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First 100 days: First domestic emergency

The New York Times: "As the administration responds to its first domestic emergency, it is building on concrete preparations made during the tenure of President George W. Bush that have won praise from public health experts. But its actions are also informed by what Mr. Bush learned in his response to Hurricane Katrina: that political management of a crisis, and of public expectations, can be as important as the immediate response."

The Los Angeles Times looks at the person who has become the administration's face on this issue: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. "Under the law, this is the job of the secretary of Homeland Security, who in addition to protecting the nation against terrorism is charged with overseeing the nation's response to possible pandemics, even as clinicians and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies work to track the disease. Beyond the mandate, Napolitano bears the burden of dealing with the kind of natural disaster that can blindside a new administration and morph into a major headache almost overnight if not handled effectively."
 
More: "Napolitano's visibility has been further elevated because the posts of secretary of Health and Human Services, surgeon general and director of the CDC have not been filled. The White House has repeatedly said that those vacancies were not handicapping the government's response to the flu outbreak… Gerald Epstein, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who specializes in domestic security, said he did not think the vacancies posed a problem."

Could this be the scariest part of the swine flu at this point? That it could delay any economic recovery? "The damage could hit the already ailing tourism and airline industries the hardest. The European Union and a number of nations began warning their citizens yesterday to avoid unnecessary travel to parts of North America. During the SARS outbreak in 2003 -- the last major epidemic of a respiratory disease with human-to-human transmission -- airline traffic to Asian destinations such as Hong Kong fell by as much as 60 percent. Overall, Asia-Pacific airlines lost 50 percent of traffic in the first five months of 2003, causing them $6 billion in losses. North American carriers saw passenger traffic fall by 3.7 percent that year."

The Boston Globe adds, "The bruised US economy, which had shown a few signs of life, took another beating yesterday with global concerns over the swine flu outbreak expected to hit travel and tourism the hardest."