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The Dollars and Sense of Closing Schools for H1N1

Editor's note - this is an interesting look at the economics behind the seemingly easy decision to close a school for the flu:

Much has been made of the potential difficulties businesses face if numerous employees are out sick with the H1N1 "swine" flu. But there has been little information on the economic and other impacts if schools and day care centers continue to close temporarily to mitigate outbreaks.

Closing all U.S. schools for a month would cost the already stressed national economy between $10 billion and $47 billion, according to a new report released today by The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy think tank. It would also cut the health care workforce by 6 to 19 percent if some workers have to stay home to provide child care—a significant hit, as the flu is already expected to put a big strain on the nation's health care system, with predictions that it will infect as much as half the U.S. population and hospitalize some 1.8 million this year.

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