Gov. Perry declares flu disaster

Houston Chronicle:

Hedging on the side of caution after the first U.S. swine flu death in Houston, Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration for Texas on Wednesday to free up more doses of antiviral medication and other federal help as 10 Texas school districts canceled classes and the entire state rescheduled spring competitions.

“Texans can be confident that we’re making every effort to stay ahead of the curve to keep them and their families as safe as possible,” Perry said after Houston officials confirmed the death of a 22-month-old boy.

Perry, who stressed the state was more than adequately prepared to handle what has all but been declared a pandemic, said the disaster declaration would allow the state to be reimbursed for costs associated with what is also known as the H1N1 virus by the federal government.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday increased its pandemic alert to level 5, meaning a “pandemic is imminent.”

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The additional 850,000 doses brings to 1.7 million the number in Texas and includes 840,000 seven-day courses bought by the Legislature in 2007 for $10 million, according to state health officials.

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The Washington Post reports that the city of Fort Worth has closed all schools for 10 days.

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Appearing on television news shows this morning, Vice President Biden said he hoped employers "will be generous" in allowing parents to take time off to keep their children home if there has been a confirmed case of flu in their school, since sending them to a daycare center with lots of other children, or bringing them to the workplace, would offer the same potential for the virus to spread.

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Houston is also closing two public schools and one private school has also closed because of a flu case.

It certainly appears that great caution is being used to prevent an outbreak or spreading of the flu. It is also clear that it is going to effect businesses because parents are going to have to stay home with children in many cases. If businesses also have to close to avoid spreading the disease, it will obvious have a serious impact on the economy. We need to find a better way to deal with it. The only confirmed case in the Houston area was of a girl who has already recovered. She attended one of the closed schools.

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