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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Taking the Base for Granted

specter2Pittsburgh The G-20 was gone from Pittsburgh so it was back to normal as I passed through.  Signs to beware of deer on some streets in working and lower income neighborhoods were not just reminders of the hills all around the city, but the fact that it has shrunk to 260,000 people within the limits.  The new buildings along the river that replaced old steel mills have a nice sheen to them, but they moving from community to community, it was hard for me not to wonder whether or not the real citizens of the city were reaping any benefits there.  Work on an arena brought together a Pittsburgh United coalition of community groups and unions and did produce real commitments.  A soccer field being built with a beautiful view of the city for the University of Pittsburgh on the Hill seemed to be adding nothing.

All of this made me wonder about the comments in the papers that are putting real leverage around the healthcare debate in the hands of people like Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana where I vote.  Reportedly, Landrieu is buckling at the public option, and just as driving around Pittsburgh again made me wonder what was happening to the base, such a position in Louisiana is also a head scratcher given how many of the state’s citizens are working, but lower income, and have no insurance.

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