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Swine Flu Threatens Fragile Economy

April 27, 2009
by CHARLES HERMAN
ABC News

If the swine flu were to become a pandemic in the United States, the first concern would be, of course, saving lives. In the worse-case scenarios, a majority of Americans would most likely not fall ill, but they would be impacted financially.

In normal economic times, a drop this big could push the country into a "major economic recession" according to a report from the Trust for America's Health. And that conclusion comes from a report written when the U.S. economy was not even in a severe recession.

In order to avoid contact with people who might be infected, airlines would see a drop in passengers. Public gatherings like shopping malls, movie theaters, concerts, restaurants, sports events, even schools might close if people feared being around others who could be sick. Mass transit systems ridership levels could plummet. Businesses would experience high absentee rates because people chose to stay at home, resulting in lost productivity. The Trust for America's Health estimated absenteeism could rise to 25 to 35 percent globally. Hospitals would be overwhelmed with patients and the hospitals might have to be isolated.

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