We’re Officially Nervous About Swine Flu Again

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Wait a minute. What's that guy doing here?
Wait a minute. What's that guy doing here? Photo: NYT

Last week or so, we all kind of dismissed swine flu as a concern. It was just another panic, we thought, like when everyone was all worked up over bird flu or SARS. (Remember SARS? How quaint.) Plus, we hadn’t seen any pickup trucks going by, piled high with bodies or anything like that, and news reports and Bloomberg kept telling us that the variation of the illness that had migrated here was mild, and that the four New Yorkers who had died all had “underlying medical conditions,” which had made them more susceptible.

But today, the Times takes issue with that phrase, noting that the kind of underlying conditions are really not as unusual as the administration made them out to be.


“Many, many people share the same underlying causes that my husband had, and if he’s at risk, many people are at risk,” said Bonnie Wiener, the widow of Mitchell Wiener, 55, the first New Yorker to die of swine flu, on May 17.

She disputed the city’s assertion that underlying conditions were a factor in his death. “He was overweight and he was taking medicine for high blood pressure,” she said. “How many people 50 and above don’t?”

“As many as one in three people” have one or more of the conditions that the city considers red flags, which include diabetes, asthma, heart disease, lung disease, a weakened immune system, obesity, pregnancy, being younger than 2, or being older than 65. So we’re officially nervous again. And we’ll tell you, it doesn’t calm us at all that the picture the Times ran with their story appears to feature Miles from Lost. If he’s hanging around, we all must really be in trouble.

‘Underlying Conditions’ May Add to Flu Worries [NYT]