Obama administration broadens Sandy public health emergency

Officials are warning victims not to come in direct contact with floodwater, which may be contaminated by chemicals and bacteria. People affected by the storm are also in danger of electrocution from downed wires, carbon monoxide poisoning from poorly vented generators and food poisoning as they continue without refrigeration.

HHS's emergency declaration allows the New York and New Jersey healthcare systems more flexibility in assisting crisis victims, permitting Medicare patients to receive care at nursing homes without the normally required three-day hospital stay, for example.

The department has also deployed teams of medical professionals from around the country to assist hurricane victims in both states.