Speaking before the National Academy of Sciences, Mr. Obama said he is "closely monitoring" the swine flu situation, getting regular updates from the various public health agencies grappling with the problem – the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services among them. Mr. Obama said Americans can expect regular updates from these agencies as well.
Mr. Obama also said that the declaration of a public health emergency was a precautionary tool to aid officials in addressing the problem.
So far, there have been 20 cases reported in five states – New York, Texas, California, Ohio and Kansas – but no fatalities. In Mexico, there are 1,600 confirmed infections and Spain reported its first case Monday – the first outside North America. Governments around the world have advised against travel to Mexico and the U.S. China, Taiwan and Russia are considering quarantines of people returning from those affected countries.