April 29, 2009
If I ever doubted that the news is managed, tonight has laid my questions
to rest. This morning, there were over 41,000 Google articles concerning
swine flu and its status; tonight, there are none. I had to go to
individual news outlets such as CNN to get any sort of status report on
swine flu. In the meantime, our schools have closed, with two confirmed
cases in one of the local schools, and a number of other students at that
school showing flu-like symptoms. Neither of the two affected children has
been near Mexico. If this situation escalates... and it obviously will...
grocery stores, pharmacies (except for drive-through take-outs), and
restaurants (except for drive-through take-outs) will be closed until
seven days after the last patient recovers. (I don't know just how this
will be handled. People have to have food.) In the meantime, the World
Health Organization has raised the pandemic alert level to phase five,
which is a courtesy level designed to give world health organizations a
little time to prepare for the official phase-six pandemic (presumably
coming by or before this weekend).
Luckily, I spent yesterday and today stocking up on
Clorox, hand-wipes, hand cleanser, paper towels, Kleenex, food, and other
supplies we might need for an extended period of isolation (four weeks?).
At suppertime, we took Amber to see one of our sons and daughters-in-law.
Our daughter-in-law is a school superintendent and shared the information
I've recited above regarding the closure of drug stores and grocery
stores. All public gatherings will also be cancelled until the first wave
of this epidemic has run its course. She cautioned us against unnecessary
doctor's appointments, and other unnecessary public outings. As we were
leaving, she ran out to the car to tell us that it was just then being
announced on our local television channels that these two local
kindergarten students have tested positive for swine flu. (Both students
have been treated on an outpatient basis, and both are recovering.)
This happens so fast! Right now, the news is full of
everything but what you need to know... all about President Obama's
approval ratings and what he said today. Dr. Nancy Snyderman on the MSNBC
show begins by telling you that its OK on the bus or the rapid transit to
hold the poles or touch the seats... and then she adds... providing you
wash your hands afterward or carry hand-wipes. (I've got news for you:
that's not what Dr. Sanjay Gupta said last night or what my
daughter-in-law said tonight. You should stay at least six feet away from
anyone who might possibly have the flu, and you should avoid public
gatherings. Mexico has just shut down Mexico City, including the subway,
except for the most essential services.) She also tells you that surgical
masks won't protect you from the flu. (What she doesn't mention is that
the kind of H95 masks that infectious disease specialists use and that
I've purchased will
protect you from viral infections.) And all the while, on TV, everything
goes on la-te-da, as though nothing unusual were happening. Even locally,
a great effort seems to be being made by our TV stations to ensure that no
one worries overly much about these two swine flu cases, while behind the
scenes, my daughter-in-law is being given a grimmer picture that even I
would have imagined.
Maybe the media know something I don't know.
The truth will out soon enough.
Todd Harrison, who doesn't seem to be given to
conspiracy theories, believes that this swine flu is a bioterrorist act on
The indices danced a jig today, after the Federal
Reserve hinted that the worst may have passed.
The NASDAQ Composite vaulted 38.13
to end the day at 1,712.
to close at 8,186,
and the S&P 500 hopped up 14.89
points (2.16%) to 874.
Oil fell slightly to $51.36, while gold gave up $6.90
to finish at $900.50. The VIX tumbled 1.87