Things To Ponder
Citizen Ellie is off on Saturday to the world centre of civility -- Prince Edward Island -- for a couple of weeks of much-needed R & R. Trying to make sense of the machinations at city hall takes its toll.
In the meantime, September is upon us, people are back from vacation, schools are re-opening and serious trouble may lie just around the corner.
Do you have confidence -- confidence that our civic leaders will not fall apart at the first signs the influenza pandemic has returned ? The response to the recent mini-disaster in the west end of the city left an awful lot to be desired. To be sure, they ordered the garbage trucks out fast enough to clean up the Katrina-like appearance of the afflicted neighborhoods. Some comfort to those who were flooded out for the third time in a dozen years and there's still no word on when the problems which gave rise to the flooding will be rectified.
Citizen Ellie recently re-read John Barry's definitive history of the 1918-19 pandemic, "The Great Influenza". It's grim reading, but it's also useful to learn about the so-called "Spanish flu" killed its way around the world. As they say, those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
Barry writes about what happened in the U-S. On its first go-round in the spring of 1918, the flu was relatively mild. But when it returned in the fall, it returned with a vengeance. The H1N1 virus of 1918-19 is the same H1N1 virus which started to appear in the spring of this year in different spots around the world -- including Ottawa. It was relatively mild in the spring......
It pays to be a regular CNN viewer. Citizen Ellie learns many things from CNN.
Earlier this week the U-S Surgeon General and the Secretary of Health held a news conference in Washington at which time they advised that some 90,000 Americans could be killed by the flu which is now starting to appear again. They also announced that there might not be enough vaccine to provide the required two doses for everyone. Even worse, there are not enough health care workers to administer the vaccine and it may be necessary to train pharmacists so that they can administer it. There are not enough hospital beds in the U-S to accommodate the numbers who might require them, nor are there enough ventilators. There was an item on CNN the following day stating that H1N1 is now making its presence felt in student residences on U-S college campuses -- 100 students quarantined at Georgia Tech.
We're fortunate in Ottawa to have a steady hand at the helm in the city's health department in the person of Dr. Isra Levy. He advocates regular and vigorous handwashing, sneezing into the elbow
and immediate bed rest if one feels ill. According to medical evidence in Barry's book, those who fared best in 1918-19 were those who took to their beds at the first sign they were sick, and stayed in bed for several days even after the symptoms had disappeared.
No level of government in Canada has as yet released any figures re potential deaths from H1N1 in this country. We are told that there is plenty of vaccine. But given the hospital closures and the corresponding cutbacks in health care, one can't help but wonder if there are enough health care workers here to administer the vaccine. One wonders about hospital bed availability and whether there are enough ventilators.
In the 1918-19 pandemic, pneumonia killed the people. It was not a good death. They gasped and choked. Cyanosis (lack of oxygen) caused victims to turn blue -- dark blue in some cases. They coughed up blood, bled from the nose, ears and eyes. They were unrecognizable. They became delerious and they died. Entire families were consumed. Children were orphaned. In Philadelphia, the gravediggers were either sick or dead which meant that family members of other deceased had to take up shovels and dig the graves for their loved ones. There was a shortage of coffins. Eventually the dead were wrapped in sheets and buried in mass graves.
John Barry concludes that a virtual conspiracy of silence -- i.e. failure by politicians at all levels, and by the media to tell the public the truth about what was happening, contributed greatly to the panic which swept over America. Given the candor of the U-S Surgeon General and the Secretary of Health at this week's news conference, there will be no secrecy this time.
There was a little item on the Business News Network report a couple of weeks ago which caused Citizen Ellie to sit up and take notice. The manufacturing sector in Ontario is in bad shape, but there's a ray of sunshine in the fact that a small company in the Toronto area is working overtime. What 's being manufactured ? Disposable body bags, that's what. Apparently some municipalities are stocking up on these things. Is Ottawa among them ? What do they know that we don't know ?
One last zinger. What bright spark on the opposition benches has concluded that just what the people need in a time of plague and pestilence is another federal election ? Was it the intellectual giant who leads the Liberals or the Obama wanna-be who heads the NDP ? Rather than waste money on a needless election, what the people really need is for the opposition to pressure the government into issuing free boxes of tissues and hand sanitizers ! Now that would be taxpayers' money well-spent !
Regular Friday postings start again on September 18