Despite Ebola Fears, DHS Unprepared for a Pandemic After Spending a Bundle, Warns Inspector General


Ebola gear
CDC Global

Despite years of warning, preparation, and spending, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is unprepared for the sort of pandemic that has been occupying Americans' minds of late, DHS Inspector General John Roth told the House Oversight Committee today. The feds have stockpiled plenty of gear and supplies, but they don't know if it's the right gear, in the right quantities, or whether it's in usable condition, because there's no game plan to speak of.

In testimony on the government's response to "the Ebola crisis," Roth described the results of an audit conducted just two months ago:

During our audit, we found that DHS did not adequately conduct a needs assessment before purchasing protective equipment and antiviral drugs. DHS reported spending $9.5 million on pandemic protective equipment beginning in 2006, yet did not identify its needs for protective equipment. Moreover, DHS spent $6.7 million for antiviral drugs, but did not have clear and documented methodologies for determining the types and quantities of medication it should purchase. In other words, we could not determine the basis for DHS' decisions on how much or what types of pandemic preparedness supplies to purchase, store, or distribute. The balance of the funds was spent on pandemic research, exercises, and storage.

By not identifying its needs, the Department cannot be sure its protective equipment stockpiles are adequate or determine whether it has excess supplies on hand.

Roth pointed out that DHS has stockpiled 350,000 white coverall suits and 16 million surgical masks without actually coming up with a justification for those numbers. The same is true of the department's hoard of antiviral drugs—although it actually has estimates for its needs in this area that it didn't actually follow. Too many? Too few? Maybe we'll find out the hard way (fortunately, Ebola is unlikely to provide a real-world test).

Oh. And the DHS's antibiotics have apparently been warehoused without any thought to how they're supposed to be stored so that they remain usable.

Of the DHS's stockpile of hand sanitizer, 84 percent is expired—so are 200,000 respirators. The entire respirator supply is expected to be unusable after next year. So is most of that antiviral stock.

All of which may be irrelevant, since DHS can't find the stuff anyway. "DHS did not readily know how much protective equipment it had on hand or where the equipment was being stored," Roth told the committee.

The full August 2014 audit is here.

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  1. Horde=group of people, ie “Mongol Horde”. Hoard=Cache of stuff, ie dragon’s hoard.

    1. Oh noes, rampaging antiviral drugs! Run!

      1. Do you think they will stop at panties? Be careful using names like “UnCivilCervant” or “Every Cop is a Criminal,” because they can (and will) use advanced surveillance techniques to find out exactly who you are, and panties are only the beginning. At least for now it looks like you’re safe as long as you don’t post “confessions” in the “names” of any DSH staff members. But be careful, because when they come for you, the judge will explain that “neither good faith nor truth is a defense.” See:


    2. This has since been fixed in the article.

    3. Why do you hate Mongols?

  2. During our audit, we found that DHS did not adequately conduct a needs assessment before purchasing protective equipment and antiviral drugs.

    The DHS doesn’t have to conduct an “assessment” to know what it needs: more funding.

    1. And on top of that, no one will be punished for not adequately conducting a needs assessment (whatever that is) before spending a ton of money! Yay!

    2. “I got a fever, and the only prescription, is more funding!”

    3. There’s no such thing as a DHS agent.

  3. Can someone tell me where the name ‘Ebola’ came from? I couldn’t find reference to how it got that name.

      1. Thanks. You’d think that would be an easier reference to find.

        1. It was also in The Hot Zone.

    1. At the same time, a third team introduced the name “Ebola virus”, derived from the Ebola River where the 1976 outbreak occured.

      1. I got redirected the genus page when I checked wikipedia. Now I look like a fool.

    2. The Ebola River.

      1. Check out the wikipedia article on the Ebola River

        Ebola River is where Ebola started. It is not good

        1. It’s wiki vandalism, I know, but I laughed.

          old version

    3. Some scholars believe it’s named after a large wooden ship that sank sometime during the civil war, others maintain that it is pigeon for a whale’s vagina. Personally I think it’s just one of those things that will be lost to the sands of time.

    4. I thought it was named after the region where it was first identified, but not quite:

      “The Ebola Name & It’s Origin”

      “We definitely didn’t want to name the new pathogen ‘Yambuku virus’, because that would have stigmatized the place forever. There was a map hanging on the wall and our American team leader suggested looking for the nearest river and giving the virus its name. It was the Ebola River.”

      1. So, instead of stigmatizing one town, they stigmatized the whole course of the river.

        Smooth move.

