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April 30th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Has swine flu story been overblown?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you have been bombarded with news coverage of the swine flu for several days now. And when the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to the second highest level - of 5 - yesterday, the media couldn't get enough of it. After all, this stuff sells newspapers and gets ratings. But when you take a look at the numbers, it seems like the story might be overblown...

The WHO has confirmed 257 cases of swine flu worldwide. 97 cases in Mexico, with seven deaths. Mexican officials have reported much higher numbers - 2,500 cases and more than 150 deaths - but those numbers haven't been confirmed. In the U.S., the WHO says there are 109 confirmed cases with 1 death. Out of a population of more than 300 million people, that hardly seems to be cause for alarm.

And scientists who are studying the virus say this strain of influenza doesn't look as deadly as strains that have caused previous pandemics. In fact, some suggest that the current form of the swine flu virus may not even do as much damage as the regular flu.

More than 13,000 people in the U.S. have died of complications from seasonal flu since January; and it's expected to continue killing hundreds of people a week. In total, about 36,000 people a year die from the flu in this country; and worldwide, the annual death toll is somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000.

One scientist tells the Los Angeles Times that just because the swine flu is being identified in more countries doesn't mean it's spreading especially quickly, saying: "You don't ever find anything that you don't look for."

Here’s my question to you: Has the swine flu story been overblown?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Doug from Dallas writes:
Wow, that's an understatement! This is nothing more than a new strain of the flu that comes every year. It isn't any more contagious than regular flu. We don't hear anything about the 36,000 people who die every year from the "normal" flu so what's the big deal? If school systems shut down every time a kid got sick (ie. Ft. Worth), they'd never be open.

Danny writes:
Are you kidding me?! Hell yes, it is being overblown. This has to be the rhetorical question of the century.

Richard from Orrtanna, Pennsylvania writes:
Hi Jack. As it stands now, yes. But, if it were to become a killer virus, then the answer is no. You may be asking this question too early; you may have to ask it again next winter.

Carrie from Seattle writes:
It's been completely overblown. I'm ready for it to stop, now. How about everyone learn to properly wash their hands, cover their mouths when they cough, etc. and we can tackle all the different flu bugs at once without mass hysteria. It's ridiculous.

Terence from Piscataway, New Jersey writes:
Jack, It’s not overblown at all. When a member of our family catches this disease, we will all know what to do to get well and not spread it around. This is what makes our country so great. We are well-informed about everything through the media and you, Jack.

Courtney from Connecticut writes:
Overblown or not, I'm tired of hearing about it. I was initially concerned (my brother is getting married in Mexico in July!) and then frustrated. Now I just want everyone, especially the hypochondriac in my office, to take a step back for five minutes and chill. The sky is not falling, folks!


Filed under: Health
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Frank

    Yes it's been overblown. The media has learned that fear and hysteria increase ratings and web hits. The reporting on this story goes beyond incompetent. The flu kills 36,000 people a year, and I don't recall a "Breaking News" headline every time someone dies of the flu during a normal outbreak. We're not talking about Ebola here.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Stephanie, Seattle, WA

    YES! This is all media driven. I have a trip to Cabo planned and I am going.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  3. Brian Wicks-Woodland Hills

    Not in the least. At least people must be educated enough to take prevent ive measures.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  4. A Lorenz

    Yes! Just another thing to get people stirred up. It's just another strain of the flu is what they're telling us.. It's just another "strain" that's tugging at a Nation of Resession stricken people. They should just call it the "Ulcer Flu".. can we deal with any more bad news much less news that's bad that the media is making worse??
    Bronx, NY

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  5. Todd stevens

    HIV is a pandemic, and people have become rather complacent with that because the death rate has dropped in industrialized countries.

    Personally, I think swine flu is simply the news of the week, and that it will die down as the long as the death rate stays miniscule.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Jeff - Chicago

    This is like the heat-related deaths during the summer a few years ago. Every death was being blamed on the heat. A 22 year-old gangbanger would come in with multiple GSW in 105 degree heat, and that was considered to be a heat-related death.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Andrew Steele

    The Swine Flu has absolutely been overblown! I am a Senior in College and the Flu is the hot topic on campus. It is becoming a joke, especially in an e-mail sent to us from our Health Center earlier today. This is a quote from the e-mail we received, "As your University Student Health Center Physician, I urge you not to shake hands, but greet each other by waving or bowing." Have we really come to a point where we must bow as a greeting? This is ridiculous.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  8. Eric Kreitzer

    Of course it has been overblown. It is likely not even a concious process, but you and your colleagues want stories with a sense of urgency. Count how many times a week Wolf says, "This just in" or refers to a "developing" or "breaking" story. W. R. Hearst showed how this was done over a century ago.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  9. Steve

    The corporate media desperately needed to change the story from the illegality of the U.S. torturing to the inevitabaity of a global pandemic. Do you remember tha panic over shark attacks? Depending on how categorized, between 3,000 and 5,000 Americans died from the flu virus last month alone. We should all be more concerned with how a few people that control the national media can dictate the topic of conversation for 200 million plus people and how long we will be obsessed by that topic. That scares me far more than the swine flu ever could!!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  10. Mac Texas

    Well, I'd rather spend a few bucks on hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and paper surgical masks than take a chance. There are some obvious places to avoid like discount superstores, fast food restaurants and large indoor events. I think it would be very unwise if our government did not pass information on to us. Some will probably over react but most will use reasonable precautions and a "wait and see" attitude.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  11. J.B.

    Of COURSE it's overblown. I'm surprised the media doesn't connect it to terrorism somehow.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Ronald Troxel

    It's probably overblown, but it's exactly what should have been done. With the reports of deaths coming out of Mexico, it would have been inexcusable to take it less seriously. I would much rather laugh about how overblown it was than cry over how unprepared we were (think Katrina).

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  13. Mrs. Swine

    I think I should be living under a Rock. Because I don't want to hear my co-worker announcing the news every time another state reports an outbreak. We, as Americans are so Paranoid and scared about incidents like this that we blow news out of proportion.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  14. John

    Well, who knows what tomorrow may bring in, we dont even know why there are such killer viruses.
    So many people are dying and we just think that it will never happen to us, but who knows!!

    I might sound pessimistic but thats the way life is, we can only hope that everything will be alright, but life is ever changing every moment!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  15. Molly

    YESSSS!!! This story is entirely overblown. The only US death came from an infant, from Mexico! First of all, the child didnt even live here, he was visiting. Second of all, the death was a 17 month old baby. Diseases like this affect babies and the elderly a lot worse than the general public, thats why mothers freak out when a baby gets even a cold.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  16. Peter Tribeman lexington Ma

    This is a touchy one Jack. This reminds me of a government officials warning of an imminent 8.0 earthquake. If it doesn't happen , they are damned. If they say nothing and it happens they are investigated.

    The organization we should really pay attention to is the World health Organization (WHO). They appear apolitical and all business. If they raise the threat level to 6 (the highest )we should all be really concerned.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  17. Jax

    Live in Houston, 4 schools have closed in Houston so far. Each one has up to 400 students. The reason was that in each school, one child (who in two cases has already recovered) had a confirmed case of the swine flu.

    The latest news I got from a friend was that her daughter was asked to stay home from her school just because a brother was a student at one of the schools that had been closed.

    The backlash against illegal aliens and other ethnic groups on some websites here is what is truly virulent.

    I wish somebody would come out and say just why THIS strain of the flu is more deadly than the normal flu. Why did the schools not shut down two weeks ago when someone in my daughter's class came down with strep throat but now entire schools are being shut down for this virus?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  18. William Korn

    It might be overblown. On the other hand, you don't want to ignore a new strain of the flu until you understand how easily it spreads and how it affects people.

    I hope the World Health Organization is covering Mexico like a blanket, trying to understand why this flu seems to have such a high fatality rate there, but nowhere else. Is it really the same strain, or is it something else entirely?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  19. Anne

    I do think the media may be blowing it all out of proportion, but after eight years of being scared to death every time the sun came up in the morning, it's hard to get out of that mode. Do you think my stockpile of duct tape will help keep swine flu away?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  20. Samilton, Corona, Ca.

    Yes, I believe so. It's causing fear among the people. Day in and day out stressing – especially CNN, "we're not trying to cause fear, but just present the facts and let you know what going on". You keep reporting the same thing, over and over. I really feel that it has been overblown. When a significant finding arises, report it, but we really need to move on.

    We have enough information to know what the risks are and how to care for ourselves.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  21. Ken from Chestefield, VA

    I think we need to take this seriously. Just because it is relatively low now, doesn't mean it will not pick up. Any flu is most dangerous to the old and young. I think we should take every measure necessary to stop it now. I applaud the President for getting out front on this one

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  22. Peg Westbrook

    Of course I say it is overblown. But then again, I do not know a single soul who has contracted the virus. I guess if I knew even a few folks with this illness..that would be another story. The only person Swine flu is affecting right now in our household is my 12 year old...he has to crank out a 5 paragraph paper on it tonight....

    Peggy
    Snellville, GA USA

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  23. Maura - Fort Washington, PA

    Hey, Jack –
    Don't take it personally, but I have developed a real mistrust of the media!
    Weapons of Mass Destruction, Terrorists possibly in every airport, Illegals from Mexico, Obama is really a Muslim – C'mon!

    Yes, the swine flu story is overblown. Yes, people are sick and have died, yes, I want to keep my kids safe, but I am not going to lock the doors, keep the kids out of school and change my lifestyle. I AM going to avoid eating in restaurants, and avoid areas of high volume travel, but that is just common sense.

