COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Pandemic Flu Preparedness Update
Presentation and discussion on general pandemic flu issue and county response
Tucker, White, Davis, Catlin
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
September 6, 2006
ACTION: INFORMATION: X
There has been significant media coverage of and public interest in the possibility of a pandemic flu resulting from a mutation of the avian flu that has been circulating in the Far East and has more recently been detected in bird populations in eastern and central Europe. While such a mutation allowing easy person-to-person transmission has not yet occurred, and in fact may not occur, County staff believe it is prudent to have an emergency preparedness plan in place for the county workplace to respond to a major pandemic flu outbreak if necessary. County staff members are also actively engaged in the community-wide pandemic flu task force that is looking at broader issues of planning a large-scale response to such a possibility.
Goal One – Enhance Quality of Life for all Citizens
In some ways preparation for a pandemic flu is similar to many other types of emergency planning, for example encouraging individual advance preparedness and household self-sufficiency. However, the nature of a national pandemic event, which likely would have a duration of a number of months and a wide span of impact, calls for some specialized planning. We need to address how county government would continue to provide essential services and function as a workplace in the event of an episode that could last locally for several weeks and would be occurring simultaneously in communities across the state and the entire United States.
County staff members are actively involved in a community-wide task force that is developing a plan for a broad regional response to a pandemic, including health care issues, schools, businesses, public safety and infrastructure. In addition, a staff team is working within Albemarle County local government to look at specific workplace issues that could arise and developing strategies for an effective response that would keep necessary services working. One element of the plan is a series of employee education and training sessions that will focus on individual and family preparedness, healthy lifestyle habits, and general information on both seasonal influenza and pandemic flu. Those sessions will begin this fall.
Another area of focus is on developing revisions to employee policies that may be necessary to meet challenges like high absenteeism and possible building closures. These policy revisions will be brought before the Board of Supervisors for discussion later this fall. Part of this effort, which is currently underway, is identifying those essential services and functions that must continue operating even in the face of a major pandemic and ensuring the continuity of those services.
The group is also looking at the best ways to ensure the safety of all of our building users including signage and health precautions both as we approach the traditional flu season and in the event of a pandemic situation.
Staff will provide the Board with updated information on our pandemic flu planning and preparation as appropriate, including information from the community-wide task force.
No significant budget impacts have been determined at this point, but as we move further along in the planning process, there may be costs associated with prevention materials, as well as additional communication capacity to allow staff to work from home in an emergency situation.
Dr. Lilian Peake, the new Director of the Thomas Jefferson Health District Staff will present a brief presentation on the Pandemic Flu. During the upcoming fall flu season, staff will continue to keep the Board of Supervisors updated on emergency preparations and will bring draft recommendations regarding revisions to employee policies in October.
Return to regular agenda