So this year’s big doomsday threat to humanity is swine flu (H1N1 to you scientific types out there). Can’t turn on the radio, television or log on to the Internet without seeing some story like this one from CNN filled with terrifying phrases like “worldwide outbreak,” “potentially pandemic virus” and “the number of confirmed cases stood at 331.”
Wait a sec… 331? For the whole country? Oh, I’m sorry–that’s for the entire world. There’s just 141 confirmed cases in the U.S. As far as fatalities go, the number of people killed in the U.S. by swine flu currently stands at, let’s see, um, just one.
Look, I don’t want to say that swine flu (or any communicable disease) is no big deal, but are we maybe just a little blowing this whole thing out of proportion? Is it really necessary for Fox News to run headlines like “Swine Flu Enters Dangerous Phase”? School Districts are starting to close when a child develops “flu-like symptons”; at least one plane headed to the U.S was diverted because of the same thing. Is all this absolutely necessary?
By contrast, check out this press release sent out earlier this month from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The number of traffic deaths on U.S. roads last year reached a record low,” the release tells us. That’s right, a record low: 37,313 people killed on American roads last year. The lowest previous tally was 36,285, recorded way back in 1961.
I feel safer already.