President Obama has declared a national emergency for the swine flu, noting a "rapid increase in illness." A recent CNN article covering this critical topic goes on to quote CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, "since the H1N1 flu pandemic began in April, millions of people in the United States have been infected, at least 20,000 have been hospitalized and more than 1,000 have died."Naturally, then, from Bloomberg, "Swine Flu Vaccine Scarcity Stirs Anger in U.S. Cities."
Yet excellent investigative reporting by CBS News shows that the number of swine flu cases is being significantly exaggerated. The lead paragraph of this CBS article states, "If you've been diagnosed 'probable' or 'presumed' 2009 H1N1 or swine flu in recent months, you may be surprised to know this: odds are you didn’t have H1N1 flu. In fact, you probably didn’t have the flu at all. That's according to state-by-state test results obtained in a three-month-long CBS News investigation."
The CBS report goes on to point out that the CDC strangely advised states to stop testing and to stop counting the number of swine flu cases last July. The CDC website explains that states are no longer differentiating between the regular flu and the swine flu, reporting instead all influenza and pneumonia-related hospitalizations and deaths in one count.
And see, "Swine Flu Emergency: What Obama's Declaration Means":
While illnesses are normally designated public-health emergencies, in which hospitals and medical personal are subject to various procedures for providing information and disposing of bodies (among other things), President Obama’s motivation for escalating H1N1 to national-emergency levels can be found in his formal declaration: “The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities.” This parallels the World Health Organization’s June upgrade of H1N1 from phase 5 to a phase 6 pandemic (the WHO’s highest level), meaning that while swine flu may lack the drama and spectacle of terrorism, it does constitute a real risk to the American public.
Although conditions like martial law (which would be allowed under any state of emergency) are still possible, the governmental changes invoked by Obama’s declarations have a far more benevolent intent. Hospitals are given the power to set up care sites outside of hospitals—in parking lots, schools, and the like─without federal interference. This not only slows the spread of the speedy virus but allows additional space for treatment and frees emergency rooms for more severe cases. While hospitals are generally limited to setting up alternate treatment centers within 250 yards of the hospital to qualify for federal funding, reimbursements for vaccinations will be given where they would otherwise be restricted. In some cases, hospitals can modify patient check-in procedures, minimizing paperwork and other time-consuming practices to allow faster treatment during busy times. Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance program requirements that might interfere with treatment, including seasonal rules and one-time vaccination coverage, can be changed or waived for the length of the emergency. Simply put, hospitals are given the ability to fight swine flu without getting wrapped in the red tape of federal procedure and, in turn, Americans will have faster treatment for and defense against the spread of the virus.