How Local Public Health Can Help Businesses Plan for Pandemic Flu

On this page:
Impact of pandemic flu on business
Role of public health
Planning goals
Key assumptions
Implications for businesses and actions to consider
Key stakeholders
Scope of work
Business engagement outcomes

PDF versions formatted for print: How Local Public Health Can Help Businesses Plan for Pandemic Flu (PDF: 48KB/3 pages)


  • Engage key businesses in business continuity planning in preparation for pandemics and other large-scale public health events.
  • Identify resources and best practices to assist local businesses in continuity planning.
  • Establish ongoing communication and coordination with area businesses.

Pandemic flu refers to a worldwide epidemic involving the spread of a flu virus to which few if any human beings have previously been exposed. Because of this, a pandemic flu has the potential to cause increased levels of serious illness and death in a very short period of time. The current outbreak of in various parts of the world is of concern to health officials because it could lead to an influenza pandemic.

Impact of pandemic flu on business

  • From 25-35% of the workforce could be affected at any given time.
  • The economic impact in the U.S. could range from $71.3 to $166.5 billion.
  • The epidemic could persist for two months or longer.
  • Psychological impacts on the workforce will be extreme.
  • Community containment measures, such as closing schools and other establishments and canceling events, may be implemented to minimize disease spread.

Role of public health

  • Brief businesses on pandemic flu and community containment measures that may be used i.e., (social distancing, restriction of large public gatherings, school closures, etc.)
  • Provide technical assistance
  • Establish ongoing communication with businesses before, during, and after an event

Planning goals

  • Limit death and illness
  • Preserve continuity of essential government and business functions
  • Minimize social disruption
  • Minimize economic losses

This planning is a model for responding to any rapidly emerging or unexpected biological hazard. Many of the activities overlap with preparations to counteract chemical, radiological, and biological terrorism.

Key assumptions

  • Due to travel, a flu pandemic and other emerging diseases such as SARS could spread rapidly
  • A pandemic is widespread and counties will not be able to rely on other government entities for staff and resources
  • There are limited supplies of antiviral drugs, and vaccine is not likely to be available for 6-8 months from the onset of pandemic flu or other newly emerging infection
  • Pandemic flu will overwhelm the medical system
  • Ill individuals may be isolated and their contacts quarantined during the first stages of the pandemic to delay spread in the community
  • In addition, community containment measures may be implemented to control the spread of disease

Implications for businesses and actions to consider

  • 25%-35% of the workforce may be ill at any given time due to pandemic flu
  • Do businesses have human resources policies for workers isolated or quarantined and unable to work?
  • Do businesses have continuity and contingency plans for staff shortages in critical functions due to pandemic flu or other emerging infections?
  • Do businesses have resources and capabilities that would be of benefit to the community – capital resources, space and facilities, manpower, etc.?

National Pandemic Plan -

Key stakeholders

Elected Officials Businesses Government and Other Partners LPH Staff

(E.g., county executive, city mayors)




(List specific local businesses)




(E.g., county, cities, suburban cities’ association, public utilities, university)




(E.g., CHS administrator, PHN Director, PHPCs)




Scope of work

Task # Activity

Lead Staff/ Other Participants

Timeline/ Completed By

1. Develop business engagement plan    
2. Obtain plan approval    
3. Brief executive    
4. Brief government partners and elected officials    
5. Conduct key informant interviews with key stakeholders    
6. In partnership with business, convene a county business forum on pandemic flu    
7. Establish a “leadership circle” of business representatives to assist with planning and provide ongoing leadership    
8. Follow-up re continuity plans and ongoing assessment of need for additional resources, briefings, etc.    

Ongoing meetings, etc.


Business engagement outcomes

  • Establish regular and ongoing communication with local businesses. Obtain key contact lists and emergency contact lists.
  • Identify “promising practices” and resources that can be used as models for business continuity, human resources policies, and preparedness planning.
  • Inventory resources that could be available during an event and establish utilization agreements if needed.


Updated Monday, October 20, 2014 at 01:23PM