Local Health Agencies, Hurt by Cuts, Brace for Flu Risk

April 29, 2009
by Kevin Sack
New York Times

The recession has drained hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of workers from the state and local health departments that are now the front line in the country's defense against a possible swine flu pandemic.

Health officials in affected states said they had thus far been able to manage the testing and treatment of infected residents and mount vigorous public education campaigns. But many said they had been able to do so only by shifting workers from other public health priorities, and some questioned how their depleted departments might handle a full-fledged pandemic.

Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, said the financial strain made "it more important that we luck out" with a mild outbreak.

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