What if We Have a Flu Pandemic?

The concerns about the impacts of a pandemic — influenza, measles, or another serious virus — seem to have dissipated over the last few years.  We don’t hear much about avian flu these days and the news coverage on Ebola has declined.  So, does this mean that we can relax and turn our attention elsewhere?  Not really, our colleagues at the WaterISAC have the following to offer:
Economists, epidemiologists and other experts predict that the effects of a modern-day pandemic will be seen in every industry and government agency at local, regional, national and international levels.  Typically a pandemic influenza will come in “waves” each lasting 6-8 weeks with several months between each wave. The CDC estimates that between 35%-40% of the United States population could be affected by pandemic influenza and the economic impact could range between $71.3 and $166.5 billion (2006 estimates).”
Consider these facts as you work with your water utilities to engage in tabletop or full scale exercises.  Could the water utility continue to operate with a staff decrease of 35-40%?  What impact would result if most of the utilities in a region suffered these illness statistics?  Would your own program continue to function effectively?  What kind of redundancy do you need to overcome multiple waves of significant periods of illness?  Don’t be caught off guard.  Plan now.