Flu fears prompts money for states, possible plans for surgical masks

Phoenix Business Journal

by Mike Sunnucks

The Barack Obama administration is making $350 million in federal money available to states this fall for
possible H1N1 flu vaccinations and other efforts should the influenza strain worsen.

Addressing the possibility that the H1N1 virus could have a fall breakout and cause problems, U.S. Homeland
Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also talked about contingency plans for schools, utilities, airports and
businesses, including stockpiling and distributing surgical masks, at a federal summit on the flu this week.

According to a Friday announcement, Arizona is in line for $7.1 million -- $5.3 million for public health
emergency preparation and response programs and $1.8 million for hospitals to prepare if the H1N1 flu gets
worse this fall.

California is getting $30.5 million and Texas $27.1 million from the feds to prepare for H1N1 situations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Friday that there are now 37,246 cases of the H1N1 in the U.S. and
211 deaths from the flu strain, originally labled as “swine flu.”

That is up from week-ago totals of 33,906 national cases and 170 deaths. The flu has leveled off in Arizona with
the CDC reporting 762 cases and 10 deaths, up one case and one death from a week ago.

The World Health Organization has designated the H1N1 a pandemic and has told some countries to stop
testing flu cases and assume many of them are H1N1.

The strain started in Mexico in April and has spread to the U.S. and other countries. It has been acting like
regular flu strains, but public health officials are watchful for a larger outbreak and the H1N1 strain intensifying
this fall. That’s what occurred in the 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ that ended up killing more than 20 million people.

The spread and fears of the spread of H1N1 from Mexico to the U.S. resulted in a surge of patients to Phoenix
area emergency rooms and urgent care centers in late April and early May. A few Valley schools were closed
temporarily when students were diagnosed with H1N1.

Those school closure rules were eased after early indications the H1N1 was more like regular influenza.

H1N1 vaccinations are being researched and could be distributed this fall if H1N1 intensifies and the situation
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