National Emergencies

TIME takes a look at previous national emergencies and how they compare to Obama's official H1N1 declaration

Ross D. Franklin / AP

A licensed practical nurse, left, gives a swine-flu vaccine to a patient at Bashas' grocery store in Phoenix

President Obama's Oct. 24 decision to officially declare the H1N1 swine-flu virus a national emergency came with a speedy caveat: Don't panic. The declaration was just a formality, the White House explained, a way to allow hospitals to circumvent unnecessary restrictions in order to bring about quicker, more effective swine-flu treatment. Yes, H1N1 cases are on the rise — 46 of the 50 states are experiencing widespread influenza activity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — but it's hardly a horrific doomsday scenario and nothing like the movie Outbreak. And yet it's still an...

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