President Obama, addressing the latest crisis to land in his lap, today urged vigilance and preemptive action to stop the swine flu outbreak.
He said that schools with confirmed or suspected cases should consider temporarily closing "to be safe as possible," and advised parents to prepare for contingencies, including not sending a child to a daycare center, according to the press pool report.
Obama also noted the confirmation of the first US swine flu death, an infant in Texas. “Our thoughts, our prayers and our deepest condolences go out to the family, as well as those who are ill and are recovering,” he said.
“We are closely continuously monitoring emerging cases of this virus,” noting that on Tuesday the White House requested $1.5 billion in emergency funding for vaccines and other responses. “Every American should know that the federal government is prepared to do whatever is necessary to control the impact of this virus.”
His full remarks on the flu are below:
We are closely and continuously monitoring the emerging cases of this virus throughout the United States. Overnight we also received confirmation that an infant in Texas has died as a result of this virus. And my thoughts and prayers and deepest condolences go out to the family, as well as those who are ill and recovering from this flu.
This is obviously a serious situation -- serious enough to take the utmost precautions. Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Sebelius and our entire team are in close contact with state and local authorities around the nation. But I would also urge health agencies in local communities to be vigilant about identifying suspected cases of this virus in your areas and reporting them to the appropriate state and federal authorities in a timely way. We need your assistance.
It’s also the recommendation of our public health officials that schools with confirmed or suspected cases of H1N1 should strongly consider temporarily closing so that we can be as safe as possible. If the situation becomes more serious and we have to take more extensive steps, then parents should also think about contingencies if schools in their areas do temporarily shut down, figuring out and planning what their child care situation would be.
If we ended up having a school closure, a child was sick, just sending a child from the school to a day care center is not a good solution. So we would have to think through, and each parent, I think, would have to think through what options would be available to them in the event that this became more serious.
Yesterday, I also requested from Congress an immediate $1.5 billion in emergency funding. This funding will ensure that we have adequate supplies of vaccines and the equipment to handle a potential outbreak. It will ensure that these vaccines and equipment get to where they need to go around the country. And it will provide for sufficient planning and preparation at the state and local levels.
Every American should know that the federal government is prepared to do whatever is necessary to control the impact of this virus. But there are also steps that Americans can take individually. They’re the same steps that you would take to prevent any other flu: Keep your hands washed, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home from work if you are sick, keep your children home from school if they are sick.
I’ll continue to get constant updates on the situation from the responsible agencies, and we will continue to offer regular updates to the American people about the steps they need to take and the steps that we are taking. And I can assure you that we will be vigilant in monitoring the progress of this flu, and I will make every judgment based on the best science available.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.