Monday, October 26, 2009

Morning Fix: The (political) dangers of H1N1

Long lines of people wait for the swine flu vaccine.
Photo by Tracy A. Woodward of the Washington Post

President Obama's decision to declare the H1N1 flu a national emergency over the weekend is a recognition of the political peril the virus could inflict on the White House.

The declaration came after 72 hours of stories -- both locally and nationally -- focused on the long lines for the swine flu vaccine and the mounting fear surrounding the illness.

And, it came just days after a Washington Post/ABC national poll showed that a majority (52 percent) of Americans were worried that they or someone in their family would contract H1N1 -- up from 39 percent who said the same in a mid-August survey.

Given that context, Obama's announcement, which essentially allows hospitals more leeway in the way they deal with the outbreaks, is rightly understood as an attempt to show the American people that the president understands their concern and is ensuring the government is doing everything it can to help.

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Morning Fix: The (political) dangers of H1N1