The pundits believed that Mayor Michael Bloomberg would not reveal his new “Swine Flu Plan” until the first day of school, but he fooled them by announcing the plan on September 1.
The mayor said that schools are to be kept open and only closed as a last resort and that free flu mist and flu shots would be made available to all elementary school students through their schools. Bloomberg’s plan calls for posting daily news concerning the flu on a new influenza web portal. The city also plans to launch an influenza-prevention campaign.
Ever since news reached America back in April about a new virus called the “swine flu”(H1N1), there has been a panic: companies making surgical masks said they couldn’t fill orders fast enough; vaccine production went into full-speed ahead, costing billions; and now there’s a videogame known as “The Great Flu Game.”
According to the Associated Press, game is free and may be found at www.thegreatflu.com. The U.S. public has been bombarded with scary messages from news organizations such as the AP, such as when they reported at the beginning of the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico, after only 152 deaths, that it was “the epicenter of the outbreak.”
The Drudge Report stated there was a “cough fear” emanating in America from the new virus. Observers said the outbreak of swine flu news coverage was more severe than the outbreak of the disease. Last, but not least, the federal government has released public service announcements about the threat posed by H1N1.
The same observers say they fear the public will be overwhelmed with information on H1N1 and will go through battle fatigue trying to weed through propaganda and misinformation, which could develop a level of complacency.
And as we know in the Big Apple, there is never time for complacency. The Gotham Gazettereported on August 17 that private schools and public schools are to implement new procedures on how students are to handle the ever-present possibility of contracting H1N1. One of the procedures may entail students washing their hands several times a day.
Some activists say the city is putting a band-aid on the problem. Rudolph Muhammad, co-founder of Care Unit 911, a community-based preparedness coalition and a member of the disaster preparedness network that comes under the Greater Red Cross of New York, says that the bottom line, whether the city is ready with a plan or not–the straight nuts and bolts–is H1N1 is for real!
“The mystery for the everyday person is how far it has spread, and also not knowing that the symptoms are already here because they believe that that simple runny nose or cough went away when they used regular, over-the-counter remedies,” Muhammad told the AmNews. One might remember that the national H1N1/swine flu scourge that hit the U.S. in April started at St. Francis Prep in Queens. Then according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga.,1 million Americans became infected and 47 died.
Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens), a candidate for public advocate,said that the city making information available to parents and educators is a very important step. “I’m happy that the city appears to have taken to heart the lessons learned from the spring,” he said. The city closed 57 schools, 27 of them in Queens.
The CDC reported that there were 43,771 cases reported from April 15-July 24 in the U.S. and that 5,011 people were hospitalized with 302 deaths. The largest age group impacted fell in the range of 25 to 49 years old at 41 percent.
On April 26, the Obama administration declared a public health emergency.
In New York City, the Department of Health reported in June that 500,000 “may” have been infected, with 804 hospital visits and 32 deaths.
On June 11, the World Health Organization raised the world- wide pandemic level to its highest category, Phase 6, after 70 nations reported H1N1 cases. By June 19, all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, reported that the new disease had hit their citizens.
Muhammad was invited to a very significant conference sponsored by the Metropolitan College of New York on August 6 in Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. He said the event was specifically for the faith community to inform them of the H1N1 virus and its ramifications.
What was really revealed, according to Muhammad, was that no matter what faith, the average head of a parish, church, mosque or synagogue hasn’t a clue to what is really going on with H1N1 and how to prepare their congregants.
Muhammad says that September is National Disaster Preparedness Month and every religious organization in the city should hold some type of program during the month to get information to their members. He has also made himself available to AmNews readers who have concerns and need information. Call him at (347) 870-0721 or send e-mails to email@example.com.
To be continued…