1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN, news director


The Safe America Foundation is asking.


Article Content

At an executive briefing held in New York City on September 6, Safe America ( convened representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Homeland Security, public and private health agencies, and area corporations to discuss how businesses should prepare for a pandemic flu. While Safe America, a nonprofit foundation focused on developing educational and practical safety and preparedness initiatives for businesses and communities, urges community leaders to be "prepared, not scared," the scenario of widespread influenza is nonetheless quite scary.


Estimates that 30% of the workforce might fall ill during a pandemic have raised concerns that municipal and transportation services, industries (such as drug manufacturers and food suppliers), and the entire economy could grind to a halt. This doesn't account for those who would have to stay home to care for children if schools are closed (a likely scenario) or those who are unwilling to work because of fears of contagion.


David Nabarro, CBE, FRCP, senior coordinator for avian and human influenza at the United Nations, stated that "certainly there will be another pandemic because we already have two of the three factors needed: a new flu strain for which there is no human immunity and which causes human illness." He contends that the third factor-efficient transmission from human to human-will occur with time.


Lisa Koonin, MN, MPH, of the CDC, noted that it will take four to six months after the outbreak appears before a vaccine can be made available. Early action will be the key to reducing transmission, she said. Specific preventive measures that organizations can promote include frequent handwashing and social distancing techniques, which include avoiding crowds and groups, decreasing contact with others, keeping a distance of not less than three feet between people, not shaking hands, and of course, encouraging those who are ill to stay at home. More information is available at


Irwin Redlener, MD, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, stated emphatically that the United States is not prepared and hospitals, in particular, are not equipped to provide the care, nor has funding been provided to change that.


Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, news director

Figure. Lisa Koonin ... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Lisa Koonin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided a status report on pandemic influenza in New York City September 6. She noted that concerns about seasonal flu shouldn't be overshadowed by the possibility of an avian flu outbreak.