WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is poised to unleash a series of executive actions on his first day in the Oval Office, prompting what is likely to be a yearslong effort to unwind President Trump’s domestic agenda and immediately signal a wholesale shift in the United States’ place in the world.In the first hours after he takes the oath of office on the West Front of the Capitol at noon on Jan. 20, Mr. Biden has said, he will send a letter to the United Nations indicating that the country will rejoin the global effort to combat climate change, reversing Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord with more than 174 countries.- Advertisement – Mr. Biden’s afternoon will be a busy one.He has vowed that on Day 1 he will move rapidly to confront the coronavirus pandemic by appointing a “national supply chain commander” and establishing a “pandemic testing board,” similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wartime production panel. He has said he will restore the rights of government workers to unionize. He has promised to order a new fight against homelessness and resettle more refugees fleeing war. He has pledged to abandon Mr. Trump’s travel ban on mostly Muslim countries and to begin calling foreign leaders in an attempt to restore trust among the United States’ closest allies.“Every president wants to come out of the gate strong and start fulfilling campaign promises before lunch on the first day,” said Dan Pfeiffer, who served as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama and helped choreograph Mr. Obama’s first days in the White House. “Executive orders are the best way to do that.” But Mr. Biden may be able to achieve some of his goals with nothing more than the stroke of a pen. Mr. Trump largely failed to successfully negotiate with House Democrats during his four years in office, leaving him no choice but to use executive actions to advance his agenda. Mr. Biden can use the same tools to reverse them. While Mr. Biden would like to see a national mask mandate, his advisers have concluded that he does not have the legal authority to impose one. So he will try to increase mask wearing in other ways. He has already said that, as president, he would require masks on all federal property, an executive order that could have wide reach and is likely to come in the first hours or days of his presidency.In addition to mandating masks in federal buildings, Mr. Biden has said he would require them on “all interstate transportation.”The president-elect has also repeatedly derided Mr. Trump’s lack of ethical standards, accusing him of waging an extensive assault on Washington’s norms and traditions. Mr. Biden’s response to that will probably take the form of an ethics pledge to impose tough new requirements on the people who serve in his government.“The Trump administration has shredded those standards,” Mr. Biden’s campaign wrote on his website. “On Day 1, Biden will issue an ethics pledge, building and improving on the Obama-Biden administration’s pledge, to ensure that every member of his administration focuses day in and day out on the best outcomes for the American people, and nothing else.”In addition to rejoining the climate accord, Mr. Biden has also made it clear that he will immediately begin using the levers of executive authority to re-establish Mr. Obama’s regime of environmental regulations that Mr. Trump systematically shredded during his tenure. – Advertisement – Updated Nov. 8, 2020, 5:12 a.m. ET That is likely to include a rapid rescission of an executive order Mr. Trump issued early in his administration that itself called for revoking all regulations addressing climate change and instead promoting fossil fuel development — and replacing it with one that declares a Biden administration’s intention to cut planet-warming greenhouse gases.“Revocation of executive orders can be done immediately,” said Michael Burger, the executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University who has studied what climate regulation might look like in a Biden administration. “That’s a big deal because the executive orders give direction to administrative agencies about how to exercise their discretion and what the priorities are for the administration.” Prior presidents have tried to do just that, though not always successfully.On his first full day in the White House in 2009, Mr. Obama issued an executive order on presidential records and a second one on ethics that, among other provisions, tried to ban members of his administration from lobbying the federal government for two years after they leave. Ethics watchdogs later complained that some officials had found ways around the restrictions.The next day, Mr. Obama ordered an end to torture by the government, responding to an outcry over the use of harsh interrogation measures by his predecessor. He also ordered the closure of the terrorist detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — which members of Congress were continuing to block by the time he left office eight years later.Mr. Trump, too, moved quickly. In the first hours after he was sworn in, Mr. Trump issued an executive order pledging to repeal the Affordable Care Act and directing the government to “take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the act.”In the week that followed, Mr. Trump issued executive orders on immigration, requesting changes to asylum proceedings at the border, increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants and banning travel from several mostly Muslim countries — an order that incited chaos at several airports as border officials struggled to understand whom it applied to.Some executive orders have become almost automatic at the start of a new administration. Mr. Biden is almost certain to move immediately to revoke the so-called global gag rule, which prohibits federal government funding for foreign organizations that provide or even talk about abortion. The rule, also known as the Mexico City policy, has been a political Ping-Pong ball since Ronald Reagan was president and is typically in place only under Republican administrations. Mr. Trump reinstated it on his first business day in office.But Mr. Biden has signaled that his top priority will be demonstrating a much more muscular federal approach to the pandemic than Mr. Trump’s leave-it-to-the states strategy. For Mr. Biden, who narrowly won the election in a deeply divided nation, the early signals he sends as the country’s new leader will be critical. On the trail, he repeatedly said he was campaigning as a Democrat but would govern “as an American.” Following through on that promise will require him to demonstrate some respect for parts of the Trump agenda that were fiercely supported by the more than 70 million people who did not cast ballots for him.