H1N1 Flu: The Public Health Community Responds

Listen to audio podcasts featuring public health experts and read more about H1N1 flu.

    • May 6, 2009

Public Health in the News

  1. On Sunday, May 3, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Richard Besser, M.D., acting director for the Centers for Disease Control, were guests on ABC’s This Week. They spoke about the response to the H1N1 flu and what more the federal and local governments are doing.  You can watch the full video here. In addition to speaking about the H1N1 flu, Sebelius mentioned the Meta-Leadership Summit for Preparedness, which provides leadership training to prepare for times of crisis.
  2. Sebelius and Besser provide an update regarding the change in CDC’s school and child care closure guidance.
  3. The World Health Organization has an update on the spread of the H1N1 flu, which as of Wednesday has spread to 22 countries.

Posted: May 4, 2009

Public Health in the News:


  1. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Here are some tips on how to take care of yourself or a family member who is sick.  If you have questions, call the CDC Hotline (1-800-CDC-INFO). It is available in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  2. Watch President Obama address the nation about the federal government’s response to H1N1 flu. You can watch most White House announcements and events, including White House Press Secretary Robert Gibb’s press conferences, on the White House’s YouTube channel.
  3. On C-Span’s Web site, you can watch a hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Appropriations about the public health response to H1N1 flu.  Speakers include Ann Schuchat of CDC and Paul Jarris of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
  4. The federal government has set up an entire site dedicated to a possible pandemic flu.  You can find a map of the U.S. which shows confirmed flu cases,  information on state and local government planning and responses, and  the global response to the flu.


  1. The New York Times writes  about how New York City is using “surge” teams to quickly test samples for evidence of the H1N1 flu.

New Multimedia/Online Tools

  1. In another case of a university doing interesting work in the public health field,  Northwestern University has come up with a computer model to simulate the spread of H1N1 in the U.S.

Posted: May 1, 2009

Public Health in the News:

Washington Post: Many States Do Not Meet Readiness Standards

Huffington Post: Jeffrey Levi writes an op-ed on the public health community’s response to the H1N1 flu.

PBS’ NewsHour with Jim Lehrer interviews Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association on public health readiness.


The CDC continues to provide information on when and if schools should be closed if a student tests positive with the H1N1 flu.  The CDC now recommends that “affected communities with laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) virus infection consider activating school dismissal and childcare closure interventions ... “

Recommendations for higher education.

Recommendations for K-12th grades.


Purdue University researchers have developed a tool, first delivered to the Indiana State Department of Health, called PanVi.  The tool helps states visualize how a pandemic might affect a community in terms of vaccines available, hospital bed needs and other demands on public health resources. You can watch a brief video about the program here.

New Multimedia/Online Tools:

Here you can find all of the CDC’s helpful social media and online tools.

Explore flu trends across the U.S. with this Google tracker.

You can also follow flu trends across Mexico.

From the Harvard Business Review, a checklist for businesses to make sure they are financially prepared for a possible pandemic.

Posted April 30, 2009

As the number of cases continues to grow, federal, state and local public health agencies are adapting their response to the outbreak of H1N1 flu with both on-the-ground and online resources.  We have put together a list of what agencies around the country are doing to address the needs of the public and keep them informed. 

We’ll continue to update this list as the situation evolves. 


  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has regular updates on national and international travel warnings for H1N1 flu as well as key facts about the disease.


  1. Many state agencies have 1-800 numbers that you can call to receive the latest information on H1N1 flu in your state.  Visit your local or state health department Web site for more information.
  2. In California, Sutter County health officials have set up an H1N1 flu operations center to help provide information to residents and to prepare for possible illnesses.
  3. Local agencies in Alabama, including the Cullman County Health Department and Cullman County Emergency Management Agency, recently participated in a mock flu pandemic readiness exercise.  Agency officials said they are prepared, should the need arise, to have vaccine dispersal sites ready for citizens.

New Multimedia/Online Tools:

  1. The CDC has a very useful and regularly updated Twitter feed where you can get instant public health updates.
  2. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a live webcast about U.S. reaction to H1N1 flu on Thursday, April 30. Watch the video  and  follow HHS on Twitter.
  3. HHS has a useful widget, a tool that you can embed on your Web site, which provides links, in both English and Spanish, to updates and prevention tips.  Visit their Web site to get the tool.
  4. The World Health Organization is providing daily updates on the spread of H1N1 flu through the U.S.  Track the confirmed number of cases on their Web site.
  5. In an online video and podcast, Joe Bresee, M.D., a member of CDC’s Influenza Division, describes how H1N1 flu is transmitted, its symptoms and what people can do to keep from getting sick.
  6. The New York City Department of Health has useful online brochures and posters that you can print out on how to prevent the spread of swine flu and other communicable diseases.  They come in 14 languages, including Arabic, Russian, Spanish and Chinese.
  7. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has a YouTube Channel where they are posting press conferences on H1N1 flu.
  8. The California Department of Public Health has a useful interactive map  which plots points of suspected and confirmed cases of H1N1 flu.

Posted April 28, 2009

If you live in one of the affected regions, we suggest that you visit your state’s Department of Health  for more on-the-ground information.

U.S. and international health organizations are working around the clock with affected regions to help curb the spread of the virus.  However, local and state health agencies, which are fighting on the front lines, have not been adequately funded for such a crisis.  Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., executive director of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), applauded the Obama administration for its swift action in fighting H1N1 flu, but he recommended that $350 million is needed annually to adequately fund state and local pandemic preparedness activities.  Levi noted that funding for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza has not been completed, with $870 million out of an originally requested $7.1 billion remaining undistributed.

While local, state and federal agencies are working to keep the H1N1 flu virus under control, there are a number of things you can do to be protected.  Click on the link below to see helpful facts, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  on the H1N1 flu virus.  You can find out what symptoms to look out for and how to best protect yourself from getting sick.

Video Series

H1N1 Virus Exposes Health Care System Problems


Executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials talks about how H1N1 virus has exposed problems with our health care system, among them, access to primary care and language barriers.


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