Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
HHS Deputy Secretary Alex Azar Joins Governor Fletcher at Kentucky Pandemic Planning Summit

Press Release Date:  Friday, January 20, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body
502-564-2611
 


Azar in Kentucky as part of national tour of states

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Acknowledging that pandemics happen and require a strong local response, Governor Ernie Fletcher and HHS Deputy Secretary Alex Azar II signed a resolution today committing the state and federal government to planning efforts.

The resolution was signed at the Frankfort Convention Center in front of an audience of public health officials, business and community leaders gathered to address pandemic flu preparedness. Deputy Secretary Azar is in Kentucky as part of a national tour of states, as the federal government prepares the country for a potential influenza pandemic.

“Pandemics are global in nature but their effects are always local, so I am pleased that Governor Fletcher is taking a leadership role to prepare Kentucky for this threat,” Deputy Secretary Azar said. “Pandemic planning needs to address how schools, businesses, public agencies, faith-based organizations and others participate in pandemic preparedness. With this meeting, local officials can identify needs specific to Kentucky communities and begin crucial coordination to assure readiness if a pandemic outbreak strikes.”

“Of all the many hazards we face, a pandemic has the unique potential to disrupt our lives, our health care system and our economy,” Governor Fletcher said. “Kentucky's State Emergency Operations Plan, along with our county and city emergency plans, provides the state with a robust plan consistent and supportive of national efforts.”

In the planning resolution, HHS commits to: providing guidance and technical assistance to Kentucky; an initial amount of financial assistance for planning, $1,501,451; and agrees to review the state’s plans for use, storage and distribution of antivirals and notify it of its portion of the federal stockpile of pandemic influenza antiviral drugs. Kentucky agrees to assure that its operational plan for pandemic influenza response is an integral element of the overall state and local emergency response plan and to establish a Pandemic Preparedness Coordinating Committee representing all relevant stakeholders. The state will also notify HHS of the amount of additional pandemic influenza antiviral drugs it will plan to purchase and will exercise its preparedness plan within six months of today’s summit.

The event is Kentucky’s first statewide gathering to address pandemic readiness planning, and will give a broad range of organizations an opportunity to participate in the process.  Invited guests include first responders, business leaders, educators, health care providers, faith-based organizations, volunteer agencies, policy makers and others.

HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt outlined a series of in-state summits to address pandemic preparedness Dec. 5.  The in-state summits will help the public health and emergency response community in each state inform and involve their political, economic and community leadership in this process. Secretary Leavitt and other top HHS officials will participate in the meetings over the next few months. HHS has also prepared tools to help with the planning process, including a state and local checklist, a business checklist, a guide for individuals and families, and a checklist for faith-based organizations. The guides were distributed at the summit.

More information on pandemic flu readiness is available at www.pandemicflu.gov.

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Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.