Menino Declares Public Health Emergency in Boston

(NECN: Julie Loncich, Boston) - Boston Mayor Tom Menino has now declared a public health emergency, as a result of one of the worst flu outbreaks we've seen in years.

“I am declaring a public health emergency in the city of Boston,” the Mayor said.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino, along with public health officials in the city, took a dramatic step Wednesday, bringing about awareness and action.

“This is an unusually difficult flu season for us and a serious flu season for us. And we want people to be aware that this is not our usual flu season,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the executive director of BPHC.

It's the worst season since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. This season, an estimated 700 cases of influenza have been reported in the city. Compare that to just 70 last season. Four people have died. Statewide, those numbers skyrocket. More than 6,000 lab-confirmed cases and 18 deaths have been reported.

“We're also seeing some significant rates of hospitalization,” said Kevin Cranston with the Bureau of infectious disease for DPH.

In Boston alone, flu cases now account for more than 4-percent of all ER visits.

It's why free flu clinics across the city will now be held this weekend, including in some of the neighborhoods hardest hit like Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury.

“It's got a ripple effect. As the Mayor said, it's got an economic effect because people need to stay home,” said Dr. Ferrer.

“If you didn't get your flu shot, now's the time to do it.”

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