Dear Friends of Down to Earth,

Down to Earth is closely monitoring the H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) situation and has preparations in place to protect the health of our customers and team members.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that this new virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, it is not known at this time how severe this virus will be in the general population. As of May 6th, 2009, news reports are saying the H1N1 Flu outbreak is not as big of a problem as they first thought. More people have had it than previously known, and the death rate is low when that is taken into account. Also, people over 50 seem to have more immunity to it. In addition, on May 5th the CDC confirmed three cases of swine flu in Hawaii—an Army couple and an un-related school-age child—but said they had recovered.

Against this backdrop, we all need to practice the very best personal hygiene habits to prevent the spread of this and other diseases. This is especially important for team members of Down to Earth, many of whom are in daily contact with the public. It is also important for everyone in our community at large, as we interact with one another every day.

Good hygiene habits are critical because the main way that illnesses like colds and flu are spread is from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. This is called "droplet spread."

This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air and are deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Sometimes germs also can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches his or her own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands. Some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks.

To limit the spread of swine flu, I urge you to:

  • Stay home if sick. If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, please stay home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. We have instructed our team members to do likewise. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Cover your cough. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Put your used tissue in the waste basket immediately.
  • Clean your hands often. Wash your hands often with soap and water—especially after you cough or sneeze—for 15 to 20 seconds. That's about the same time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice! Alcohol-based hand wipes and gel sanitizers work too.
  • Keep away from sick people. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

This outbreak is not a reason for alarm, but there is reason for concern. To help ensure our health and the health of our families, friends, and island communities, we owe it to ourselves to practice the very best personal hygiene possible.

On behalf of all the team members at Down to Earth, please accept our thanks for your responsible actions during this period as we, too, re-double our efforts to help protect the health of our island communities.

Mark Fergusson, CEO
Down to Earth

PDF icon Swine Flu FAQ

More information about the H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) virus and how you can protect yourself can be found at the following web sites: