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As First American Dies From Flu, Mexico’s Economy Reels

As word emerged Tuesday that the first American has died of the H1N1 flu, the virus appeared to be waning in Mexico. After the latest U.S. news, Ray Suarez reports from Mexico City.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Our lead story: Texas reported the first death of a U.S. resident from the flu outbreak. The victim was a woman in her 30s living near McAllen, Texas, along the border with Mexico. Officials said she'd had chronic health problems.

    Last week, a Mexican boy died of the flu at a hospital in Houston.

    Still, earlier today, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, said the virus has been milder than initially feared. She announced new guidelines for the nation's schools.

    KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, Health and Human Services secretary: There's new guidance being put out as we speak that will recommend that schools cease closing the school itself with affected cases. Having said that, we know that it makes it even more important that parents and teachers and others pay attention to sickness as it breaks out.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The total number of flu cases in the U.S. is now over 400 in 38 states. Health officials said that figure is likely to continue rising.

    And for more on the latest developments in the U.S., we turn to Ceci Connolly of the Washington Post. She's covering the story and has been at the Centers for Disease Control today. She joins us from Atlanta.

    Welcome, Ceci.

  • CECI CONNOLLY, Washington Post:

    Hello, Gwen.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    What can you tell us that we don't already know — and that's not much — about this latest reported flu death?

  • CECI CONNOLLY:

    Well, the information is just mainly coming out of Texas as we speak. As you mentioned, it's a woman in her 30s, not apparently been to Mexico recently, but living so close to the border there — and I know, having spent a good bit of time along the border, most folks there are crossing back and forth very routinely. They don't think of it as a dividing line. So that doesn't really surprise me.

    We know that she had those underlying health problems, as you mentioned. And that's interesting.

    And I kind of see a little bit of a theme today, Gwen, when you think about the death of this woman and you think about the change in recommendations with respect to closing of schools, what the CDC experts now seem to be saying in Atlanta here is that this is starting to look more like our annual seasonal flu.

    Well, what does that mean? That maybe it's not going to be quite as severe as first was thought. It also means, though, that people who have weakened immune systems, underlying chronic health problems, they may be more at risk than the rest of us.

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