gov/pandemic/, launched March 13 – links to the various orders and notices issued by the Court, the three districts of the Missouri Court of Appeals, each of the state’s 115 circuit courts and a growing number of the state’s stand-alone municipal divisions. This web page is updated throughout each day as new information become available. Individuals with questions about the status of particular cases should check Case.net, sign up for alerts through Case.net’s Track This Case tool, ask their attorney or contact the local clerk’s office.

As information about and best practices for dealing with COVID-19 continue to evolve, the Court will continue to discuss how best to balance the health and safety of the public, judges and court staff statewide with the judicial branch’s responsibility to uphold the constitutional rights of litigants seeking redress and other core constitutional functions.

Last Year’s CDC Drill Revealed Potential Problems in Handling Pandemic

A fake flu drill ​conducted in 2019 ​eerily mirrored the real coronavirus outbreak the country is struggling through now, right down to some of the recommendations​.​



A severe unknown flu virus is sweeping the world, nearly 14,000 have already died, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic, and while U.S. officials know the virus is here they have no idea how many people have been infected because not enough testing has been done.

Welcome to “Crimson Contagion” – a CDC-led exercise last summer that has almost eerily played out in real life not more than nine months later. The Courant obtained a copy of the CDC exercise Thursday, each page has the word “exercise” written in giant letters across the page and warns it is for “internal government use only.”

Officials from 15 states from New Hampshire to Idaho and several federal agencies participated in the exercise. One of them was the Connecticut Department of Public Health, which had dozens of people involved in it — many of whom are now leading the state’s response to the real deal COVID-19.

The New York Times reported that a draft report from the exercise revealed widespread confusion among federal agencies taking part in the pandemic exercise. According to the Times, it was uncertain which federal agencies were in charge, hospitals struggled to find equipment and cities and states acted independently to close schools.

The fake flu pandemic eerily mirrors the real coronavirus outbreak the country is struggling through now, right down to some of the recommendations such as – decrease social interactions whenever possible, imploring people to stay home when sick, prepare for prolonged school closures and the cancellation of mass gatherings.

But DPH spokesman Av Harris, who particapted in the drill, said there are several things that have come up in fighting the real one that weren’t addresse​d​ in the summer one.

“The issue of child care for priority people such as health care workers and first responders is a much bigger problem than anticipated,” Harris said. “We are still actively trying to solve that problem and it is just as critical as the lack of ventilators or the need for personal protection equipment.”

Harris said representatives of the states Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security also were involved in the drill and the state opened its emergency operations center just as it has now. Harris said at DPH people from Infectious Diseases, Preparedness and Response and administrators participated in the drill.

Under the simulation, a flu labeled H7N9 originated in China and was believed to be brought back to the United States by a Chicago man.

As with COVID-19, under the drill some parts of the United States experienced high 2019 H7N9 activity; other parts of the country weren’t widely affected.

It also talked about testing, or lack thereof.

“At this point in the pandemic, laboratory confirmed case counts represent an underestimate of the true burden of 2019 H7N9 related disease in the United States because of the large number of people sick and the fact that not all people infected are tested,” the report said.

One of the biggest issues with the COVID-19 pandemic has been the United States slowly ramping up testing of its citizens. In Connecticut less than 100 people were tested in the first week of the emergency and it was only this week that several drive through testing facilities opened and more people could get tested.

As a result the numbers of positive cases have risen steadily to 162 cases as of Thursday. Three people have died in the past few days and officials are warning the worst is yet to hit the state. While the majority of the cases, and all of the deaths have been in Southwestern Connecticut there are now positive tests in every county but New London County.

Harris said the other issue that didn’t come up in the drill was communicating with employees working remotely.

“Everyone is working from home now from all businesses and that’s caused some issues with WiFi overload,” Harris said.

Harris said the drill lasted several hours and was a learning experience.

“But I don’t think any person who was there and participated in the drill had any idea that in such a short period of time we’d see the real thing.”

​ ​Dave Altimari | Hartford Courant  ​McClatchy-Tribune News Service

COVID-19 Webinars Available to Law Enforcement, First Responders

No-Cost training on COVID-19 is being made available for law enforcement and first responders through PoliceOne Academy.

Agencies currently using PoliceOne Academy can access the training through their normal P1A account.

For those agencies not using PoliceOne Academy, they can access the training by going to https://www.lexipol.com/coronavirus/, and again, it is 100 percent free.

An individual can self-sign-up to get access to the training, but if a training supervisor wants to make the training available to his or her entire department, that is free too.

The website states that the individual training would be helpful for law enforcement officers, fire and EMS, corrections officers and city employees.

Department heads and leaders should register under the tab titled “Organizational & Agency.” After filling it out,  someone from the PoliceOne staff will on-board the department and roster information so the training can be assigned to all personnel and progress can be tracked.

COVID-19 Response for Chiefs and Administrators, contains policies and the Roll-call video by Gordon on Pandemic Ready as well as the following courses:

  • Business Continuity
  • Crisis Management
  • Dealing with the Media
  • Pandemic Planning – Elements of the Plan
  • Pandemic Planning – The Planning Organization  

COVID Response for Police contains the following courses:

  • COVID-19 for Law Enforcement
  • COVID-19 for Local Government Personnel
  • Infectious and Communicable Diseases
  • Airborne and Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Roll-call video by Gordon on Pandemic Ready

There will be additional policies added to it throughout the weekend, so it matches everything listed above.

 Please feel free to share this – we want to do our part to keep our cops and their families safe!