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CDC releases pandemic severity index


ATLANTA--Closing large public gatherings and asking infected workers to stay home for at least a week are part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new set of guidelines for dealing with a potential influenza epidemic.

The CDC released its "pandemic severity index," which is modeled on the five-category index used to classify hurricanes, on Thursday. For example, a Category 1 pandemic would be as harmful as a severe seasonal influenza season with fewer than 90,000 deaths, while a Category 5 could result in more than 1.8 million deaths.

For categories 4 and 5, the CDC recommends several steps to slow the spread of the disease that would have a direct impact on the workplace. These include encouraging teleconferences rather than face-to-face meetings, postponing or canceling pubic gatherings, and modifying workplace schedules and practices, such as encouraging teleworking and staggering work shifts.

The full report, "Interim Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance: Community Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Mitigation in the United States," is available at