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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Paranoia strikes deep

The Obama administration's declaration of emergency may finally release the real virus that is infecting the American body politic: paranoia.

Reading the comments to the Globe's post of the Associated Press story, you would think the black helicopters are warming up. Obviously those folks don't read (or believe) the real evidence in the form of a sharp spike in H1N1 in Massachusetts.

There's actually plenty of blame to go around here. The media overplayed the initial story of the virus to the point where pork manufacturers got officials to change the name from swine flu. The same applies to the endless drumbeat of stories on vaccine availability.

The screw-ups around getting the right quantities in place swiftly leaves public health officials and pharmaceutical companies with some explaining to do too.

And then there is the political agenda -- from Bill Maher on the left to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on the right proclaiming the whole things is a hoax.

It's clear there is a novel H1N1 virus and it has been arriving here in waves -- after a "productive" summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Whether it is the second coming of the 1918 Spanish flu remains to be seen.

But equally clear to date is the virus is attacking and in some cases killing young people in greater numbers, so far, than a mere seasonal flu outbreak.

And the virtual disappearance of the seasonal flu vaccine -- even though it is not geared to fight H1N1 -- suggests people, deep down, are taking the threat seriously.

But when a public health precaution gets turned into rants about jack-booted government troops coming to round us up, it's clear America really needs a different form medical intervention.

Like a gigantic Xanax.

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