“How far is he going to go?” Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator, asked on CNN on Saturday, hours after Mr. Biden had been declared the victor. “If you want to show that, you want to work on a bipartisan basis. Then you don’t go out right away and sign all the executive orders on immigration and bypass the Congress.”But there is no question that Mr. Biden and members of his party are eager to systematically erase what they view as destructive policies that the president pursued on the environment, immigration, health care, gay rights, trade, tax cuts, civil rights, abortion, race relations, military spending and more.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Aides said he would use the power of his office to invoke the Defense Production Act — the Korean War-era law that allows the president to order businesses to manufacture products necessary for national defense — to build up supplies more aggressively than Mr. Trump has. Mr. Biden may also move quickly to restore national monuments that Mr. Trump shrank soon after taking office; stop the Trump administration’s expedited reviews of fossil fuel projects such as oil pipelines; and reverse a 2017 order to “encourage energy exploration and production” offshore, including the outer continental shelf.Efforts to assist poor communities — often situated in proximity to toxic polluting sites and bearing the brunt of climate change consequences — could also be undertaken from the White House. That might include executive orders establishing an environmental justice advisory council that can coordinate policy across agencies; creating screening tools to better understand environmental disparities across the country; and increasing pollution monitoring in frontline communities.Passing bigger parts of Mr. Biden’s environmental agenda, like eliminating fossil fuel emissions from the power sector by 2035, would almost certainly require Congress to pass a clean-energy-specific law, most likely in the form of a mandate that an increasing percentage of electricity generated in the United States will be produced by zero-emissions sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric power and possibly nuclear power.Thomas J. Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research, an organization that supports the use of fossil fuels, said that “if history is a guide,” Republicans would be unlikely to support any type of mandate.“Certainly does not have a mandate for his climate plan,” Mr. Pyle said. “He will be constrained to executive orders and carefully crafted regulations.”Sheryl Stolberg contributed reporting. Some of that will require cooperation with Congress, which may remain divided next year. If Republicans maintain control of the Senate, Mr. Biden’s pledges to roll back Mr. Trump’s tax cuts are almost certain to run headfirst into fierce opposition from that chamber. Efforts to advance a more liberal agenda on civil rights and race relations — centerpieces of Mr. Biden’s stump speech during his campaign — may falter. And his efforts to shape the new government with appointments could be constrained by the need to win approval in a Republican Senate.
But the president’s aspirations have long run into resistance, as his own national security officials argued that abandonment of such troubled countries could have catastrophic consequences — such as when the United States pulled out of Iraq at the end of 2011, leaving a vacuum that fostered the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.- Advertisement – Somalia has faced civil war, droughts and violence from Islamist extremists for years. The United States intervened in the country as peacekeepers at the end of the George Bush administration, but abandoned it not long after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993, which killed 18 Americans and hundreds of militia fighters.The Shabab, an Islamist terrorist group whose name means “the youth,” emerged around 2007 and has violently vied for control of Somalia with occasional attacks outside its borders, including an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013 that killed more than five dozen civilians and a deadly assault on an American air base at Manda Bay, Kenya, in January.Shabab leaders pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2012. In 2016, shortly before leaving office, the Obama administration deemed them part of the congressionally authorized war against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks. Under the Trump administration, the military sharply increased airstrikes targeting Shabab militants.Eric Schmitt, Charlie Savage and Helene Cooper reported from Washington, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul, Afghanistan. Jennifer Steinhauer and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington. Mr. Trump has also repeatedly pushed to withdraw from Syria, but several hundred U.S. troops remain stationed there, partly to protect coveted oil fields held by American-backed Syrian Kurdish allies from being seized by the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The current deliberations over withdrawals would not affect those in Syria, officials said.The plan under discussion to pull out of Somalia is said to not apply to U.S. forces stationed in nearby Kenya and Djibouti, where American drones that carry out airstrikes in Somalia are based, according to officials familiar with the internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity.Keeping those air bases would mean retaining the military’s ability to use drones to attack militants with the Shabab, the Qaeda-linked terrorist group — at least those deemed to pose a threat to American interests. The smaller number of troops that would remain in Iraq and Afghanistan also would be sufficient to maintain some ability to carry out counterterrorism raids and strikes, officials said.