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No need to panic on pandemic

Federal government seems prepared to handle swine flu, but problems remain at state and local level

May 7, 2009
by Gordon Trowbridge
Detroit News

Federal reaction to the spread of the H1N1-2009 virus has gotten mostly -- but not uniformly -- high marks from experts, politicians and the public. That's thanks partly to about $6 billion in spending, Leavitt's plan and 2005 legislation that formalized the responsibilities of federal officials in case of a pandemic or other public health catastrophe.

But among experts, there is a growing consensus that while federal capability has rapidly evolved, problems remain at the state and local levels -- the very levels of government that Michiganians and other Americans would all depend on to take care of us in an outbreak far more serious than the current one...

States, on the other hand, have consistently said they need more federal help. The Trust for America's Health, a group that advocates more pandemic preparation funding, says the federal budget hasn't included any preparation funding for states since 2006. The group estimates state and local governments must spend $350 million a year to maintain readiness.

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