Health officials have warned that while the government is shut down, some children with cancer will not be able to begin their clinical trials.
John Burklow, a spokesman for the National Institutes of Health, estimated that 200 patients would experience these delays each week of the shutdown. Since 15 percent of these patients are typically children, and 33 percent of these children have cancer, that means the patients facing delays would include about 30 children per week, 10 of whom have cancer, he said, according to ABCNews.com.
“Unfortunately, almost everybody is gone,” Burklow said of his office. His staff in the media office is down to one employee from its usual 38.
The NIH has had to furlough 14,700 employees – or 75 percent of its staff.
Also due to the shutdown, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has furloughed 9,000 employees, rendering it unable to track multi-state disease outbreaks, said CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds.
Ninemsn reports that only staff deemed essential are allowed to remain at work, leaving government departments such as the White House with a skeleton staff.
President Barack Obama sent out a tweet from his official account soon after the shutdown went into effect, saying: "They actually did it, a group of Republicans in the House just forced a government shutdown over Obamacare instead of passing a real budget."