While it looks like a feared pandemic of the H1N1 “Swine Flu” virus has fizzled, the sometimes-deadly disease is still out there, soon to be joined by other flu viruses. With that in mind, the forthcoming cold-and-flu season has Pulaski County officials stepping up efforts to curb the spread, and making plans for what to do if it gets bad.
Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines said the county will expand its previous efforts at flu prevention, including ordering touchless hand wash dispensers for restrooms, and making a new push to get employees to follow federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines on hand washing and flu shots. The county will be printing posters for its office buildings to that effect. Villines said the county won't make recommendations on whether employees should stay home if they think they have the flu.
“We haven't gone that far, at least generally, with county employees,” he said. “Flulike symptoms can be a lot of things, but it's just one of those things that you have to rely on your employees' good judgment to some extent.”
Mara Malcolm, with the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney's office, said that that office has implemented a flu policy also based around the CDC guidelines. The office is asking workers who catch the flu to stay home until at least 24 hours after the fever or symptoms have ended. “According to our research, with H1N1 you may not have a fever and yet still test positive for the virus,” Malcolm said. The prosecuting attorney's office has also informed department heads to keep in mind that if a pandemic does materialize this fall or winter, day care centers and schools will likely close, leaving many workers with children no choice but to stay home.
“Hopefully that won't happen, but our senior management needs to be able to provide whatever vital services are necessary,” Malcolm said. “We're hoping that if it does become serious, the court will close. Then we will only have to worry about the complaints department and our satellite offices.”