Seventy-five degrees and sunny. At least for the moment, until the next round of guaranteed storms. What a perfect day to call in with "the flu." At least in normal times. If I called in "sick" this morning, coughing up a lung and complaining of a fever, the library would be in pandemonium. Men in hazmat suits would show up and fumigate the place. My desk would be chopped up and burned on the back lawn, my computer tossed into the dumpster, every surface sprayed down and wiped with antibacterial cleaners.
Seventy-five degrees and sunny. Swine flu sucks.
I heard on the radio this morning that a six year old child in my town has H1N1 (okay, I'll be technical). I was driving back from dropping my middle child at school at the time. It took every ounce of self control in me not to slam on my brakes and let out a scream so high it would send the neighborhood dogs running for cover. I feel rather superior right now. I kept my cool. This one, rare, time, I am mature.
A six year old. The only one of my children this could affect is my 11 year old, but there are four elementary schools here. Four possible places that child could have put his/her mouth on the drinking fountain spout. Four places he/she could have touched walls, doorknobs, play equipment on the playground, stuck his finger in his/her nose and wiped the prize on his/her desk, on shared art supplies. Anywhere. But he/she would be a kindergartner or in first grade, not in fifth grade with my son. The chances he'd touch something the sick child touched are pretty low. Not low enough for my taste, but low.
The schools here aren't closing, not even the one he/she goes to. A couple weeks ago the town would have gone into lockdown, but now the health dudes are telling us that's not necessary. This strain of flu is actually pretty mild, and treatable with anti-virals. Unless there's an epidemic within the school it'll stay open. But if it were up to me? I'd burn it to the ground, then have the dirt carried off and buried, and new dirt brought in. If it were possible to suck the air out of the general area around the school and pump in fresh I'd do that, too. I mean, if I were the sort to freak out. Which I'm not doing.
No, no. I'm keeping cool. This is okay. My children are not going to contract the pestilence. Bodies aren't being rolled around on wagons or wheelbarrows. This isn't the biggie. But one day it may be. This one's a practice drill – a wake up call. Next time it may be the big pandemic we feared H1N1 would be.
How well did we handle this one? Seems like we did an okay job. The CDC kicked into action quickly, which leaves me to wonder, what do they do when there's not a crisis? I hope they're thinking about what may break out, what they may be called to do in a true pandemic. But they are, aren't they? God, I hope so. If they're like FEMA we are so totally screwed.
When my son comes home from school this afternoon he'll probably know all about the mystery six year old. Rumors don't waste time. It's like that game you play in elementary school, when you sit in a circle and whisper something all the way around, from one person to the next. By the time you get to the last person the sentence is wildly different than it started. In six hours suddenly hundreds of children will have died. Many more will be on their deathbeds, and any teacher who called in a sub today will have DIED.
I'll have to be ready with, "The CDC says it's okay. So you're going to school tomorrow. And no one, repeat, no one has died around here from the swine flu." Will he buy it? Possibly. Tomorrow morning he'll either put on a brave face and kiss me goodbye forever, or he'll kick and scream and refuse to go to his inevitable death, because his parents don't love him enough to keep him home.
Boy. I can't wait.