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Content on this page was developed during the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic and has not been updated.

  • The H1N1 virus that caused that pandemic is now a regular human flu virus and continues to circulate seasonally worldwide.
  • The English language content on this website is being archived for historic and reference purposes only.
  • For current, updated information on seasonal flu, including information about H1N1, see the CDC Seasonal Flu website.

Letter from the Secretaries of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Labor

December 16, 2009 10:30 AM ET

Logos for U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services

Dear Employer:

The Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Homeland Security are releasing updated guidance for businesses and all employers in preparation for the fall flu season and the likelihood of a resurgence of 2009 H1N1 flu outbreaks in the U.S.  This guidance is geared toward preparing employers for the steps they need to take now and for the fall. We are writing to you to enlist your support in encouraging preparedness for H1N1 flu within the business community.

In April of this year, a new H1N1 flu virus was identified.  Outbreaks have continued in the United States and around the world, indicating that a global pandemic is underway.  CDC anticipates that 2009 H1N1 flu will circulate along with regular flu viruses and anticipates it is likely that we will see more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths from this virus.

We are asking for your help. Your business should develop specific plans to protect your employees and maintain operations during the upcoming flu season. Companies that provide critical infrastructure services, such as power and telecommunications, have a special responsibility to plan for continued operation.

An important way to reduce the spread of flu is to have sick people stay home. CDC recommends that individuals with flu-like illness remain at home at least 24 hours after they are free of fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines.  All employers should plan now to encourage sick employees to stay home without penalty, and to institute flexible workplace and leave policies for employees who may need to stay home. When flu is widespread in an area, employers should not require a health care provider’s note for sick employees to validate their flu-like illness or to return to work, as medical facilities may be extremely busy during this time.

For ongoing updates in both preparing for and responding to 2009 H1N1 flu, we encourage you to visit the Federal Government’s website: . This site will be updated continually with the latest information.

Thank you for helping to reduce the illness that 2009 H1N1 flu may cause, and also for your support to minimize the social and economic costs of the pandemic.



Gary F. Locke
Secretary of Commerce

Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Health and Human Services

Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security

Hilda L. Solis
Secretary of Labor


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