Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic? Update

Here's an update since my last post. Here, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the last time I checked the local news earlier this evening, five public schools (four elementary and one high school) and three parochial schools (outside the province of the Milwaukee School Board) have been closed. In some cases, it is because there was confirmed contact of students and/or teachers with a person who has H1N1 flu; in other cases, it is anticipatory -- closing before any flu infections have not yet been confirmed but trying to head things off at the pass, as it were. One day ago, there were two suspected cases of H1N1 flu in Milwaukee. Today it is reported that the South 16th Street Health Clinic (that's not the legal name, but people who live here will know what I mean) have three more suspected cases of H1N1 flu. I can personally attest to the fact that around 8:00 a.m. this morning, as the bus I take downtown to work five days a week rode northward past the 16th Street Health Clinic on Caesar Chavez Drive (the street formerly known as South 16th Street), there was a line of people at the doors waiting for the clinic to open -- something I haven't seen before. At the time I thought, "oh oh." This is scary as hell to me. The South 16th Street Clinic provides medical care to all comers on a sliding scale of income. Those who have more, pay more; those who have less, pay less -- or sometimes nothing. It's a great service provided to all Milwaukeeans. Increasingly, a lot of the people who visit the clinic can pay nothing. This neighborhood I grew up in, which used to be populated primarily with working class German and Polish families, is today a neighborhood of diverse ethnicity. We were poor then; the area is even poorer now. This is not a good thing. Tomorrow a big rally and march is planned to protest against government policies relating to illegal aliens. I understand that last year, thousands of people attended. It didn't appear to me, a local resident, that there were thousands of people attending last year's event. But hey, what do I know? I call it as it see it. This year, more thousands of people are forecasted to attend this event. On the 10:00 P.M. news I saw a spokeswoman for this event saying yeah, we're going to be there and we hope you will be there too. So - you're supposed to go out into this projected massive crowd of people and expose yourself to who knows what germs, to support a political cause. And then go back home and a few days later maybe die from the H1N1 flu virus you got exposed to during the rally? Am I being totally stupid for thinking that it is really assinine of the organizers to hold a rally where thousands of people will be in close contact with one another during an influenza epidemic that has already killed over 150 people in Mexico? The local Cinco de Mayo celebrations have been cancelled - common sense says YES to this. Cinco de Mayo can be celebrated next year, in health and hopefully in prosperity. Cinco de Mayo is not going to go away; if even one less case of this H1N1 flu can be avoided by cancelling the event, it's worth it. I remember when I got the swine flu in 1975, how sick I was. Geez, I don't even want to remember it , it was horrid! I would wish this infliction upon my worse enemies, but only if they would suffer as much as I did in 1975. I also caught the Hong Kong flu in 1968. Fortunately, no one else in my family (7 other people) did, and they were able to isolate me in a room with a sheet tacked up across the entrance (there was no door). There I laid for seven straight days, wishing every day that I could die, so sick I was. Of course, back then, there was no "Tami-flu." But even if here had been, my parents couldn't have afforded it. So why do the Milwaukee May Day marchers protesting the United State's policies on immigration feel that politics trumps public health? Come on. Get real, people!

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