An influenza pandemic has a greater potential to cause rapid increases in death and illness than virtually any other natural health threat. Planning and preparedness before the next pandemic strikes—the inter-pandemic period—is critical for an effective response. This plan describes a coordinated Departmental strategy to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic.
The Department’s pandemic influenza plandevelopment effort encompassed a number of factors. The most prominent planning considerations are the Federal mandates and guidelines for pandemic influenza (including National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza and the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Plan), Department-specific guidelines, and other Federal Department’s and Agency’s pandemic influenza guidance and plans.
The DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan provides guidance and direction for all DOI Bureaus and Offices. This pandemic influenza plan details Departmental operations during a pandemic and integrates DOI’s Bureaus, National Business Center (NBC), Office of the Solicitor (SOL), and Office of Inspector General (OIG) pandemic influenza plans, which are maintained separately from this Departmental pandemic influenza plan.
The purpose of the DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan is to address how the Department will:
- Protect the health and safety of DOI’s employees
- Maintain the essential functions and services of the Department during events resulting in significant and sustained absenteeism
- Support the Federal, State, and local response to a pandemic
- Communicate effectively with DOI’s stakeholders during a pandemic.
While the plan focuses specifically on a pandemic caused by influenza, it is also applicable to pandemics caused by other diseases that have a similar affect on operations. Additionally, the plan integrates planning and preparedness efforts being taken by DOI’s Bureaus as well as Offices within the Office of the Secretary.
This plan is updated as needed. Changes to the DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan are issued by the Departmental Emergency Coordinator. An annual review of this plan will take place in conjunction with the DOI COOP Plan update. Individual holders of the DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan are responsible for ensuring their copies of the plan remain current.
This plan shall be distributed to all Bureaus and Offices, and receive broad distribution to DOI employees.
Concept of Operations
Due to the nature of the DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan,elements of the plan are activated in stages based on the location, duration, and severity of the pandemic. It is activated as a means to:
- Stop, slow or otherwise limit the spread of a pandemic to the United States
- Limit the domestic spread of a pandemic, and mitigate disease, suffering, and death
- Sustain infrastructure and mitigate impact to the economy and the functioning of society.
Partial activation of this plan allows the flexibility to react based on the situation. It also ensures that the Department remains responsive to the Federal Government Response Stages (FGRS). DOI has identified actions it will take and measures it will implement based on each FGRS, and these are listed in this plan.
The Secretary of Homeland Security is responsible for coordination of the Federal response during a pandemic, and supports the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ coordination of overall public health and medical emergency response efforts. The Secretary of Homeland Security is also responsible for coordination of the overall Federal response to the pandemic.
DOI will activate the DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan in response to an actual or potential pandemic in accordance with Departmental Manual (DM) 900. The responsibility of activating this plan is delegated to the Assistant Secretary – Policy, Management, and Budget (PMB). In addition, Bureau Directors have the authority to activate their respective pandemic influenza plans independent of an activation of the DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan.
Prioritization of Departmental Activities During a Pandemic
During health emergencies, the objective of the Department is to continue executing its activities to the greatest extent possible while limiting the spread of disease, sustaining infrastructure, and mitigating impact to the economy and the functioning of society. To ensure this, prioritized functions are reflected in this plan, as well as Bureau pandemic influenza plans.
Strategies and policies have been developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), as well as other Federal Departments and Agencies, to mitigate the impact of the disease on employee health and ensure the Mission Essential Functions of the Federal Government continue with no or minimal interruptions. DOI has adopted these strategies and policies, and will implement them on a phased basis.
As a means of preventing the spread of disease and continuing operations, DOI will implement the social distancing measures. These measures are applied either partially or fully depending on the severity of the pandemic in the area.
Vaccination and Anti-Viral Medications
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is developing guidance on anti-viral medication and vaccine distribution and use during an influenza pandemic. DOI has developed an interim pandemic vaccine prioritization scheme, and it is located in this plan. Current guidance as it pertains to those DOI employees in high risk of exposure settings, such as handling wild birds, is also described in this plan.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
At this current time, the CDC does not recommend the routine use of masks or other PPE for the general workforce. Guidelines on the minimum PPE to be employed by those DOIemployees working in situations that put them at higher risk of infection, and other circumstances, are outlined in this plan.
