We know firsthand: Public health security is national security (The Hill)

THE HILL | Nearly two decades ago, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to protect our country and prepare for natural disasters and biological, chemical and radiological threats. Since then, the provisions enacted in that legislation and subsequent reauthorizations have proven critical to shoring up our public health infrastructure and protecting our national health security. 

With PAHPA up for reauthorization again this year, we applaud the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and House Energy & Commerce Committees for beginning the critical work of ensuring that our nation’s preparedness programs are properly funded, sustained and improved.

The origins of PAHPA lie in our country’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that followed shortly thereafter. We intimately experienced these attacks, as one of the sitting members targeted with anthrax via the mail (Daschle) and the Senate’s public spokesman on anthrax and bioterrorism charged with easing public fears (Frist).

Together, we worked to build the legislative framework to respond to this new threat. In 2002, Congress passed the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, establishing the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, which was responsible for coordinating efforts to prepare for bioterrorism and other public health threats. Today, those efforts are run by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Strategic Readiness and Response.

Read more at The Hill: https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/4020626-we-know-firsthand-public-health-security-is-national-security/

he Massive New Public Health Threat To Kids: What Policies Would You Consider To Address Gun Safety? (Forbes)

FORBES | On Monday March 27th, Nashville was forever changed. Six people, including three nine-year old children, died in a mass shooting at The Covenant School. Since then, I have been asked repeatedly: what can we do to keep this from happening again? At the time, I didn’t have an answer. But since then, I’ve been studying, asking questions, and listening, and I’ve been working to find commonsense policy responses that we might all consider, recognizing that there is no single point solution and that each of us views the highly charged issue of gun safety from a different, frequently contrasting perspective. What we can do now, and as responsible citizens really should do, is at least consider what options might be on the table to bring us together around the absolute goal of the safety and security of our children and families.

I am a gun owner and a hunter. I have always and will continue to strongly support Second Amendment rights. I had a 12-year Senate career where I consistently backed responsible gun ownership. But times are different today – misuse of guns has grown much worse, substantially worse – with markedly more death and tragedy in our neighborhoods, than even a decade ago. This demands a fresh look, free of past biases and partisan tones which have ruled so much of our earlier discussions and debate. These honest revaluations should be carried out in local communities, in homes and at schools, civic gatherings, and places of faith, and likely will include changes in the larger policy framework in response to these new tragic realities.

Yes, over the last decade, deaths from firearms has grown into an official public health crisis. The facts are stark: Now, according to the latest CDC data, firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in America. In 2020, gun deaths reached the highest number ever recorded in the United States, killing over 45,000 Americans (a 25% increase from five years earlier and a 43% increase from 10 years prior). And in 2021, we surpassed the 2020 record with nearly 49,000 gun deaths nationwide.

Read more at Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrist/2023/05/03/the-massive-new-public-health-threat-to-kids-what-policies-would-you-consider-to-address-gun-safety/?sh=3a1dd9891567