MEMPHIS, Tenn., Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- George Abercrombie, president and chief executive officer, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., told more than 100 Tennessee business leaders today at The Economic Club of Memphis that the threat of a pandemic flu presents businesses with challenges unlike those anticipated with traditional emergency preparedness plans.
"While businesses are all too familiar with preparing for potential disasters such as floods or tornadoes," according to Abercrombie, "local businesses also need to look at the special challenges posed by the potential of a public health crisis caused by a global influenza pandemic."
Abercrombie, who shared details of Roche's own plans to safeguard the health of its employees and business infrastructure during a pandemic flu outbreak, says that Tennessee's key industry sectors, including transportation, warehousing, manufacturing, agriculture, food service and hospitality would be among the hardest hit.
In March, Trust for America's Health released a report (funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts as part of the U.S. Pandemic Preparedness Initiative) estimating that Tennessee could lose approximately $14 billion in income as a severe pandemic flu outbreak.
"Influenza pandemics are not static events like a hurricane or tornado, nor are they confined to a specific area. Pandemics come in multiple waves, each one affecting a given area from four to twelve weeks. During the first wave, officials expect 30 percent of people will become ill. Here in Memphis, that's 300,000 residents who will get very sick in a very short period of time, inundating emergency rooms already strained to near capacity."
According to Abercrombie, experts believe that many businesses and
organizations would have difficulty maintaining operations as a result of
an increased level of absenteeism due to illness, employees caring for the
sick and social-distancing policies. In Tennessee alone, there is the
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