24-hour News Panic

If 24-hour cable news can not fill their time with outrage, they move on to panic.

According to the CDC, seasonal influenza or flu causes on average (within the United States):
  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and
  • about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.
If you will recall, swine flu so far has killed 160 people worldwide. So, what makes swine flu such a threat that it should be dominating the news cycle? Sure, the WHO classifies this a pandemic, not just seasonal influenza. But the pandemic classification does not mean it's dangerous now, but that it could become dangerous:
New diseases are, by definition, poorly understood. Influenza viruses are notorious for their rapid mutation and unpredictable behaviour ... WHO will be tracking the pandemic at the epidemiological, clinical, and virological levels ... Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia ...

The biggest question, right now, is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start? It is possible that the full clinical spectrum of this disease goes from mild illness to severe disease. We need to continue to monitor the evolution of the situation to get the specific information and data we need to answer this question.

Meanwhile, our president is out there advising that schools be closed if any child gets the flu. If a school in a town is closed, the parents stay home, the economy of that town grinds to a halt. Is that what we need in a deep recession?

There is a significant societal cost that we are paying for our 24-hour cable news channels and their fake stories.

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