Just over a month after extending the 9/11 national emergency for another year, President Obama announced another federal emergency on Saturday over the worsening H1N1, or swine flu situation.
The president’s proclamation – “The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the United States constitutes a national emergency,” it reads – allows the government to give healthcare providers legal waivers as a means to better handle any flood of new patients.
The White House said the dramatic language isn’t based on any new findings, but is intended simply to allow greater flexibility for healthcare providers.
But news about H1N1 has steadily worsened in recent days as the flu, which authorities say threatens mostly children, young people, and pregnant women, is now widespread in 46 states and has caused 411 confirmed deaths and more than 8,000 hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Delays in distribution of the new H1N1 vaccine is also worrying many Americans.