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Pandemics Information

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Health Protection Guidance: What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

  • Stay informed. This website will be updated regularly as information becomes available.
  • Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  • Take everyday actions to stay healthy:
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
    • Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  • Develop a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of food, medicines, facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.
  • Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) for more information.

Overview

A pandemic occurs when a novel strain of a virus appears that causes readily transmissible human illness for which most of the population lacks immunity. Influenza pandemics, typically the most common, occur with little warning and hit wide geographic areas in multiple waves, lasting two to three months at a time. Health experts acknowledge that there is no way to determine if a variant strain of influenza or another disease altogether will cause the next pandemic.

The Federal Government estimates that as much as 40 percent of the nation's workforce--including personnel supporting our critical communications infrastructure--will be absent during the height of a pandemic. Changes in work practices may significantly alter communications traffic due to increased telecommuting by the nation's workforce. These work changes may result in disruptions to communications networks. Lack of restoration personnel may contribute to prolonged disruptions in communications systems and the inability to send and receive phone calls, text messages, or email.

In planning for pandemics, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers internal and external factors and issues. From the internal perspective, the FCC, as well as other public and private organizations, assesses the operational risks of a pandemic to ensure it has sufficient plans in place to deal with impacts on the FCC. The FCC must also be concerned about the effects on communications networks stemming from such a public health crisis. The FCC is committed to assisting Federal and state agencies in maintaining robust emergency communications infrastructures and providing the public with the means to access critical public health and community-related information and updates.

To help address this issue, the FCC, primarily through its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the National Communications System, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is focusing on business continuity planning as it relates to sustaining the communications infrastructure and networks for voice and data services in response to a pandemic threat - including wireline and wireless phones, the Internet, Personal Digital Assistants, pagers, and faxes and other telecommunications devices and systems.

Please contact Robert Kenny with questions or concerns at 202-418-2668 or by email at Robert.Kenny@fcc.gov.

Federal Resources

News & Health Protection Guidance

Health Departments

National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza

Emergency Planning

Emergency Guidelines

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