(CNSNews.com) - President Obama assured the American people on Wednesday that his administration is closely monitoring “the H1N1 flu virus” – he refrained from calling it swine flu.
And while the government is prepared to do what it can to stop the illness from spreading, he said individual Americans must also do their part: “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,” Obama said.
“This is obviously a serious situation, serious enough to take the utmost precautions.”
Obama said his thoughts are with the family of a baby who died of the flu in Texas. It is the first confirmed fatality in the United Statesfrom this particular flu virus.
Obama said schools with confirmed or suspected cases of H1N1 “should strongly consider temporarily closing so we can be as safe as possible.” That means parents need to think about alternative child care arrangements, in case schools do shut down. Sending sick children to daycare because school is closed “is not a good solution,” the president said.
Obama noted that he has asked Congress for an immediate $1.5 billion in emergency funding, for “adequate vaccine supplies” and equipment to handle a potential flu outbreak.
Obama said his “entire team” is in close contact with state authorities, and he urged local communities to be vigilant as well in identifying suspected flu cases and reporting them immediately to federal authorities.
President Obama has not curtailed his own schedule. He flew to Missouri on Wednesday – his hundredth day in office, for those who are counting – for a town hall meeting in suburban St. Louis.
He’ll return to Washington Wednesday afternoon to prepare for this evening’s prime-time news conference.
Obama made his comments on the flu during a photo-op with Sen. Arlen Specter, the newly minted Democrat from Pennsylvania. (See story)