Governors group offers workforce pandemic guidance for states
Lisa Schnirring * Staff Writer
Feb 19, 2009 (CIDRAP News) â€“ The National Governors Association (NGA) today issued a report to help states protect their workforce and sustain key government functions such as law enforcement and water treatment during an influenza pandemic.
The guidance in the 13-page report was developed from regional pandemic preparedness workshops that the NGA conducted during 2007 and 2008, the association said today in a press release. Feedback after each of the workshops revealed that one of the states' leading concerns is developing worker policies to keep government running and protect key infrastructure during a pandemic.
John Thomasian, director of the NGA, said in the press release that state workforces represent the first line of defense in a pandemic outbreak. "Having smart policies in place that ensure they can continue their operations as smoothly and efficiently as possible will ultimately help save lives and restore normalcy to communities affected by the outbreak," he said.
Absences from illness, the need to care for family members, and fear of exposure create three main challenges during a pandemic: maintaining government continuity and the delivery of essential services such as law enforcement and firefighting, developing policies that protect state government workforce, and setting policies to address worker shortages.
Some of the toughest issues will involve state employees who work in institutional settings such as prisons or state hospitals or those who have face-to-face contact with the public, the report said.
The NGA guidance advises states to take three steps for developing government continuity plans:
* Form multiagency, multisector work groups to identify key services
* Determine which workers are needed to maintain the key services
* Develop alternate workplace strategies for as many of these workers as possible