miércoles, enero 18, 2006

State of California Unveils Pandemic Plan

California Unveils Flu Plan
By Harrison Sheppard, Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO -- California would take steps as drastic as shutting schools, limiting public events and asking people to wear masks in public in order to cope with a possible bird flu pandemic, under a draft plan released today by state health officials.

The avian influenza has yet to reach California and is not easily spread among humans, but health officials are worried the virus could mutate, launching a worldwide pandemic on a scale not seen since Spanish flu killed 20 million people in 1918.

"Depending on its severity, an influenza pandemic could cause widespread economic and societal disruption and severely strain our health-care system," said California Department of Health Services director Sandra Shewry.

[snip]

Some elements of the plan will be implemented prior to a pandemic, such as reinforcing to the public messages about good health practices, like covering one's mouth when sneezing, washing hands, and stockpiling supplies such as bottled water, canned food, batteries and flashlights for an extended emergency.

Read entire article here.

Or, go to the draft of the plan at the California Department of Health Services, Division of Communicable Disease Control. The draft is 170 pages long.

martes, diciembre 27, 2005

Regular Flu Season is Here

From the San Francisco Chronicle 12/26
A flu bug -- with California's name on it appears to have gained a footing in the western United States, jamming emergency departments in the Los Angeles area and spreading into Bay Area households just in time for the holidays.

Medical laboratories that serve as sentinels for the annual arrival of the flu season have picked up a spike in influenza cases in California, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and Kansas -- with a widespread outbreak reported under way in Utah.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all the viruses analyzed so far come from a strain of influenza labeled A/California/07/20.
This article lead me to further research and the California Influenza Surveillance Project, which tracks the levels of flu around the state. It is a useful site, which includes links to:
  1. "enhanced surveillance for avian flu"
  2. flu shot locators
  3. basic information on the seasonal flu
Take a look, click here.

sábado, diciembre 10, 2005

Ritual HandWashing @ Deep Roots Urban TeaHouse

Located at 1418 34th Avenue, this urban teahouse is the bomb. Ritual handwashing comes before a lush serving of organic tea. Deep Roots is an inspiring space. I salute their efforts to nurture our neighborhood.

They host a "teacher's lounge" on Sunday afternoons—grade papers and prepare your lesson plans while DJ Q-KUG spins cool jazz and deep soul.

Or, play
dominos on the 3rd Wednesday of every month.

Ask them for details about this promising announcement on their website: "
Under the radar-Strategies for Community Survival" This monthly community dialog and speaker series is hosted by Bay Area local heroes to share strategies on maintaining our communities in the face of current political challenges. Topics include Urban gardening and healthy food sourcing, retaining culture through permaculture, transportation access and alternatives, redefining urban health, and education reform.

Very cool.

Visit their website—click here.

jueves, diciembre 08, 2005

Where's the plan?

I asked the teacher of C.O.R.E. about local pandemic preparedness plans. She informed me that pandemic preparedness is a county and not a city issue [?!?!?] Geez. I don't get it. Sure, the county deals with the health/hospital aspect of the thing. But, don't you think a pandemic response would necessitate police, fire, and city services? Geez, people, get with it.

But, does the county have a plan?

The website for Alameda County Public Health provides only a very basic informational flyer about the avian flu. Last updated: 9/23/05. [Although they do get props for having it in five languages.]

San Francisco Public Health website, on the other hand, is quite comprehensive, including detailed disease reporting requirements, current health advisories, and a "preparedness and response" guide for physicians. It's worth checking out. I added it to my links on the right.

12/11 UPDATE: The Washington Post reports on the "tabletop" pandemic preparedness drill conducted by the feds on Saturday.

The key finding:
Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said the federal government alone cannot handle a major flu outbreak.

"State and local governments, state and local communities, schools need to have a plan, businesses need to have a plan, faith organizations need to have a plan," he said.
Again, who has the plan?

Who Can Post Here?

Anyone can post here

If you have a new topic, post it here in the comment section and I will front-page it.

Yes, you are welcome to post even if you don't live in Fruitvale—although I don't know why anyone would live anywhere else.

If you'd like posting privileges, send me your email address and I'll arrange for member status.

House rules: Don't use this blog to spread rumors. Panic and fear are our worst enemies. Use this site to post first-hand information and observations only.

Feel free to post anonymously. I do cuz I know that some people think pandemic talk=crazy talk. I'm not quite willing to go public with that.

This site is an experiment: Can we create virtual community in an actual neighborhood? Can virtual community lead to real acts of solidarity?

