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Day 138: Flu York City—We’re All Foreigners

They’re taking the big view on network TV, trying to suggest H5N1 can be contained in the Big Apple: Our very own pandemic!

Too bad for them there’s a growing list of other infected places. Is it poetic justice that New Jersey’s capital just announced a swath of likely flu victims? I sincerely hope it’s a false alarm that gives Trenton more time to prepare for our reality.

There are sinister suggestions that the new strain reached New York City via illegal immigrants, as if the Department of Homeland Security screens incoming viruses. (More likely, Hope-Simpson’s seedlings are sprouting—Americans who were infected over time by latent carriers are becoming active spreaders.)

ELLIS ISLAND, NY: RECOGNIZE YOUR GRANDMOTHER?Nevertheless, some out-of-town radio chatterers persist in hailing New Jersey’s rudeness as a timely move that may have saved everyone else. Sinful New Yorkers will take the hit from God for y’all. Danged nice of us, I say!

Without actually doing anything, the Feds hold secret teleconferences with various governors who want to bar each other’s citizens. (Might they postpone elections?)

Every day people die by the tens of thousands overseas, and Americans dream of avoiding the bug. There are people all over this country who don’t know they’re carrying H5N1. Most were born here.

Domestic travelers have panicked. Roads are full, flights rerouted, planes, trains, and buses jammed. (Looking for reasons to stay put? Watch that video of the Chicago cops tasing the hungry women besieging a donut stand at O’Hare Airport.) If you live in a quiet zone and want family members with you during Round Two, you’d best gather them fast. I’ve blown it so badly that I’m tempted at least once every seven minutes to try to head home to my folks. It’s too far—and far too late.

Friendly Words of Warning

My Fellow Americans, New York’s travails are your future.

Consider a longtime buddy who sorely yearns to join us (little suspecting he’ll merely wind up in my blog under a cute pseudonym if he makes it). He was researching species extinction in Kenya when the flu reignited. He has bags of protective gear, but can’t travel. He’s alone and frightened in Mombasa, hoping to snag an illegal berth on a boat to a place with better international links. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has washed its hands of Americans who ignored the warnings. No food, water, medicine, transport, or advice.

I hope for my friend’s sake that Kenyans don’t start blaming foreigners.

Here, the usual suspects stage demonstrations against the city, state, Feds, and various businesses. Their demands are shameless: They want a freeze on layoffs and they want more medicine, hospital beds, ventilators, food, funeral services, and garbage collection. They even call for more cops, though the response hasn’t been uniformly grateful. Today the cops bashed and busted people at City Hall while they let others yell in Times Square. One reporter tried to question the inconsistency. The police commissioner ignored her. Maybe he thinks chanting spreads particularly dangerous microbes.

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