Apathy in crisis?

There seems to me to be a great amount of apathy in New York City concerning the potential pandemic at hand. This is especially shocking considering it’s ALREADY HERE in New York. Everyone has heard about the 8 students at a Queens high school who have been confirmed as having a flu (likely Swine Flu)…and nobody in New York is talking about it…

I live in Queens, and nobody is talking about it. Nobody is saying anything. What is the deal? Are we really that apathetic? Are we not taking it as seriously as we should be?

I’m going to turn on the news now.

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18 Comments

  1. I’m in australia, watching the story about the new zealand show makes me more than a little freaked…

  2. yeah I turned on the news and couldn’t find a single news channel even discussing it. not even the NY based news. What the hell? Shouldn’t this be a greater concern?? Or is the lack of TV media coverage to keep panic on the low side?

  3. I think the significant lack of television coverage is to keep the people from freaking the hell out. So far, the only way this seems to be getting around is from people that have gone to Mexico, come back, and gotten sick. But there was an interesting line in this CNN.com article — “U.S. health officials said Friday that some cases of the virus in the United States matched samples of the deadly Mexican virus. All the patients have recovered or are expected to.”

    That last part is the most important — everyone is going to be fine. When Americans start dying en masse, only then will people start to care. For now, the less coverage, the better. I don’t want people walking around campus with SARS masks on, looking like fools.

  4. I entirely agree that the important part is that people in the U.S. aren’t dying (yet), but what about the 81 dead in Mexico? AND what about our complete lack of preparedness. Whether mortality becomes an issue or not, a pandemic that would keep people from work and school, have businesses shut down, halt air travel, potentially border closings, etc….it could be seriously detrimental socially and economically…and people need to be prepared. But instead people just don’t know about it.

  5. I agree with leslie on the whole fear factor. If the news were to constantly bombard the populace with the possibility of an outbreak of a deadly strain of an already lethal virus, the people would surely break into panic.
    To add into the mix, the media does not want to upset the good news of a possible slowdown in the recession by forcing such a terrible fate that may spring up due to this viral transgression. But that’s just my opinion.

  6. True, I think that another factor in the lack of coverage might be that everyone is a little ashamed of our lack of preparation. Anyone else think we might be grossly under prepped for a pandemic???

    • Based on historical record WHO has been in the process of preparing for another Global pandemic, but we have no vaccine for this, so all we have is non pharmaceutical intervention. Handwashing, masks…. So yes, I’m concerned.

      So far, I think the media is sticking to facts and not inducing panic, however, we are a society based on fear. Fear and consumption.

      • Maria, I think you are absolutely right that we are a society based on fear and consumption…do you want to say more about it?

      • We are a capitalistic society. Are teeth aren’t white enough, better buy white strips…We are not thin enough, let’s purchase diet aids, acai drinks, ect…Right now as we speak, every good retailer, on line opportunist, is coming up with a marketing package and ordering face masks, and anti bacterial anything, and getting ready to position it. They don’t even need to pay for advertising, as the photo’s in the media of fearful men, women and children in mask’s sell’s it for them. Get ready to see “protection products” in a store or web site near you……and they will sell it. Especially Mother’s who are the most fearful consumer. Would you, could you, forgive yourself for not being prepared and something happened to your loved one? Of course, their will be a high price for some of these products as the supply is limited…….News with fear sells, and good news is nothing less than boring in todays world. I still have my masks/prep evac kit in my basement from 911. Important to note, that it IS a concern. I just don’t know that we we call being “prepared” is really what we need.

  7. exactly, and we’ve built up stockpiles of vaccines that are for the H5N1 Avian flu and are likely useless against the Swine flu. And even the vaccine stockpiles we do have aren’t enough to protect against a global outbreak.

    These are great issues guys.

  8. I have no idea what swine flu is. The only time I have even heard about it other than this blog is from a friend’s facebook status. So my question is what the hell is it and is it serious?

    • Swine flu is another strain of the influenza virus. It is the H1N1 strain (as opposed to the H5N1 Avian flu, and its other sub-strains). This particular strain breeds in pigs and can be transmitted from person to person fairly easily.

      And yeah, it’s serious. The numbers of confirmed cases are growing in the U.S. and while the U.S. hasn’t suffered any fatalities yet, the CDC warns that that is likely to change. There have been over 80 deaths in Mexico so far.

      New York has been placed on a state of emergency (http://adjix.com/kve5). Thanks to @mpoppel on Twitter for the constant updates.

      Jason, you are in Florida, right? I don’t know for sure, but I don’t *think* there are any confirmed cases there yet. But check the news sites and specifically the RSS feeds of blogs that specialize in reporting on the flu.

      So really…I agree with everyone about not inciting any kind of panic, but NY is in a state of emergency and other states are beginning to look that way as well. The CDC is releasing ominous warnings about the high potential for U.S. fatalities….is it really still okay for TV media to not be covering this?? The only TV news segment I have seen was from last night’s Anderson Cooper.

  9. The question remains what exactly could/should the goverment do to prepare for such a pandemic. I mean if it spreads as easily as it seems it would seem like a whole bunch of people are already “infected.” How would the country have been able to prevent something that spreads so quietly? If people don’t show symptoms until a day or so after being exposed there’s no telling how many different locations people may have traveled to after being exposed.

    • exactly! while we aren’t talking about a hemorrhagic fever I think that a quote from The Hot Zone fits nicely here:

      “A hot virus from the rain forest lives within a twenty-four-hour plane flight from every city on earth. All of the earth’s cities are connected by a web of airline routes. The web is a network. Once a virus hits the net, it can shoot anywhere in a day–Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, wherever planes fly.” (page 16 of Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone for anyone who is interested)

      Which (with Mexico’s popularity as a vacation spot) is exactly why the CDC and WHO are not being shy about saying that containment is likely impossible at this point.

      I like the way Joshua Lederberg puts it in Emerging Infections, as well: “there is nowhere in the world from which we are remote and no one from whom we are disconnected.”

  10. Swine flue is already here in New Zealand apparently, brought back amongst a group of students returning from a school trip to Mexico.

    With NZ’s geopgraphy being what it is, it would be easy to split the country into two seperate containment zones (two major islands), but in all honest I’m not certain how effective this will be. There was a big purchase of tamiflu years back, is this stuff effective?

    If we have to go into lockdown for a few weeks I’m largely set – I have enough food to last me for a few weeks, and tap water quality isn’t a concern here so no need to grab bottled water. Could be a good time to stock up on toilet paper though…and immune-boosting stuff like oranges, garlic, vitamin pills etc

    I await the inevitable swathe of swine flu jokes and photoshops with eager anticipation.

    • Thanks Andrew! Always glad to have your voice in here since we share that whole obsession with apocalypse thing!

      It’s good to hear what’s happening in New Zealand as well! Keep us posted.

      I’m not sure about the effectiveness of tamiflu, I think it depends on the strain, but since this is a brand new strain I’m venturing a guess of “not very”.

  11. Swine flu is the lead story on BBC news 24 and other TV stations in the UK, odd to think it’s not all over the US media too, given that you’re so close to most of the infections..

  12. I have been hearing a lot about the swine flu from Ireland even though there are no cases of it in Ireland at the moment, but that’s the way European news is… very widespread. BBC, EuroNews, RTE, etc. it’s all over the place. One thing I thought I would mention that sort of blew my mind, apparently the bubonic plague is still very active in Mongolia, particularly during the winter. I don’t know very much about it– only what I’ve heard from friends who traveled there, but it is a pretty big problem, albeit a seasonal one.


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