President Obama declared the H1N1 flu outbreak a national emergency over the weekend, but experts in infectious disease and emergency medicine say the public should not be alarmed by the move.
"This is not a reaction to any new developments; it's a proactive step, a useful tool going forward," White House spokesman Reid Cherlin says.
Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, agrees. "It's really more a continuation of our preparedness steps," she told USA TODAY on Sunday. The declaration will help with flexibility in case hospitals see a greater influx of flu cases in coming months, she said.