- Advertisement – WASHINGTON — President Trump is expected to order the U.S. military to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia by the time he leaves office in January, using the end of his time in power to significantly pull back American forces from far-flung conflicts around the world.Under a draft order circulating at the Pentagon on Monday, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan would be halved from the current deployment of 4,500 troops, officials said.- Advertisement – Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post last month that he wanted all 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan home by Christmas, but top military and national security aides advised against such a precipitous withdrawal. The president eventually agreed to the smaller drawdown, officials said. Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, said last month that the United States would withdraw about 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by early next year — indirectly rebuking Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for openly questioning that timeline.Shortly before Mr. Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper last week and installed Christopher C. Miller as the acting Pentagon chief, Mr. Esper had sent a classified memo to the White House expressing concerns about accelerating the troop drawdown in Afghanistan, a senior administration official said.Conditions on the ground were not yet right, Mr. Esper is said to have written, citing continuing violence, the dangers a rapid pullout could pose for the remaining troops, the effect on alliances and fear of undermining peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The memo was reported earlier by The Washington Post.Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, delivered a thinly veiled warning to Mr. Trump from the Senate floor on Monday, suggesting that the president would put himself at risk of squandering his record of accomplishment in the Middle East and repeating the mistakes of former President Barack Obama, a predecessor he loathes.“A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm,” Mr. McConnell said. For a leader who has loyally stood by Mr. Trump on most domestic policy issues, the departure was notable.“The consequences of a premature American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011, which fueled the rise of ISIS and a new round of global terrorism,” Mr. McConnell said. “It would be reminiscent of the humiliating American departure from Saigon in 1975.” Exiting foreign conflicts — and Afghanistan in particular — has been a central component of Mr. Trump’s “America First” agenda since he ran for office in 2016. That appeal has particularly animated his base of populist voters, many of them veterans who have grown weary of their roles in longstanding wars. The president views his record on this issue as important to any political future he might pursue. Afghanistan specialists said that the accelerated but partial withdrawal could complicate policy choices for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his incoming national security team, but it was preferable to a complete pullout.“Quickly reducing to 2500 would narrow Biden Admin options and undercut peace talks, but wouldn’t create the utter upheaval of going to zero that fast,” Laurel E. Miller, a former top State Department official who worked on Afghanistan and Pakistan diplomacy for both Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama, said on Twitter last week.Most U.S. troops in Somalia, the war-torn nation in the Horn of Africa, are Special Operations forces stationed at a small number of bases across the country. Their missions include training and advising Somali army and counterterrorism troops and conducting kill-or-capture raids of their own targeting Shabab militants.Mr. Trump’s push to leave Somalia before the end of his term comes at a delicate time: Somalia is preparing for parliamentary elections next month and a presidential election scheduled for early February. The removal of U.S. troops could complicate any ability to keep election rallies and voting safe from Shabab bombers. It also comes at a time of political turmoil in neighboring Ethiopia, whose army has also battled the Shabab.The timing “could not be any worse,” said Brittany Brown, who worked on Somalia policy at the National Security Council under Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump. She said she did support pulling out of Somalia over all.“This is not the time to do it, because this election is really important — this one matters a lot,” said Ms. Brown, who is now the chief of staff of the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit organization focused on deadly conflicts. “I hope this doesn’t send Somalia back into failed-state chaos, because this would embolden Al Shabab.”It is not clear whether other parts of the U.S. government — such as C.I.A. operatives, the ambassador and other State Department diplomats who are based at a heavily fortified bunker at the airport in Mogadishu, the Somali capital — will also withdraw from Somali territory along with the military. Mr. Esper’s caution on troop reductions was one of several factors that led to his firing. After his departure, a group of new officials arrived, including Douglas Macgregor, a retired Army colonel and a fierce proponent of ending American involvement in Afghanistan.It is unclear if the remaining NATO and allied troops in Afghanistan — about 7,000 people who primarily train government forces — would also withdraw. But officials said some in the country’s north and west were likely to do so, as they are reliant on American transport and, in some cases, protection.That would leave American forces to advise from one key U.S.