A couple of things have happened regarding this so-called swine flu.
First, the CDC is now calling it “H1N1” instead of its previous association with a cloved-hooved mammal that rolls around in slop.
Second, health officials are now backing away from words like “pandemic: imminent.”
Here is something to keep in mind…36,000 people already die each year of influenza. That’s a lot of people, and no one seems to be in a panic about it.
That being said, the potential for a particularly virulent strain that proves both unstoppable and deadly was crystallized in the minds of the public this past week. Of course it’s possible. So, we raise the very legitimate question of ‘is NJ prepared.’
Well, I suppose you’re never entirely prepared, but it does sound like the officials charged with keeping us safe at least have a plan. For starters, in anticipation of an outbreak of avian flu three years ago, NJ stocked up on Tamiflu. There are currently over a million courses stockpiled which would be administered only as a last resort.
In addition, NJ now has it’s own labs for testing and analyzing the virus, and the Dept. of Homeland Security and Preparedness has a protocol in case of such an emergency. Don’t feel safe yet? Well, a fair amount of this will be luck of course. But Richard Canas and Health Commish Heather Howard seem to have the confidence of top state leaders, which is encouraging.
I also asked Howard if the state has enough beds to handle tens of thousands of people getting sick. She seemed to indicate ‘yes’…although I’m not sure the facts back that up. Hospitals are closing in droves of course. There are currently 72 left.
Anyway, the Assembly held a joint committee hearing with Health and Homeland Security. Not many earth shattering conclusions, but hey, at least the issue is on the radar.