        1. At least they didn’t call it the Congo Virus.

          1. They didn’t want to stigmatize Michael Crichton.

            1. Hey, the book was OK, it was the movie that sucked. But that’s what happens when you kill off Bruce Campbell in the first few minutes.

              1. You don’t like ambiguously sexual relationships between men and gorillas and Deus ex machina superlasers?

                1. Who doesn’t?

        2. They should have called it the Zaire virus, since Zaire isn’t called Zaire any more no place would have been stigmatized.

      2. “We’re dealing with a deadly virus, but we’re going to waste time agonizing over stigmatizing a river as opposed to a town. This is an excellent use of our time.”

        1. If you were a real scientist, you would know that the first and foremost concern of doing good science is not hurting anyone’s feelings.

          1. ‘Tony’ says all the experts agree on this.

  4. But they made a big diversity grant last week, so its all good.

    CDC’s new motto: “Better sick than sexist”

  5. They are totally unprepared. But in fairness, I am not sure how to be prepared other than shutting down the borders, which won’t happen.

    Let me give you an example of what I mean. It sounds great to say that we need to have everyone treating Ebola patients to be in a full hazmat suits. Put the doctors and nurses in a hazmat suit and isolate the patient and things will be fine. There is one problem with that; the doctors have to take the hazmat suits off. And Ebola is so contagious and so long lived in the open air, all it takes is one drop of infected body fluid to get on your skin to infect you. So imagine wearing a hazmat suit and you are around a sick person for a few hours and they vomit on you and sneeze on you and you have to clear up their diarrhea and all of that. Now your shift is over and it is time to go home. How exactly do you plan to get that suit off without infecting yourself? And oh by the way, the shit is so persistent that rinsing the suit off isn’t good enough. You have to take it off without allowing the outside of the suit to touch your skin. That is a good trick. And sure, you probably will get it right and even if you don’t just because you let a part of the outside of the suit touch your skin doesn’t mean you will be infected. That sounds reassuring until you realize that everyone who treats a patient has to do this over and over again for days. What are the chances someone going to get infected? Pretty damned good I would say.

    1. This is indeed part of the problem, and one reason why the assurances of Cytotoxic and others don’t reassure me very much. And did you see the pictures of the NYPD removing their rubber gloves and face masks and dropping them into an open waste can on the sidewalk? This is infection control theater, just like security theater. And less than two weeks before the election! Oh, how the establishment Democrats must be squirming….

      1. If it wasn’t enormously hard to control, it wouldn’t have gotten lose in the first place. People just assume that the west Africans must just be too stupid to take any precautions. Bullshit. The West Africans are neither any more or less stupid than we are and in no way suicidal. If they can’t stop this shit, we likely won’t either.

        1. But the West Africans don’t have Top Men.

          1. The West Africans DO have Top Men. It’s just West African Top. Men. get their money from from Western aid not from their serfs, so all their expertise is aimed at getting more Aid money. The plight of the serfs is just there to generate photo ops to get more Aid.

            1. Actually, the problem is directly correlated with the number of Western/NGO Top Men you have.

              Liberia: covered up with NGO Top Men. Utterly failing to control the epidemic.

              Nigeria: felt no need to consult with NGO Top Men, used its own, and is doing quite well, thank you.

              1. Nigeria shut down their borders. They actually understood that the real world doesn’t give a shit about your political narrative.

      2. Oh, how the establishment Democrats must be squirming….

        Nah, although the Republicans are leading in many races, in more than a few of those races the lead is not outside the margin of fraud, so the Democratic machine will bring home victory.

      3. Your pants-shitting over Ebola (with your concurrent obsession over illegal immmigrants) seems to be warring with your glee over how it hurts the Dems. You have some fucking sick and twisted priorities.

        1. I don’t give a fuck about the Democrats. If this not being a big deal meant giving them the whole government, I would happily take that deal.

          1. That wasn’t in response to you, John. You said nothing about the Dems. I still think you’re overreacting to the outbreak, but you (unlike PapayaSF) aren’t politicizing it.

            1. I think politically it is a wash. What are the Republicans going to do about it? Sure Obama is an incompetent. But the country already knew that.

              1. I don’t think it’s a wash, because it hurts the whole “government will protect you” meme, and the “War on Women” meme. Women are more concerned about Ebola than men, and the two nurses are both 20-something ethnic minorities, smack dab in the middle of a big Obama demographic. Oops! Leftist ideology hurting its own supporters. Sounds familiar.

