National swine flu emergency declared

RALEIGH Like the rain, the swine flu scattered the crowd at Raleigh Wide Open today. It wasn't enough to keep everyone away. But today's decision by the President to declare the H1N1 outbreak a national emergency begs the question - what does it mean for us?

"I think it's similar to declaring a state of emergency before a hurricane arrives," said Dr. Meagan Davies, an epidemiologist for the state health department. "This is just preparing all the administrative things that need to be in place for the response."

And, she added, the announcement clears red tape behind the scenes at hospitals.

"He's just clearing the way for hospitals to be able to provide the best possible care on the spot for the patients who need it, without any concerns about reimbursement by any of the government systems," Davies said.

She also pointed out that the pandemic is not worse than officials feared - but said it is still cause for concern."

That is why parents and families at Raleigh Wide Open stayed as safe as possible.

"I was actually just vaccinated on Thursday," said Anna Bruton, a parent. "We wash our hands. My son has hand sanitizer in his backpack all the time and we're very cautious about that."

"I'm not too scared of it," said Robin Blanchard, also a parent. "I just try to take the necessary precautions and just wash my hands and make sure [my daughter] washes her hands. I just think it's like any other flu."

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