    Overall – the media hypes almost anything these days to sell a story, and get people talking – and this is the case here. BUT if only the media would take a real hard look at the possibility of creating hysteria with any of these stories – we might just be able to settle down and start to address some of the world's problems!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  24. Sean

    Jack – absolutely this swine flu story has been overblown. "Pandemic?" give me a break. Let's get some real news on leading economic indicators, job growth, stimulus success stories. A 150 people with a new flu strain...next please.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  25. jessica lundy

    i think this is better than fox news talking about obama being the next hitler, but then again i bet thy will blame the flu on him too.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  26. Ann

    Of course it's being overblown, Jack, just like everything else gets overblown. We don't have this nonsense going on when it's the regular flu season so why should we have it now! With all that's going on in the world today, doesn't the media have anything else to report on? I find it hard to watch the news anymore - every story is just played to death and I find newscasters ask the most ridiculous questions. We need something good to hold onto right now or we're all going to lose what's left of our sanity!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  27. Remo .............. Austin, TX

    The great influenza epidemic of 1918 showed the world what a virus can do, an estimated 130 million (based on population and the robust nature of the strain) swept the world an estimated 3 times. Mind you this is without modern air travel. Originating in Haskel county Kansas it followed the troop transport flow east. It killed more troops on both sides of the front than bullets. It killed the King of Spain thus pinning it the "Spanish Flu".
    .. There is a lesson to be learned here. This flu cannot be taken lightly. It would take just one mutation to make our bodies defenses more useless. The CDC and WHO have already stated that once they figure out this strain it would take months to grow it for a vaccine. Then there is the time that it will take to mass produce then distribute it. We've already failed in containment, it's jumped the globe making it potentially more dangerous.
    ..We have come to believe that modern medicine has the, fix all, cure all, drugs at a moments notice. Sadly through years of treating common bugs with anti-biotics we've weakened ourselves when something like this pops up. If we look at history, I don't think it has been overblown. However, we as a society as a whole, have a tendency to forget what has happened in our past.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  28. justin

    Are you kidding, of course it has been overblown. I am glad that the WHO and CDC are working on the issue, but the panic is so thick you could cut it with a knife. 1 person has died from this strain and in a year 36000 people in the US die from the regular old flu. So you could estimate that 200-500 people have died from that. I think that the media should take this time to talk about real pandemics like diabetes, heart disease and stroke all caused by obesity. That makes swine flu look silly.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  29. Joe

    I do think these so called incidents of swine flu are blown out of proportion. When you look at the numbers compared to just your ordinary flu, I dont see what the big deal is. I do think people should take precautions. But not every case of someone having "flu like" symptons has "swine flu."

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  30. Bill in South Jersey

    You would be the best one to know if it's been overblown, Jack, because you know what hasn't been reported because of the flu coverage. As Christiane Amanpour recently observed, an African holocaust went unreported because CNN and other networks were covering some of the usual American fluff instead.

    You tell us - what are we missing?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  31. BILL, WI

    The only people that have overblown this flu have been politicians, and the press.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  32. Justin Legred

    Jack,
    Every year 36,000 people die in the U.S. from the annual flu. If this was so communicable, then why isn't all of New York infected after those 200 students came back from Mexico?

    Don't you think the reason that there are so many flu cases popping up all over is because we're testing everyone for it?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  33. Angela

    CNN isn't making it any better. Every photo that they've posted this week related to this story, presents a person with a mask over their mouth and nose. This causes a more extreme emotion in readers when they view images like these without fully being knowledable about the virus.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  34. Kerry Florida

    I really don't think it has been overblown. With the internet and the world health organization on top of this story as the virus develops before our eyes it's good to see that they seem to be in control of the situation before it starts killing thousands as polio and other mutant strains did in the past.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  35. Andrea I

    It has been way overblown. It acts just like the regular flu, and the deaths are usually from complications, not just from the flu itself. Also, have they even found a single infected pig in Mexico yet?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  36. Michael Strimenos

    Dear Sir:

    Thank you for the first rational commentary on the "swine flu pandemic" that I have heard or read.

    Now if you could just follow up with an analysis of why this is getting so overblown I would surely appreciate it.

    Regards
    Michael Strimenos
    Houston, Texas

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  37. Dick in Minnesota

    We don't know it seems like it, but at this point only time will tell. Ask this question again in 6 weeks.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  38. Susie

    Yes, it has definitely been overblown.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  39. Achit

    Yes, the issue is overblown.
    I'm sure President Obama's adminstration will use this 'scare' to ask for more funding for health services and push for so-called 'reforms' of health system in US of A

    BTW, I came to US to get away from government contolled life. Looks like I'll have to look for some other country.
    Achit

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  40. Sandie

    Yes, Yes, Yes. We have all kinds of health emergencies.....high blood pressure, for instance, is truly epidemic. The media has completely made this story far more than it needs to be.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  41. John

    I thought the swine flu story was overblown as soon as it surfaced. I'm a 20 year old college student and I'm not anymore worried about the swine flu than I am about the regular flu. Other than the obvious, like for the elderly and very young children, I really don't see a reason for alarm for anyone else.

    -John from Fayetteville, Arkansas

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  42. Tyler Banks

    Absolutely. Typical fear based journalism. If there was anything major going on, this would just be a blurp at the bottom of the screen.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  43. George from Pompton Plains

    There's a swine flu outbreak in Detroit. Chrysler and the UAW were able to pull themselves out of the mud that has the auto industry stuck but the money lenders and hedge fund managers remain in the pig sty. Love your show Jack.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  44. Andrea Maxand

    It seems premature to say for sure whether the story is overblown, but 257 confirmed cases worldwide (again: *worldwide*) seems an absurd number to cause such media hype. Who broke this story again? And why?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  45. Mickey

    If what we've seen so far is all there is, then, yes it's been overblown. However, I suspect we haven't been told the whole story. I wonder if the authorities know something they aren't telling us.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  46. Mike

    Well after reading the facts Jack, YES! It's been extremely overblown, I think even that's an understatement. I hate to blab on myself, but I didn't know hundreds of people per week die from the regular flew, and we're freaking out about a few people over the past few weeks? No offense to the deceased in any way. This is ridiculous. Apparently since the economy isn't declining as badly, afghan news as stayed the same, we've got to find something else to blow out of proportion and act like the world is forever changing. Are we afraid of just having a "normal" day? Life's too short for this Jack, you gotta live in the moment, one day at a time, or you're not going to live very long. Take care, watch out for any sneezers, it may be the next apocolypse!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  47. Zach

    Absolutely it has been overblown. I have yet to hear why the swine flu is such a big deal. Is it just because it's a "new" strain? Technically, anytime you get sick, the culprit is a new strain. Doesn't your body develop antibodies that nearly prevent an individual from having the same disease, errr, strain, twice? Someone tell me exactly how it's worse than the "regular" flu that targets human beings year in and year out.

    I read the same figures that you did regarding deaths attributable to the "regular" flu, which further confirms the ridiculous hype of this "near" pandemic. Get over it.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  48. Daniel, Englewood FL

    Jack,

    No Americans have died, everyone is aware, we know that we must wash our hands over and over. Yea...it's over blown.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  49. Ken

    Of course it has been overblown... just like everything else has been overblown with the media... they guys cant report on a story and let it die... they have to have sensational headlines and feed off of FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt). The Main Stream Corporate Media has forgotten what the Media is supposed to be about. Reporting the whole story, the whole truth reguardless of political climate.

    I have yet to see CNN report on how the Obama Administration is still supporting 4th Ammendment Violations with the warrentless wiretap program, or how they are still sanctioning torture (something as someone who has served in this nations military i find deeply disturbing... we dont do that as we dont want our brothers and sisters in harms way subject to the same treatment.)

    Wake up People and smell the coffee and quit being a nation of sheeple

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  50. Steve

    Yes, Jack, I think it has been "slightly " overblown and I'll tell you why. Because with every mention of the "Swine Flu numbers" the Media should also be stating the numbers of seasonal flu that were included above in your question on this web page. That way everyone would be able to see the entire picture of what is happening, not just a small part of it. Thanks, Steve in Illinois.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  51. Edwin

    I'm posting this before even reading the article, but...

    YES, it has been blown way out of proportion. I'll worry about swine flu the day it infects someone I know. Until then, I'm not changing a thing.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  52. LizD

    Hard to say. I agree with you regarding the statistics, which would say it is being overblown. However, this is a new flu strain that means that no one has a natural immunity to it, which means, while it might be the same or even milder than the standard flu strains, it has a strong possiblity of spreading more rapidly. There would be more deaths just because more people would get it and those with compromised immune systems would be at a higher risk of death. The interesting thing is that the standard flu usually spreads in the winter becuase it thrives in cold, dry air. The fact that this is spreading in the warmer months, is a bit concerning.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  53. Jane (Minnesota)

    Yes, but no more than any other story that has a constant "Breaking News" banner hanging on it morning to night. The news stories lately have been breaking so long, how will we ever be able to recognize real news? Something for the newsies to ponder.........

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  54. Jimmy

    TOTALLY AGREE

    Thank you and well spoken. Folks to me, a pandemic virus is what i would consider something of the black plague. Where thousands upon thousands are dying daily. Flus are quite comon nowadays even with varying strains. Those that usually die from these strains are either the really young (case in point the 23month old) with no immune system to fight it, or the elderly whom already have weakened immune system. Some die simply for the fact of thinking its a small flu and they can weather it out.

    The media needs to stop blowing all this out of proportion.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  55. Robert Jackson

    36,000 people die a year from the regular flu. 200,000 a year get the regular flu, what is the big deal. Symptoms and impact are the same. You get treated, you live. Guess what?? Just like the regular flu.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  56. Nick

    Yes, the swine flu coverage has been hyperbolic and overblown. As I see it, the only reason the media is covering this issue so closely is because the virus supposedly originated outside of the US, thus providing fodder for xenophobia and proliferating the idea of America as 'passive victim' (the most extreme in Fox News's linking of the swine flu biological warfare!). But what about health hazards and causes of death that seem to be most concentrated in this country, such as obesity, drunk driving, and lung cancer? Why are we not concerned about these issues that are as preventable as any flu virus? The swine flu coverage proves one point, however: the more extreme, the more entertaining! But let us keep in mind: the more entertaining, the less news-worthy!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  57. Dave

    I totally agree with Jack. This story has been overblown out of proportions. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe die of regular flu every year. I think a lot of this hype is created by the media. They need some sensationalism in their reporting and the fear of unknown is always a good tool to get people's attention. Same goes for making a mountain out of a mole on some of the terror related stories.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  58. Mike Hobbs

    Yes it has. The media in this country is sad. What happened to reporting the news. Now you turn on the tv and get an agenda from the left or right. What happened to just reporting the new. Now all we have is drama kings and queens.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  59. Richard

    I wish there was a way to punish news organizations that pander to fear in order to satisfy the whore known as "Ratings Share." What ever happened to responsibility in journalism?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  60. Alex

    You said it perfectly, Jack: "After all, this stuff sells newspapers and gets ratings." Enough said.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  61. Big Don

    First, a thanks to you Jack for your efforts in trying to help keep the news at a sane level. You deliver your opinions from the heart and I always enjoy watching and listening to your segments.

