The White House declared today a public health emergency to fight the spread of swine flu, the New York Times reports. With 20 confirmed infections in the US, the declaration frees up money and resources for diagnosis, prevention, and antiviral medication. “We’re preparing in an environment where we really don’t know ultimately what the size of seriousness of this outbreak is going to be,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
Napolitano tried to tone down the threat’s scale, terming the declaration “standard operating procedure,” Politico reports. A quarter of the government’s anti-flu stockpile will be released. Swine flu has already killed 81 Mexicans and infected at least 1000 more, with Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and other countries gearing up for a fight.