Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


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Preparing for Michigan‘s Pandemic

Harley L. Sachs - May 4th, 2009
Preparing for Michigan‘s Pandemic
Harley L. Sachs 5/4/09


If you think the government has been asleep at the switch regarding a pandemic, be reassured. This year, Michigan’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and the Michigan Department of Community Health mailed an insert to businesses around the state about an expected pandemic.
I’ve written about pandemics before, primarily in my thriller “Scratch—out!” in which a terrorist group tries to kill everyone in the USA with a biological warfare agent. The reason why such a weapon is not used is that it is uncontrollable once it gets loose and causes a pandemic. It’s like the poison gas used by the Germans in World War I. If the wind changes, it blows back in your face.
Swine flu is not a biological warfare agent, but it could be a pandemic, as in the sudden outbreak of an epidemic that affects a broad area, ranging from a region to the entire world.
A pandemic, of course, is one of the worst public health fears. It was a pandemic of smallpox, measles and other European imports brought ashore by Spanish invaders that wiped out the Aztec civilization of Mexico. Now, with air travel, the Swine flu can sweep the world like the Black Death that in the 14th century wiped out whole cities and killed one-third of the people living in Europe.
The Spanish flu that swept the world at the end of World War I killed more people than the war did -- an estimated 4o million to 100 million people. The Spanish flu was so swift that a person could be healthy in the morning and dead in the afternoon.
The response to the Swine flu pandemic is similar to what we did in the 1950s. During the polio epidemic we shut down swimming pools and movie theaters, and kept people afraid of public exposure until the Salk vaccine was developed.
It was a surprise to get the health warning from the State of Michigan. I hadn’t seen anything like that health notice since the 1960s when every town had designated fallout shelters complete with supplies of crackers, candy, and tampons. We were given a handbook on how to build a family shelter in case of nuclear war. Kids in school were drilled to “duck and cover.” That was before Chernobyl, of course, which demonstrated that a fallout shelter is useless. The persistent radioactivity makes a region uninhabitable. Get out or die.
Now we are in the midst of a level 5 flu pandemic. If you want to read the details of Michigan’s plans to deal with it on every level, you can learn visit www.plandemicflu.com or www.michigan.gov/flu. Businesses are instructed to set up an emergency preparedness plan.
The State lists 11 issues to prepare for, including:
• designate a pandemic coordinator or team
• identify essential employees, materials, etc.
• set up and update emergency communications
• prepare for employee absences
• make a policy for flexible worksites
• evaluate employee access to public health services
• encourage hygiene practices, etc.
Details are available at www.michigan.gov/prepare.
The prophylactic procedure to avoid the Swine flu is similar to that of last year’s norovirus, an extremely contagious but not often fatal intestinal bug that had everyone washing hands frequently and wiping down surfaces with bleachy water. It was near panic.
As long as kids in school haven’t experienced any cases, schools will remain open. The Swine flu is not as dangerous as the Spanish flu of 1918. But this pandemic should serve as a warning. Sooner or later something even worse is bound to emerge. Consider this emergency as a warm-up so you will be ready.

 
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