    As for the swine flu "pandemic" being overblown, well that's a big YES. It's too bad sanity can't become a pandemic.

    Keep up the great work, Jack!

    Big Don, VA

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  62. Ryan Linder

    Of course it's overblown, but the question is why. Is it because the media has so little scientific knowledge, is the media trying to set-up a fake catastrophe two?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  63. Dee

    In some ways, but I believe the fear is if you take it too lightly, you may find yourself one day not laughing because it was more serious than you thought. At this point it does seem overblown, but I think the past has taught us to err on the side of caution. Threats of 9/11 prior to 9/11, warnings of Katrina prior to the actual storm....there was always someone saying "it is overblown"....Particularly when we live in a time that there are threats of gloabl terrorissm and disaster movies like Outbreak tend to have you riding the fence on how to react.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  64. sue parker

    I liked Jon Stewart's take on it the other night. When you think about it, people in 40 states DON'T have swine flu. And every initial case in this country had a connection from a trip to Mexico. If they stop breathing on the rest of us, we'll be fine.
    Has anyone else been sick this winter (as I was) with a horrible VIRUS that no one could treat? I'd appreciate it if someone would work on THAT.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  65. Ron

    Absolutely! We are the most immature bunch of Chicken Littles that have been seen in many a moon! It's as though we have gone back to the Middle Ages with our superstitions (religion) and our absurd fear of every little thing. Yeah, maybe pigs have been invaded with evil spirits! Too much media with too much time to fill.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  66. Tim

    I work at a hospital that released the following notice this morning:

    "Currently, the H1N1 flu is being compared to the seasonal influenza, and despite the media attention, has been somewhat mild, and can be treated with prescription medication."

    Does that sound like something to get this worked up about?

    The real problem will arise when an actual life-threatening pandemic comes around and nobody will take it seriously.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  67. Dave in DC

    I think drug and alcohol addicts are bigger threats to our national security and economic stability then swine flu.

    Perhaps the government is using this as an opportunity to get the folks focused on something else.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  68. Sharon, Madison, AL

    The media almost always distorts stories for ratings. However, we had two children here come down with the swine flu. Schools are closed today and tomorrow. I don't think this was over doing it, but a smart precaution.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  69. Jessep

    Seattle, WA

    While the severity of the symptoms and death toll may seem to be overblown, the real danger is the fact that, like the previous bird-flu, we are seeing an increase of animal to human transitory diseases. We need to learn as much as possible about them and take precautions as this one seems to mutate fairly rapidly, much more so than your standard influenza strains and thus could end up doing far more harm than it currently is were it to evolve into a stronger or possibly multiple strains.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  70. Nicole Joy

    Absolutely! I am an emergency medicine physician assistant and our emergency department has been flooded with panick-stricken asymptomatic individuals requesting that testing be completed. Our time is being wasted educating these people while it could be better spent treating those who actually are ill.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  71. Tyler Shoberg

    Overblown? Hard to say...all I know is I'm still waiting for that Bird Flu and SARS I was told to worry about. How'd those pandemics wind up...?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  72. Larry

    The unique thing about this current strain is that it has killed healthy individuals. That is very atypical for a virus, which usually only kills the very young or old and the infirm. This suggests that we have no resistance to this unique hybrid strain. The doctors are alarmed that it could spread and once larger numbers are in play, then the death rate could skyrocket.

    So, the story has not been overblown. The media should stay on it and keep readers informed about the best measures to avoid exposure. Even if nothing calamitous comes from this, it is always good to know how to be prepared.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  73. dylan troy

    i dont think so condidering how fast it is spreading, i dont know about the regular flu, but i heard there were 7 cases in USA on monday, now there are over 100. And also the key word in all this is Confiremd there may be many other cases that just nobodys reported or anything

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  74. Kara Lynn

    I think it certainly has been overblown. Yes, it should be taken seriously, but I think people, like Joe Biden, need to try to avoid causing panic. Everybody simply needs to wash their hands and take responsibility when they are sick to stay home until you are better. My peers have been milking this swine flu outbreak for all that they can when it comes to absences. It's absurd.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  75. Timothy in Chicago

    We ignored all the data on HIV for the first half of the 1980s, and look where it got us. In the case of a potential pandemic, we can never be too careful in the early days to prevent it from becoming too widespread.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  76. Jeff from Stratford

    Yes it is...
    Blame the same forces for that as for every other overblown newsstory: the 24 hour news cycle and the blogosphere, which invariably feed each other in a panic driven feedback loop.
    As long as News organizations feed on blogs and other ephemeral "news" sources, and those sources in return eat at the swill trough of the News outlets, then there is no inherent trend toward the center, just toward sensationalism and extremism.

    There is no rational controlling factor in that mutually parasitic relationship, and hype can get overblown and out of control very quickly.

    Should we be concerned? Of course. That's common sense.
    Shoudl it merit the kind of panic mongering coverage it is getting?
    You and I know it does not.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  77. Todd

    Ya think? Amazing how the panic driven media has pumped this up. over 6 BILLION people on earth, and this remains THE story after a few hundred cases worldwide? And hardly any deaths. My God people, more die from auto accidents every day across this planet. The media isn't trying to report the news anymore, they are trying to be the news, and make the people tune into their station or click on their website for the latest update of another non-story. unreal. PANIC, PANIC, point and click...

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  78. Brittnay Palm Beach, Florida

    Its to soon to call. If we sit back and do nothing and this thing blows up, the finger pointing will be endless. If this thing slowly goes away yet we have spent millions on preperation for something that never happened the finger pointing will agian be endless. I guess we should error on the side of caution.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  79. James, Houston TX

    Yes it has. Having the lone U.S. death occur in my city, it causes greater worry amongst my co-workers, however no one is particularly afraid of dying. It's a travesty that we are getting scared from such a small problem. More people are dying form the normal seasonal influenza compared to this disease. I think that in a day where we are worried about 100 days of a Presidency in an era when the events from the last 2800+ days is impacting our lives more greatly than the previous 100 days, we seem to have our focus misguided. We need to understand what is important in our lives and in our world, and frankly the Swine Flu is the least important issue for us to focus on as a global community.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  80. Jeff from Stratford

    Yes it is...
    Blame the same forces for that as for every other overblown newsstory: the 24 hour news cycle and the blogosphere, which invariably feed each other in a panic driven feedback loop.
    As long as News organizations feed on blogs and other ephemeral "news" sources, and those sources in return eat at the swill trough of the News outlets, then there is no inherent trend toward the center, just toward sensationalism and extremism.

    There is no rational controlling factor in that mutually parasitic relationship, and hype can get overblown and out of control very quickly.

    Should we be concerned? Of course. That's common sense.
    Shoudl it merit the kind of panic mongering coverage it is getting?
    You and I know it does not.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  81. Amber

    I COMPLETELY agree that this story is totally overblown. There have been less than 300 cases in the ENTIRE WORLD. Come on people....the numbers speak for themselves. This is another example of the media blowing things WAY out of preportion and it freaks out the masses. You didn't die of SARS, did you? You didn't die of the West Nile Virus, did you? You didn't die of the bird flu, did you? Well chances are that you probably won't die of the swine flu either. So, with that being said, who can go for some pork chops? (and yes, I know you can't catch it from eating pork....but obviously, some don't know that either!)

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  82. joy

    Yes, yes and yes.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  83. Jes

    Since the nature of the media is to spread fear, one should not be surprised at this overkill

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  84. JT - Houston, TX

    Well, if the White House is telling me that I should avoid being around other people (like public transit, etc.), then it must be very bad. I just hope we all make it through this alive... I heard that kid that died in Houston went to the Galleria. I guess that means tens of thousands of people will be dying of swine flu in Houston soon.

    Now we know how China felt when they had that SARS thing. Except this is obviously way more dangerous – evidenced by the continuous press conferences and whatnot from the White House.

    If only George Bush would have made friends with the pigs, maybe they would have spared us!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  85. Ryan Linder

    Of course it's overblown, but the question is why. Is it because the media has so little scientific knowledge, is the media trying to set-up a fake catastrophe so Obama can come out "victorious," or is it a combination of the previous two?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  86. Jeff

    Definately another out of control story by the media. Anything to sell air time to advertisers.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  87. Amy

    The members of the media need to take responsibility for what they say/report and how often the say/report on a particular story. Yes I think the Swine Flu shuold be reported to the public – but I do not think it needs to be the lead story every 15 or 30 minutes. Why create panic when there is no need. Do not forget that thousands of people die each year from flu. Since this new strain does respond to treatment (if caught) then there is no need for panic. I am sure the reason why Mexico has a higher death rate is due to large remote ares of population where getting medical treatment could be more difficult.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  88. Stuart Werbner

    Yes, I am certain re that the H1N1 flu story has been overblown. As you pointed out, it seems to have a low mortality rate for a flu. I guess the old, young, and infirm may need to be concerned, but then again, shouldn't they always be? The only thing that I can think of that makes this flu different from the garden varieties is that there is not yet a vaccine. Just because there isn't a vaccine yet for it doesn't mean that the whole world has to panic over it, as most people will recover from it, if stricken.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  89. Amber

    I COMPLETELY agree that this story is totally overblown. There have been less than 300 cases in the ENTIRE WORLD. Come on people....the numbers speak for themselves. This is another example of the media blowing things WAY out of preportion and it freaks out the masses. You didn't die of SARS, did you? You didn't die of the West Nile Virus, did you? You didn't die of the bird flu, did you? Well chances are that you probably won't die of the swine flu either. So, with that being said, who can go for some pork chops? (and yes, I know you can't catch it from eating pork....but obviously, some don't know that either!)

