A powerful Senate committee held a hearing today on the swine flu epidemic.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hear from Richard E. Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The commitee's chairman is Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, whose remarks entered into the record are below.
As we all know, the numbers of reported infections are increasing everyday—and today, we have learned of the tragic death of a young child from Mexico who was in Texas being treated for this disease.
This morning, we also learned of two boys In Lowell, Massachusetts infected with the disease.
It appears that this outbreak began in Mexico --but it has now spread to at least four continents.
The H1N1 flu outbreak is a global problem -- but we have to take very aggressive and specific steps here in our country to contain the spread.
Just this morning, President Obama called the spread of this flu virus a “serious situation” that requires us “to take the utmost precautions.”
Our first duty as a government is to protect our citizens. And Americans want to know what we are doing to keep them safe.
So this hearing is particularly timely.
Today we will learn more about the Administration’s plans to address this crisis. And we will learn what families can do to minimize the risk of contracting this disease.
We are still in the early days of this outbreak -- and there is still much that we do not know about this virus. But we do not have the luxury of time.
History has taught us that we must act now –with good judgment and speed to gather information -- educate the public --develop a safe vaccine --and implement the public health safeguards we have put in place to minimize the spread.
Today, we are joined by two of the nation’s leading public health experts -- Dr. Anthony Fauci from the NIH and Dr. Richard Besser from the CDC.
They will describe how they are using these tools to keep us safe from the H1N1 flu.
Doctors, we recognize that you are both busy with this crisis. We thank you for your time, and we look forward to your testimony.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.