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CDC to brief healthcare professionals on responding to a nuclear detonation

Here’s your unsettling news release of the day: The CDC next week will hold a briefing teaching healthcare professionals how to respond to a nuclear bomb.

“While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps,” stated a CDC news release for a “Grand Rounds” session that included an image of a massive nuclear mushroom cloud. “Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state, and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding.”

Recent tweets by President Trump, who a week ago boasted that his “nuclear button” is “much bigger and more powerful” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s [1], came to mind after seeing the release. But a CDC spokesperson told Stat News that the event has been in the works for a few months [2] and pointed to a “radiation/nuclear incident exercise” that FEMA put on back in April.

The CDC’s presentation, which will be held January 16 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET at the CDC’s Roybal Campus in Atlanta, will educate healthcare professionals on what federal, state, and local public health officials have done to prepare for a nuclear detonation while also comparing and contrasting the planning and preparation methods to other emergency response situations.

For more information about the CDC’s briefing, here’s that news release [3].

Topics for last year’s CDC’s “Grand Rounds” sessions included maternal mortality, hearing health, neural tube defects, and emerging tickborne diseases.

UPDATE: CDC has changed the topic for this month’s “Grand Rounds” to a discussion on public health response to severe influenza due to “the spike in flu cases around the country.” CDC says, however, that the presentation on responding to a nuclear detonation will be rescheduled for a later date.