-Afghan command center, helping the Afghan military marshal their resources and plan their defenses. Much of the rest would be in about five smaller regional targeting teams — and composed of small detachments of Special Operations forces — that would help with targeting insurgent groups.The proposal to draw down to about 2,000 to 2,500 troops in Afghanistan comes as the country’s forces are besieged in the south and the north. Morale is low among Afghan security forces, and the uncertainty has led local political leaders to cut deals with the advancing Taliban.October was the deadliest month for civilians since September 2019, according to data compiled by The New York Times. More than 200 civilians were killed.Peace talks in Qatar between Afghan and Taliban negotiators have stalled primarily because of the Afghan government’s reluctance to use the February deal as a guiding document for the discussions. In Iraq, the Pentagon would trim force levels slightly below the 3,000 troops that commanders had previously announced. And in Somalia, virtually all of the more than 700 troops conducting training and counterterrorism missions would leave.Taken together, the cuts reflect Mr. Trump’s longstanding desire to stop shouldering the cost of long-running military engagements against Islamist insurgencies in failed and fragile countries in Africa and the Middle East, a grinding mission that has spread since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. – Advertisement –
The Department of Defense (DoD) said that 931 people were “mistakenly vaccinated” after US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the program stopped on Oct 27, 2004, according to a Feb 1 Associated Press report. The story said 150 service members were vaccinated in January. DoD officials said this week that with the emergency order in hand, they will ask Sullivan to lift the injunction against the vaccination program. But they said it could take several weeks for the judge to issue a decision. About 1.2 million DoD and contractor personnel have received anthrax shots since the vaccination program began in 1998. Almost 500 service members have refused to take the vaccine, and more than 100 have been court-martialed for their refusal, the Post reported yesterday. Feb 3, 2005 (CIDRAP News) The US military gave anthrax shots to more than 900 soldiers after a federal judge ordered a halt to the mandatory vaccination program last October, according to news reports this week. See also: In a lawsuit brought by six service members and civilian defense workers, Sullivan ruled that the Food and Drug Administration had not followed proper procedures in approving the use of anthrax vaccine adsorbed for inahalational anthrax. The FDA recently issued an emergency order to allow DoD to resume the vaccination program because of what the Pentagon believes is an increased risk of anthrax attacks on US forces. The order says that troops must be allowed to refuse the shots without facing any penalties. The story said Col. Steven P. Jones, director of the military vaccine agency, told Sullivan that he ordered the removal of all remaining anthrax vaccine doses from military clinics after he learned that some vaccinations were continuing. Feb 2, 2005, CIDRAP News story “FDA issues emergency order on military anthrax shots” http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/anthrax/news/feb0205anthrax.html DoD officials told Sullivan yesterday that the shots were given even though Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had called a halt to them after the court ruling, according to a Washington Post report today. Previous CIDRAP News stories on the situation are available at:http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/anthrax/news/index.html
Dec 13, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced it has warned nine companies to stop selling unlicensed products advertised as remedies for avian influenza and other kinds of flu.The nine firms have been marketing products with unproved claims that they treat or prevent avian or other types of flu, the FDA said in a news release. Eight products are termed “dietary supplements” and claim to prevent or treat the flu or kill the virus.The FDA warned the companies that their products are considered to be drugs because of the claims made about them, the news release said. As drugs, the products need FDA approval before marketing. The letters also say the claims about avian flu are “false and misleading because there is no scientific basis for concluding that the products are effective to treat or prevent avian flu,” according to the agency.The nine companies are BODeSTORE.com; Chozyn, LLC; Healthworks 2000; Iceland Health Inc.; Melvin Williams; PolyCil Health Inc.; PRB Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Sacred Mountain Management, Inc.; and Vitacost.com. They have 15 days to respond to the FDA.”FDA is not aware of any scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety or effectiveness of these products for treating or preventing avian flu, and the agency is concerned that the use of these products could harm consumers or interfere with conventional treatments,” the agency said.”I consider it a public health hazard when people are lured into using bogus treatments based on deceptive or fraudulent medical claims,” said Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, acting FDA commissioner.See also: FDA news release with links to the individual warning lettershttp://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2005/ucm108531.htm
