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Both the U.S. and the United Kingdom say they will not close schools except under exceptional circumstances. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said a massive school closing wouldn't stop swine flu.
In 1999 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report on what might happen if a pandemic virus – similar to the relatively mild virus of 1968 – struck the United States. It estimated that between 89,000 and 207,000 people in the U.S. would die. Why so many?
The number of influenza-associated (i.e., flu-related) deaths varies from year to year because flu seasons often fluctuate in length and severity. CDC estimated that about 36,000 people died of flu-related causes each year, on average, during the 1990s in the United States.
There are concerns that hospitals and clinics could become overwhelmed, Ms. Sebelius added, especially if flooded by what she called "the worried well" that would take resources away from those with actual symptoms.