Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that people should expect "a big influx" of swine flu cases this fall and prepare as best they can.
"The best thing we all can do are the very simple things, the washing of the hands, the coughing into the sleeve," Napolitano said in a nationally broadcast interview. " ... We're in all likelihood going to have them (new infections) before the vaccine is available."
Napolitano was among a host of Cabinet officers who briefed President Barack Obama Tuesday on the federal government's preparations and planning for the fall. Another of those Cabinet members, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, said in a separate interview that it's critically important to keep schools open and education uninterrupted.
"We got a little bit lucky" in the last school year, he said, because the H1N1 didn't surface until very near the end of the academic year.
"We're not going to be so lucky this year," Duncan added, "so the more we're prepared, the more we're talking ... the better we're going to be able to handle this as a country, the more we're going to be able to keep our schools open."
There have been over 550 deaths in the United States from H1N1 and a scientific advisory panel recently sent the White House a report saying it was possible that anywhere from 30 percent to half the population could catch what doctors call "2009 H1N1" and that it was also possible there could be between 30,000 and 90,000 deaths.
"Everything we've seen in the U.S. and everything we've seen around the world suggests we won't see that kind of number if the virus doesn't change," Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a C-SPAN interview last week.
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