Obama declares national emergency for H1N1 flu - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Obama declares national emergency for H1N1 flu

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is making what administration officials are describing as a pre-emptive move against the swine flu.

He's declaring the pandemic a national emergency, in an effort to speed treatment to thousands of infected people.

Administration officials say the effort is designed to make decisions easier when they need to be made.

The declaration authorizes Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to bypass federal rules when opening offsite hospital centers.

And hospitals could change patient rules to allow them faster access to treatment, with government approval.

Obama says the months-old outbreak which has killed more than 1,000 in the U.S. continues to evolve.

And, with the rates of illness rising rapidly, he says there's a potential to "overburden health care resources."

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