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New UNO counterterrorism center will aid in Homeland Security's bioterrorism exercise in February


Omaha News Herald

New UNO counterterrorism center will aid in Homeland Security's bioterrorism exercise in February

by Steve Liewer

When the Ebola virus struck West Africa in 2014 and the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Wuhan, China, last year, federal officials quickly tapped experts at the University of Nebraska for assistance.

Now it’s becoming clearer: If terrorists ever unleashed a virus as a biological weapon, Washington would look to Nebraska for help again.

Earlier this month, a top member of the Department of Homeland Security’s counterterrorism team visited Omaha and Lincoln to learn about the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s biocontainment program and tour the hospital’s quarantine facilities.

Dave Richardson, an assistant secretary who heads DHS’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, hopes to involve NU in a DHS exercise in February that will test how well the far-flung government agencies that would handle a bioterrorism attack would respond.

“It helps to get Nebraska on DHS’ radar screen,” said Gina Ligon, co-founder of UNO’s new National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology and Education Center. “It was really great to get him out here.”

Last year UNO won a 10-year, $36.5 million federal grant to serve as the center’s national hub. The grant makes UNO “the center of gravity for terrorism research in the U.S. right now,” Ligon said at the time.

Full story https://omaha.com/news/state-and-regional/new-uno-counterterrorism-center-will-aid-in-homeland-securitys-bioterrorism-exercise-in-february/article_bfa04d3c-4976-11eb-99ff-bbb67a0e188a.html