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Officials Readying Businesses For Swine Flu Outbreak

— Federal officials are advising businesses to take steps to mitigate the effects of a swine flu outbreak later this year. So far in California, the virus has led to more than 1,000 hospitalizations and 105 deaths.

Health officials say the swine flu is more infectious than seasonal flu because most people lack immunity to it. Vaccines for both viruses should be available soon.

Even so, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said businesses need to prepare for the possibility of widespread absences.

"They should start putting in place plans and contingencies for teleworking and staggered shifts, but really just start thinking about what they would need to do to have their businesses prepared in the event of an outbreak," Locke said.

Locke concedes some businesses in California don't offer paid sick leave, especially in the restaurant industry. Nonetheless, he thinks companies should tell workers to stay home if they have the flu.

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