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  90. Ricky

    It really has. So many people die of the regular flu and people are not going crazy. Teachers here at my college are even making fun of the swine flu. Students here also make fun of it. Whenever someone sneezes, people go "SWINE FLU!" and chuckle. I dont know what to do jack.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  91. Rick Ferguson

    Just look at the numbers, of course it is overblown. Does this mean that it can't turn ugly? This could turn into a night mare literally overnight. But will it? Only time will tell, but it is better to be prepared than sorry or dead.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  92. Stephen Hauskins

    I believe it is important that we are alerted and then can be more cautious about these types of events, but I am in agreement that it seems to be blown out of proportion.

    It would seem that today people are probably cleaner and more careful about where they have been, washing their hands and avoiding things that might give them a cold or the flu. I know that I tend to be aware of people sneezing around me and take some small precautions like moving further away from the sneeze area.

    It is almost like the news needs something to talk about that can be conveyed as scary.;scare people, have them run and hide.

    I always wondered what happen to the Bird Flu pandemic.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  93. arnab

    I dont think the story is overblown , people are concerned because scientists and doctors have said that this is a new kind of a virus and humans have no immunity to it and it is spreading fast , the WHO does not issue a level 5 alert for every kind of flu , I mean have you ever seen the WHO increase their alert level in the normal flu season ? For people like you who travel in their own personal cars and who do not use public transport its ok , but for a New Yorker like me who takes public transport every single day , yes I am genuinely concerned

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  94. Andrew

    Not overblown, no. The average flu kills hundreds of thousands, annually, yes, but that's much less than .1% of those it infects. By varying numbers, the current swine flu is around 3% fatal, which is on par with other pandemic flus. 3% does not seem like much in small numbers of infected, but if this flu were to become widespread and infect half a billion people (very reasonable for influenza) worldwide, that's 15 million dead. Media coverage evokes common sense responses that curtail pandemics, such as simply staying home when sick, and it directly pressures health services globally.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  95. Scientist in Indiana

    Any potential pandemic is important, but the media is going out of control causing people to panic. Are we going to just shut down our country for fear that we may be infected. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that they have identified the "source" or that this is spreading rapidly through the population.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  96. Shane

    This seems like an even more mild form of Flu than the seasonal Flu. Of course I feel it has been overblown. I can't really blame members of the media for doing it though, scaring people into thinking the world is about to explode with some kind of super virus makes for captivating TV and keeps people checking their website for more info.

    Seems like SARS all over again.........

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  97. eric

    Overblown is putting it mildly. But what can we expect? The news media is just another marketplace, and they (including CNN) know fear sells.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  98. Traci

    No, it is NOT overblown! This is getting more serious. My sister works in the health field for infectious control and is directly in contact daily with the CDC. People who are just brushing this off are crazy. This is going to be a pandemic and will not just go away. The President doesn't tell us to cover our mouths and wash our hands on his 100 day address for nothing! Wake up people!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  99. Terry

    Yesssss,everyone is overreacting, schools are closing, sport events are being rescheduled in places where there are no confirmed cases of the swine flu. Even if you do catch it and I hope know one does, it is likely that you will not die from it. This is the same thing we saw with the road rage article a few years back when the media went crazy. The media is doing a great job scaring America for no good reason. Everyone needs to chill out and if you are in an area where the cases are known, then go get yourself or family checked out. Othewise please stop with the panicking

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  100. Brew

    Another case of damned if you do or damned if you don't. Seems like there are too many unknowns for the health establishment ot chance not raising the alert. If nothing comesof it, a good exercise in pandemic managment that will give lessons for the future. If they didn't send up a fllare and it blew up in our faces...then the finger pointing starts.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  101. Kay

    Yes it has been overblown in a number of ways. I can understand being careful until you know what you are dealing with and the type of damage it will cause so I don't fault the CDC, WHO or our government for the coverage and the warnings to wash your hands etc. I like to know what is going on, what to expect and what is expected of me. Knowing someone is at the helm and taking care of the situation rationally is nice and a comfort.

    I do find fault with our 24/7 news media that will jump on any story and beat it to absolute death from as many angles as they can find until it edges from a concern to a fear and then ...even better... a panic... Ratings and viewership are what counts. The days of pure news with just the facts are gone. Spin and the gottcha question as well as soap opera media and their innuendos and twisting of facts are what we see now. I have a hard time knowing what to believe. I listen to the experts then mute the hosts.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  102. Kasia, Atlanta, GA

    Oh, yes. It is exaggerated, blown out of proportion, etc. etc. When you are reporting news 24/7, like cnn does, no news is a bad news. So who killed whom and how bloody it was, the reindeer, which run into the store, the motorcycle, which crashed into the house in Timbuktu, become news of the day. So is this swine flu – one person dead in US, oh my gosh! It's a Spanish Flue all over again on the national TV!!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  103. Liz, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

    The media certainly has maximized its coverage of the swine flu – I would not be overly concerned unless many more cases develop in both the U.S. and Canada, and many more deaths occur. For now, everyone should just follow proper flu etiquette – in other words, be sensible when coughing or sneezing, and stay at home if they feel ill – only go to the doctor if they start feeling ill enough to have all of the symptoms of the swine flu.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  104. John, Fort Collins,CO

    If this is just another strain of ordinary flu, then the story is being well overblown. If it turns into a pandemic variety that kills millions around the globe, it was good the media got on the story early and saved lives. We'll have to wait and see.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  105. Chris from Houston

    Jack,
    I don't the the swine flu story is overblown. It's groundbreaking news when a potential disease that shows signs of easily spreading pops up on our radar screen in which we have no vaccine or natural immunity to the disease.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  106. Jerry

    Simply put – 36,000 deaths per year from the "regular" flu... we've not made it to 1/100th of that yet and already there's mass hysteria. People need to remember what their mother's (hopefully) taught them – cover your mouth and wash your hands, and don't listen to Joe Biden.
    Jerry, Washington, DC

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  107. Matt

    Yes, of course this story is overblown. The same thing happened in 1976, and it was a massive failure for the government. The only difference between now and then is the presence of the internet to perpetuate this fear. No one gives this much attention to the regular flu, or the milions of people that die each year of malaria. Swine flu pandemic is the biggest myth of 2009.

    Fairfax, VA

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  108. Dennis

    It comes down to typical media sensationalism and feeding off of people's fears. As you said, Jack, it produces ratings and sells papers/magazines. Few things generate interest like fear.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  109. Sydney

    Yes, the story would be overblown if the current number of cases and deaths were the only ones expected. But the point with a pandemic risk is the potential problem, not the existing one. This may turn out to be a best case story of a mild virus. But that can never be known initially. If the death or serious illness rate for any easily communicable disease goes above a few percent, the outcome is tremendous disruption, fear and risk for months. So if nothing else, this may turn out to be a good trial run that reminds everyone of the risks we would face from a seriously dangerous and rapidly spreading disease. Because the odds are very high that will happen, sooner or later.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  110. arns

    The extensive coverage must be good because it gets our minds of the state of the economy. And, maybe this panedemic is good for the economy, or at least for the makers of Tamiflu! Wasn't Rumsfeld a one-time CEO of the company that manufactures Tamiflu?

    What is worse? The fear inducing messages used by the media to tyrannize, or the hypnotized, dumb people that cannot pull themselves away from the TV and think for themselves?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  111. Teacher from San Francisco

    I am a middle school teacher, and I have seen several students absent due to the great swine flu paranoia pandemic. Although it is very tragic that many people have died in Mexico (and one in the U.S.) recently, the reaction is clearly overblown. What about the bird flu? What about SARS? Weren't they supposed to wipe out the human race? I do believe that our health agencies need to take quick action to prevent a pandemic, which they are doing. I am personally not going to put on a mask or wash my hands 85 times a day.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  112. Dana G

    Yes its overblown and out of proportion when compared to the reg flu or aids or cancer. What would happen if a deadly pandemic actually occured? With this level of reporting there would be mass hysteria and chaos!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  113. Geoff Beers

    It is a little hard to take seriously. The media has had the human population wiped out twice already with SARS and the Bird Flu. Information is important, but so is responsible reporting.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  114. Sue

    OH, MY GOSH, YES!! This is ridiculous, it must be a slow news week... Closing schools? Closing companies? The "regular" flu is so much more dangerous and we simply let it run its course.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  115. Carla

    You should never under estimate any virus. I find it very strange that the case began in Mexico and the majority of the individuals who live in this country have died.

    Was this man made or just one of those viruses that has now lurked back into the picture since 1918?

    Remember you don't have to go looking for the virus, sometimes it just finds you

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  116. Kath

    Remember SARS anyone? Didn't think so.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  117. JJ in Rockville, MD

    YES. It's absolutely terrible to lose a loved one to any kind of illness, but if people are seriously considering walking around with masks, not going to public places, restricting travel, etc., they should have done it from birth. While Swine Flu is terrible, so is seasonal flu if you don't catch it and treat it! So if you fear Swine Flu, you should probably never leave your home because there are comparable things out there almost all the time. Should you be careful? Sure. Should it be a source of panic across the country? Certainly not.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  118. Mason

    Comforting to know, but still scary as of right now. Many schools around me are being closed (DFW). It's kind of hard not to be scared at a time like this. The economy doesn't need a pandemic to erupt.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  119. Sondra

    I think the coverage has been necessary, especially since the medical community's understanding of the virus has been evolving. But alerting people to the potential is important, I think, to allow them to think ahead and prepare, as well as to take precautions that ultimately might help reduce the spread of the virus. It is also a lesson to everyone that we need to actually think about what the information we are being given actually means, instead of just jumping to conclusions and sensationalism. Even if this virus was as bad as 1918, that doesn't mean you're going to die if you get it; "only" 1% of the people who got the 1918 virus died. That's alot, but it's also a far cry from 100%.

    The real danger, I think, lies in reassessing our actions in hindsight as "unnecessary", and then failing to do the simple things like handwashing and closing schools when a student is likely to have a new, potentially virulent virus the next time. Next time we might not end up with a "mild" virus.....

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  120. Mark Morgan

    Finally someone talking reasonably!!

    Sheesh.

    They trumpet the SINGLE death of a child in Texas...but then they bury the fact that this was a child from Mexico who was brought here for treatment!

    The media is creating this frenzy...NOT...the severity of this flu.

    On average, 98 people die from seasonal flu in the US (36,000 devided by 365 days). Yet people are PANICKED!

