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State of Emergency: 700 flu cases in Boston this season and 4 elderly deaths/ NY Daily News

Posted Jan 09 2013 7:26pm
Puh-Leeze.  A State of Emergency ?  I'd laugh except declaring an emergency gives states new political powers.   Powers designed by CDC and Lawrence Gostin .  Here is where the Heritage Foundation and I come together.
Under the original Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, upon the declaration of a "public health emergency," governors and public health officials would be empowered to do the following and more:
Last year (winter 2011-12) was the lightest flu season since records started being kept:  basically there was no flu epidemic.  The year before was also light.  That is how influenza works:  some years lighter, some heavier.  The heavier years give us more cross-immunity for future outbreaks.

Anyway, this year is [unsurprisingly] heavier.  One in 25 ER patients has flu.  As a former ER doc, that is something to yawn about.  But I'm not yawning about the emergency powers invoked--to do what, exactly?  From the Daily News:
The City of Boston declared a public health emergency Wednesday as the city and country deal with a historic outbreak of the flu.  The influenza-ravaged city has seen about 700 confirmed cases of the virus since Oct. 1, the unofficial start of the flu season, according to the office of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who declared the state of emergency Wednesday morning.

By comparison, Boston saw 70 confirmed cases during last year’s flu season.

The outbreak has so far killed four Boston residents, all elderly, since the season unofficially began.

“This is the worst flu season we’ve seen since 2009, and people should take the threat of flu seriously,” Menino said in a release...
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