State officials urge Californians to prepare for swine flu epidemic

Listen to story

Download this story 0.0MB

Governor Schwarzenegger toured a public health lab in Richmond today that conducts tests for H1N1, the virus that causes “swine flu.” Up to a quarter of Californians could end with the swine flu this fall.

KPCC’s Julie Small says from a podium in a microbiology lab, the governor urged Californians to get ready.

Julie Small: Governor Schwarzenegger toured the only state lab that can test for swine flu. Microbiologist Estella Saguare showed the governor a tray of vials she'd prepared to test for the H1N1 virus.

Governor ArnoldSchwarzenegger: Where are you going to put this now? (laughter)
Estella Saguare: We're actually going to put it in the machine that will do all the work.

Small: The state will be able to test as many as 20,000 viral samples this year. Schwarzenegger said that’ll help California identify and treat H1N1 cases more quickly than when the state had to send samples to the national Centers for Disease Control to test.

Schwarzenegger: We don't want to wait for the crisis. We want to go and be prepared now, because we know it's going to happen. Thousands of people are going to die because of this H1N1 virus.

Small: Schwarzenegger said Californians can protect themselves by going to the doctor if they get sick – but not to work or other places where they could spread the infection. He urged parents to be prepared for schools to shut down, and for employers to plan to lose workers to more sick days. The governor said the state plans to launch a major vaccination program once the H1N1 vaccine becomes available in October.