Apr 4, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – In a major effort to track influenza viruses in nature and learn more about how they interact with the human body, the federal government this week announced a $23-million-a-year program to fund research centers at six institutions around the country.The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) unveiled the 7-year plan to fund six “Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance” at universities and other institutions from New York City to Los Angeles.”The goal of the newly created centers is to provide the federal government with important information to inform public health strategies for controlling and lessening the impact of seasonal influenza as well as an influenza pandemic,” the NIAID said in an Apr 2 news release.Research under the NIAID contracts will range from monitoring of Americans’ responses to flu vaccination to identification of possible targets for new antiviral drugs and testing of pigs and wild birds. Each center will collaborate with a number of other agencies and institutions.The new initiative builds on a program launched by the NIAID after the original human outbreak of H5N1 avian flu in Hong Kong in 1997, the agency said. In that program, led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, researchers studied flu viruses in waterfowl and live bird markets in Hong Kong, shedding light on the natural history of the viruses. St. Jude is one of the six centers named this week.The six centers, with their principal investigators and main areas of research as described by the NIAID, are as follows:St. Jude, Dr. Robert Webster. Research areas include antiviral drug regimens, factors in flu virus resistance to antivirals, virus transmissibility, and human defenses against the H5N1 virus. The center will also maintain surveillance for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in Southeast Asia.University of California, Los Angeles; Dr. Scott Layne. Researchers will monitor animal influenza internationally and in the Pacific Northwest and will maintain a high-throughput laboratory network for studying circulating flu viruses and antiviral resistance.University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou. Scientists will monitor flu viruses in migratory birds, conduct human flu surveillance in Thailand, and monitor US farm workers who work with swine. (See further information below.)Emory University, Atlanta; Dr. Richard Compans. Researchers will study how flu viruses adapt to new hosts and are transmitted between different hosts and will examine human immune responses to flu vaccination and infection.Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre. Researchers will conduct molecular studies to identify viral genes associated with pathogenicity and the adaptability of flu viruses in birds and mammals.University of Rochester, New York; Dr. John Treanor. Investigators will monitor communities in New York for seasonal flu infections and study the effectiveness of annual immunization programs, among other efforts. (See further information below.)At the University of Minnesota, Pappaioanou said the center will collaborate with a number of other groups to test wild birds for flu viruses throughout the Central Flyway, with studies weighted toward the Upper Midwest. Partners in the effort include the University of Georgia in Athens, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the US National Wildlife Health Center in Madison (Wis.), the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and Cargill Corp., she said.Depending on results, the bird surveillance may lead to testing of pigs and possibly testing of people who work with pigs, Pappaioanou, an epidemiologist and veterinarian in the School of Public Health, told CIDRAP News. “If we find birds that are positive, we’ll look at swine that are nearby. We’ll be interviewing people who own those operations and their employees. If there are reports of human illness that could be flu, we’ll be testing specimens from [the patients].”In addition, the center will team up with Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, which has battled H5N1 outbreaks in recent years, for a human flu surveillance project in rural Thailand, Pappaioanou said. Researchers will be looking at risk factors for H5N1 exposure and also test people for antibodies indicating past exposure to the virus.Pappaioanou said the center will receive NIAID funding of about $3 million a year under a contract that requires various “deliverables” along the way. The latter include things like detailed information on the viruses collected plus laboratory reagents and protocols developed. The data generated will be deposited in GenBank and other public databases.”My role is largely going to be coordinating this, making sure things happen, providing scientific oversight, and making sure we deliver our deliverables to the NIH [National Institutes of Health],” she said.At the University of Rochester, scientists are planning research to help in the development of a single vaccine that can work against many different flu strains, Treanor commented in a news release.The Rochester center will study five topics in particular: (1) how white blood cells recognize qualities shared by many different flu strains, (2) the identity of viral proteins that turn on “helper” T cells, causing them to attack infected cells, (3) communication between immune cells, (4) the nature of changes in the viral protein hemagglutinin when flu viruses jump from birds to mammals, and (5) the qualities of viral polymerase, the enzyme the virus uses to copy its genetic material.As part of the effort, “Researchers will follow college students, healthy adults, and 150 families with young children in the Rochester area for seven years, monitoring them for exposure to flu and responses to vaccination,” the release states.The Rochester contract is worth a total of $26 million, officials said. The university will collaborate with Cornell University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and community partners.See also:Apr 2 NIAID news releaseUniversity of Rochester news releaseSt Jude Children’s Research Hospital news release
