Assessment of States’ Operating Plans to Combat Pandemic Influenza: Report to Homeland Security Council

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, January 2009

Pandemic influenza could produce a public health emergency that is more daunting than any other type of naturally occurring, accidental, or terrorist-instigated event that our nation has experienced or is likely to experience. First, an influenza pandemic could affect essentially every community in the nation almost simultaneously – i.e., within the space of a few weeks – and, if comparable to or more severe than the influenza pandemic of 1918, could result in 25 percent or more of the population ultimately experiencing life-threatening illness and/or being forced to dispense with normal activities to care for victims. Second, response activities within each affected community not only will need to be sustained for several months, generally with little or no outside help, but also might be degraded due to substantial influenza-induced absenteeism across the participating entities – public and private. Third, coping with degraded functioning in virtually every aspect of society could be so demanding as to preclude the initiation of significant recovery activities for many months.

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