According to an Associated Press article, the National Governors Association has released a report to help governors and other state leaders prepare for "what could be - in the gloomiest scenario - a catastrophe that takes thousands of lives, devastates government operations and shuts down businesses."

The government and medical community have been preparing for the bird flu, a strain of the avian flu that has killed more than 100 people, but the report encourages these leaders to revisit their existing laws and guarantee that they have the power to quarantine populations, limit travel or restrict certain activities.

According to the article, the 23-page guide "Preparing for a Pandemic Influenza" boils down the preparation to four areas. It says:

• States must set priorities so that essential services continue and also encourage citizens to be as self-reliant as possible.

• Since medical services will likely be overwhelmed and drugs may take months before they're available to everyone, state leaders must take firm steps to limit the spread of the disease by restricting travel and activities.

• State leaders must work closely with the private sector to set up pre-existing networks so that critical needs such as food, energy and health care are provided. Businesses must be aware that as much as 40 percent of the work force could be out sick for months.

• Thorough testing of emergency plans and responses must begin now.

To read this full article, click here.
To view the NGA guide, click here (pdf).