Are We Prepared?
Many people are a piece to a large puzzle that answers the question - How prepared are we for a pandemic?
Unfortunately, as Richard Bezjak who is representing the Chamber of Commerce says with so many uncertainties, all people can do is prepare for the worst.
Richard says, "The basics have to be done for us to go on to the next step, so addressing the key issues which is preparedness on the part of each individual, we'll go into what each individual company can do incase the bird flu does come."
In recent meetings, business leaders from local power, gas, and water companies met to discuss a pandemic.
And while all agreed plans are still in preliminary stages, they gave insight into what they could do in the case of an outbreak.
Mike Swatts with Appalachian Power says, "We've never been faced with anything like this before. We certainly know how to handle strikes and natural disasters and things like that. And in those cases we can draw in from other areas ...it could effect our employees, it could effect us getting supplies in, it could change the traffic on our network as we handle it today.
Jerry Matheny with Bluefield Water says, "I understand that mostly the water itself would be safe. It would pretty much be impossible to transmit the disease through the water. They way we treat the water now should take care of anything that could get in it."
Jack Sudderth with Bluefield Gas says, "We can run this with just a few people, just to make sure people have their hot water and heat and those things.
A new White House administration report assumes that in a worse case pandemic scenario as many as 2 million people could die, 50 million could become ill and 40-percent of the workforce could be absent from work as long as two week.
So with those staggering statistics - Bezjak raises these questions.
Bezjak says, "How are you going to pay your people, are you going to pay your people, I think those are keys. Can you work from home? Will people come in to a place to work? You can't run an assembly line that takes a hundred people when you only have 60 people."
With more meetings expected in the next couple of weeks, its the hopes that more companies can answer those questions in order to see what is and isn't possible when it comes being prepared for a pandemic.
In part two of the series, what will medical professionals face in the two Virginias and what can individuals do to be prepared?