View Article

Atlanta-Area Businesses Should Not Procrastinate on Developing Contingency Plans for a Local Swine Flu Outbreak
Heed the Lessons of Hurricane Katrina By Sherri Fallin, CEO, Duffey Communications, Inc. 

ATLANTA (April 30, 2009) – Yesterday afternoon the World Health Organization raised the level of its pandemic alert for swine flu to Phase 5, which is just one step below level 6, a full-fledged pandemic. Even though there has not been a single case of swine flu reported in Atlanta – our businesses should not procrastinate in developing or updating their crisis contingency and communications plans as it relates to the swine flu epidemic. 

This doesn't mean you need to put your swine flu business plan into play unless an outbreak occurs in an Atlanta community that affects you, your family or your employees. It just means that you will be prepared if a swine flu outbreak does occur in our city. And, there will be less of a chance of swine flu fully interrupting your business operations. To date, only one tragic swine flu death has been reported in our country. In fact, the seasonal flu has led to more deaths than the current swine flu epidemic. 

So why should you as an Atlanta business owner or senior management take this step when you don’t even have enough hours to do your day-job? Well, it’s a really easy answer if you have ever experienced a large number of employees who have contracted a cold at the same time. Or, if a large number of school children in your community have contracted a stomach bug and your employees have needed to take time off to care for their families. Even something as simple as a cold or a stomach bug can disrupt work and reduce productivity. 

More reasons you should develop a swine flu contingency and communications plan: 

1. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Swine flu is already in the United States and cases are expected to rise. Atlanta is home to one of the busiest airports in the world in terms of international travel. This puts you, your family, your employees and your community at risk for exposure to swine flu while visiting any tourist attraction or gathering place – even a mall. You shouldn't over-react at this point and suggest that every one of your employees quarantine themselves until the epidemic passes. But, it would be helpful if you passed along swine flu prevention tips to your employees. These tips may be found at 

2. Disbursement vs. Quarantine. If you take a look at, you will note that it is likely that public health policy will be one of disbursement. Schools and even parks in the United States have closed due to one or two cases of swine flu. As noted above, if a school is closed in your community because of swine flu, many of your employees who don’t have other daycare options will need to stay home and care for their families. Developing a simple work-at-home plan for essential employees is always an option for a contingency plan. If you are in a business that requires a large number of hourly employees – expand your recruiting base. There are a lot of people looking for jobs right now. 

3. American Skepticism. We all have a tendency to become more than cynical when there is a plethora of media coverage. But, in the case of swine flu, the Atlanta media is your friend and you need to stay tuned. News about a case of swine flu in Atlanta or nearby city is a signal that you should be prepared. Our local media, television, print and online, will immediately report vital public health information that is specific to metro Atlanta. And, the most serious reason Atlanta businesses should develop a swine flu outbreak contingency plan … 

4. Hurricane Katrina. Don’t forget the lessons of Katrina. The Corps of Engineers had predicted for quite some time that the levy could breach in the event of a storm the size of Katrina. And it did – to disastrous results. Those who heeded the warnings prior to the arrival of Katrina and evacuated their homes, businesses, families and even pets fared much better than those who didn’t or who were not able. Those businesses that had crisis, communications and/or contingency plans in place for their employees fared even better. 

Atlanta has not experienced a crisis of that magnitude in many years, but we are vulnerable. Serious snow and ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, domestic terrorism, disease outbreaks -- have all occurred in our city and all have had serious impact on members of our business community. A crisis communications, management and contingency plan is always a good tool to have at hand on any given day for any given crisis.

About Duffey Communications Corporate Communications and Crisis Management Division 

Founded in 1984, Duffey Communications has developed a long-standing reputation for corporate communications, crisis communications, crisis management and crisis contingency planning. In addition to serving on government emergency planning task forces, Duffey’s corporate communications team, led by Chief Executive Officer Sherri Fallin, has consulted and developed crisis communications, management and contingency plans for high-level business, healthcare, government, non-profit and education organizations, including crisis contingency plans for a flu pandemic. For more information or to reach us click here for our web site contact .

# # #


© 2020. Duffey Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.    Site Map |  Terms Of Use |  Privacy Statement |   |