Feb 19, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The National Governors Association (NGA) today issued a report to help states protect their workforce and sustain key government functions such as law enforcement and water treatment during an influenza pandemic.The guidance in the 13-page report was developed from regional pandemic preparedness workshops that the NGA conducted during 2007 and 2008, the association said today in a press release. Feedback after each of the workshops revealed that one of the states’ leading concerns is developing worker policies to keep government running and protect key infrastructure during a pandemic.John Thomasian, director of the NGA, said in the press release that state workforces represent the first line of defense in a pandemic outbreak. “Having smart policies in place that ensure they can continue their operations as smoothly and efficiently as possible will ultimately help save lives and restore normalcy to communities affected by the outbreak,” he said.Absences from illness, the need to care for family members, and fear of exposure create three main challenges during a pandemic: maintaining government continuity and the delivery of essential services such as law enforcement and firefighting, developing policies that protect state government workforce, and setting policies to address worker shortages.Some of the toughest issues will involve state employees who work in institutional settings such as prisons or state hospitals or those who have face-to-face contact with the public, the report said.The NGA guidance advises states to take three steps for developing government continuity plans:Form multiagency, multisector work groups to identify key servicesDetermine which workers are needed to maintain the key servicesDevelop alternate workplace strategies for as many of these workers as possibleAs an example of alternate workplace strategies that could be used during a pandemic, the report highlighted telecommuting and scheduling measures that Virginia, Washington, and Utah have used to reduce energy costs.The NGA also advises states to assess if any leave policy changes are needed to maximize productivity while allowing workers to stay home if they are sick or need to take care of their families. To promote social distancing, states could consider enhancing their paid-leave programs, establishing leave policies that provide partial or reduced pay, incorporating donated leave programs, and ensuring that sick employees receive care.To address workforce shortages, particularly in critical areas, the NGA urges states to identify ways to “backfill” certain positions. For example, states can cross-train employees now to ensure that key positions will be filled, and recently retired workers could help supplement the state workforce.See also:Feb 18 NGA press releaseNGA report “Sustaining the state workforce: strategies for effective pandemic planning”Oct 16, 2008, CIDRAP News story “Governors group identifies states’ pandemic-preparedness gaps”
Now with the service of FastCat ferry available, tourists may now visit Caluya’s pristine white-sand beaches. Schedules of the trip to the island will be at 8 a.m. from Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro and from 2 p.m. from Caticlan, Aklan every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting March 20. TRUE LOCAL.PH Caluya’s pristine white-sand beachesshow a lot of promise for tourism, according to Provincial Information Officer GalileoMagbanua during an interview on Feb. 21. Travel time for the whole trip used totake five hours but with FastCat’s mono-hulled vessel, it will be reduced to just two hours.(With a report from PNA/PN) SAN JOSE, Antique – The operation of anadditional fast craft to the island municipality of Caluya in this provincewill make it more accessible to tourists. The ferry will start off from Bulalacaoto Caluya at 8 a.m. and sail to Caticlan at 11 a.m. on schedules Monday, Fridayand Sunday. According to him, with FastCat,tourists, especially those from Caticlan, would be encouraged to take the ferryin order to stop by in Caluya before proceeding to Bulalacao and vice versa. Tourists, however, find accessing theisland difficult due to lack of sea transport.Fortunately, the FastCat ferry will start its soft voyage to the island onMarch 20 with three trips a week. It will have the route from Bulalacao,Oriental Mindoro to Caluya and to Caticlan, Aklan, Magbanua said. Meanwhile, from Caluya to Caticlan, therate will be P312 for economy, P408 for premium economy, and P480 for businessclass. The fare to Caluya from Bulalacao hasbeen set at P350 for economy, P425 for premium economy, and P500 for businessclass. “Many tourists would like to go toCaluya because it is also a beautiful place to visit,” he said. Then from Caticlan, the transport willdepart to Caluya at 2 p.m. and sail back to Bulalacao at 5 p.m. “As of the current, there is just (a)once a day trip from Libertad Port to Caluya by a passenger,” Magbanua said.