The Pandemic: What's it Really Mean?
We'll be talking the news of the day, a colleague and me, and the topic of H1N1, or swine flu will arise. I might make a comment about how I'm wary of the upcoming flu season, and then the other individual will make a comment like:
"Oh, that's already out of the U.S. - it was all a big media hype spurred by the drug companies!"
As if a level 6 pandemic isn't enough to scare you, I find myself frightened by this mindset that H1N1 is no more of a concern than seasonal hay fever.
Or, "How bad can it be? Do you have any idea how many people die of flu already in this country each year?"
That's when I start to get nervous. As if a level 6 pandemic isn't enough to scare you, I find myself frightened by this mindset that H1N1 is no more of a concern than seasonal hay fever.
Part of the problem, I'm convinced, is that we're now used to watching our disasters on TV, and when people see the flu virus spreading into other parts of the world - "Well, that's it; it's blown offshore!" As though the pandemic were a seasonal storm system following the gulf stream.
Part of it, too, is that we've been a while between pandemics, and no one really knows what to expect or how to react.
I felt we'd done a decent job covering the pandemic, going all the way back to late April with our piece Swine Flu: 5 Tips to Ensure Pandemic Preparation. We tracked the virus as it spread, and we did a number of follow-up interviews and stories, including H1N1 Pandemic: Preparing for the Second Wave. I felt we'd straddled the fine line between "informative" and "alarmist," and I was pleased.
But then I got a note from a reader, who made me pause to think:
" ... These articles are short on facts that help in planning," the reader said. "How long are people typically out-of-work at this time? Is it highly contagious before people show symptoms? Are there clear signs of this flu as opposed to the other 100 winter sniffles we get in Ohio in the winter?"
That's when I realized we needed to take a step back and stop talking about the big, bad pandemic like something that everybody had seen and survived before. Instead, we needed to answer some of these basic questions and get down to the level of 'What does this pandemic really mean to me and my institution?"
We've put together a package of stories, interviews and resources this week that I hope will answer your fundamental questions. Among this content:
- H1N1 Pandemic: What Every Institution Needs to Know -- FAQ's About the Swine Flu and How to Prepare for the Fall Flu Season
- Symptoms of Novel Influenza A (H1N1) 'Swine' Flu - the basic facts about how to detect the virus.
- How to Prevent Spread of Illness to Healthy Employees - tips to employ in the workplace.
- Business Continuity: Preparing for H1N1 and Beyond - podcast interview with a business continuity expert and a NYSE executive about what financial institutions should be doing now to prepare.
By no means are we the last word on the H1N1 pandemic - go to the World Health Organization's website for the latest, greatest info and resources.
But as a media outlet that cares about risk management and security ... well, we recognize that H1N1 poses an unprecedented risk to all of us, and we do hope to be an ongoing source of information to help you both manage and mitigate its effects.