A new study takes a look at potential economic losses would be today if we had an outbreak of some disease like the bird flu. The analysts looked at the effect on services and the economy when a historic flu pandemic hit early in the last century, and they’ve calculated that Iowa would be among the top ten states in the loss to the state’s economy if such a pandemic struck today. Iowa Department of Public Health acting director Mary Jones says it’s not exactly a public-health topic.
The report’s not really about epidemiology, she says, in terms of infectious disease — although the public-health agency will add it to the many factors it may look at to improve emergency planning. The report finds that workplace absenteeism, lost productivity, dwindling business and the cost of caring for the sick would total six-point-seven-Billion dollars lost from the state’s Gross Domestic Product.
Jones says it shows the importance of private-sector partnerships — that local and state agencies need to beef up their connections with utilities, transportation and other businesses. Last summer the state kicked off what’s dubbed a "Safeguard Iowa Partnership."
It’s a partnership between public health, homeland security, the governor’s office and the Iowa Business Council. She says they’d already taken some of the recommended steps of planning alongside transportation and utilities, "instead of planning in silos." That’s a term used to mean plans made separately by each agency that seem complete, but don’t include coordinating with others. The report says tourism and entertainment would suffer the greatest losses but farming, retail trade, construction and insurance would also suffer.