Overreation Thursday – Let the Swine Flu finger pointing begin

On one of the local sports talk shows, they have a staple segment during football season called “overreaction Monday.”  The premise is that after a Dallas Cowboys game fans of the team will overreact one way or the other.  The sky is falling if they lose, we’re going to the Super Bowl if they win.

Today, I expect to hear lots of talk about how we are overreacting to the H1N1 virus, and I expect to hear a lot of that discussion in the media.  I think much of it will center around an article in the LA Times and others that says H1N1 is a relatively mild strain of flu, and the outbreak will be less deadly than the average winter.

So now people will start pointing fingers.  I heard it this morning on Fox 4’s morning show asking whether or not Ft. Worth ISD overreacted by shutting the district down for a week.  It’s a fair question.  But I have a hard time accepting it from television, especially when they are running “breaking news” sounders, playing ominous music, and plastering swine flu banners all over the screen.

On Tuesday CNN was blaming Twitter for spreading misinformation while a journalist in Mexico allowed people to misstated how the virus spread to their country on camera. I know it’s a T.V. staple to get people to look and sound stupid, and it’s funny when you’re asking whether or not they know the President of France, but not so much in this case.

Did Ft. Worth overreact?  I’d call it erring on the side of caution and I’m sure they would too.  But for the news folks to play armchair quarterback while contributing to the panic is a bit much for my liking.

There has been little talk in news coverage of how populations with preexisting conditions are most at risk.  Little education on how susceptible populations -very young, elderly, expectant mothers- should be most cautions vs. healthy school aged children.

The pre-flu health of the child who died in Texas has not been fully examined or reported on, and for some reason it is called “the first U.S. death” though the child was a Mexican citizen who contracted the flu in Mexico and crossed the border to seek treatment.

This is not been stressed when this death is reported though it has in part caused some of the extreme measures taken in our state.  Yet Twitter is getting hammered by the media in one breath and in the next breath we hear “follow our tweets.”

Really though, I shouldn’t be surprised.  If TV is willing to divert large amounts of their resources to cover spring showers, standing outside telling us “I can really feel the rain coming down now Cathy….it’s hitting me in my face now…..I’m getting soaked out here” then why should I be surprised at how they cover a pandemic.  Now it all makes perfect sense.

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