Homeland Security Secretary prepares small businesses for swine flu

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Open mouths, bodily fluids and close contact, they're factors that could create the ideal environment for swine flu to thrive. But, at the dentist office of Robert Everett, workers say they've been on guard for viruses long before swine flu struck.

"We have to prepare for patients with AIDS or HIV so we're really use to trying to maintain a sterile environment anyway," says Deede Torrance, dentist hygienist.

"It's really nothing that's a surprise for us; it's something that we practice daily," Dr. Robert Everett said.

Considering small businesses employ more than one half of the American workforce, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said they play a vital role in helping the nation prepare for swine flu.  Secretary Napolitano teamed up with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Centers for Disease Control to announce a preparation plan for small businesses.

The tips include creating more flexible leave policies, having items like hand sanitizer, soap, no-touch trash cans and disinfectants readily available and encouraging workers to get the seasonal flu or H1N1 vaccine.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced the H1N1 vaccine should be available by October.

"It's something I'll do and I'll encourage everyone to do at my office," Everett said.

And at his office, even if they feel okay, workers have to go home if they have a temperature.  As for patients, workers say they seem to be getting the message when it comes to swine flu.

"Most of them will cancel; I haven't really seen a whole lot come in real, real sick," Torrance said.

If you're a small business who would like more information on how to guard against swine flu, you can visit the government's flu information page at www.flu.gov.

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