Some FAQ's from the St. Olaf Pandemic TaskForce
Some Assumptions of a Pandemic Influenza:
- It is Inevitable. Pandemic influenza is considered inevitable, and occurs on average once every 30 years, but no one knows when the next pandemic will occur. The current avian flu H5N1 strain is considered by most experts to have sufficient characteristics that the world may be on the brink of another pandemic.
- There will be 2 and even likely 3 waves of flu outbreak.
a. It is impossible at this time to predict when these waves might occur, how closely they might follow each other, or which wave will be the most deadly.
b. For comparison the first wave of the 1918 flu occurred in the spring of that year. That wave was very severe by usual standards, but the second wave beginning 6 months later in September (peaking in October) was responsible for more than 90% of the deaths for the entire pandemic. The third wave occurred more than a year later, during the following 1919-1920 winter/spring, and was the mildest of the three . In 1957 the second wave began 3 months after the peak of the first wave, while in 1968 the second wave began 12 months after peak of the first wave.
- Vaccines. A virus-specific vaccine will not exist during the first wave. Given the current production capacity, there will be a limited supply of vaccines after that.
- Social Distancing. Since vaccines will not be available during the first wave, and in limited supply after that, The WHO & CDC will require that social distancing measures be put in place. This will include practices such as staying at least 6 feet from the nearest person in the workplace, or erecting barriers/low divides if such distances can not be arranged. WHO and CDC also recommend restructuring work schedules so that an office is not “full” of workers at any given time. Places where people congregate, from churches to schools to public transportation, will need to be closed down or managed extremely wisely to eliminate/slow the at risk of infection.
- STO Academic Calendar Affected. STO must plan for a Pandemic to affect the normal academic calendar for a minimum of 24 months, and possibly longer.
- STO Absenteeism .
(a) Up to 30% of STO employees will be too sick to work/teach at some point during a pandemic.
(b) Individuals who have ill family members will not be allowed on campus until after a 10 day home quarantine period to ensure that the person has not become infected. Therefore, absenteeism rates will likely be driven to 40% during the peak weeks of the worst wave.
- Minnesota Illnesses &Deaths (if a 1918-like pandemic struck in the early 21 st Century).
a. One-third of Minnesotans, or 1,544,000 people, would become ill.
b. Hospital care would be needed for 172,000 people.
c. Outpatient medical care would be needed for 772,000 people.
d. An estimated 32,900 would die.
e. These figures don't begin to describe the societal disruption that would accompany such a disaster.
- A pandemic will occur worldwide, and every city, county or state in the U.S. would have to manage the illnesses within its jurisdiction, with limited help from the federal government.
a. Supplies of food, water or prescription drugs will be affected since many businesses will not be able to operate at their normal production capacity.
WHO: Ten things you need to know about pandemic influenza
WHO: Avian Flu FAQs
Where is Avian Flu now?
More Details for those interested