        2. Cool your jets, dude. Straw men and ad hominem attacks are unseemly. My priorities are perfectly healthy. There’s nothing “sick” or “twisted” in commenting how current events effect elections. Two of the administration’s meta-messages are “Government will save you” and “There’s no reason to worry about borders.” Ebola is putting the lie to both of those, and it’s effecting the election.

          I’m sorry if you agree with them on their second point.

          1. It’s hilarious how you always wait until a thread is dead to respond. I see you’ve been taking lessons from Tulpa.

            1. I don’t spend all my time watching a thread. Real life has to happen, so I come back and respond when I can.

              You’re really becoming a jerk. Back off.

              1. O Rly? Is that an order? Because if so, that’s fucking laughable.

            2. Epissyarch declares a thread “dead” after 25 minutes.

  6. The DHS is good at finding panties in Kansas City, though.

  7. Well, fuck. Jezebel says not to be worried about Ebola.

    I can only assume this means that we are all going to die from Ebola.

    1. Okay, now I am officially concerned.

    2. Oh shit!!!

    3. People rarely transmit bodily fluids to Jezebel writers, so their personal risk exposure is quite low.

      1. Oh come now. I personally would have no problem with vomiting all over a Jezebel writer.

        1. I personally wouldn’t piss on one if they were drowning.

          1. I wouldn’t piss on one if they were on fire.

            If they were drowning, though? Probably.

            1. but would you piss on one if you had Ebola?

    4. Pretty much. It supports my theory that Ebola if it does get loose will end up killing a disproportionate number of Progs. People like the writers at Jezebel are incapable of thinking for themselves or taking precautions based on their own common sense. So if the government lies and tells people everything is fine, the Jezzies will believe them no matter what the evidence to the contrary and likely die in large numbers as a result.

      1. I’m not sure about “large numbers,” but it is of a piece with the sort of prog behavior that causes them to get mugged in bad neighborhoods because they don’t want to seem like racists and do any “profiling.”

        1. Or carry an icky gun.

      2. Taking precautions would be blaming the victim. The Ebola virus must be educated not to infect people.

        1. There you go. It’s all part of the virus’ “Culture of Infection”.

        2. That is right. Teach Ebola not to infect. Don’t shame the victim.

          We think we are kidding, but they really are this stupid.

  8. Government = Taking your money every day and using those funds to infringe on your civil liberties!, THEN failing horribly at the few things they’re supposed to have a mandate for, and then using that failure to demand MORE money to clean up the mess!

    I can’t think of anything that quite compares, aside from maybe “Being raped, and catching AIDS from the rapist”

    ‘price of civilization’ my ass.

  9. By the way, Dr. Craig Spencer is a member of Doctors Without Borders, and as I’ve said before, that organization knows the protocols for properly working with Ebola patients safely better than any other organization in the world, and a lot of these doctors are getting infected now.

    Either all these doctors are being extremely careless and foolish, or these protocols don’t work as well as they used to.

    1. It’s not like a virus could mutate into a more infectious form or anything.

    2. It is not that they don’t work. It is that they are nearly impossible to do correctly all of the time. These protocols are not going to save us.

    3. ‘A lot’? How many is a lot?

  10. the ebola training for my volunteer EMT works was a webinar.
    which i missed
    also, they didn’t give me the password.

    1. It’s okay, Cyto says you don’t have to worry because the protocols are effective, even though you don’t know what they are.

  11. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is unprepared. . .

    1) This statement is SOP for DHS.

    2) Why would DHS have anything to do with pandemic control? It would seem to me that that would be a FEMA/CDC/NIH/Local agencies show all the way. No need for law enforcement or criminal investigative agencies above the state level whatsoever.

    The DOJ/DHS/FBI/SS could just stay back and keep us safe from terrorists/counterfeiters/IP violators.

  12. Ebola and Cannabis:


    There is good scientific evidence that cannabinoids, and in particular Cannabidiol (CBD), may offer control of the immune system and in turn provide protection from viral infections (4). Cannabis has already been recognized to inhibit fungus and bacteria and can be considered a new class of antimicrobial because of the different mechanism of action from other antimicrobials. (1)

    Ebola is a complex RNA viral organism that causes the cell to engulf it by pinocytosis, and then the virus hijacks the cell to replicate itself. This replication can involve many mutations in the RNA code that make it difficult to impossible to create an effective vaccine. There are U.S. Patents showing evidence that Cannabinoids have significant anti-viral activity. (3) (4)

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