1. Overview of the DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan
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 Office of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Management (OLESEM) is responsible for preparing the Department of the Interior (DOI) Pandemic Influenza Plan; however, all of DOI's Bureaus as well as specific Offices within the Office of the Secretary have specific roles in the development and execution of the 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.
The DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan has been developed based on the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza and the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Plan, both issued by the White House. The National Strategy outlines responsibilities that individuals, industry, State and local governments, and the Federal Government have for preparing and responding to a pandemic. The Implementation Plan identifies the critical steps that must be taken immediately and over the coming months and years to address the threat of an influenza pandemic. Both documents provide the foundation for DOI’s planning effort.
Within DOI, policies that govern the Department’s Emergency Management program are found in Departmental Manual (DM) 900. Appendix B lists in table format, the entire set of directives and policy documents to which DOI’s pandemic plan responds at both the Federal and Department levels.
The DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan provides guidance and direction for all DOI Bureaus and Offices. For the purpose of this plan, references to Bureaus pandemic influenza plans include pandemic influenza plans of the National Business Center (NBC), the Office of the Solicitor (SOL), and the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Each Bureau Director has prepared and approved a pandemic influenza plan to ensure the health and safety of employees is protected; Mission Essential Functions are continued; Federal, State and local responses are supported; and communication with stakeholders is sustained during a pandemic. This pandemic influenza plan details Departmental operations during a pandemic and integrates DOI’s Bureaus, NBC, SOL, and OIG pandemic influenza plans, which are maintained separately from this Departmental pandemic influenza plan. It also takes into account the concept of operations from DOI’s Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan.
Influenza causes seasonal epidemics of disease resulting in an average of 36,000 deaths each year. A pandemic—or global epidemic—occurs when there is a major change in the influenza virus, and as a result most or all of the world’s population has never been exposed previously and is vulnerable to the virus. Defining the potential magnitude of a pandemic is difficult because of the unpredictability of the severity of infections and the virulence of the influenza viruses. Appendix C contains further background information.
The Federal Government’s and DOI’s pandemic planning is based on the following assumptions:
- Susceptibility to the pandemic influenza virus will be universal
Efficient and sustained person-to-person transmission signals an imminent pandemic
- The clinical disease attack rate will be 30 percent in the overall population during the pandemic with illness rates the highest among school-aged children (about 40 percent) and declining with age. Among working adults, an average of 20 percent will become ill during a community outbreak
- Some persons will become infected but not develop clinically significant symptoms and these asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic individuals can transmit infection and develop immunity to subsequent infection
- While the number of patients seeking medical care cannot be predicted with certainty, in previous pandemics about half of those who became ill sought care. With the availability of effective anti-viral drugs for treatment, this proportion may be higher in the next pandemic
- Rates of serious illness, hospitalization, and deaths will depend on the virulence of the pandemic virus and differ by an order of magnitude between more and less severe scenarios. Risk groups for severe and fatal infection cannot be predicted with certainty but are likely to include infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with chronic or immunosuppressive medical conditions
- Rates of absenteeism will depend on the severity of the pandemic. In a severe pandemic, absenteeism attributable to illness, the need to care for ill family members and fear of infection may reach 40 percent during the peak weeks of a community outbreak, with lower rates of absenteeism during the weeks before and after the peak. Certain public health measures (closing schools, quarantining household contacts of infected individuals, “snow days”) are likely to increase rates of absenteeism
- The typical incubation period (interval between infection and onset of symptoms) for influenza is approximately 2 days
- Persons who become ill may shed virus and can transmit infection for one-half to one day before the onset of illness. Viral shedding and the risk of transmission will be greatest during the first 2 days of illness. Children will play a major role in transmission of infection as their illness rates are likely to be higher, they shed more virus over a longer period of time, and they control their secretions less well
On average, infected persons will transmit infection to approximately two other people
- Epidemics will last 6 - 8 weeks in affected communities
- Multiple waves (periods during which community outbreaks occur across the country) of illness are likely to occur with each wave lasting 2 - 3 months. Historically, the largest waves have occurred in the fall and winter, but the seasonality of a pandemic cannot be predicted with certainty
While a pandemic will not affect the physical stability of buildings, utility shortages or absence of critical employees may force closures
- Telephone and data communications may be affected by absenteeism but not damaged.
1.5 Plan Approval
DM 900 delegates the approval authority for emergency plans to the Assistant Secretary – Policy, Management and Budget. The approving signature, the effective date, and the printed name and title of the approving authority appear in the transmittal letter in the front of this plan. The Secretary of the Interior has certified to the Homeland Security Council (HSC) that this plan addresses applicable elements for pandemic planning set forth in the Key Elements of Departmental Pandemic Influenza Operational Plans (i.e., Final Metachecklist).
1.6 Plan Maintenance
This plan is updated as needed. Changes to the DOI Pandemic Influenza Plan are issued by the Departmental Emergency Coordinator, and are recorded in the “Record of Changes” at the front of this plan. 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.
1.7 Plan Distribution
This plan shall be distributed to all Bureaus and Offices, and receive broad distribution to DOI employees.