    I call on news organizations to resist the temptation to pump up rating by playing to fears. I hurts the economy, scares people needlessly, and only adds to the misconception that people are about to die by the zillions. So far ALL US residents identified have been treated, and none have died, as of April 30, 2009.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  121. Lauren Barberena

    Finally someone making sense. Thank you for some perspective, I am bombarded with a wide range of feelings on this one.

    My mother is an HR manager and is overwhelmed with employees who are having to take off work because their kids schools have shut down. I understand precaution but in this economy these parents can't afford to take off work and can't afford daycare.

    I also have a best friend who is convinced that this is a plot by the Federal Reserve to kill off a third of the population and use the vaccine to control the rest of us and that if we refuse the vaccine we will be forced into concentration camps built by FEMA and labeled terrorists.

    I'm frustrated that I can't rely on what the media is telling us, isn't it your job as a journalist to investigate at report some truths. It seems like you all are just spreading paranoia.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  122. Marc from Quebec

    Swine flu, avian flu, SARS, and the list goes on have killed less people in North America than lightning strikes, yet I don't see the news covering the next thunderstorm.

    It's all about ratings regardless of the impact it causes to viewers. How many people have "cracked" and killed themselves and/or their families because of the bleak economic future portrayed via the media. Would the crisis be this severe if not for the ripple effects of media stuaration?

    Would all these news networks even exist if they weren't fear peddlers. I bet you dollars for donuts that if we all turned off our TVs and lived life from a more local and "realistic" perspective, the population would be much better off. No disrespect intended to you Jack but your piers seem to thrive on shock, fear and scandal, all of which have no real impact on an individuals ability to be happy, healthy and definately wise!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  123. keith Dallas, TX

    I think it has been a bit overhyped, and if it makes a return in the fall at greater strength, like the 1918 Spanish Influenza did, then we are much less likely to heed warnings at that time. It did make for a nice break from 24/7 obama coverage though.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  124. Sean

    It's as big a threat as the Killer Bees, The Y2K bug, the West Nile virus, WMD's and the rest of the panic button issues we collectively wilt over.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  125. Jake

    Absolutely! I'm all for keeping the people informed but let's be honest here...how many people contract AIDS every year? Way more than any of the swine flu numbers people are so quick to panic over. This is a relatively mild disease that is being blown completely out of proportion by widespread media coverage.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  126. Harriet

    People – especially young children – are dying. How can that be overblown? If anything, it should be used as a teachable moment so we can help people learn how to avoid exposure in the future. This flu may not be the deadliest in history – but there's always the risk of something else around the corner. Forewarned is forearmed.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  127. DianeAZ

    I believe it has been overblown. If 250,000 – 500,000 people die worldwide every year from the flu, why is that not considered a pandemic but this is being treated as such? I have not researched it, but on another site, someone posted earnings projections from the maker of Tamiflu. They projected losses in 2008 but heavy government stock piling in 2009. Odd but perhaps explainable.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  128. Mike

    It wont be overblown until we find a cure for it. Until then, it is better to be save than negligent and sorry

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  129. Carla

    You should never under estimate any virus. I find it very strange that the case began in Mexico and the majority of the individuals who live in this country have died.

    Was this man made or just one of those viruses that has now lurked back into the picture since 1918?

    Remember you don't have to go looking for the virus, sometimes it just finds you

    Carla, PA

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  130. Pam

    I definitely think that this has been overblown! After the bird flu scare a few years ago failed to make a go of it, it seems the media was just itching to have something to make a big deal of! Must be that Obama is doing such a good job that there's not much news there, so they'll just grab the next best potential thing that comes along!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  131. Marie

    I don't understand why so few deaths due to Swine Flu is considered a Pandemic – but the fact that 13,000 people in the US who died from complications from seasonal flu since January isn't considered a Pandemic!

    I'm not sure I understand that thinking .... and while it is important to be informed, I think people are going a bit overboard. If people would just practice good hygiene I think we would be in a better place.

    Manhattan, NY

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  132. Karen - Bethpage, NY

    Yes, perhaps. It seems that the complications from and the prevalence of the "regular" flu are worse than this current swine flu scare. The CDC came out and said the best way to combat the spread of this latest flu is to simply wash your hands and cover your mouth - the same instructions as for the common cold; hardly a crisis. Maybe it's just easier to wrap our collective heads around something easily fixed than the headier issues facing all of us right now.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  133. Tanya, Manhattan Beach, CA

    All network/cable news is overblown, and often lacking in facts. For example, how many television journalists presented this fact, published by Web MD, about a pandemic: pandemic phases 1 thru 6 are about how the virus is (or isn't) spreading - they're not about the severity of the disease.

    The public needs to know precautions to take to guard against catching this or any other flu, but stop trying to create panic to raise the ratings!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  134. Phil

    Once again we are caught in a problem of connotation versus denotation. Yes we have a pandemic, however a pandemic doesn't in itself imply catastrophy, merely that numerous significant and distnct parts of the world are affected.

    But how severe is the effect? No very. We could be suffering from a pandemic of the giggle-pox and I'll bet people would still be in a frenzy.

    Yes it is overblown. The mortality rate for this disease is low, but people are in a tizzy because of sensationalist hyperbole. I for one am not going to bother with a gas mask to fight off the sniffles.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  135. debbie

    I live in mexico, close to Cancun, everything is empty and they are a lot of cancellations, this will hurt us a lot... I understand there were some cases, mexico DF is a huge city with more than 20.000.000 people living there, 150 deaths, is not much, i m sure they are more deaths in car accidents every day.It will be a good idea if they let us know how the first victims were living, if they went to the doctor or just take a pain killer, etc i agree that prevention is important, now we know the swine flu exist and we are more prepared, but over all, I really think that they are either hiding part of the true or this story been overblown,

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  136. Keith from Detroit, MI

    Yes, it's overblown and I'm tired of hearing about it.

    Although, hearing Biden tell people to avoid airplanes is always nice. I'm sure the airlines loved that!!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  137. Jeff Hart

    Overblown?! Try WAY OVERBLOWN!! There is a point where it get ridiculous and we're just about there!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  138. robert houston

    jack, i agree with you 100%, this swine flu story has overblown and beyond, are ratings all the main stream media care about?? because from where i'm sitting it sure sems that is the case. and i have the cure for that particular problem it's called a clicker, it sure works wonders for me. bob houston

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  139. Mickey

    Yes, yes, yes. People are in a panic without realizing that common influenza strikes more frequently and causes more deaths every year. Chill out people. Take precautions and everything will be okay.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  140. Bartman

    Yes, yes, yes. Seems like everything is getting overblown. Like the flyover in NYC. C'mon folks get with it!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  141. Vincent

    Has the story been overblown? Yes and No.

    Yes because the number of cases are very limited at the moment and the strain itself appears to be somewhat mild (despite the seemingly more aggressive response in Mexico City which may be due to other factors not related to the flu).

    No because this flu has elements to it that are cause for concern. As a different strain that hasn't been seen before, combining various bird, pig and human elements it is very difficult to predict the path it will take. Perhaps even more concerning is that what we currently see now is very similar to the events leading up to deadly epidemics in the past where the first wave of the flu is very mild and then when flu season hits and the virus interacts with normal influenza it mutates to a much more dangerous strain.

    The best way to prevent this fall season from being remembered as one in which the world faced a major deadly pandemic is to act now with a high level of caution to reduce the spread of this virus and contain it as much as possible while we still have time to develop a vaccine.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  142. AngelaB

    Yes. Doesn't the media have ANYTHING else to cover?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  143. Max Fields, Prescott, AZ.

    In their tradition of not letting a good crisis go to waste, The Swine Flue fixation by the liberal media is a cover for something else going on that the Obama Admin. doesn't want us to know about.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  144. Matthew H.

    I'm not worried by the swine flu. It appears to be less harmful than the regular flu. The sensational coverage it has been receiving is unwarranted.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  145. Ron in Viginia

    Absolutely! Have we forgotten that approximately 36,000 Americans die ever year due to seasonal flu? I should hope Americans routinely wash their hands regardless of Swine Flu. If the media, attention-cravers and drama-seekers continue this hype, then we have only ourselves to blame when the economy TRULY comes to a stop. A doctor informing the public with facts is one thing. Infusing fear into our society or creating frenzy is something else entirely.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  146. Scott

    Yes it has been overblown-must be a slow news week....

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  147. gwen

    Perhaps, but it's better to error on the side of caution. The fact remains that this is a new strain, from animals, and we aren't sure how it will spread or the effects it will have on the masses. So I would say better safe than sorry.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  148. Steve Brahm

    World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to the second highest level — of 5 —...
    should be 'of 6'. It is currently at level 5 but there are 6 levels.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  149. Alex

    It's funny how the swine flu is keeping everyone in Mexico at home at the time of their election...people won't be going out to vote for the opposition...

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  150. Brett

    I am a doctor. Pretty much every other illness/cold/hiccup on earth is more fatal than this one. This ridiculousness has to stop.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  151. Christopher michaels

    As usual... YES!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  152. Keith Myers

    As with most of the lead stories in the news recently, impending doom and destruction seems to sell. The flu, economy, terrorism, oil prices, taxes, deficeit spending, bank failures. the war(s).....
    I went for a walk in Central Park the other day, apparently the tulips and cherry blossoms must not have heard the news.
    K.Myers
    Lake Forest, CA

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  153. ted stojkovski

    Has the media overblown the severity of Swine Flu? Absolutely not! Be sure to tune in tonight for “exclusive coverage” of day 286 of the “Tot Mom” scandal...

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  154. Matt Mitchell

    Absolutely. The Media has once again taken something that is small and blown in way out of proportion in order to spread fear and generate news. The only reason we are actually finding more cases of H1N1 is because we are LOOKING for it, we would find anything if we looked hard enough. Millions of people die everyday from infections, why become panicked over this one. The government is doing a great job containing it and that will most likely be enough.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  155. Robert in Houston

    Of course, the Swine Flu story has been overblown! The numbers speak for themselves when combined with "other flu". You said it yourself, the media obsession with the story increases ratings...and increased ratings means more money for the networks, period. Frankly, most "stories" are overblown and hyped for the same reason ..."doom and gloom 24/7" increases ratings which increases income for the networks. This is not rocket science.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  156. John

    Yes it has, but no more so than Obama doing a great job. I guess the swine flu didn't it?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  157. Jose Martinez

    Finally, some common sense.
    I am sure that if the flu has come from Kansas, we wouldn't be talking about it.
    Thanks for reminding us that we tend to miss the target. We are nation of booms and busts.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  158. Lekha

    I think this has been blown out of proportion. In a country where the focus right now still needs to be on economy and the job market, this constant bombarding with "dealy flu" that killed less than 20 people does not need to be creating even more fear in people. WHO's threat level ratings do not help either. Nor do comments like "Entire humanity is at risk" . Entire Humanity is also at risk from AIDS and Cancer. We need to put this is perspective. It is less than .001% of teh population.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  159. Trudi

    I"ve been wondering the same thing myself. If most of the cases are so relatively mild, why all the fuss? Is there something we're not being told?

