Living in a SwH1N1e Flu Disaster Area

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I hate to even bring this up, knowing that several of my readers survived Hurricane Hugo. Others helped in the cleanup and rescue after the Indian Ocean tsunami and a handful are veterans of last year’s Sichuan earthquake. However, my county in California has been officially recognized as a disaster area. I would tell you the common name of the disaster, except that leadership of both WHO and US (boy, doesn’t THAT sound like Abbot and Costello) decided the long-standing name was slanderous, and replaced it with a moniker that will never catch on. Fortunately, the virus itself mutates rapidly, raiding DNA from its unwitting hosts. Thus, I’m suggesting we mutate the name of this pandemic and call it the SwH1N1e Flu of 2009.

This morning, I peacefully over-slept, but then hurried around to get the trash can to the curb before leaving for work. During the day, I proctored some tests, corrected some papers, and tried to explain the causes of the American Civil War to several groups of 8th graders. It was eerie.

Eerier yet, the kid we sent home yesterday with fever and a suspicious rash was back in class today, looking healthy.

Some of the 8th graders have gone to mimicking the masks they see in newscasts. They wrap lengths of paper towel around their faces (well, it does help avoid the causes of the American Civil War). They are mostly disappointed that an after-school dance was canceled, but school itself was not.

Coming home, I visited several stores in hopes of buying alcohol-based hand-sanitizer. Finally, I found some symptom of disaster: Hoarders had beaten me to the squirt-bottles of Prell. In the midst of times like this, it is the human kindnesses that stand out: The manager of PetCo remembered that he had a package in the back, designed to fit a wall dispenser they no longer used. He gave it to me for free.

The big question in the press (Google shows it has generated 3,344 news stories) is what Vice President Joe Biden said (or meant to say, or would have said if the lobbyists had properly briefed him) about flying in airplanes during the pandemic. What he seems to have said is that he would advise his family not to. (We were warned, as far back as the convention, that he is sometimes capable of this, or worse.)

Um. Texas is closing down entire big-city school districts.

The difference, however, is that school districts are tax supported while airlines need paying customers. So the spokespersons said first that Biden meant he would tell his family not to fly to Mexico. Later they said Biden meant he would tell his family not to fly if they suspected that they might be carrying the disease, were contagious, and constituted a likely danger to other passengers. (This is also the administration that believes condoms provide an adequate barrier against all the pertinent viruses, so there is precedent.) Personally, I’m glad that—for other reasons—I had already decided not to fly anywhere in the next several months.

But I do plan to keep going to school, until the health department recommends closing it. I will squirt hand-sanitizer on my students and hope we can look back on this official disaster as a fizzle. If that should come to pass, I will take off my hat, admit WHO’s on first, and let them call this virus anything they want.


I come down with a cold almost every time I fly so I'm with you, and with Biden's original statement... Unless of course lack of customers causes the airlines to all go bankrupt and I have to take a boat next time I want to visit the United States. That would definitely make me sick.

caedmonstia said...
May 4, 2009 at 4:26 AM  

When we got off the plane after landing in Goiânia, all our family here wanted to know how we survived the epidemic. We were completely unaware there *was* an epidemic.

I'm telling everyone here that I'm sure that in 30 days, the media will have forgotten about this, and found some new thing to panic us about.

Matthew Carroll said...
May 5, 2009 at 5:31 AM  

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