While nationwide demonstrations focus America’s attention on the issue of illegal immigration and U.S. borders, the federal government will apparently not close the border even in the face of deadly bird flu or a super strain of influenza.
That according to a draft of the national response plan obtained by the Associated Press.
The report says a major outbreak of disease could prompt the government to limit international flights, quarantine exposed travelers and restrict movement in and around the country, with the exception of the border.
It notes “a complete shutdown of the border would not be likely, nor would it do more than slow the pandemic’s spread by a few weeks,” according to AP.
“While we will consider all options to limit the spread of a pandemic virus, we recognize complete border closure would be difficult to enforce, present foreign affairs complications and have significant negative social and economic consequences,” the draft report says.
With estimates of up to 40 percent of the American workforce off the job in the case of a pandemic, government officials are preparing for a worst-case scenario of up to 2 million deaths in the U.S.
Since 2003, the H5N1 strain of bird flu has impacted more than 200 people, killing about half. Almost all of the victims had come in close contact with infected poultry or droppings.
The goal of the report is to prepare the private sector, as 85 percent of critical systems such as food production, medicine, and financial services are privately run.
“While a pandemic will not damage power lines, banks or computer networks, it has the potential ultimately to threaten all critical infrastructure by its impact on an organization’s human resources by removing essential personnel from the workplace for weeks or months,” the report says.
The response plan forecasts possible breakdowns in public order, with state governors deploying National Guard troops or even requesting federal troops to maintain order.
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