Sunday, May 3, 2009

This Swine Flu Thing

is a load of crap. Maybe even a hoax. Bigbear is convinced that it's a conspiracy to close the borders against the Mexicans--that this is really a way to circumvent illegal immigration from that country and show some outright prejudice against undocumented workers. And the way the press rambles on and on and on and on about "Swine Flu from Mexico!" often leaves me wondering... how do Mexicans feel about? Do they think it smacks ever so slightly of racism, the way AIDS did of Africans initially, until it became the "Gay DrugUser Disease"? I think it's smacks of racism... and I'm not Mexican. Though I do have relatives who are.... and friends... maybe that's why it bothers me.

I had been mulling this over and only now Googled the question "How do Mexicans feel about Swine Flu?" BAM first hit I found this essay by Teresa Puente.

I'd been thinking about this flu variety because when life is good and on some kind of a schedule, the Sun and I are up in Yonkers 2-3 times a week, in an area LARGELY populated by Mexicans. East Harlem now also has a large Mexican population, and I'm down there almost every day. I haven't been up there to Yonkers too often lately, but when I was there folk weren't walking around with masks, the way I've seen a few do on the subway... And there haven't been any stories about deaths or swine-flu break-outs in that community, so far. People in those communites do travel back and forth, or have been home recently. If the outbreak is so bad, why aren't we hearing about more Mexicans already in the U.S. being sick or dying? More often than not the people panicking and walking around with masks are NOT Mexican. I'm just sayin'....

The other day, Matt Lauer tried to press VP Joe Biden on why America is not closing her borders against the flu. His response was obviously not what Matt wanted to hear... and so instead of blowing up soundbites of Biden saying "what borders are we going to close? How do we choose?" implying that the flu could be and is coming from ANYWHERE, they blew up the comments Biden made about his personal recommendation to his own family. Where he said specifically "but that's just me."

Pissed me the fuck off, because I happened to see the interview in it entirety, and not just the few carefully edited clips designed to feed the fire. All that day, every time the press talked about "Biden's gaffe" I found myself yelling "THAT'S NOT WHAT HE SAID!!!!"

People are idiots, really. So prone to blame everyone else, so prone to panic. The reality of the flu--ANY STRAIN--is that it affects the elderly and babies the hardest, and a few people with compromised immune systems will die. The reality is that antibiotics and hand sanitizers do not work against viruses. The reality is that if you get the fucking flu, you're supposed to STAY HOME and not breathe on anyone until it passes through your system. The reality is that if you DO go to a doctor with the flu a good doctor ISN'T going to give you antibiotics ANYWAY. They will tell you "rest and drink plenty of fluids" and maybe take Tylenol for the fever. The reality is that for the few people who die from flu, there are thousands who survive it. The reality is that the New York City subway has fucking ads on the trains that say "If you're sick, stay home"... because the train is an enclosed space and yes you can sneeze and pass it on, but more importantly you get sick and need medical assistance New Yorkers scream bloody murder about "the sick passenger" that delayed their commute by a few minutes because the MTA stops the train until the medics get down there. The reality is that a vaccine against the flu truthfully is like closing the barndoor after the horses have escaped, because the vaccine is a guess against how the virus will mutate in the coming season, based on how it acted last year. It's no guarantee you will be protected. (I actually had a flu shot this year... I guess it worked. But I didn't have one last year and I got sick but I'm not sure it was the flu. )

So Biden was right... if you're sick or are worried about being sick, stay the fuck home. Maybe if he'd said it exactly that way, people would have heard exactly what he said. And then I was annoyed that the Mayor gets on the train, supposedly to defend it's safety and says "I didn't see anybody sneezing". Bitch.. you must have been on the wrong fucking car. Or you were lucky. The subway is the wrong place to be if you're a germophobe... If you're a germophobe, any time of the year is the wrong time to go down and when you do, you SHOULD go fully armed against germs. Don't hold the poles or the straps and don't sit in the corner seats. Why? Cuz people don't cough or sneeze in the crook of their elbow like you're supposed to--98% of the time they cover their mouths with their HANDS or wipe their noses or their kid's noses with their HANDS and then grab the pole again. The unbathed homeless folk ALWAYS take over the corner seats. (But the corner seats are the best places to sit and if you don't hold on you're going to fall. So pretty much you're fucked).

I've seen a few idiots walking around with masks. What exactly do they think that's going to save them from? Really? Particularly since they're not wearing matching rubber gloves or a HazMat suit?

The other day I went to do battle to get my Sun some health insurance. That's another rant but long story short it took me all morning... and when the person who was helping me stepped away to copy my papers, her coworker started joking about the 10--TEN--hand sanitizer dispensers that were installed in one hallway of the hospital I was in. Maybe a 30-50 foot hallway. TEN. He remarked "I think it's overkill... but that's just me."He then went on to remark that he was from Mexico City, and still had family there that he talked to frequently. While they were concerned, not a whole lot of people that they knew were hacking and sneezing and dying. He said "I really think it's a hoax. I think it's a ploy by the pharmaceutical companies". He said that in Mexico antibiotics are over the counter... but that all the other crap like hand sanitizer and masks... all that stuff is sold out.

He also said it takes a while for the CDC to actually identify a brand new strain, and it seemed that they were just a little too quick in saying that this Swine Flu was something that had never been seen. Maybe he's right or wrong, but if you go the CDC's page about Swine Flu, the reality it is it's no better or worse than any other outbreak. One death out of 226 confirmed cases in 30 states. NOT all fifty states, either.

This morning on the Sunday Magazine shows, some folk were saying that by now they're pretty sure that the people in Mexico who DID die from the Swine Flu were on the tip of the iceberg. That there were probably thousands and thousands of folk who had already had the flu and recovered. Which is about normal for the flu. Plus, in my estimation, Mexico's health care system may not be as sophisticated as ours, or the people as overfed, so perhaps they were unhealthy to begin with which is why the flu hit them so hard. Which is also pretty normal for the flu.

And by the way, on the Avian Flu page, the CDC notes that wearing masks isn't really effective against that strain. Um.... how is it working against the Swine variety, I wonder???

As for the whole issue of pandemics. It boggles my mind that people get so freaked out that a flu or disease spreads worldwide. In days when it was harder to travel, of course things didn't spread. But come on... you can get from New York to China in 24 hours. And if you were sick going and somebody gets it from you and maybe goes to England the next day... duh!

So, people, think. Use your faculties for Deep Thought, stop being lazy to only rely on quick snippets of info on Crackbook or the news, do a little research to really understand what's happening. Or is that too hard? Have we become so used to information in 3 seconds or less we can't think for ourselves?

Wash your hands--with SOAP, take your Emergen-C or Airborne, get some sleep, drink water, stay out of confined spaces and if you feel sick, fucker, don't get on the subway cuz if you get weak and pass out or throw up, you fuck up everybody's commute for hours and hours... but that's just me.

6 comments:

Bonnie said...

I totally agree with you. This flu thing is a crock.

professor said...

good post...you should cut paste and send it to the village voice...or the ny times...curses and all...

The Bear Maiden said...

LOL. The Voice would publish the curses, lol.

onesillymama said...

All true. I don't think it's a conspiracy, but I do think the whole thing has been overblown so that the media has something to play with. It's the flu, people... use your comons sense. Oh wait, that seems to be in short supply these days.

Great post, Bearmaiden!

onesillymama said...

BTW I saw the whole Lauer-Biden interview too. When Matt asked him about his personal family, I was trying to will him not to answer it... but he did, dang it!

Regina said...

And the last three paragraphs are why I like you so much!