Telework will be a key method for social distancing while continuing the Department’s operations during a pandemic. Telework agreements are in the process of being developed with certain DOI employees to enable them to work from home during a pandemic.
Leave & Other Human Resources Flexibilities
During a pandemic, Bureaus and Offices need to plan for employee absenteeism rates reaching as high as 40 percent during the peak weeks of a community outbreak. Therefore, Bureaus and Offices should utilize a variety of means, including annual, sick, and family medical leave, as well as scheduling and staffing flexibilities, to ensure the continuity of DOI’s operations and essential functions.
Alternate Operating Facilities
If a pandemic hits the United States, DOI employees, and Continuity of Operations (COOP) team members specifically, may be dispersed in smaller groups to the Departmental alternate facilities (as a mean of social distancing) to perform DOI’s Mission Essential Functions.
Special Provisions for COOP Team Members During a Pandemic
Employees working at Departmental COOP Sites during a pandemic are required to take certain precautions before deploying and upon arrival. Some of these requirements include: being screened (to ensure not infected), receiving vaccination (if available) and influenza anti-virals, quarantining at COOP site (first few days of arrival) to determine individuals are not infected, and working flexible/alternate schedules (to reduce the numbers of personnel in the COOP Sites at one time, social distancing).
DOI COOP Plan
To the extent possible, the Department continues to perform its normal functions. Should the Department’s workforce be significantly impacted, the Assistant Secretary – PMB has the option to fully or partially activate the DOI COOP Plan. In addition, in the event of an emergency/incident/disaster or the threat of one occurs during the influenza pandemic, the Assistant Secretary – PMB can activate the DOI COOP Plan.
Activating the DOI COOP Plan would shift the Department’s functions to a focused effort and personnel devoted to the continuation of DOI’s 13 Primary Mission Essential Functions, Secondary Mission Essential Functions, and supporting activities as identified in the DOI COOP Plan. Another feature of the DOI COOP Plan, Reconstitution, may also be applicable.
Employees Returning to Work Once Recovered
DOI employees who fall ill with influenza, and subsequently recover, are able to return to work once deemed fit for duty in accordance to the Fitness for Duty policy. These employees will have acquired immunity and are an important asset to maintain continuity of Departmental operations and accomplish the Department’s critical missions.
Protecting Employee Health and Safety
The Office of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) determines the appropriate countermeasures for DOI personnel. This Plan sets forth the policy and guidance to execute the Department’s responsibilities in protecting employees from contracting pandemic disease at the workplace. DOI is committed to ensuring all employees maintain the appropriate health and safety practices to minimize the risk of acquiring pandemic influenza at the workplace.
Supporting the Federal Response, States, and Communities
The Department, as a whole and through its constituent Bureaus and Offices, is committed to meeting its responsibilities specified in the National Response Plan (NRP). Support to the NRP is a Primary Mission Essential Function of the Department. During a pandemic, the Department must assure readiness to provide support to the NRP for both health-related emergencies and other disasters/incidents which could occur during a pandemic.
The Federal Government has divided the country into five Regional Areas of Responsibility for Pandemic Influenza, with each Regional Area including two FEMA Regions. In this scheme, there is a National Principal Federal Official, along with five Regional Principal Federal Officials (PFOs) (one in each Regional Area), and ten Deputy Regional PFOs (two per Regional Area).
The Interior Regional Emergency Coordinating Councils (I-RECCs) serve as the critical element for the Department’s regional coordination with the Federal Regional Areas of Responsibility for Pandemic Influenza. Members of the I-RECCs serve as point of contacts for the Department to maintain liaison and coordination with the FEMA Regions, and to coordinate emergency activities across DOI Bureaus and Offices on a regional basis. The I-RECCs enhance mutual support within the regions among DOI Bureaus/Offices, FEMA, other Federal Agencies, States, Tribes, territorial, and local governments in preparation/planning for, and responding to, the pandemic.
Communication with Key Audiences
The Office of Communications (OCO) within the Office of the Secretary is responsible for providing timely, accurate and consistent information to internal and external audiences.
There are several critical phases in avian influenza monitoring and pandemic preparedness and response in which the DOI avian/pandemic influenza communications plans, protocols and messages would be activated. This plan outlines the triggers for activating various components of the DOI communications plan, as well as the actions taken.