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Michael Cover
Senior Vice President
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Thinking Beyond Your Household

While no time is a good time for a pandemic, the current influenza outbreak could not have happened at a worse time for many Americans. Unemployment is at record levels. The recession is crippling the world’s economies and households across the country are fighting to make ends meet. So what do people who are struggling to find ways to feed their families do to meet the challenges of preparing for influenza?

The fact is, they may have to rely on the rest of us. And that requires us to think not as individuals, but as members of a community who care about those around us who may need our help in the coming weeks and months. It requires faith leaders, employers, civic and community leaders, and others with a “constituency” to think beyond their individual challenges and come up with ways to ensure that people who rely on them can get through this difficult time.

In a pandemic, we cannot rely on the government to meet our individual needs. It is going to take the collaboration of individuals and communities to ensure that those with few resources are able to withstand possible illness.

Here’s what I am going to do.

I have already ensured that my household is prepared. I have at least two weeks of shelf stable supplies for my family and my dog (don’t forget about our furry friends!). This evening, I will talk to my elderly neighbors to ensure that they are aware of what is happening and see if they need assistance getting to the grocery store or obtaining other supplies. I will make sure their children have my phone numbers in case they cannot get in touch with their parents.

I am going to ensure that my blog posts are shared with my community listserv so that my neighbors know where to go to get the information they need to stay healthy. I will talk with my friends and family members so that they, too, are up to date with that information. In the event of influenza in my community, I will check in regularly with those who I know may need assistance.

In a pandemic, each of us has a role to play in preparing for and withstanding an outbreak of influenza in our communities. Consider what you might do to help others in your social network who may be struggling or are at risk because of the recession or other factors.