5.01.2009

It's the flu, people!


That's it. That's all I have to say. Call it what you want: the swine flu, the H1N1 flu, whatever. It's the friggin' flu. Calm down!

I get it. I'm a journalism major. The media likes to take big news and run with it. They assume they're doing the public good when they keep feeding us with information about how many cases there are in the U.S. and how many are "probable," but, frankly, this is getting ridiculous. I can't even turn on the TV, open a newspaper or cut on the radio without hearing something about it. It is even taking over SportsCenter!!

I know we all love a good pandemic, but let's calm down and think this thing out a little bit. First, it's nothing but a different strain of the flu. Yeah, it might be a little more dangerous but nothing a doctor visit, some drugs and staying home from work won't cure. Only several hundred people in the U.S. even have confirmed cases of the strain. That's a minuscule proportion.

You might be saying, "But Corey, someone in the U.S. died!!" No, some little Mexican kid (I don't mean that to be derogatory...he was from Mexico) came across the border and happened to die here. Slightly different. All the other confirmed deaths have happened in Mexico. See a trend?

That's why I was glad to read this article from the New York Times this morning. It tried to take the subject seriously, but it seemed a little tongue in cheek at times, like when the writer talked about people strapping on face masks and whole school systems in Texas being shut down "indefinitely." Here is my favorite part:

In Fort Worth, where three cases have been confirmed and more are suspected, Paula Batts ran errands on Thursday. Few people, she said, seemed to be venturing out at all, and almost no children. In one store, Ms. Batts said, her allergies acted up.

“When I coughed once,” she said, “six people cleared the aisle.”

I even saw a bus driver in Chapel Hill wearing a mask. Seriously?

Let the kids go back to school and let the sports teams continue playing. I promise you, when this is all said and done, people will laugh at us. Besides, being fat and lazy and smoking all the time is killing us faster.... Where's the panic about that?

3 comments:

Salvation Holdout said...

It really goes to show what alarmist media coverage can do to people's perceptions. I don't find using the internet to educate yourself overwhelmingly difficult. If I told you that 30,000 people will die from some type of influenza this year, that would actually be an optimistic estimate, and in most years more than 30k succumb to the virus. There are two actual issues with this virus:

1) Whether it kills a disproportionate amount of healthy people between 18-40 (roughly)

2) Whether it will mutate into something pretty fucked. Each time the virus has a host it's capable of mutating (either to a worse strain or a more benign strain), so the more it spreads the more it mutates.

But now, this is really stupid. It's like SARS. Back a few years, SARS was just another type of influenza based in asia, but it became so overhyped that kids in high school/middle school would say "You have SARS!!" as if it was some hilarious venereal disease.

On the flip side, given #2, an overprecaution might not be the worst thing, but it's still pretty annoying how herded people can be.

Corey said...

looks like some people are finally starting to come around: http://www.newsobserver.com/2187/story/1510210.html

Salvation Holdout said...

cool. rational voices in a local newspaper.

maybe in the future factual news will be money-making, rather than hyper-alarmist bullshit.