Swine Flu Is Turning Us Against Each Other

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"People are being mean," Frankie Civitano, 17, a St. Francis Prep student who returned to school today after being sickened by swine flu last week, told today's Daily News of the social stigma that greeted him upon his return. Of course, teenagers are always mean. But this past weekend, as new reports showed that over 1,000 confirmed cases of the A/H1N1 swine flu had spread to eighteen countries and the World Health Organization contemplated officially declaring it a global pandemic, adults began to adapt teenager-like attitudes toward one another. "If you have to cough or sneeze," the driver of our Bolt Bus to Washington informed us, "do it inside your shirt. If I hear you doing otherwise, I will throw you off the bus." We're pretty sure he wasn't joking.

In the wake of Joe Biden's calls to avoid the subway, New Yorkers are more tense than usual, staring suspiciously at those who sniffle as though they are heinous vectors of disease. After one Mexican traveler tested positive for the flu, China has quarantined visitors from the U.S. for the past seven days, and it's unclear when — or if — they will let them go. This weekend, our friend's assistant actually canceled her reservation at a Mexican restaurant, and here at New York people are already concocting elaborate excuses for avoiding Emma Rosenblum when she returns. This swine flu has the potential to turn us all against each other! But should we really be that worried? We think we'll look on the bright side: First of all, the strain in the U.S. so far has been mild. There have only been 226 confirmed cases in the area, which, considering 8 million people live in New York City, isn't that bad. Plus, the median age of the victims is 17; we're way a little bit older than that. And Theraflu and antiseptic wipes are doing gangbusters in sales: This weekend, the folks from Sani-wipes, who probably cannot believe their good fortune, employed a bunch of people to hand out samples in Times Square. Look at that nerdy dude, and that cute girl, they're bonding! In the end, swine flu may make us sick, but maybe it will also help cure our economy.