Here in Mesa County officials have prepared a plan to keep essential services running in case they're hit with large numbers of employees calling in sick with the flu. It consists of several steps, everything from prevention to in the most extreme case shutting down all but essential services.
Grand Valley transit workers scrub down a bus with hospital strength sanitizer. The usual once a day cleaning now happens twice a day. Its all part of the county’s pandemic preparedness plan.
"How do we continue essential government services in the case that we face potential reduction in work force up to 40 percent?" That’s the question Any Martsolf says the County’s plan answers. The county says each agency monitors its number of sick employees, when that number reaches 20 percent Martsolf gets a call. Martsolf says, "Are there staff in other positions that we can relocate into essential services if necessary."
For example if GVT loses a number of drivers to sickness certain routes would be combined or canceled. Also members of administration could be used to drive in their place.
The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says they have been in the first phase of their pandemic plan for about a month and a half. Sheriff’s Office PIO Heather Benjamin says, "The first phase is just prevention." Each agency also tries to cross train employees, teaching them several jobs. "Our special units on the street that we can move strictly to patrol we have patrol people who've come out of the jail who can go back in and work in the jail for us we have people in our courthouse," says Benjamin.
Health officials predict this flu season to be two or three times worse than average years but even if sick employees don't reach critical levels the plan is now in place. Benjamin says, "There are a lot of scenarios where I think it would really fit well."
The county says they don't have a significant number of people missing work because of the flu but they say its better to be prepared than not have a plan.