Obama Lays Out Steps Taken to Counter Flu
By Scott Wilson
President Obama used his weekly radio address Saturday to reassure the public that his administration is squarely confronting the swine flu, which over the past week has spread to at least 19 states and roughly a dozen countries.
The president outlined some of the steps he has taken so far to prepare for a worsening outbreak in the United States, where one child has died of the 2009 H1N1 flu, as this strain is technically known, and more than 140 others have tested positive for the virus.
He underscored that 50 million courses of anti-flu treatment were stockpiled in anticipation of any outbreak -- preparations he credited the Bush administration for helping put in place. His administration has purchased an additional 13 million courses to replenish the reserves as they are drawn down.
Obama also said he acted out of "an abundance of caution" in asking Congress to set aside $1.5 billion to buy additional antiviral medications, emergency equipment, and fund the development of a vaccine in preparation for the regular fall flu season.
"As our scientists and researchers learn more information about this virus every day, the guidance we offer will likely change," Obama said, referring to his advice for those feeling ill to stay home and to keep sick children out of school. "What will not change is the fact that we'll be making every recommendation based on the best science possible."
In the Republican address, freshman Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) criticized the size of Obama's $3.4 trillion budget, which Congress passed this week.
No Republican lawmakers voted in favor of the measure, which the president has said sets the long-term framework for his plans to expand health care coverage, develop an alternative energy industry, and improve public education.
"This week, we marked the President's 100th day in office," said Jenkins, a former Kansas state treasurer. "And while, like most of you, I like the President personally, I think the Democrats' first 100 days running Washington can be summed up in three words: spending, taxing, and borrowing."
Posted at 1:45 PM ET on May 2, 2009
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