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H1N1 (Swine Flu): Today’s CDC Private Sector Call

June 12, 2009
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Today CDC conducted a call with the Private Sector regarding H1N1 and yesterdays WHO 6 announcement.  The focus of the call was on what the private sector should be doing now and planning for looking forward to the fall flu season.  The theme of the call was flexibility and planning.

Employees and Illness at Work

  • Don’t ask employees who have been off work with H1N1 or flu like symptoms to get a doctors release.  That is unnecessary and creates a burden on an already over-whelmed health care system.  Employees should be symptom free before returning to work.
  • Develop policies that clearly state that sick employees should stay home until symptom free.
  • Develop your HR policies now on compensation, benefits and time off.

Travel

  • There are currently no restrictions on travel.
  • There is no airport screening forecast for the immediate future.
  • PPE is not recommended for travel at this time.
  • TSA does train TSA officers to observe passengers for signs of illness.  If illness is noted, TSA officers have a protocol to follow which may include have the passenger be seen by medical personnel.

Categorization of Severity

WHO is promising to develop a severity category using mild, moderate and severe shortly.  In the mean time CDC is reminding everyone that the Community Mitigation document released in 2006 contained a severity index based on the hurricane categories 1 – 5.  Using that index, the current situation is a Category 2 (like 1957).

Community Index
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/community/mitigation.html

Going Forward

The mantra of the call was flexibility.  No one knows what will happen and therefore flexibility is essential in all plans.  To that end, CDC clearly stated that the following actions (which are detailed in the Community Mitigation document) will be used as necessary – they are in the order of severity (from the least to the most):

  1. Employers should be asking employees with flu like symptoms to stay home now.
  2. If the virus becomes more serious, schools and daycare centers may be closed.
  3. If the disease becomes more severe, community social distancing will be used which could include:  canceling of public events, discouragement of public gatherings and encouraging employers to separate employees on the job.

A copy of today’s transcript should be on the CDC website next week.  Go to:

http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/business/

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