CHARLESTON – In response to recent developments related to the H1N1 flu virus, legislative leaders have formed a joint Senate-House of Delegates Committee to work on an emergency plan for the Legislature.
“With the 2010 legislative session only a few months away, we want to be prepared in the event that some members of the Legislature or a large number of staff must be absent for prolonged periods,” said House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne. “This committee’s work is not confined to reacting to the spread of swine flu, but rather is intended to ensure that the Legislature is prepared for any emergency that might cause a large number of absences during a legislative session.”
President Tomlin, D-Logan, added, "While no one knows for certain what the real threat is from this contagious disease, the fact that thousands of people will be coming to the Capitol throughout the remainder of the year and especially during our regular session which starts in January, requires us to be diligent and prudent.
“The fact that there is a potential for large scale outbreaks of swine flu or any other type of infectious disease, we would shirk in our responsibility to the public, our members and staff not to be as prepared as possible to deal with any medical threat which could upset our ability to function at a high degree of efficiency.”
House Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue, and Senate Health and Human Resources Chairman Roman Prezioso are to co-chair the new Joint Select Committee on Health Emergency Preparedness.
“Preparedness for emergencies is a prime responsibility of Government, and no less so within its own organizations,” Chairman Perdue, D-Wayne, said. “Being able to effectively and efficiently conduct the state’s business, even during duress, makes this effort not only important, but a priority.”
Chairman Prezioso noted that, as chairs of the respective health committees, he and Perdue have access to vital, pertinent health information that they share with other members.
“In addition to our responsibilities of developing legislation and communicating with constituents, we also must keep members of the Legislature informed about public health issues,” Chairman Prezioso, D-Marion observed. “This committee is an extension of that effort.”
Both President Tomblin and Speaker Thompson commended state and local health officials on their efforts to stave off the H1N1 swine flu and their preparation for both treatment and containment.
"While I am optimistic any outbreak will be minimal, the old adage applies here very well: "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Our preparations will prepare us for any eventuality," Tomblin said.