    Trudi – Reisterstown, MD.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  160. gfulcher

    Overblown? I'd say. It's been a slow couple of weeks for mass media, so why not drum up some mass hysteria?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  161. Christine, California

    TOTALLY! It's only been a few days, but already I'm tuned out. Like you say people die of flu every year, this is no different. But with 24 hr news coverage, I guess they have to fill the time with something. What has happened so far does not warrant the saturation of coverage we've seen.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  162. Norma

    Yes, it has been overblown. On to Mr. Bidens comments. He only repeated what the media and CDC has been saying for days. Dr. Mark Gendreau says commercial aircraft can serve as vehicle of rapid disease spread. The tv commercial showing the reporter on the subway (or some type of public transportation) talking about some one holding onto a bar after someone has touched the bar, and then taking a sit, putting the same hand that held the bar on the seat, can spread the disease. Sneezes can be the cause. I don't think he should, or the president's office has anything to correct or apologize for regarding Mr. Biden's comments. Keep telling it like it is Joe Biden. It seems to me that he is taking the directions of the CDC seriously. If, he were not, then we would all be in deep trouble. We would be saying how can he be so stupid or unthinking–spreading the disease or at least helping to spread the disease. He disobeyed the CDC.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  163. Simon

    Of course it has been overblown! People love to panic and the media loves to stoke the fire. Could swine flu develop into a serious pandemic? Of course! Is it likely to? Probably not. We live in an over-reactive society where, it seems, over-reaction is not as big a sin a under-reaction and the witch hunts for whom 'to blame'.

    If I get sick and start growing a snout and little curly tail I'll worry, untill then I'll continue to obsess over my 401K.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  164. Carrie

    Yes, the story has been overblown! Period. It's a pretty sad state of affairs when the media is compelled to remind people to cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze, and to wash their hands... Completely silly.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  165. Alejandro Sarria

    Sure it has been, but you know what, the swine flu is at least giving us a break from the anemic economy and in a way is a good opportunity for governments to test their emergency response systems. Luckily, this time in the US we didn't have to look under the rocks for our president to take charge of the situation as it was the case when Katrina hit the gulf years ago.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  166. Tod in Danbury, CT

    Absolutely. These days, it seems that the role of the media is not just to report the news, but to make sure that the public is in a constant state of panic.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  167. Chad from Los Angeles, CA

    I just hope it keeps the lines at Disneyland short this weekend, since I will be there!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  168. Jordan

    Not to sound like a hateful right-wing ideologue, but the media always clings to these sort of stories, playing on the fears of readers and viewers in order to boost ratings. We saw it with SARS, West Nile and the Avian flu. I appreciate the Federal government's planning in case of a serious pandemic – better safe than sorry is a good philosophy when dealing with matters of life and death – but there's a limit to how much fear-mongering is acceptable by the media. How about a novel approach – report the facts but keep the hysteria and sensationalism to a minimum?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  169. Frank Dyer

    Jack: It sees like everything is overblown these days. Back in 1968 when the Hong Kong flu hit I was in Jr. college and about half of the 800 students that lived on campus came down with the flu. So bad that they almost shut down. It was just considered part of life and everything continued on pretty much normal. There was no hype or any big deal. Just a lot of people attending class were not at 100%.

    Frank Dyer
    Jensen Beach, FL

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  170. Merrissa Camarena

    This morning around 8 a.m. CNN had 6/20 headlines about the swine flu on its Latest News, it has fluctuated throughout the day. Most articles repeat what the last has already said. So with that part, I do agree it may be a bit overblown and inconsistent. The statistics change with every article so to have any accurate knowledge, you really have to pay attention. One thing CNN should add is something like a map or a list with areas that are greatly affected by the flu. It would help those who have predetermined trips to Mexico. I myself will be on a cruise to Mexico at the end of May, so I wonder what will I be walking in to.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  171. MAC

    from Butler, PA... Jack, to say it's overblown may be an understatement. Wouldn't you agree the media and government like to keep people "scared" or is it just a game to keep attention off more important issues ? My wife and I were just talking about this the other day. What ever happened to SARS, bird flu, West Nile, mad cow ? Just like other pop culture fads, these scare tactic diseases seem to have been forgotten.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  172. Bill

    Extremely overblown. Makes me wonder what else is going on they're trying to distract us from. Perhaps the fact that the hypocritical Dems with all their "outrage" during the recent CIA memo release on torture, only to find those same exact Dems were in on conversations regarding those exact memos and their content?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  173. Judy

    I agree – totally overblown – I am to a point where I'm not going to watch t.v. or turn my computer on, because who needs the extra worry? Concentrate on things in life that are important -

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  174. Deborah

    YES!!! Thank you for pointing out the PANIC. It is however; par for the course.

    Keep it real!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  175. Edwin

    I'll post this again. The Swine Flu has been blown way out of proportion. This is yet another example of our fear-mongering media making a mountain out of a anthill.

    The death that is being reported in the United States wasn't even a US citizen, it was a mexican toddler whose parents brought him to Texas for treatment; may he rest in peace.

    Here in Phoenix, Arizona, I have seen people out in public wearing masks, and I think the whole thing is ridiculous. If people are that afraid of a virus, they may as well live in a bubble. Until I personally get sick from this, I won't do things any differently than I am now.

    And being from on the most racists cities that I have personally ever lived in, I know it's only a matter of time before our grandstanding Sheriff Joe Arpaio takes advantage of this situation to push his anti Mexican policies.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  176. judy,indianapolis,indiana

    No it has not been overblown, In fact if the media has overblown anything it was the presidents first 100 days. All the coverage on that over took absolutely everything. Just let the man do his job for goodness sake. We should be informed of everything having to do with this flu so we can remain aware.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  177. Glenn Dykstra

    Extremely overblown! Pakistan a nuclear power is fighting insurgents that they invited into there country. But don't worry the heat blast from a nuclear missle should effectively eradicate the flu virus if the taliban or Iran get their hands on one......Grandville Michigan

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  178. Kenny

    The swine flu "epidemic" is most definitely overblown. This entire media storm is disgusting. The only reason the media cares is because the U.S. has been affected–not because of the actual cost of human life.

    What of the 16,000 children dying each day of starvation? The millions of women raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict? The millions of children killed in that conflict? The people slaughtered–daily–in Somalia and Sudan.

    This is absolutely ridiculous and a horrifying reflection of our own narcissism. We should all reflect on the daily horror at least 1/3 of our world's humans have incurred before going into full-out panic over this fairly easily quarantined disease.

    -Kenny
    Eau Claire, WI

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  179. Sal

    Yes it has been overblown, but it is understandable. People love to use the word "epidemic" and although this is an epidemic (higher than endemic diesease rates) and boardering on a pandemic the mortality rate is quite low and the morbidity rate even lower.

    The true story here should be how H1N1 Influenza A became pathogenic to humans. If H1N1 were able to incorporate aspects of swine flu, human flu, and bird flu into one benign flu then it stands to reason that the potenetial for influenza to incorporate more pathogenic genes from various influenza strains is very possible. And having an epidemic or pandemic of H5N1 with a high mortality rate–that is a story.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  180. Jeanie Windsor

    I think the media plays on the fears of the general public with all the scare tactic stories. It's the same as always people, wash your hands, eat healthy, take vitamins and stay away from sneezy, icky sick people.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  181. Debra Schiff

    It may well be overblown for the current outbreak of the Swine Flu, but the way the world handles this "flu pandemic" is a dry run for when the real thing hits. I am happy to see that all nations are taking this seriously and putting steps in place to stop the spread. It gives me comfort for the future.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  182. Sarah Frederick

    I think that the media is blowing this out of portion. Remember that the seasonal flu has killed 13,000 people so far this year. The seasonal flu has killed 800 people per week and that doesn't make the news why is the swine flu?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  183. David Stone

    Absolutely, 100% YES. You are right on target Jack. All the experts say the impact of the virus is the same as the regular flu, which also kills a certain number of weakened people each year. One person has died in America and I believe he was a Mexican citizen who came here for treatment. Yet this thing simply dominates the news cycles, day and night. Time will show this to have been one of the most over-hyped non-stories of the year.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  184. James from SC

    I think that since your asking the question you know the simple answer....

    YES

    I am sick of hearing about this. Its absolutely crazy to be this overwhelmed with information about this purely based on the very limited information that you have specified in the article.

    All of this talk about a non issue has created fear to a degree that is mindboggling. People at work literally scared about it. Hand sanitizer being sold out all over. Exectutives at our company wasting valuable time on emergency meetings about the topic.

    I live 10 minutes from a city where they have just confirmed 10 cases of this and they are actually shutting down that school district tommorrow. While I believe its smart to be cautious I think its also smart to look at real numbers and facts and make wise decisions based on that instead of fear.

    Unwarranted spread of fear... Exactly what this is.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  185. James Taylor (Texas)

    Yes, it is overblown. Simply put, the seasonal flu kills more people every year and gets NO press. This kills a few people and because it's "new", somehow the swine flu is now the equivalent of the 1918 outbreak? Why is the word "pandemic" used without the context of how the CDC/WHO is using it?

    I always wash my hands, avoid people who are sick (as much as I can), and don't travel to Mexico. So, how is this somehow different than the normal influenza that plagues us in the winter? Well, other than the Mexico connection, I mean.