Apr 29, 2009Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization, today raised the agency’s pandemic alert level to phase 5, one notch below a full-scale influenza pandemic, signaling that it’s time for all countries to prepare. [Margaret Chan’s statement]The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported a total of 91 confirmed cases of swine flu in 10 states, with 51 cases in New York City. Besides New York, affected states and case numbers are Arizona, 1; California, 14; Indiana, 1; Kansas, 2; Massachusetts, 2; Michigan, 2; Nevada, 1; Ohio, 1, and Texas, 16. [CDC swine flu page]Fukuda said the WHO knew of 114 confirmed swine flu cases in seven countries as of 5 p.m. Geneva time today. These included 13 in Canada, 64 (with 1 death) in the United States, 26 (with 7 deaths) in Mexico, 2 in Israel, 4 in Spain, 2 in the United Kingdom, and 3 in New Zealand.A 22-month-old boy from Mexico City died in a Houston, Tex., hospital earlier this week, marking the first swine flu death in the United States and the first outside Mexico, the Texas Department of Health Services reported today. The boy’s close contacts have remained healthy, officials said. [TDHS news release]Germany reported three swine flu cases and Austria reported one, according to a Reuters report today. The patients included a Bavarian couple in their 30s, a 22-year-old woman from Hamburg, and a 28-year-old Austrian.New York and Indiana have received their full allotments of influenza antivirals from the Strategic National Stockpile, and all other states will receive theirs by May 3, Dr. Richard Besser, acting CDC director, said in a press briefing held by the US Department of Health and Human Services.A “reference strain” of the swine flu H1N1 virus has been isolated by the CDC and sent to vaccine manufacturers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at the HHS briefing, adding that limited pilot lots of vaccine could be available for human trials in “early fall.”The US Food and Drug Administration has organized its swine-flu response into an “incident management” structure of seven teams—vaccine, antivirals, personal protective equipment, blood needs, diagnostic research, shortages, and consumer protection—acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said at the HHS briefing.Viral geneticist Andrew Rambaut, from the University of Edinburgh, told Wired magazine yesterday that the H1N1 virus detected in the global swine flu outbreak doesn’t have human or avian components, but is instead a reassortment of two pig viruses, North American and Eurasian, which have never been detected in pigs or humans before. Two other experts, and reportedly a document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed the findings.Only 3 of 14 US swine flu patients with known travel histories had been in Mexico, the CDC said in an MMWR Dispatch last night. Forty of the 64 confirmed cases were not linked to travel or to another confirmed case. [Apr 28 MMWR Dispatch]Between Apr 19 and 27, federal officials checked 15 sick travelers entering the United States from Mexico and confirmed that 2 of them had swine flu, the CDC said in the MMWR Dispatch. Nine travelers remained in isolation pending further evaluation, and four travelers were released.
(CIDRAP Source Osterholm Briefing) – It’s summertime in America, Major League Baseball is about to celebrate its annual All-Star Game—and we are experiencing influenza activity throughout the world, including right here in North America. In my lifetime, a lineup featuring influenza and summer in this country is simply unprecedented, though hardly unexpected.To be sure, the big game will receive substantial media coverage, and I hope my beloved American League and hometown hero Joe Mauer wins the game. But I know the most important story is not on the baseball field. Frankly, it’s barely in the news. And when the novel H1N1 pandemic does gain public attention, a certain word is conveying a dangerous and false sense of safety: mild.Not the 7th-inning stretchBeware. We are in the early innings of this pandemic situation; a lot is yet to unfold. Now is not the time to take our eyes off the ball. I can only hope organizations like yours will use this time to better prepare for what could be a challenging time come this fall.And I also realize how hard that might be, particularly if the public continues to think of the emergence of novel H1N1 as a media event of late April and early May and its continued occurrence as a “mild” pandemic, the term many government and public health officials have used to describe the current situation. Unfortunately, to date the pandemic has been largely mischaracterized in terms of its severity.To its credit, however, the World Health Organization (WHO) has avoided using “mild” to describe the pandemic. In fact, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan has urged the world to see the current illness picture of novel H1N1 as a virus that can cause moderate to severe infections and to anticipate that its clinical spectrum (the full range of symptoms and severity) could substantially worsen with time. And just today, the Obama administration urged the US to plan and prepare, called such work “our shared responsibility,” and said it is working to ready the nation for the “possibility of a more severe outbreak” of the pandemic virus.Still, I worry very much that complacency in the northern hemisphere is replacing some of the over-the-top media coverage of late April/early May and undermining efforts to prepare the world for what I believe could be a very serious 2009-10 winter flu season.Calling it as she sees itNobody has done a better job of trying to understand and explain the disconnect between what is happening now with the novel H1N1 pandemic and the future it holds than Helen Branswell, medical reporter from the Canadian Press. In “Constant use of ‘mild’ to describe swine flu misleading people about threat,” published Jun 28, Branswell details the growing misconception between the reality of this pandemic, what it may hold for the future, and our misunderstanding of its threat. I urge you to read her piece and circulate it to your colleagues and leaders up the management chain who may mistakenly believe the H1N1 problem is over.Branswell nails the issue in her first paragraphs:Officialdom’s mantra about swine