Weekly Update: DHS Response to COVID-19 - June 22, 2020


Office of Public Affairs

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 19th , S&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.