    The press needs to find another boogeyman to hype. Right now it's swine flu... next week it'll be something else that would otherwise be mundane and trivial. You press folks are great at that. Remember SARS?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  186. Katie Cunningham

    I am personally disgusted by the media at this moment in time. From the blatant, unchallenged support for Obama (Who I voted for, however, under no circumstance should any media outlet have such an obvious bias in favor of any political candidate, much less the President) to the current frenzy over what is actually a very mild version of a virus that kills thousands in the US per year, it is disheartening to see that American journalism has resorted to whatever will sell the most papers, essentially cashing in on what is an all time high of American ignorance, fear, and laziness.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  187. Allen - Illinois

    The media reporting of the Swine Flu cases so far is ridiculous and irresponsible. The journalistic approach to let facts lead the story is lost behind the urge to sensationalize it because it is so easy to stir up concern.

    There should not be a panic over this. The numbers for flu cases and fatalities each year plus the apparent mild nature of this virus should lead a right minded person to responsibly state the obvious. It is way too soon to declare anything close to a pandemic. Many facts would have to change to make that possible.

    What ever happened to scrutinizing the facts to accurately convey the situtation with responsible reporting? And for a journalist to state that he/she understands that there may be some overreacting by the media while the bottom third of the screen is plastered with a questions "Is a Pandemic Near" is laughable.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  188. Matt (boston)

    yes like everything else in this country, but I still feel it is worthy news. People just need to be smart, sneeze into your arm, wash your hands, cover your cough.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  189. Elizabeth Morgantown, WV

    Dear Jack,

    It's all well and good that they're looking for cases of the swine flu, but it's also worth keeping in mind that they've been looking for Osama Bin Laden for years and we all know how utterly unfruitful that search has been!!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  190. Carolyn

    I don't think its over blown and many still have questions. This new strain we are being told is a combination of Human, Avian, and Swine. My question is how would the strain combaine inless there was Avian flu in North America. Hoping for some answers.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  191. Ed Via

    Yup, overblown. Just read an article in the May Harper's in which the author states: "Never before in the history of the world have so many people lived as long, as safely, or as freely as those of us now living in the U.S. And never before in the history of the world have so many of those same people made themselves sick with the fears of an imaginary future." Our media loves our fear. Thrives on it, in fact.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  192. Gonzalo

    First of all in no uncertain terms the swine flu has been overblown indee, but with good reason.

    It is an especially virulent strain of which young people have no natural immunity to, and thus it attacks otherwise young people with strong immune systems as the latest data w/respect to deaths from swine flu in Mexico have confirmed.

    Basically those that are elderly and children are not the most at risk, but it is the young people in the prime of their lives of which are most vulnerable.

    Therefore it is and should be overblown for it spreading worldwide from person to person of which could inflict such harm or has the potentialityh to kill millions.

    Have a nice day.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  193. Nathan

    Wow, someone that is reporting what I have been thinking from day one! Absolutely this is overblown. In fact, it is out of control!

    By the way, you and I polar opposites on most issues but I like reading what you have to say. Keep up the good work!

    Nathan
    Plymouth, Indiana, USA

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  194. Dolly Morrow

    I think the story has been over blown. This is not 1918. Not that the flu isn't here, but the world is aware of it and is prepared for it. My Mother was a little girl in 1918 and I remember her telling me that so many people were dieing so fast during the winter that bodies had to be stacked up outside until Spring. She lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  195. Bill from TX

    Thank God! A voice of reason who understands that while any deaths due to illness are tragic, the numbers for the "typical" influenza (200-500 thousand deaths per year globally) are (based on the data) far more threatening than this new strain.

    We see a new influenza strain (or multiple strains) every year and the US death tolls average around 35,000 per year. Influenza is influenza. This particular strain is trying to gain a foothold as temperatures and humidity are rising (both of which get people out of enclosed spaces and hinder the spread of the disease).

    This isn't the Andromeda Strain, it is a variant of the same disease that kills thousands every year and other than warnings for susceptible people to "get their shots" and admonitions to wash your hands this shouldn't be the terror that it has been built into.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  196. Burton

    Jack,

    I do believe this story is being overblown. Mostly I blame the media. I know they need stories and to sell newspapers, but to put Americans in a state of panic over 109 U.S. cases is ridiculous and selfish.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  197. H Jay from NYC

    I agree Jack the hype has been driven by the media and the dying newspaper business. The numbers just don't bear out having world wide panic.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  198. Lareesa

    I believe the swine flu story has been completely overblown. I do not understand why such a big deal is being made out of a virus that apparently can be treated with current flu medications and seems to be mild. The medical care and standard of living in Mexico is not that great so of course more people have died there from this virus because they can't or won't get medical attention. It just doesn't make sense for this to be called pandemic unless of course you want to classify the common cold as pandemic too! I think people have went into a state of panic and need to calm down and get a grip.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  199. DEBBIE B

    YES. It's been overblown. More scare tactics on the television and they go on and on and on.........all the channels I might add. I couldn't get away from it. Finally turned the television off. Maybe thats the best way to get away from all the negative news.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  200. Jen T

    Swine flu is being completely overblown by the media. I don't understand why there has been all this media coverage when its only killed a few hundred people world wide? The regular flu kill hundreds of thousands of people world wide each year. Why should I be more concerend about the swine flu? No one has proven that you're more likely to die from it. Why all of the attention over something so insignificant? Am I missing something? This is a media driven story that is blown out of proportion! And it was made worse by the vice president saying Americans should not travel in confined spaces.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  201. Dave Tyson

    Yes, the so called "swine flu" is overblown. The New World Order needs to insight panic and fear to distract the public from the global financial scams they have perpetrated. Wake up America. Support the legislation to audit the privately owned "federal" reserve.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  202. Craig

    Simply amazing, to even imply this is overblown is ludicris considering you would be amoung the first to say the government did not do enough if this turns into a true pandemic.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  203. Jes

    The socialistic agenda of the Obama administration wants to create more government dependence. Thus the left-wing media (which is most of it) is working hand in hand with the administration to spread the message of fear. There has been very little rationality in this entire ordeal. But then again there is very little rationality in neither the media nor the administration.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  204. Annie Melhado

    Absolutely Jack! just seeing the T.V coverage is making me sick...enough already!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  205. Jo Ann Gurley

    Of course it's been overblown. That's what the news media does with EVERY story.

    Rockport, TX

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  206. cheschartx

    Yes, this has been WAY overblown. Over 20,000 people die every year from the flu. Why don't we ever hear about that? They've closed down some schools for close to 2 weeks here in Texas. The problem: they're holding special "day care" sessions for all the students while school is out. So, they're gathering the students together, just not in school, per se. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, and just use common sense. Yes, the flu is dangerous, and, yes, it is a health risk, but I'm not wearing a mask yet.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  207. Mike

    Yes, anything that crowds the overblown Obama story from the front page is by definition overblown.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  208. Patrick

    Yes. Already sick of the press talking about it! So Mexico had somewhere around 150 deaths... near a city of 8 million. What were your odds... 0.00001875 odds you would croak from it?

    It shouldn't even be rated a pandemic yet if it isn't affecting at least 5% of the world population.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  209. Kim

    Yes! Yes! Yes! If I see the CDC director Dr. Besser one more time in the media talking about he expects deaths, I believe I'm going to through my hands up in the air and start SREAMING! Enough already with the Heads of State in the media and all the press conferences as well as the school closures. We don't close schools during the normal flu season why are we closing them now...especially seeing that those who had it were only mildly ill and are currently well. Sometimes I feel like the people at the CDC and other public health officials are being opportunistic and are using this virus to grab their 5 minutes of fame. The Media definitely need to be more responsible.

    Geeessssh

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  210. Honey Thompson

    As a journalism student ,I am disgusted with the way the media has overblown the "swine-flu." When the reports first came out I did my own research about the flu and the previous pandemics. The swine-flu is overblown and as Mr. Cafferty has pointed out here the regular flu virus strain kills more people than this swine-flu has.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  211. Terry in Tulsa

    Completely. And I don't understand why. I believe it was CNN that pointed out a couple of days ago that 13,000 deaths have occurred already this year from standard flu strains. No headlines on that. It's almost like if there isn't some partisan blowup on Capital Hill, the focus immediately turns to the most available armageddon hype.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  212. Jeff M

    No! Those ads don't sell themselves.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  213. Coral

    I just got back from a trip to Mexico, I was in Playa Del Carmen. I've been offically shunned at work and by friends who won't come over to visit or talk about my trip for what they said was at least 3 days to make sure I don't have the swine flu. How frickin ridiculous! If I was sick I would know. I wouldn't invite my friends over if I were sick, no matter what sickness it was. Totally blow out of proportion, like you said, over 36k people die every year from regular flu and one person has died so far from this. blah!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  214. NADINE

    What makes this flu any different than any other strand of flu that takes lives?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  215. Liz

    Thank you for saying it, Jack! I say it's very overblown. I was in high school when the last flu scare blew through and what we're hearing now sounds exactly the same.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  216. Charla in TX

    I really don't understand the big hub bub about this. "Regular" influenza kills many adults and children every year but the media and the gov't don't go around scaring the sanity out of the public. Seems like nothing can be done in the United States unless it is done to an excess. Thanks to the overkill reporting, we now have other nations needlessly killing off their entire pig population.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  217. Christian

    I believe this is 100% media hype. Not to say we do not need to be aware, but as you mentioned – look at the numbers and the speed of the actual outbreak. SARS, Avian Flu, ect issomething that keeps people buying papers, turning into CNN, and logging on to websites. Mexico City has 11 million people I believe. So lets give them the 150 deaths – that is .0000136 %. When you look at total cases in the US that is 110 out of 300 million or sorry my calculator did not have that many 0's. If you are not araid of the regular flu – than you should not be afraid of this one. But what it may do is alert more people to keep kids home and people home from work when they are infected with the regular flu. That I can only hope happens in Cubicle central.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  218. Hospital Employee

    As a non-clinical hospital employee (no direct patient contact) in San Antonio, Texas, I am relieved that my hospital is putting in place procedures and back-up plans to address this situation, should it worsen. I do think the media coverage might cause undue alarm, but the trade-off is that more steps may be taken that might prevent further death. That is a good trade in my opinion.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  219. Linda

    I don't know if it has been over blown or not. I hope so. But I do know If they would leave Joe Biden alone and let him tell it like it is, people would stay home and try to keep this stuff from spreading as much as possible.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  220. R. Guerrero / Houston Texas

    If deaths that occur during regular flu season were to get the same world- wide coverage, I imagine people would be in as much if not more panic as they are now. Given the lack of knowledge associated with this stain of flu, is it responsible to be at the high alert we are in now?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  221. David

    There are 250 cases worldwide, out of 6 billion people. I'd say it is way overblown. Then again, WHO knows?

