U.S. President Barack Obama said his administration is acting quickly and aggressively to fight the H1N1 swine flu virus. In his weekly address, the president outlined the steps the government is taking in the face of the outbreak.
"I would sooner take action now than hesitate and face graver consequences later," he said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 160 cases of the H1N1 flu have been confirmed in 21 states. Worldwide, the World Health Organization said 615 cases of the swine flu have been confirmed in 15 countries.
The virus is known to have killed 16 people in Mexico and one small child in the U.S. state of Texas. New tests show this strain of the flu may not be as potent or spread as easily as experts had anticipated. But officials caution that the virus could mutate into something more deadly.
Mr. Obama said the government is distributing drugs that can defeat the current strain of H1N1.
"We began this week with 50 million courses of this treatment in the strategic national stockpile. Over the course of the last few days, we have delivered one-quarter of that stockpile to states, so that they are prepared to treat anyone who is infected with this virus," he said.
Another step the president has taken is to request more money for more medicine and equipment to fight the swine flu, now and later this year.
"Out of an abundance of caution, I have also asked Congress for $1.5 billion, if it is needed, to purchase additional antivirals, emergency equipment, and the development of a vaccine that can prevent this virus as we prepare for the next flu season, in the fall," he explained.
The White House has also launched pages on the social networking sites Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, to update the public on the flu situation.
Opposition Republicans have avoided criticizing Mr. Obama's response to the flu outbreak, but they continue to blast his administration's spending habits.
In the weekly Republican address, Representative Lynn Jenkins called the Democrats' spending "staggering."
"I think the Democrats' first 100 days running Washington can be summed up in three words: Spending, taxing and borrowing," she said.
The Democratic-controlled Congress passed Mr. Obama's $3.4 trillion federal budget plan Wednesday without a single vote from Republicans.
Jenkins warned that the president will increase the national debt more than any other president in U.S. history.
"I was the state treasurer in Kansas for six years before I came to Congress. And before that, I practiced public accounting as a certified public accountant for nearly two decades. So trust me when I say, Washington's books are a mess," she added.
Money in the budget will allow Mr. Obama to follow through on his agenda to revive the economy, reform health care, improve education and promote energy independence.