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  6. Weekly Update: DHS Response to COVID-19

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In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

Weekly Update: DHS Response to COVID-19

Release Date: October 7, 2020

Leadership at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and across its component offices will continue to champion efforts to combat COVID-19 and ensure public health and safety remain a top priority as it navigates through the pandemic environment.

“Since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, the Department of Homeland Security has never wavered in its commitment to keep the Homeland secure.” said Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli. “Every day, our front-line workers are committed to protecting the American people amid difficult circumstances while displaying our values of strength, commitment, and resilience. I remain confident in the Department’s ability to continue to help the American people continue to fight this virus and come out on the other side stronger than before.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Providing Grants to States for Supplemental Lost Wages Payments. To ease the economic burden for those struggling with lost wages due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, President Trump authorized FEMA to expend up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund for lost wage payments. As of October 2nd, Administrator Gaynor has approved 49 states, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and the District of Columbia for FEMA grants under this unprecedented program. FEMA’s grant funding will allow the approved states to provide those unemployed due to COVID-19 $300 or 400 per week on top of their regular unemployment benefit. As of October 2nd, FEMA has awarded more than $41.7 Billion in support of Lost Wages supplemental assistance. All approved grant applicants receive an initial obligation of three weeks of funding, with additional disbursements made on a weekly basis.

Providing Full Federal Reimbursement for States’ National Guard Forces. On August 3rd, President Trump granted an extension for the use of the National Guard under Federal Title 32 orders to respond to COVID-19 until December 31, 2020. As of October 2nd, 16,309 National Guard troops have activated in T-32 duty status and 333 troops have activated in State Active Duty status to help with testing and other response efforts. To date, President Trump has approved 49 National Guard requests for federal support for the use of National Guard personnel in a Title 32 duty status through December 31. For those states and territories that are approved under these criteria, FEMA executed a fully reimbursable mission assignment to the Department of Defense, including reimbursement for pay and allowances of National Guard personnel serving in a Title 32 duty status in fulfillment of the FEMA mission assignment.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)

Graduating the Next Generation of Law Enforcement. FLETC continues to successfully implement testing, identification, isolation and containment protocols in managing the COVID-19 virus. As of October 2, nearly 3,400 officers and agents have successfully graduated and are now in the field performing work that is critical to protect the homeland since training was restarted on June 17. There are currently 2,142 students attending in-residence training at Glynco, Charleston, and Artesia training delivery points, with an additional 68 students attending training at the Cheltenham training delivery point. Their graduation in the coming months and the continual influx of new students ensures that our federal law enforcement partners receive the trained personnel they need to help keep our nation secure. In addition, more than 7,100 officers and agents from federal, state, local, and tribal have taken part in FLETC online training, including nearly 4,200 participants for the Integrated Use of Force series.

Science and Technology (S&T)

Driving Evidence-Based Policymaking. On September 30, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate updated its Master Question List (MQL), and does so weekly, to compile 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:

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Keeping Americans Safe While Ensuring Continuity of U.S. Travel and Commerce. Between Sept. 27th through Oct. 3rd, TSA screened more than 5,264,226 passengers, who have all reached their destinations safely. TSA officers are required to wear facial protection and gloves while on duty at the checkpoint. In support of air travel and all other modes of transportation, the agency continues to follow CDC guidance to protect Americans, its workers, and the nation’s transportation system. TSA continues to promote its “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure” campaign which outlines significant airport checkpoint modifications, including new technologies that reduce or eliminate physical contact, implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19, comply with CDC guidelines, and promote healthy and secure summer travel.

Ready to Ensure Safety During the Summer Travel Period. On Sept. 29, TSA Administrator Pekoske visited JFK International Airport in NYC where he held a virtual town hall with all TSA employees. TSA announced the implementation of new 3D checkpoint scanner technology at Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Sept 28, at Chippewa Regional Airport in Wisconsin on Sept 29, and at Harrisburg International on Sept 30. The 3-D imagery allows TSA officers to manipulate the image on screen to get a better view of a bag’s contents and often clear items without having to open a carry-on bag, thereby reducing physical contact. On Sept 29, TSA announced acrylic barrier installations at various points throughout checkpoints at the following airports - Newark Liberty, Reagan National, Dulles, Raleigh-Durham - to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Monitoring Vessels that Pose a Risk to Public Health. As of October 2nd, the USCG is tracking 61 cruise ships moored, at anchor, or underway in vicinity of a U.S. port, or with potential to arrive in a US port, with approximately 9,236 crewmembers. This includes an estimated 190 American Citizens crewmembers dispersed among 34 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.

Reservists. As of October 2nd, the USCG has recalled and deployed 439 Reservists in support of COVID-19 operations. They are activated to serve in numerous types of roles, including work in IT support, medical clinics, PPE warehouses, command centers and other incident management roles, notably assisting federal partners such as HHS, and supporting state emergency operations centers on behalf of FEMA.

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 September 30, as part of OSP, the agency has made 132 criminal arrests, analyzed 63,674 COVID-19-related domains, seized more than $10,538,205 million in illicit proceeds, disrupted 51 instances of illicit activity, sent 1,374 leads to domestic and international field offices, executed 119 search warrants and made 1,369 COVID-19-related seizures to include prohibited test kits and pharmaceuticals, counterfeit masks and more.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Continuing to Keep Americans Safe. Since January 1, CBP has made 1,147 seizures to protect consumers from counterfeit and prohibited COVID-19 products:

  • 376 seizures of FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits, with more than 175,000 test kits seized.
  • 319 seizures of counterfeit facemasks, with more than 12.6 million masks seized.
  • 116 seizures of EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards, with more than 36,000 seized.
  • 210 seizures of FDA-prohibited chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine tablets, with more than 36,000 seized.
  • 92 seizures of antibiotics, such as azithromycin, with more than 5,000 tablets seized.
  • 34 seizures of hand sanitizers, with nearly 300,000 items seized.

Additional Information

Last Updated: 07/26/2021
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