President Obama has declared a national emergency to deal with the "rapid increase in illness" from the H1N1 influenza virus.
"The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve. The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities," Obama said in a statement.
"Thus, in recognition of the continuing progression of the pandemic, and in further preparation as a nation, we are taking additional steps to facilitate our response."
The president signed the declaration late Friday and announced it Saturday.
Calling the emergency declaration "an important tool in our kit going forward," one administration official called Obama's action