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President Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, it was announced Saturday. The declaration gives Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the authority to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to give immediate treatment to sick patients and protect non-infected patients. Administration officials said it was a pre-emptive measure aimed at making decisions easier when they need to be made. No single development triggered Obama’s announcement. The disease is now more prevalent than ever the country. According to health authorities, more than 1,000 people in the U.S. – including almost 100 children – have died from the H1N1 virus. So far, only 11 million doses of vaccine have been distributed to health care providers. Snags in production have cut initial predictions that estimated as many as 120 million doses could be available by mid-October. On Sunday, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate’s Republican minority, promised to give the Obama administration any more help it may need to fight the outbreak.

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