I’m half-sick on the drinks you mixed

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by Jeff Fecke | April 26, 2009
Okay, there’s no need to panic, but the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico may well be cause for concern. But hopefully not too much of one:

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

So swine flu has come out of nowhere. It has unfortunately killed some people, and analysis shows it’s a brand-new virus with unknown potential to kill many more.

That doesn’t mean we can kiss civilization good-bye, or damn and blast the World Health Organization for not doing what we think it should. This strain of H1N1 is an interesting, and probably serious, new virus. The Mexicans seem to be doing the best they can, with limited resources and in a bad recession. We may end up thanking them for courageous decisions that cost them dearly.

But thanks or blame are both premature. We have only a handful of cases, and an even smaller number of deaths. In tracking H5N1, I’ve always thought: As long as we can count the dead, we’re OK. We can still count the dead, and mourn them.

We can also count the living, including eight kids in New York City. Every one of them is a promise that this may be less than a catastrophe…maybe even a wonderful anticlimax, where we all, around May 30, ask ourselves: “What were we so upset about?”

That’s the hope. And it’s important to keep things in perspective. So far, 81 people are dead, and roughly 1500 people are infected worldwide. Those numbers aren’t remotely close to pandemic levels. The fact that we’ve identified this outbreak this early gives us a chance to get it locked down and keep it from becoming a serious health concern. We hope.

Of course, because the outbreak started in Mexico, Michelle Malkin is sprinkling her bile into the discussion:

I’ve blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration. We’ve heard for years from reckless open-borders ideologues who continue to insist there’s nothing to worry about. And we’ve heard for years that calling any attention to the dangers of allowing untold numbers of people to pass across our borders and through our other ports of entry without proper medical screening — as required of every legal visitor/immigrant to this country — is RAAAACIST.

Sigh. As Crawford Kilian notes, “Cases outside Mexico have all been brought home by legitimate tourists who could afford travel to Mexico from places as remote as New Zealand and Israel.” This has absolutely nothing to do with immigration. I suppose we can quarantine Mexico completely — though frankly, the train’s out of the station here — but to what end?

It’s remarkably hateful that someone can look at what is, at best, a catastrophe that has killed dozens, and see only a tool to use against Mexican immigrants. There is a word for that kind of worldview, and yes, Michelle, it is racist, a word that describes you to a T.

As for those of us who view this public health crisis as a public health crisis, the smart things to do right now are the smart things to do all the time. Wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer, be conscious of illness and go to the doctor if you’re sick (unless, of course, you don’t have insurance — then feel free to spread it willy-nilly to everyone and their twin sister). And take a deep breath, because this probably is not the long-feared flu pandemic. Or so we hope.

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