The change in guidance does not mean that scientists know much more now than they did before about what the virus will do, Heath and Human Services Secretary Katharine Sebelius stressed in a Tuesday news conference. "We don't know what will happen over the course of the summer, and we certainly don't know what will happen when we get back into the [fall] flu season," she said.
"We are learning more about the H1N1 virus every day," Sebelius said. "We know there will be more cases and, unfortunately, there are likely to be more hospitalizations and more deaths. We are working as fast as we can to stay ahead of this disease."
At another press conference on Monday, Besser told reporters that "we are not out of the woods," but he added that "we are seeing a lot of encouraging signs."
Among the encouraging signs: "So far the severity of illness we are seeing in this country is very similar to what we see with seasonal flu," Besser said. "And that's encouraging information."
In addition, some of the initial lab tests are heartening, Besser said. "The lack of some of the factors that have been associated with more severe disease in previous pandemics, we are not seeing those," he said.
Testing for the virus is also becoming faster, Besser said. "We have distributed test kits to every state and this will allow for more rapid diagnosis at the state level," he said.
And, he added: "The situation in Mexico is encouraging. It appears that things are leveling off in Mexico."
In fact, the Mexican government on Tuesday announced moves to revive an economy that had been leveled by the swine flu outbreak. According to the Associated Press, while annual Cinco de Mayo festivities were more or less canceled this year, car traffic was noticeably busier in Mexico City on Tuesday and fewer people were seen
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