TYLER, TX (Commissioners Court) -- County Judge Joel Baker, serving as Emergency Services Director for Smith County, announced the development of a complete and comprehensive plan of action to prevent the spread of influenza in County facilities and how to control the disease if it does surface.
"We are the only County in our region of 35 to develop this sort of comprehensive, proactive plan," Judge Baker said.
Smith County Fire Marshal Jim Seaton is the Emergency Services Coordinator and assisted in creating the plan.
"The best response to any strain of influenza is prevention. We want to make sure the protocols are in place before it spreads," Seaton said.
Judge Baker appointed a flu plan committee, headed by Seaton and including representatives from Smith County and the North East Texas Public Health District in August.
"I wanted a plan for the County that would outline specific actions for prevention, preparedness, response and recovery," Judge Baker said.
Committee Member and NETPHD employee Russell Hopkins said the committee worked hard to make the plan flexible enough so that it can be applied to any infectious disease and can be adopted by any of the municipalities within the County.
Hopkins also said the plan establishes a formal interaction and advisory role between the Health District and the County (or any other entity that adopts the plan).
"This plan will keep the doors open and crews working in the County even if the flu hits our area," he added.
The plan includes instructions for what to do if someone in your home develops flu symptoms, the appropriate times to stay home from work, what to do if an inmate or juvenile develops symptoms while in custody as well as guidelines for elected officials, department heads and members of the court system.
"We have done everything that we can to make sure County facilities are safe to work in and to visit, but the risk still remains that influenza can be caught outside of work, that is why this plan focuses on prevention at the individual level," Seaton said.