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Politics

CDC Official: ‘I Am Losing Sleep’ Over Effects Of Government Shutdown

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A nurse practices administering a vaccine during a training session for health care workers held by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)

A nurse practices administering a vaccine during a training session for health care workers held by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta/AP) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will suffer from a “significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations center” due to the government shutdown.

Researchers at the CDC in Atlanta are especially concerned with their inability to track the spread of the flu virus this fall and winter, the Alabama Media Group is reporting.

A memo released by the CDC that was obtained by the media organization indicates that the Center will not be able to “support the annual seasonal influenza program, outbreak detection and linking across state boundaries using genetic and molecular analysis, continuous updating of disease treatment and prevention recommendations.”

Still, delays and shortages in vaccines are reportedly not expected.

The first government shutdown in 17 years took hold in ways large and small. With no late deal averting the midnight Monday shutdown, several federal agencies said employees would be limited on Tuesday to doing work related to the shutdown, including changing voicemail messages, posting an out-of-office message on email, securing work stations and documents and completing time cards.

About 800,000 federal employees were ultimately sent home — a number greater than the combined U.S. workforces of Target, General Motors, Exxon and Google. Many employees at the CDC, as well as the National Institutes of Health, were among those affected, which has officials worried.

“I usually don’t lose sleep despite the threats that we face, but I am losing sleep because we don’t know if we’ll be able to find and stop things that might kill people,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden was quoted as saying by CBS News yesterday.

Added NIH director Francis Collins to the Associated Press of the NIH Clinical Center, which was also closed due to the shutdown, “This is the place where people have wanted to come when all else has failed. It’s heartbreaking.”

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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