President Bush’s plan for dealing with a flu pandemic warns that the federal government won’t be able to bail out communities reeling from illness and economic upheaval, and calls on businesses and individuals to take steps now to keep vital services running. The updated plan, released Wednesday, stresses basic human needs such as medical care and food, but doesn’t address some major hurdles – how to meet those needs if massive absenteeism stops transportation by closing oil refineries, or crashes the Internet so workers can’t telecommute. ‘Our efforts require the participation of, and coordination by, all levels of government and segments of society,’ Bush said in a letter to Americans unveiling his updated national pandemic response strategy. ‘No less important will be the actions of individual citizens, whose participation is necessary to the success of these efforts.’ Influenza pandemics strike every few decades when a never-before-seen strain arises. It’s impossible to predict when the next will occur, or its toll. But last fall, amid concern that the Asian bird flu might lead to one if it starts spreading easily from person to person, Bush proposed a $7.1 billion, multi-year strategy to prepare for the next pandemic. […]

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