Obama Declares H1N1 Emergency
October 25, 2009 • 10:24AM

President Obama proclaimed the H1N1 virus a national emergency Friday night, a move that allows for the waiving of some Federal rules if the spread of the virus strains the capabilities of medical providers. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has already declared the virus a public health emergency, and in his proclamation, Obama says the new move "will allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services, if necessary, to temporarily waive certain standard Federal requirements in order to enable U.S. health-care facilities to implement emergency operations plans to deal with the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the United States."

In a letter sent to Congress reporting the move, Obama wrote, "The rapid increase in illness across the nation may overburden health-care resources and that the temporary waiver of certain standard Federal requirements may be warranted in order to enable U.S. health-care facilities to implement emergency operations plans."

In practical terms, this means that state and local governments can now decide how to use non-existent beds, intensive care units, ventilators, vaccines, etc., in their non-existent hospitals, in any way they choose.