News Flash

Home

Posted on: May 19, 2020

DHS Response to COVID-19

"Coronavirus Update" text

 

Weekly Update: DHS Response to COVID-19

The Department of Homeland Security remains vigilant against the COVID-19 virus and continues to lead the national response to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on American citizens and workers. As the nation transitions to a phased approach of reopening the economy the Department and its components remain steadfast in their commitment to ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous Homeland for the American people.


“S&T has dedicated it’s research acumen to addressing the needs of the pandemic response efforts with actionable science-based, information,” said William N. Bryan, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science & Technology. “We began research at the very beginning of the outbreak to determine what was known about the virus, and determined what else we needed to know in order to control the spread. Our efforts have discovered how temperature, humidity, and especially sunlight, can help to limit the spread of the virus from surfaces and in the air. We’ve determined effective decontamination methods for cleaning surfaces with simple household chemicals, and just this week, released information about how to use a multicooker to decontaminate critical PPE, such as N95 masks, for reuse. I am proud of S&T’s team and our abilities to contribute to the global response efforts to control the spread of this deadly disease.”

Below is a list of some of DHS’s efforts against COVID-19 last week:


Science and Technology (S&T)

Delivering Actionable Information Through Applied Research. Personal protective equipment, specifically respiratory protection such as N95 masks, are an effective way to reduce exposure to airborne SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. With high demand resulting in limited supply, S&T focused efforts on finding affordable and easy methods that allow masks to safely be reused. On June 19thS&T published information about using a multi-cooker as an effective low-technology decontamination option for N95 respirators. A fact sheet, question-and-answer document, concept of operations, and an instructional video were posted on S&T’s website for easy access to the information.


Driving Evidence-Based Policymaking. On June 16th, Science and Technology updated its Master Question List (MQL), a compilation of available research on operationally relevant questions to aid decision makers in the COVID-19 response. The MQL is a quick-reference guide covering what is known about the virus, what additional information is needed, and who may be working to address these fundamental questions. New entries include references to work showing faster rates of transmission associated with a particular mutation (D614G) which is disproportionately represented in phylogenetic samples. Dexamethasone may significantly reduce mortality in severely ill and ventilated patients, and surveys indicate that the majority of Americans were complying with non-pharmaceutical interventions.


Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

 Providing COVID-19 Resources for SLTT Governments. On June 17th, CISA released the COVID-19 Disinformation Toolkit designed to help State, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) officials bring awareness to misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories appearing online related to COVID-19’s origin, scale, government response, prevention and treatment. This toolkit provides resources like talking points, FAQs, outreach graphics, and posters to help spread awareness.


Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD)

Enhanced Screenings at Airports. CWMD contract personnel are continuing to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with enhanced screenings for travelers through 15 specially designated airports. As of June 20, CWMD has processed more than 362,827 travelers for enhanced screening, including 1,538 who were referred to CDC for further medical evaluation.


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Delivering Critical Medical Supplies to Keep Americans Safe. As of June 19th, FEMA, HHS, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of, 95.8 million N-95 respirators, 151.2 million surgical masks, 15.5 million face shields, 74.9 million surgical gowns/coveralls and over 1 billion gloves.

 

Expediting Movement of Critical Personal Protective Equipment. FEMA continues to expedite the movement of commercially pre-sourced and commercially procured critical supplies from the global market to medical distributors in various locations across the U.S. As of June 22, Project Airbridge has completed 232 flights with an additional 7 scheduled, or in transit, for a total of approximately 239 flights. Since April 12, 53 non-Airbridge flights carrying over 69.8 million FEMA-procured masks and respirators from 3M have landed in the U.S. Additionally, 93 non-Airbridge flights carrying over 15.7 million gowns from Hanes have landed in the U.S. for distribution across the country.


Supporting Administration’s COVID-19 Testing Strategy. To support the Administration’s Testing Blueprint, FEMA continues to source and procure testing material – specifically, testing swabs and transport media. As of June 17th, FEMA has procured and delivered 25.9 million swabs and 16.4 million units of media. The FEMA-sourced material will be provided to states, territories, and tribes for a limited duration to help increase testing capacity in support of their individualized plans.


Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC)

FLETC Restarts On-site Training. FLETC is making sure that participating organizations have the ability to train officers and agents in a safe and secure environment. The law enforcement profession is one that requires in-person training to effectively simulate real-world situations for the proper use and application of law enforcement tactics, techniques and procedures. On June 17th, FLETC resumed on-site training at FLETC’s training delivery points, students and staff are back using reengineered training programs and safety protocols.


Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 

Keeping Americans Safe While Ensuring Continuity of U.S. Travel and Commerce. Between June 14th and June 20th, TSA screened more than 3,609,878 passengers, who have all reached their destinations safely. TSA officers are required to wear facial protection while on duty at the checkpoint and the agency continues to follow CDC guidance to protect Americans, its workers, and the nation’s transportation system, in support of air travel and all other modes of transportation.


Ready to Ensure Safety During the Summer Travel Period. Between June 14th and June 20th, TSA teams across the country were provided guidance on ordering plastic barriers to help prevent cross-contamination between passengers and TSA personnel. In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as we head into the summer travel season, travelers should expect to see changes at airport screening checkpoints nationwide.


United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Monitoring Vessels that Pose a Risk to Public Health. As of June 19th, 2020, the USCG is tracking 68 cruise ships moored, at anchor, or underway in vicinity of a U.S. port, or with potential to arrive in a US port, with 21,742 crewmembers. This includes an estimated 269 American Citizens crewmembers dispersed among 38 vessels. The Coast Guard is working with the CDC based on its extension of the No Sail Order for cruise ships, which permits the off-loading of crewmembers following submission of a plan to the CDC.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Keeping the Public Safe from COVID-19-related Fraud. ICE’s Operation Stolen Promise (OSP) targets fraudulent activity stemming from the pandemic. The initiative combines ICE’s Homeland Security Investigation’s (HSI) expertise in global trade investigations, financial fraud, and cyber investigations with robust private and public partnerships to disrupt and dismantle this criminal activity and strengthen global supply-chain security. As of June 19th, as part of OSP, the agency has made 28 criminal arrests, analyzed 43,153 COVID-19-related domains, seized more than $ 5,233,128 million in illicit proceeds, disrupted 39 instances of illicit activity, sent 1,092 leads to domestic and international field offices, executed 50 search warrants and made 759 COVID-19-related seizures to include prohibited test kits and pharmaceuticals, counterfeit masks and more.COVID-19-related seizures to include prohibited test kits and pharmaceuticals, counterfeit masks and more.


Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Getting American Citizens Home Safe. As of June 17th, 2020, CBP had referred 354,469 travelers at the 15 funneling airports to DHS CWMD for enhanced health screening.


Securing the Border. While commercial activities and essential travel remain unrestricted, CBP continues to collaborate with its partners in Canada and Mexico to limit non-essential travel aimed at preventing COVID-19 from crossing our shared borders. On June 16th, DHS announced the Extension of Non-Essential Travel Restrictions with Canada and Mexico until July 21st. This extension protects Americans while keeping essential trade and travel flowing as we reopen the American economy.

Weekly Update: DHS Response to COVID-19

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has risen to the new challenges presented by COVID-19 and continues to lead the national response to mitigate the spread. Thanks to our workforce’s efforts across its components last week, DHS has facilitated a speedy, whole-of-government response to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As the nation transitions to a phased approach of reopening the economy the Department and its components continue to prove its resiliency in the face of adversity to ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous Homeland for the American people.


“Earlier this month, USCIS began to reopen offices to the public and resume in-person services such as interviews and naturalization ceremonies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the men and women of USCIS have exhibited professionalism, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to our mission of administering our nation’s lawful immigration system,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. “Over the past week, I’ve had the privilege to welcome and administer the oath to new U.S. citizens at ceremonies in Baltimore, MD and Fairfax, VA. Taking the Oath of Allegiance and embracing U.S. citizenship is a remarkable act of patriotism, and we are a stronger nation today because of naturalized citizens.”


Below is a list of some of DHS’s efforts against COVID-19 last week:


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Continuing to Expand In-Person Services Nationwide and Welcome New U.S. Citizens. On June 4, USCIS began to reopen offices to the public and resume in-person services, such as naturalization ceremonies and interviews. Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow administered the oath to new U.S. citizens at the Washington Field Office on June 11 and at the Baltimore Field Office on June 4. Rescheduling naturalization ceremonies for those who had their ceremony postponed due to the temporary suspension of in-person services is a top priority for USCIS.


Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

Providing Cyber Resources to Public Safety Communications Partners During the Pandemic. On June 8th, CISA released the Telephony Denial of Service (TDoS) Factsheet on the SAFECOM 911 resources page in response to an uptick in TDoS events since the COVID-19 pandemic. TDoS events occur when a large volume of telephone calls overloads a communications network element—overwhelming call capacity and disrupting communications. Congestion may occur in any part of a communications network, from the telecommunications provider infrastructure to end-user equipment. This fact sheet familiarizes public safety communications partners with TDoS threats to 911. The document overviews common TDoS attack vectors, highlights real-world TDoS incidents, and suggests best practices to mitigate TDoS impacts in times of emergency.


Keeping Public Communication Partners Safe. On June 11th, CISA released the PSAP Ransomware Poster which provides Public Safety Answering Points and Emergency Communication Centers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with information to reduce the risk of falling victim to ransomware. While the poster’s focus is ransomware, the suggestions and recommendations are applicable across a wide range of cyber threats. The poster also provides awareness information on phishing, social engineering, and password management; as well as information on what to do if a system is compromised and associated contact information for state and federal authorities. CISA encourages COVID-19 response organizations to review and apply the poster’s recommendations to protect their systems.


Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD)

Enhanced Screenings at Airports. CWMD contract personnel are continuing to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with enhanced screenings for travelers through 15 specially designated airports. As of June 13, CWMD has processed more than 344,452 travelers for enhanced screening, including 1,534 who were referred to CDC for further medical evaluation.


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA Continues Deliveries of Needed Medical Supplies. As of June 15, FEMA has made 14,965 deliveries of medical supplies to nursing homes in all 56 states and territories. FEMA is coordinating two shipments totaling a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes. The shipments will supplement existing efforts to provide equipment to nursing homes.


FEMA Continues Deliveries of Needed Medical Supplies. As of June 12, FEMA, HHS, and Project Airbridge combined have coordinated the delivery of, or are currently shipping: 95.8 million N-95 respirators, 149.3 million surgical masks, 14.3 million face shields, 47 million surgical gowns and over 1 billion gloves.


FEMA Assists in Administration’s COVID-19 Testing Strategy. To support the Administration’s Testing Blueprint, FEMA continues to source and procure testing material – specifically, testing swabs and transport media. As of June 12, FEMA has procured and delivered 22.4 million swabs and 16.3 million units of media. The FEMA-sourced material will be provided to states, territories, and tribes for a limited duration to help increase testing capacity in support of their individualized plans.


Office of Operations Coordination (OPS) 

Supporting DHS Information Sharing. On June 9th, the Department convened an Operations Deputies Board (OPS DEPS) consisting of DHS senior operational leaders. The OPSDEPS was convened to continue coordination on the Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The OPSDEPS received operational updates on COVID-19 from the Crisis Action Team and reviewed the Department’s return to the workplace plan for DHS Headquarters personnel.


Science and Technology (S&T)

Using Data to Protect First Responders, Care Providers and the General Public. On June 12th, S&T released a new predictive modeling tool to estimate the decay of airborne SARS-CoV-2, (the virus that causes COVID-19), across a range of temperature, relative humidity, and sunlight levels (UV Index). The model has been integrated into a web-based application, which allows users to estimate time needed for decay of SARS-CoV-2 under combinations of these environmental conditions. This is the second tool leveraging the results of ongoing research from S&T’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC), and is designed to assist response efforts and estimate the persistence of the virus under certain environmental conditions. The information may guide best practices for responders, medical care providers and individuals to reduce potential for contamination.


Driving Evidence-Based Policymaking. On June 9th, Science and Technology updated its Master Question List (MQL), a compilation of available research on operationally relevant questions to aid decision makers in the COVID-19 response. The MQL is a quick-reference guide covering what is known about the virus, what additional information is needed, and who may be working to address these fundamental questions. New entries include references to studies of autopsied lung tissue that support aspiration as a mechanism for transportation of SARS-CoV-2 to the deep lung. Additional recent evidence suggests the virus attacks blood vessels in the lung, leading to clotting complications and ARDS. It is also notable that a number of initiatives have planned or begun production of COVID-19 vaccines, with the goal of producing hundreds of millions of doses by 2021, though only those with safe and effective trial results will be administered to humans.


