36000 USA Flu Deaths Every Year

Flu VaccineBoston             After discussing Citizen Wealth in Harvard Square at the Co-op, I found myself fascinated by a similar maximum eligible participation type of problem while talking to a friend who is a public health nurse with the City of Boston.  I asked her a casual question about how work was going and she replied, exasperatingly, that she was “sick of swine flu!”  She was sick of hearing about it, sick of dealing with it, and sick of doing what it took to meet the epidemic and push it down.  But, there was more to it than that.

            She was sick of people acting like flu, even a front page flu like H1N1, was a new problem.  Didn’t I realize that regular, ordinary flu already killed nearly 40,000 US citizens alone?  Being a health professional she quickly lowered the figure from what had grabbed me down to 36,000 which is the Center for Disease Control (CDC) number of deaths from common flu.  Of course, she added, “these are mostly old people, so no one seems to care.”  Hmmm…I checked that as well, and the CDC estimates that 90% of these deaths are citizens over 65, which isn’t really all that old, is it?

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Working Sick

bird-flu-mask New Orleans Interesting piece in the Times today by Steven Greenhouse pointing out the obvious:  our national inability to provide paid sick days jeopardizes the health of our entire population and puts American citizens at risk of pandemics.

Corporate America seems to be tripping over its communications message everywhere they turn.  They don’t want dilute business by telling the public the truth, which is that they are de facto forcing employees to come to work – and spread H1N1, but they sure as shoot don’t want to pay them to stay home the up to 5 days experts estimate it takes to recover.

One quote Greenhouse reported was a classic in double speak:

“This is a very difficult issue for companies,” said Nina G. Stillman, a lawyer with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius who advises companies on sick-leave policy. “Employers who do not offer sick days are not prepared to offer them now, and they recognize that this may result in not achieving what they say they would like, which is that people who are sick stay home.”

Hmmm….yes, Ms. Stillman, exactly, I guess.  Companies will not move to begin paying for sick days on their own, but they still want to be able to pretend that they have policies telling people formally to stay home, even though they know they are at work.  I think I’ve got.

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