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May 03, 2007

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What about fit testing?

Who will control the supply and distribution of masks?

Will there be instances of mandatory donning of masks? In what situations? By whose authority? What about noncompliance?

What about water supply availability in the case of mass deaths of water/sewer employees? Is the Nat'l Guard included in COOP plans for public service continuity?

And of course, my usual harp: are the nation's nurses yet included in any organized fashion in COOPs?

Excellent post, as always, DeminCT. Thanks for keeping us updated.

Fit testing... most people won't have done it. But on the one hand, something's better than nothing and on the other, masks alone won't be a perfect defense.

Here's the exec summary:

The CDC said people should consider wearing a face mask during a flu pandemic if:
  • They have the flu and think they might come in close contact with others.
  • They live with someone who has flu symptoms (resulting in possible exposure) and they need to be in a crowded public place.
  • They are well and don't expect to have close contact with a sick person, but they need to be in a crowded place.

People should consider wearing an N-95 respirator if they are well and expect to be in close contact with someone who is known or believed to have the flu, and particularly when caring for a sick person at home, the agency said.

The guidance also suggests that, for necessary group meetings, everyone be encouraged to wear a face mask. Another option, it says, is to screen people arriving at a meeting and exclude anyone who has a cough or fever or has been exposed to a sick household member.

More:

"We're not really sure what role an N-95 will play in protection beyond caring for the sick," she added.

In response to a question, Gerberding played down somewhat the role of masks and respirators in business settings. She suggested that employees should follow the same approach the CDC is recommending for the public in general, but said the most important thing in pandemic preparations for businesses is to develop an overall continuity plan.

"Masks may be an extra margin of safety, but none of the masks are likely to make a very big difference," she said. They are "something businesses may consider, but they wouldn't be our priority in terms of preparedness."

The CDC recommendations drew a positive response from two non-CDC public health officials contacted by CIDRAP News today.

"I think the guidance will be useful in the context of getting standardized information out to the public," said Jeffrey Duchin, MD, chief of communicable disease control for Seattle King County Public Health in Washington. Though public health experts don't have definitive answers on how helpful masks and respirators will be in a pandemic setting, the CDC's guidance is a good source of information for people who are interested in their use, he added.

Duchin said he senses that the threat of a pandemic has waned in the public's consciousness. "But when people are engaged in discussing pandemic preparation, masks and respirators are something they ask about," he said.

Paula A. Steib, communication director for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, commented, "While masks alone will not eliminate the risk of infection during an influenza pandemic, the CDC interim guidance is a good starting point.

"State and local public health agencies are continuing to work with their communities to prepare for a possible pandemic and to ensure that citizens understand that facemasks and respirators should be used in combination with other preventive measures, such as hand hygiene and social distancing."

Part of the preparation should be that CDC require HEPA filters to be installed on every airplane. It's bad enough to catch a cold from someone sitting a dozen rows away from you, since the air recirculates throughout the cabin), let alone avian flu.

Mike,

If the person in the row behind you coughs or sneezes, that HEPA filter isn't going to be worth much.

During a pandemic, travel is going to take a hit.

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