Bush administration releases master plan for bird flu emergency

Published 4 May 2006

Administration comprehensive plan hinges on tight cooperation between U.S. government and international bodies, and between federal and state authorities; travel restrictions contemplated

The Bush administration two days ago released its plan for an influenza pandemic. It calls for sharing authority with global agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO, and with governors, mayors, and school superintendents. The 227-page plan acknowledges that the federal government cannot — and should not try — fully to manage the response to an event that is likely to start overseas, eventually take hold in even the smallest U.S. communities, and last for months.

One way to spread the spread of the disease from human to human is to restrict travel, but the administration is treads gingerly when it comes to travel restrictions. “We don’t expect that a tight shutdown of the borders would actually stop it from arriving here,” the president’s homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, said at a news conference. The plan also says such a shutdown would be costly. The government would, however, probably limit the number of airports that accept international flights and would closely screen travelers. Domestic travel could also be restricted, and officials would probably advise the cancellation of vacations, would advise people to keep a distance of three feet from others and, perhaps, keep children home from school.