Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Global pandemic: what cities should (have) do(ne)

This morning, a officials in Texas confirmed the first death from the "swine flu" outside of Mexico, where the H1N1 virus strain has killed 159. France is seeking a ban on all flights between the European Union and Mexico to contain what health officials fear could become a global pandemic.

What's the worst that could happen? In 2006, I investigated what a "bad case" scenario might look like for Trust, the magazine of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has been supporting efforts to help local governments prepare for such a situation. As the article shows, in a serious H1N1 event, every city or rural county will pretty much be on its own. They'd best have thought through what to do ahead of time -- things like securing the hospitals from desperate, overflow crowds and making sure police and firemen have the right respirators to be able to help others -- if they're to respond adequately.

What would successful planning look like? The article describes how Manchester, New Hampshire -- site of a serious anthrax outbreak fifty years ago -- has planned for the worst.

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