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Senate Votes To Strengthen Response To Epidemics00:44
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The state senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill clarifying the state's role in preparing for, and dealing with a pandemic flu. It gives the public health commissioner the authority to close or evacuate buildings, quarantine infected individuals as well as procure and distribute vaccines.

Department of Public Health officials would also be able to enter private property to investigate any pandemic outbreaks.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Richard Moore of Uxbridge, acknowledged the reported cases of swine flu reinvigorates the need for this bill.

"Certainly, the news makes it more timely and more important that we finally get this done, and get it resolved so that the laws are changed, and that we're ready when there is that emergency, when it will come at some point, and we will need to take appropriate action," said Moore.

Some of the laws haven't been updated since the influenza epidemic of 1918.

Sen. Susan Fargo of Lincoln said the measure is overdue, and lamented the fact it has taken an emergency to bring the measure to the forefront.

"We do have that emergency today, and this bill overhauls and updates our ability, at the state and local level, to respond to a crisis," said Fargo.

The measure now goes to the House for their approval.

This program aired on April 29, 2009.

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