Obama Flu: Hand Washing to Hand Wringing?

There’s a fine line at the White House between hand-washing and hand-wringing.

When it comes to swine flu, President Barack Obama is trying to strike the right balance between protecting public and economic health. That’s resulted in some doublespeak and spin, evidence of the inextricable ties between a looming epidemic and a listing economy.

Obama has been out front in urging people to wash their hands, cover their mouths while coughing and stay home if sick. Still, there’s been a lot of anxious backing and filling going on behind him.

Overreact to the swine flu scare and risk being accused of misspending public money and frightening consumers and travelers during the worst recession most Americans have endured.

Underreact and take the chance of looking indecisive and out of touch if the outbreak turns into a deadly pandemic — now or in a possible rebound in the fall.

Former President George W. Bush learned that lesson the hard way with Hurricane Katrina.

Even what it’s called has political and economic overtones.

Say it’s swine flu and alienate hog farmers and pork processors. They note, correctly, that it can’t be acquired by eating pork products. The term also inflames Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork.

Call it the “Mexican flu,” as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done, and Mexicans are offended.

There’s a fine line at the White House between hand-washing and hand-wringing.

When it comes to swine flu, President Barack Obama is trying to strike the right balance between protecting public and economic health. That’s resulted in some doublespeak and spin, evidence of the inextricable ties between a looming epidemic and a listing economy.

Obama has been out front in urging people to wash their hands, cover their mouths while coughing and stay home if sick. Still, there’s been a lot of anxious backing and filling going on behind him.

Overreact to the swine flu scare and risk being accused of misspending public money and frightening consumers and travelers during the worst recession most Americans have endured.

Underreact and take the chance of looking indecisive and out of touch if the outbreak turns into a deadly pandemic — now or in a possible rebound in the fall.

Former President George W. Bush learned that lesson the hard way with Hurricane Katrina.

Even what it’s called has political and economic overtones.

Say it’s swine flu and alienate hog farmers and pork processors. They note, correctly, that it can’t be acquired by eating pork products. The term also inflames Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork.

Call it the “Mexican flu,” as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done, and Mexicans are offended.
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Read the rest:
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Ana
lysis-Flu-control-tests-apf-15110084.html?.v=1

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From Politico

The threat of a global pandemic forced the federal government to take aggressive steps against the so-called swine flu this week, despite uncertainty about how potent or deadly it may be, President Barack Obama said in his Saturday radio and Internet address.

It was a surprise change in topic. A White House aide told POLITICO Friday that the president planned to talk about education.

The week, however, was dominated by the spread of the H1N1 virus across the country and the world. Some of the coverage has focused on whether health officials have overreacted to a strain that might turn out to be less threatening the seasonal flu, and so far hasn’t proven fatal in the U.S., like it has in Mexico.

“We cannot know for certain why that is, which is why we are taking all necessary precautions in the event that the virus does turn into something worse,” Obama said.

The administration has released a quarter of the 50 million courses of antiviral treatments in the Strategic National Stockpile, and requested $1.5 billion from Congress to purchase additional antivirals and develop a vaccine, Obama said.

“It is my greatest hope and prayer that all of these precautions and preparations prove unnecessary,” he said. “But because we have it within our power to limit the potential damage of this virus, we have a solemn and urgent responsibility to take the necessary steps. I would sooner take action now than hesitate and face graver consequences later.”

 

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