Nation Digest

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Calm Urged After Flu Death Estimates

Government health officials are urging people not to panic over estimates of 90,000 people dying of swine flu this fall.

"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," Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a C-SPAN interview taped Wednesday.

On Monday the White House released a report from a group of presidential advisers that included a scenario in which as much as half the population could catch the H1N1 virus, and death possibilities ranged from 30,000 to 90,000.

"We don't think that's the most likely scenario," CDC flu specialist Anne Schuchat said of the presidential advisers' high-end tally. What is likely: A busy flu season that starts earlier than usual, Schuchat told the Associated Press.

The H1N1 virus so far has been no more deadly than the flu strains seen every fall and winter. And close genetic tracking of the new virus as it circled the globe in the past five months has shown no sign that it is mutating to become more virulent.

-- Associated Press

Tropical Storm May Affect East Coast: Forecasters say people in the Bahamas and the southeastern United States should keep an eye on Tropical Storm Danny, which formed in the open Atlantic off the Bahamas on Monday and could slowly get stronger as it moves toward land. The storm is currently forecast to clip the East Coast over the weekend, but a storm's track is difficult to predict days in advance.

Other Clergy Warned After Pastor's Slaying: Authorities warned pastors in an Oklahoma town where a preacher was killed inside her church that they should take precautions at their buildings, even as police refused to say exactly what happened. District Attorney Bret Burns held a closed-door session with about two dozen pastors and members of law enforcement in Anadarko. "We asked them to remain vigilant and be aware of their surroundings and their church locations," Burns said. He did not say why the meeting was held just with pastors rather than the community at large, or what kind of threat the clergy might face.

S.C. Governor Rejects Call to Step Down: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) rebuffed his lieutenant governor's call for him to resign, saying he will not be "railroaded" out of office and plans to finish the last 16 months of his term. Sanford in June admitted having an affair with an Argentine woman, a revelation that led to questions about the legality of his travel on state, private and commercial planes. Lt. Gov. André Bauer (R) called Wednesday for him to step down, saying, "The serious misconduct that has been revealed along with lingering questions and continuing distractions make it virtually impossible for our state to solve the critical problems we're facing without a change in leadership."

Top N.J. Officials Oppose Gaddafi Visit: Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D) and New Jersey federal legislators have joined a chorus of opposition to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's expected stay in the state when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly next month. Along with Corzine, Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. John Adler, both Democrats, protested expected plans by Gaddafi to stay in the northern New Jersey community of Englewood. Menendez said Gaddafi should be "barred" from New Jersey.

-- From News Services

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