We understand there is a difference between “counter-intuitive” and “bullshit,” but we’re not sure which applies to the Centers for Disease Control’s claim that 800,000 New Yorkers caught swine flu this year. That’s one-tenth of the city’s population. We realize that many of the cases have been in schools, where we are unlikely to know a lot of people, but it seems odd that in an epidemic that sickened 10 percent of New York’s population we wouldn’t be acquainted with a single person who caught it (though we did have a scare).
Also, the CDC currently reports 8,843 hospitalizations for swine flu nationwide in 2009. If the 800,000 number is right, most swine flu cases must be absurdly mild. Yet it can also be potent enough to kill an otherwise healthy 27-year-old police officer.
We feel a little groggy this morning. Might we be contaminated? When we go out for beer and cigarettes, will we inadvertently spread the disease throughout Greenpoint, and thence to the Eastern Seaboard? Is swine flu so widespread and ordinary-seeming that there’s virtually no way to isolate and contain it? (By now it’s starting to sound like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or herpes)…
More disturbing is the paucity of hard information beyond the panic-provoking 800,000 number. The authorities have been cagey about it — where once you could get New York City numbers from the CDC, they now refer you to the state, which refers you to the city, which tells you not much of anything statistics-wise. It’s as if they want to keep us in the dark. And if New York has been so hard-hit, why is CDC advising that we not close schools during outbreaks?
Maybe they don’t want us to panic because they feel we should enjoy blissful ignorance in our last days. Maybe they’re just waiting for the final wave of deaths, after which they’ll set the corpses on fire and begin life anew.