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The State Journal-Register: Durbin Proud Of State's Response To Swine Flu

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Durbin Proud Of State's Response To Swine Flu

The State Journal-Register

May 3, 2009

By Rhys Saunders

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says he believes local and state agencies have responded well to the potential swine flu epidemic.

During a Sunday afternoon news conference at his Springfield home, Durbin said he has been talking with officials from the state and Chicago departments of public health, as well as the Center for Disease Control, about the influenza strain's spread in Illinois.

"The good news is that we were prepared, saw it coming and had enough medicine set aside if we needed it," he said. "I think this will be a mild experience and not dangerous, but I don't want to assume that. We've got to continue to monitor it as cases are being reported in our state, and it's something we have to take seriously."

The senator said public response has largely been handled on a case-by-case basis within various communities, something he believes has helped prevent the flu strain's spread.

"How many cases would it take before you'd close down a school or a school district?" he rhetorically asked. "That really has become more of a local decision. Some schools have closed in our state because kids were sick, and that was probably a prudent thing to do."

Initial reports suggested the flu strain, H1N1, would swamp the U.S., he added.

"I'm not going to suggest this is over," Durbin said. "The Center for Disease Control tells us that the same influenza strain may show up again in the winter. By then we will develop a vaccine, I hope, to deal with it."

Durbin also discussed legislation that would set up a watchdog group to protect consumers against what he called deceptive practices by the credit-card industry.

"The credit-card industry is out of control," Durbin said. "It's time to get rid of the deceptive practices and the hidden penalties that are part of this business."

"It doesn't take much to qualify for a new interest rate that you've never dreamed of, and, sadly, when people try to contact these credit-card companies to get some sort of explanation, they get nowhere," he said.

The Financial Product Safety Commission would add consumer protection to the factors lenders must consider in creating and offering financial products. It also would identify practices that undermine sound markets and coordinate federal and state regulatory enforcement with the private sector to establish a financial floor beneath which consumer financial product safety could not fall.

The House of Representatives passed the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act last week. It will go before the Senate this week, Durbin said.


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