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Pandemic Risk Grows as New Cases Pop Up

April 28, 2009
Wall Street Journal

Prodded by SARS and the avian flu scare that followed, President George W. Bush in 2005 issued a pandemic flu preparedness plan. Since 2006, $6.2 billion has been appropriated to stockpile antivirals, step up surveillance and improve vaccine-making and technology.

But state and local health departments -- which are often the first to detect new infectious threats -- haven't received federal funds for pandemic flu preparedness since 2006. Many of the agencies have cut staff and services in the recession.

"You can't stand up to this kind of capacity overnight if you haven't had resources to keep people on staff," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, a public health advocacy organization.

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