WASHINGTON (DHS) — Note the error in paragraph 7: “Anyone exhibiting symptoms is being referred to an isolation room where they can be evaluated by a public health official before proceeding to their destruction.”
Release Date: April 29, 2009
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Secretary Napolitano: This is the daily briefing to bring everybody up to speed on where things are with respect to the 2009 H1N1 virus.
The three of us just returned from the Hill. We testified—at least, [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Interim Deputy Director for Science and Health] RADM [Anne] Schuchat and I testified—before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and then the three of us were present for a bipartisan briefing at the United States House of Representatives to make sure that the members of Congress are being kept up to speed. And of course, I am delighted to be joined today by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, because I have a feeling we’re going to be joined at the hip on this for quite a while as we move forward.
As you know, and I’m sad today to report, that today we had our first confirmed death as a result of the H1N1 virus in the United States. It was a 23-month-old child, and our sympathies go out to her family out of this. But as I said and have been saying, this is a flu, and a flu cycle. We think we’re at the beginning of a flu cycle, which typically brings with it some severe illness and death. Indeed, in the normal seasonal flu cycle, we will have about 36,000 deaths in the United States. That’s a fact that surprises many. But it is part and parcel of an influenza cycle. So our thoughts are with those who have contracted the virus now, and of course for the family of the child who died.
We now have 10 states with confirmed incidents of H1N1—Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and Texas. We are likely to see more states, more cases, and some more hospitalizations over the coming days, and we are prepared for that.
Every American should know that we are aggressively responding to this outbreak. Antiviral medications are en route to states to supplement their own stockpiles. Indiana, New York, New York City, already have their allocations. Several other states will receive their allocations by today. And all states will receive theirs no later than the third of May.
Let me point out an important difference here. There’s been some confusion between antiviral and vaccine. A vaccine is administered to prevent the flu from occurring. An antiviral is occurred after you get sick to mitigate the symptoms so that you feel better. So it is the antiviral stockpile that I’m referring to now.
We’re also actively monitoring travelers at our land, sea, and air ports. We’re watching them for signs of illness, and we have appropriate protocols in place to deal with those who are sick. Precautions are being taken to protect travelers and border personnel. Anyone exhibiting symptoms is being referred to an isolation room where they can be evaluated by a public health official before proceeding to their destruction.