On April 5, the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) hosted a meeting with over 80 senior state and local officials who support the BioWatch program in their respective jurisdictions. This meeting provided partners an update on the future of biodetection and a forum for participants to share best practices and exchange ideas across the BioWatch jurisdictions.
The BioWatch program operates 24/7/365 in over 30 major metropolitan areas to provide an early indication of a potential airborne biological attack. The program is managed by DHS CWMD, supported by other federal agencies, and is operated by a network of scientists and laboratory technicians, as well as emergency managers, law enforcement officers, and public health officials from across federal, state, and local levels of government.
During the meeting, Acting Assistant Secretary for CWMD Gary Rasicot announced CWMD’s plans to formalize a process to hear feedback more frequently and routinely from BioWatch partners.
“BioWatch is successful because of the partnership with state and local officials. Their input is critical to help shape the direction and future of the program,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Rasicot.
“The City of Houston appreciated the opportunity to learn about the direction of biodetection capabilities at DHS and share best practices in biosurveillance with stakeholders across the country. We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with the DHS CWMD BioWatch program to keep the City of Houston safe from a biological incident,” said Dr. David Persse, Chief Medical Officer and Health Authority for the City of Houston.
CWMD serves as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s focal point for countering weapons of mass destruction efforts. By supporting operational partners across federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, CWMD coordinates DHS efforts to safeguard the United States against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and health security threats.