Looks like it’s time to PANIC again: a Queens assistant principal is reported “critically ill” with swine flu. The Times says the unidentified educator is on a respirator. Three Queens schools — P.S. 5 in Elmhurst, Intermediate School 5 in Corona, and Intermediate School 238 in Hollis, aka the Susan B. Anthony School, where the assistant principal works — will be closed tomorrow in consequence. And last time we PANICked, there were only 403 recorded cases of swine flu in the U.S. — now there are 4,298, and there have been three deaths in the U.S., including Judy Trunnell of Brownsville, Texas, whose husband is now suing Smithfield Farms, owners of the Mexican pig farm whose spewed pig juices are widely believed to have caused the outbreak, though the Mexican government says its tests show that Smithfield is not the source.
The Mayor is expected to speak on this to the press soon and we’ll update when he has.
Update: Bloomberg just appeared with Governor Paterson and health officials and made an announcement that “I had hoped we could avoid”: the three closed schools, which have “an unusually high number of flu-like symptoms,” will remain shut all next week, though swine flu has only been confirmed at I.S. 238. Also, city hospitals are reporting a high incidence of suspicious flu cases. He added that the stricken assistant principal may have been suffering from other health problems that are impacting her reaction to the disease, but this is not confirmed. “Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze; if you’re sick, stay home.”
Paterson told us to “remain alert rather than alarmed” and sent out “best wishes for a speedy recovery” to all swine flu sufferers.