County hears pandemic flu information

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2008

LINDEN &045; For the second time in a year, county commissioners were presented with the seriousness of pandemic flu and the county’s need for a plan of operation if a pandemic were to break.

For several months, a group of people representing seven different sectors of the public &045; health departments, first responders, businesses, Emergency Management Agency, government, communication, healthcare and faith-based organizations &045; have been meeting to discuss emergency plans in the event of a pandemic.

At Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, Bradley Cooper with area seven of the Alabama Department of Public Health encouraged members of the commission to get involved in the effort because &8220;they would be the one to make the decisions in times of emergency.&8221;

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As Cooper and other officials have stated, a pandemic outbreak is not a matter of if it will happen, but when it will happen. Experts are predicting the next pandemic will be a mutation of the Avian, or bird flu, and be more akin to the pandemic of 1918 than ones in the more recent past.

A pandemic of this level could result in 30 percent of the population being attacked and up to 40 percent absenteeism in the workplace, schools, hospitals and other areas.

Cooper also reminded the commissioners this kind of emergency will not be localized like a hurricane, where help can come in from the outside, but rather it will affect such a significant portion of the population where communities will basically have to prepare for themselves.

Alabama, like many other states, is stockpiling necessary equipment such as vaccines and supplies. But in the event of an outbreak, it will take up to six months before a vaccination can be created. Therefore, communities will have to rely on their emergency plans that have been put in place prior to the pandemic.

This plan, which is modeled after a 72-element plan put out by health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is what Cooper and other members of Marengo County’s planning committee are working on in the coming months.

In other business, the commission:

4heard a presentation from Jeff Atkins of Wells Fargo Insurance Services for group insurance rates for county employees.

4approved the filing of an emergency shelter grant through Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs by Susanna Smith Naisbitt on behalf of Harriett’s House.

4approved a resolution for National County Government Week.

4approved a resolution for Dallas-Selma Community Action Agency.

4approved an upgrade on a traffic light on U.S. Highway 80.