flu—”it is overwhelmingly mild”—might seem incongruous if we knew the number of children, teens and young adults in ICU beds right now alive only because a breathing machine has taken over for their ravaged lungs.The heavy reliance on the word “mild” could be creating a false impression of what is actually going on and what the world may face in coming months, some experts worry.Peter Sandman, a risk communications guru from Princeton, NJ, suggests if authorities are trying to ensure people don’t panic about the new H1N1 outbreak, they are concerned about the wrong thing.”In North America, swine flu panic is much rarer than swine flu deaths,” Sandman says. “The problem isn’t panic or even excessive anxiety. The problem is complacency, both about what’s going to happen and about what might happen.”As many of you already know, Peter is the Deputy Editor of the CIDRAP Business Source and truly one of the world’s top risk communication experts. His comments in Branswell’s piece are right on the mark.A picture of what’s to come?Even if nothing changes about the clinical spectrum of this H1N1 infection, think about the impact it’s having on countries like Argentina, Chile, and Australia where it has all but replaced the other two seasonal influenza A strains.The pandemic is stretching the government and medical response capabilities of these southern hemisphere countries in the absence of an effective vaccine. (I will revisit the vaccine issue in detail in an upcoming column, but for now know that I don’t hold out hope that US citizens will receive much pandemic vaccine before the seasonal flu season revisits us.) Argentine financial markets and banks will close tomorrow as part of government efforts to fight an outbreak of novel H1N1. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has sought to halt the spread of the virus the by closing schools, giving pregnant workers extended leave, and allocating emergency funding. Movie theaters have decided to temporarily shut their doors, while Brazilian airline Gol said on Wednesday it had seen a sharp drop in the number of passengers flying to Argentina.A pandemic virus in its infancyIn just a few months we’ll be entering the 2009-10 influenza season. As you look ahead, consider Branswell’s words:”. . . as a human pathogen this virus is still a baby, despite its rapid global spread. No one knows what it is going to be when it grows up.Some things are clear, though. Since most people seem to have no immunity to the virus —some people over 60 may have some—huge numbers will probably catch this flu over the next couple of years. In a relatively tight time frame, lots of people will come down with the flu—far more than would be seen during a regular flu year.To understand that impact, think back to elementary school arithmetic. If the denominator (the total number of cases) gets substantially bigger, the total number of people falling gravely ill or dying (the numerator) will rise sharply, even if the proportion of severe cases (the percentage) doesn’t change.And sheer numbers could make the outbreak get nasty, fast.I couldn’t have said it better. Even if novel H1N1 doesn’t mutate or reassort between now and the fall in a way that increases its ability to cause more severe disease, we’re in for a serious and real challenge. And that’s before even considering the possibility of the virus developing resistance to our current antiviral flu drugs. Bottom line for your organizationDon’t take a summer vacation from pandemic preparedness and business continuity planning. These next few months are precious. Think about all the things that you learned from your late April and May experience and work like hell this summer to do what you can to fix, upgrade, or replace them with a better response plan for the days ahead. I’m certain you’ll not waste your efforts.
Today, at the solemn session of the Assembly of the Tourist Board of the City of Hvar, Minister Cappelli presented this year’s destination of the traditional meeting of tourist workers, the event “Days of Croatian Tourism”.The October meeting of tourist workers will be held on the sunniest Croatian island, Hvar, in the town of Hvar, which this year marks 150 years of tourist tradition. Addressing the gathering, Minister Cappelli stated: “The Days of Croatian Tourism are a central place for meeting, education, exchange of knowledge and experiences, which from year to year arouses the growing interest of stakeholders in tourism and related industries. The value of this event, as well as the overall importance of tourism for the development of the country, was recognized by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which especially directs activities towards the development of continental and island tourism. With the support of the Government and the synergy of public-private partnership, we are working to increase the quality of the tourist offer, increase the income and interest of investors for Croatia, and thus, we are successfully plotting it on the world map of tourist destinations. By choosing Hvar as the flagship of Croatian tourism and one of our most recognizable destinations, we are hosting this year’s Days of Croatian Tourism to pay tribute to their great anniversary. By solemnly celebrating 150 years of tourist tradition, the people of Hvar have shown how good the hosts and organizers are, and I am looking forward to working together to organize another edition of the Croatian Tourism Day. “Days of Croatian Tourism are traditionally organized by the Ministry of Tourism, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the Croatian Tourist Board, and every year they gather more than a thousand participants. This year’s program of the Croatian Tourism Day brings a handful of educational lectures, workshops and round tables of leading domestic and international tourism experts, and will traditionally be crowned with awards and recognitions for the best in the actions of the Croatian Tourist Board and Croatian Chamber of Commerce.According to unofficial information, the Days of Croatian Tourism should be held in Slavonia next year.
