National Emergency: Obama Makes Formal Declaration on Swine Flu

ABC News' Rachel Martin reports:

It’s official: Swine flu is a public health emergency.

Today, the White House announced that late Friday the president signed an emergency declaration for the H1N1 flu.

White House officials said the declaration is a “pro active measure” to make sure health care facilities have the freedom they need to address the growing swine flu epidemic. They said the announcement “removes legal hurdles” for health care facilities as they decide on a case-by-case basis whether to implement emergency protocols to deal with swine flu.

The declaration itself does not allow facilities to bypass federal regulations. Instead, it allows them to apply for a waiver from the Department of Health and Human Services that will allow them to, as one senior White House official told ABC News, “establish alternate care sites, modified patient triage protocols, patient transfer procedures and other actions that occur when they fully implement disaster operations plans.”

You can read the official White House press release below:

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President Obama Signs Emergency Declaration for H1N1 Flu

In keeping with the administration’s proactive approach to H1N1 Flu, President Obama last night signed a proclamation declaring 2009-H1N1 Influenza a national emergency. The proclamation enhances the ability of our Nation’s medical treatment facilities to handle a surge in H1N1 patients by allowing, as needed, the waiver of certain standard federal requirements on a case-by-case basis. A copy of the proclamation and the accompanying message to Congress are attached.

The foundation of our national approach to the H1N1 flu has been preparedness at all levels –- personal, business, and government –- and this proclamation helps that effort by advancing our overall response capability.

Please check for the most up-to-date news on H1N1, preparedness, and vaccine distribution.

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