WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation naming the H1N1 influenza outbreak a national emergency, the White House said Saturday.
The White House confirmed in a release Obama signed the proclamation Friday night, paving the way for medical treatment facilities nationwide to better handle the rising number of patients suspected of having H1N1, commonly known as swine flu.
The proclamation allows those facilities to bypass, on a case-by-case basis, certain standard federal requirements when it comes to treating possible H1N1 patients.
The Washington Post reported White House officials maintain the proclamation is not the result of a new assessment regarding H1N1′s threat to the general public.
White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said Saturday the proclamation will simply allow facilities to be better prepared for emergency situations involving H1N1 should they arise.
“The H1N1 is moving rapidly, as expected. By the time regions or healthcare systems recognize they are becoming overburdened, they need to implement disaster plans quickly,” Cherlin said.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International