The Supervisory Board of the largest Croatian tourist company Valamar Riviere has approved the next investment cycle, which will bring the total investment in Valamar’s destinations to HRK 793 million in 2019.Investment projects in 2019 are focused on repositioning the portfolio according to high value-added offers and services. Valamar Riviera will thus complete the three-year investment cycle worth more than HRK 2 billion, which was envisaged within Valamar’s business growth and development strategy until 2020. “The successful growth of Valamar’s business is the result of an investment strategy in raising the quality of products, employees and destinations in a responsible and sustainable manner, taking care of the interests of all stakeholders involved. In the coming period, Valamar will define goals and strategic initiatives until 2022, with an emphasis on further investments in the development of the tourism portfolio, destinations and employees “, said Željko Kukurin, President of the Management Board of Valamar Riviera.One of the biggest investments in 2019 is the investment in Camp Istra, which will become the first large 5 * camp in Croatia next season, the opening of the luxury family hotel Valamar Collection Marea Suites 5 * in Poreč and the development of many other additional facilities and service concepts in other camps, hotels and resorts of Valamar. The plan is to continue significant investments in accommodation for seasonal employees in accordance with Valamar’s strategic goals. An intensive investment cycle is planned for next year on the island of Rab in the total value of 140 million kuna, and includes investment in Valamar Carolina Hotel & Villas 4 * in partnership with TUI Sensimar brand, development of family facilities and services in Hotel Valamar Padova 4 * and investment to Camp Padova, which will earn 4 * and the prestigious Premium Camping Resort brand label Camping Adriatic by Valamar. In the Makarska hotels that Valamar took over this year, in 2019 it is planned to invest in the quality and contents of the Meteor hotel, which will operate under the Valamar Hotels & Resorts brand next season.Valamar continuously confirms its leading position through business growth and investment in Croatian tourismTotal investments reached HRK 5 billion, of which HRK 4,3 billion in raising the quality of hotels, resorts and camping resorts, and HRK 700 million in acquisitions and expansion. In the past three years, Valamar has created as many as 2300 new jobs, significantly increased salaries and improved working conditions.Also, this year the process of taking over the company Hoteli Makarska dd in Croatia and the first Valamar hotel in Austria was successfully finalized.
“The fact that more than two months earlier we exceeded the tourist turnover achieved in the whole of last year is an excellent result of Croatian tourism and a clear confirmation that this tourist year, despite all challenges, was excellently implemented by the entire Croatian tourism sector. We are optimistically entering 2020, which will also be demanding, and our primary goal will be to maintain Croatia’s competitive position in Europe, but also to further position ourselves in new distant markets, ” said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Staničić, adding that we will end October with ten percent growth compared to the same month last year, which testifies to the better affirmation of Croatia as a destination that offers much more than sun and sea. So far this year, most overnight stays were realized from the markets of Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic and Great Britain, while, looking at destinations, most overnight stays were realized in Dubrovnik, Rovinj, Porec, Split, Medulin, Umag, Vir, Mali Lošinj, etc. Observing the results achieved by type of accommodation, most overnight stays were realized in household facilities (38,8 million), hotels (24,4 million) and camps (18,8 million). According to the first data of the eVisitor system, which contains tourist traffic realized in the commercial and non-commercial segment and nautical charter, in Croatia on today, October 25, 19.722.582 arrivals (+ 5%) and 106.162.242 overnight stays were realized. ), which exceeded the tourist turnover realized in the whole of 2, when 2018 arrivals and 19.719.329 overnight stays were realized. “This result is proof that the Government of the Republic of Croatia is seriously approaching the development of tourism and considering innovative ways of conducting tourism policy, but also confirmation of the synergistic action of all stakeholders in the tourism system, public and private sector, and especially tourism workers.” would be possible. This year will be remembered as a turning point in which the entire tourism legislation was changed, and I believe that in 2020, when the new tourism laws will be applied, we will work even better and more sustainably, ” concluded Tourism Minister Gary Cappelli.