C.O.R.E. 1

We went to the first training for C.O.R.E. (Citizen of Oakland Respond to Emergencies). The focus was earthquake and fire preparedness but there was some good information. I recommend that everyone get this training. I'm pretty sure that everyone will learn something new even if some of the information is already well known. It is an especially good workshop for households and family units to attend together. It gets everyone on the same page.

Here's what I learned: I need to program the Oakland police and fire emergency numbers into my cell phone. 911 calls from cell phones go to a highway patrol dispatch somewhere else. We—like an increasing number of people we know—don't have a landline. So if we need help quick we will be calling from our cellphones.

There are three levels of C.O.R.E. training. To do the second training, they recommend that you organize a group of neighbors. They actually come out to the neighborhood and do a walk through. So we are looking for neighbors who'd like to be part of this. Any takers?

viernes, diciembre 02, 2005

Get your Pneumonia Vaccine

This article [click here] from the New York Times (11.30.05) provides the rationale for getting your pneumonia vaccine NOW. The vaccine is covered by most insurance and Medicare. Here's a snipet of the article:
Why would an antibacterial vaccine be useful in a viral epidemic? Because patients weakened by the flu often acquire a secondary infection with the pneumococcal bacteria that causes pneumonia. While the flu virus itself can be lethal, all too often it is the bacterial infection that kills.

I got my vaccine this week. One more thing checked off my pandemic preparedness "to do" list.

Interview with Mike Davis

Mike Davis, in this recent interview, argues for the development of:
...disaster plans that involve citizen participation and mobilize citizen skills and initiative, and that use principals of neighborhood or social solidarity as the basis for disaster planning. The Japanese do this to some extent. The Cubans have a great experience in doing this throughout hurricanes; despite the image in the American press that it's all done top-down by the army, that's not how it works... it changes your whole perception of your own situation, when you view yourself as a citizen with responsibility for your neighbors rather than as a selfish survivalist trying to hide out and escape the fate of other people.
Yes. Exactly. This blog is motivated by the desire to build "social solidarity." This blog is motivated by the desire to resist "selfish survivalist" tendencies (in myself and others.)

Read full interview: click this link.

[Thanks to brother A for sending me this link.]

sábado, noviembre 26, 2005

Free C.O.R.E. Training

Click this link: Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies

In seeking opportunities to promote community awareness and service, the mission of CORE is to promote the spirit of neighbor helping neighbor and to provide the highest quality emergency and disaster prevention, preparedness and response training.

Since its inception in 1990, the CORE program has provided free, community-based training to more than 10,000 residents. Early in its history, CORE became a model for community and city-wide collaboration, and was among the first community emergency response team curriculums developed.

My household is signing up for this training. It's free. It's multilingual. It seems like a good idea.

miércoles, noviembre 09, 2005

Vegetables

Now that I have my first layer of preparedness in place—canned goods, supplies, medicines— I'm starting to think about the things I enjoy.

Like coffee. I realized that if we lose power, we won't be able to grind our own coffee. So, I bought a pound of ground coffee and even (gasp!) a jar of instant. Hopefully, it won't come to that.

I'm also thinking a lot about fruits and vegetables. We signed up with Planet Organics a few weeks ago. It is a bit pricey ($32 min order) for a box of organic fruits and vegetables. The quality, though, is really top-notch. Planet Organic delivers on Tuesdays in our neighborhood. I'm thinking they may be able to keep their business up and running during the pandemic: they are selling produce from small, local farms so they won't have the same supply chain issues as the supermarkets.

I also went to Long's Drugs in Rockridge a few days ago. In addition to buying Red Mills polenta and barley to put in my emergency food reserves, I also bought some seeds. I'm not a great gardener and I floundered a bit in front of all my choices. In the end, I choose spinach, peas, zuchini, and parsley. I'm mostly thinking about veggies that I can put in soups and pasta dishes. Note to self: Buy more cans of diced tomatoes to add to my food reserves.

While at Long's, I noticed that the garden section still had pre-started vegetables, mostly lettuces and herbs. I wasn't sure if they would sell these throughout the year.

A few months ago, I threw down some nastursium seeds. They are growing like blazes and they are edible. But, really, how many flowers can you eat? I also have a small lemon tree and a well-established—and mostly neglected—apple treee. I'm going to give the apple tree some attention so that it might produce a better crop next year. Apple pie, anyone? Seriously though, maybe I can trade my apples for some beautiful membrillo (quince) from the garden of the man down the road.