America: Despite the existence of H1N1, you’re going to be OK – really! As of May 5th there were 403 confirmed cases of H1N1 infection in the United States. One of those, my friend’s niece in New York, said the only difference between H1N1 and the ‘regular’ flu is the name. Mexico is reopening restaurants, the World Health Organization has no plans to elevate its alert level, and Joe Biden has stopped scaring us. It seems safe enough to stop giving people with allergies the stink eye for sneezing on the Metro. Try getting mad at the makers of Claritin for a change. I’m just trying to get home!
Now that we can stop popping Tamilflu, let’s take a step back and identify what this ‘crisis’ has taught us:
- Obama listens to lobbyists. For all the ‘anti-lobbyist’ rhetoric (and policies) we’ve heard from the President, he sure was quick to stop saying “Swine flu” after the pork lobby dialed him on the red phone. Goodbye “Swine flu” and hello “H1N1 flu virus.” Interesting.
- Hype kills. Talking heads, pundits, and government leaders had people thinking Armageddon was upon us. Sure it sold lots of ad time, but so did Ryan Leaf – how far did that hype take the Chargers? Turns out, H1N1 is a mild strain of flu. Next time let’s exercise caution and wait for the scientist to declare the end of days. To keep things in perspective, remember that on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year; 36,000 of them die. And that’s just an average year!
- Personal preparedness is dead. H1N1 may not get the best of you, but rest assured, gloom and doom will find you! When it does, you probably won’t be ready for it. Seriously people – hurricanes, viruses, and terrorism happen. Buy water, batteries, and Chicken of the Sea. It’s not that hard!
It may not be Shakespeare, but at least for today, it appears the flu by any other name is still just the flu. Now take off your gas mask, breathe in some fresh air, and feel free to cough on as many people as possible – America’s back baby!