This year’s influenza epidemic is widespread across the entire United States and putting a strain on hospitals, according to officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And although not record-setting, the season is severe, with the deaths of 20 children reported, and it is revealing weaknesses in the healthcare system.
Hospitals have been forced to set up triage tents in parking lots, divert ambulances and ask emergency department staff to work double shifts.
Experts say that not only is the United States not ready for a bad epidemic but that funding cuts have made the situation worse.
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“It takes less and less impact for a healthcare system to go from routine to crisis,” said Mike Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.