Delivering Actionable Information Through Applied Research. On June 12th, S&T National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) published a new study in the Journal of Infectious DiseasesAirborne SARS-CoV-2 is Rapidly Inactivating by Simulated Sunlight”. Aerosols represent a potential route of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, where this study examined the effect of simulated sunlight, relative humidity, and suspension matrix on the stability of SARS-CoV-2. This research provides the first evidence that sunlight may rapidly inactivate SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces. Findings in this research inform our understanding of the virus and help shape the operational response to COVID-19.


Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 

Keeping Americans Safe While Ensuring Continuity of U.S. Travel and Commerce. Between June 7th and June 13th, TSA screened more than 3,055,652 passengers, who have all reached their destinations safely. TSA officers are required to wear facial protection while on duty at the checkpoint and the agency continues to follow CDC guidance to protect Americans, its workers, and the nation’s transportation system, in support of air travel and all other modes of transportation.


Ready to Ensure Safety During the Summer Travel Period. Between June 7th and June 13th, the agency also produced new airport signage to help travelers navigate the new normal at airport checkpoints nationwide. In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, travelers should expect to see changes at airport screening checkpoints including the ability to place their boarding pass directly on the travel document reader and social distancing while in the screening lines.


United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Monitoring Vessels that Pose a Risk to Public Health. The Coast Guard continues to monitor the presence of multiple ships anchored in U.S. territorial waters to ensure they observe the 14-day minimum wait time required by Presidents Trump’s EO before docking at a U.S. port to help reduce the spread of foreign originating COVID-19. As of June 8th, the Coast Guard is tracking more than 67 cruise ships anchored, moored, or underway in U.S. waters, carrying approximately 32,128 crew members from various countries.


United States Secret Service (USSS)

Keeping The American Public Safe From Of COVID Related Scams. On June 10, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri announced a federal indictment for COVID-19 related fraud case which involved forged prescriptions for anti-malarial drugs. The United Secret Service was part of the local taskforce that assisted in investigating.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 

Keeping the Public Safe from COVID-19-related Fraud. ICE’s Operation Stolen Promise (OSP) targets fraudulent activity stemming from the pandemic. The initiative combines ICE’s Homeland Security Investigation’s (HSI) expertise in global trade investigations, financial fraud, and cyber investigations with robust private and public partnerships to disrupt and dismantle this criminal activity and strengthen global supply-chain security. As of June 12, as part of OSP, the agency has made 25 criminal arrests, analyzed 41,107 COVID-19-related domains, seized more than $ 5,030,283 million in illicit proceeds, disrupted 36 instances of illicit activity, sent 1,030 leads to domestic and international field offices, executed 47 search warrants and made 741 COVID-19-related seizures to include prohibited test kits and pharmaceuticals, counterfeit masks and more.


Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 

Seizing Counterfeit Goods to Keep The Country Safe. On June 12th, CBP officers assigned to the Port of Birmingham discovered nearly 500 unregistered non-contact and infrared thermometers originating in Malaysia and China. CBP remains vigilant, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping these types of unregulated medical devices out of the United States is a top priority for CBP. So far this calendar year, CBP has seized more than 107,000 illegitimates COVID-19 test kits, more than 11,000 doses of FDA-prohibited chloroquine, and more than 750,00 counterfeit masks.


Getting American Citizens Home Safe. As of June 11, 2020, CBP has referred 336,984 travelers at the 15 funneling airports to DHS CWMD for enhanced health screening. 


Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Home

Farm equipment in field.

Online Auction: Farm Equipment

Posted on: August 10, 2020
"Mask Up, Minnesota" logo with woman wearing a face mask.

How to Get a Mask

Posted on: August 5, 2020
"Stay Safe MN" logo

MDH Case Update

Posted on: May 29, 2020
Person holding up a paper that says, "Your vote matters."

Notice of New Voting Equipment

Posted on: June 10, 2020
FEMA logo

FEMA: Whole-of-America Response

Posted on: April 28, 2020
"We are open again" sign hanging in window.

Outdoor Dining Beginning June 1st

Posted on: May 29, 2020
"Stay Safe MN" logo

Minnesota's Stay Safe Plan

Posted on: May 22, 2020