    David, Chicago

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  222. Nicole

    I think that this story is something that causes ratings to spike. I think that our current situation in this country thrives on panic attacks – look at the raising or lowering of the terrorist alert. The regular flu kills more people annually, and it doesn't receive this amount of coverage. We've survived pandemics before, and we'll surrive them long after you and I are dead. I think we should live our lives the way that we always do and take the precautions that we take when people around us are sick with the regular flu. Good hygine goes a long way to keeping us healthy.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  223. Alan

    I think they are handling it very good, and keeping us informed, I would rather be fed too much info then no info at all. It is very encouraging to finally have a government that cares about it's citizens.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  224. Stacy, Fairfax, VA

    While the numbers affected so far come no where near those for a normal flu season, they did the right thing to err on the side of caution for two reasons. One is that it is not the normal flu season and two, awareness and education about the status of a virus were not shared with the masses during previous deadly flu outbreaks. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  225. Confused

    Logic tells me yes it has been overblown. But I'm observing event cancellations. A playdate was cancelled for one of my friends children because the mother was afraid to let her child out of the house. Our class reunion at the end of May is looking doubtful because people who were flying in are canceling. The local alum are having second thoughts too. I don't live in a state that has 1 case. I'm confused... this is the flu, not AIDS. But yet when AIDS became epidemic in the early 80's several thousand Americans died before the President even uttered the word AIDS in a speech. I don't get it, someone please explain to me why I should be afraid of the flu. I've had it before, it just wasn't the swine flu but the symptoms are the same.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  226. Tom Aschauer

    How am I supposed to know if the main stream media are overblowing the Swine flu pandemic if the main stream media are the only place I get my information about it?

    And to try and trust the non-mainstream media (like social networking sites) would be just plain silly.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  227. Jenny

    I believe the story has been overblown, because a lot of other things have happened, and the fact that this overshadows all makes it look like the government has something to hide. Convenient that people forgot about the bailout gone wrong or the companies that were pissing people off by overspending...

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  228. Kate

    I agree in thinking that it has been overblown – there was a huge panic a couple years back regarding avian flu which never really materialized into a huge thing. And not to minimize the deaths of those people who have died from this strain, but as was stated, regular flu kills tens of thousands of people each year in this country alone and people don't tend to panic about that.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  229. Rami

    I happen to be a physician, but not in a field related infectious disease. I am completey baffled by the hysteria that has been generated by the media, goverment officials, and even academic physicians. It is clearly a far smaller problem than the regular flu. And completely pales in comparison to one of the worst public killers in this country, our national highway and roads system. Now theres a problem deserving true hysteria. Any of us could die any day out there.
    It is time for media, the politicians, and and the academics to start seeing the forest though the trees.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  230. Keith

    Yes it has completely been overblown. The number of cases and deaths compared to the regular flu is drastically less. The major news outlets should only be covering new developments and not rehashing the same crap over and over and over again. There are other things going on in the world.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  231. Dave in San Diego

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! It's about time somebody in the mainstream media said this out loud! This hysteria is totally crazy. And we have yet to hear from anyone why this popped up as such an incredible "threat to humanity." 257 cases out of 5 BILLION is hardly something to get worked up about. Would you go out and quit your job and buy a mansion if you were told you had a 1 in 19,500,000 chance of winning the lottery?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  232. Don (Ottawa)

    We're at the beginning of a pandemic Jack. Don't you think it is better to over react now than panic if things get out of control?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  233. MIke

    I think although there is cause for heightened caution among people that the so-called and slowly escalating "pandemic" is happening. I feel that the press has W-A-Y overblown the truths of the disease and is causing people to freak out!! Sure there are people who are becoming sick, but the sensationalism is just too juicy for reporters to let go......remember to wash you hands...

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  234. James

    Jack,

    Every year 36,000 people die from the flu. Hwo come people aren't in a panic about that? Don't those people count because it isn't swine flu??

    Jim

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  235. Gina, Philly

    Yes with words and phrases that include "iminent pandemic", "number of cases sky rocket". Gosh the Egyptians are killing all there pigs due to the panic instilled by the Media coverage. Unless something changes drastically all coverage of the Swine Flu (excuse me the H1N1, let me be politically correct here) should stop so we can go on with our lives.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  236. Brandi H

    YES this has been way overhyped. It has done nothing, but put people in a panic. I understand we need to know these things, but to me its just another FLU. U go to the doc, get the proper care and go take care of yourself. Now, everyone is thinking they have swine flu even with just a sneeze.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  237. Cleveland in Chicago, IL

    Absolutely not Jack. I just did some simple back of the envelope calculations, and this is what I found. If the infection rate in the U.S. is 10 percent, then 30 million people will get sick with this disease. If you have 1 death per 100 cases, then the number of deaths in the U.S. alone will be 300,000. So, to suggest that the swine flu story is overblown is actually irresponsible.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  238. Darlene Armijo

    Yes, it is being overblown. Probably some pharmacitical provider needs to make more money.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  239. Robert

    Yes, the swine flue story has been overblown. I understand the severity of the influenza virus, especially a virus which is a hybrid of brid, pig and human elements. However, this is not "the end of days" or a "national security threat that trumps all others". The media should report how to be safe and the details of the swine flu virus but don't beat a dead horse about the severity of the flu.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  240. Lloyd

    Based on the data that is available, it does appear that people are reacting to the name "swine flu" and the news event more than the reality of the situation. But this seems to be par for the course for our generation, which also leads to a lack of confidence in the mainstream media. That's not to say that there is nothing to worry about because of course there is. But there are not any grounds to support the level of fear that the media is presenting. Moreover, the victims of Katrina had the data to support the help they needed but didn't receive it. The paradox is interesting and again reflects how leadership can be persuaded or manipulated at all levels of government. What was the question?

    Lloyd Peterson
    Author

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  241. John

    Overblown? Hmmm..CNN had 10 top stores on the sidebar this morning and the first 5 were swine related. Give me a break already! People talk about the plane flying over NYC this week as a felony of stupidity causing panic for no reason. Well the swine flu scare being pushed by the media is just as stupid. Tell people avoid Mexico for now and if you feel the flu coming take care of it like....THE FLU! SARS, Avian Flu, Mad Cow, the Boogie Monster....the list goes on. People just need to relax already!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  242. Chris

    Absolutely overblown. I think the numbers say it best...36,000/year for the typical flu and we have seen 1 death in week or so. I think news organizations are grasping for anything they can find. The sadest part, is with the economy the way it is, they are already milking that to death, and hurting the economy more with overblown media coverage. Now this overblown media coverage is not going to help. Fact of the matter is media is always lookig for something bad, and unfortunately if you tell teh population the sky is falling everyday they are going to beliee it or at least question it.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  243. Robert - Florida

    Jack,

    The Merchants of Panic are working overdrive on this one. They're trying spin half-truths and lies into actual news. Thousands of people die from the flu every year, but we're not running for the bunker. I see no need to do it now.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  244. keith

    I hope you are right and the story is overblown. I hope that this flu doesn't do much more. But I like to know what's going on as information is gathered. I appreciate what the press has done so far.
    But I don't own an airline or company that can lose money over this. I can tell you my heart goes out to the families and victims of this flu-not the poor company that stands to have another bad quarter. After all there is no bail out for these families.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  245. Kevin

    In my opinion, this has been overblown quite a bit. Just because something is new and slightly different does not mean we should change our entire lifestyle, which is what some are suggesting. Just like with SARS a few years ago, and the Bird Flu more recently, this will blow over and pass. We can't even get various state and national agencies to agree on what to do. In Texas, we have all athletic competitions cancelled until May 11, but not all schools are closed. That makes no sense.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  246. tammy

    definitely been blown out of proportion. I live in Dallas & can't believe Ft. Worth ISD closed its schools. Millions of people die of AIDS every year in Africa–that should be more cause for alarm.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  247. Jacob Clausen

    The media grabbed a hold of the Swine Flu as the latest ratings scare tactic, and it proved to be quite an effective distraction from real issues in the world. And even though more information has come out on the less-than-lethal virility of the Swine Flu, the media is still holding onto it and pumping up this story as the only important thing going on in the world right now. I however have realized that this is no more dangerous than a weird cold.

    -Jacob
    Chicago, IL

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  248. Eric

    I'm not sure the country has an outbreak of the flu, or if it's just hype. But I can't be bothered to answer more fully... my SARS is acting up... as is my Avian flu, my ebola, my flesh-eating-bacteria, and my killer bee welts.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  249. Brenda

    Jack,

    How many rounds of medication is in our stockpile? 30 million rounds?

    What is the population of the United States of America? 307 million

    You do the math. . .

    April 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  250. AP Stanco

    When one considers the number of people who have been affected by the Swine Flu, I readily becomes evident the media is playing this event for all it's worth because it sells! The one question I have is, it seems strange that this epedimic started in Mexico as opposed to say India or China or from the continent of Africa where human population is more dense than Mexico. THAT, raises a question in my mind.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  251. Dan

    The most likely situation is that this entire response is completely overblown and a tremendious over reaction, but there is still the small chance that this is not an over reaction. That small chance does not really justify all of the media attention and borderline panic that is being created but it does justify the governments response. All possible pandemic flu strains deserve a serious response, but there is too much panic with not enough data.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  252. Cade

    Jack,

    I'm a college student in Fort Worth, TX. They just closed our city's school district with 80,000 students because one student was confirmed. They also just canceled our Mayfest for the weekend. They are going a little CRAZY with this flu crisis stuff. But, if they want to cancel finals for me next week, I encourage that.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  253. Dan

    The most likely situation is that this entire response is completely overblown and a tremendious over reaction, but there is still the small chance that this is not an over reaction. That small chance does not really justify all of the media attention and borderline panic that is being created but it does justify the governments response. All possible pandemic flu strains deserve a serious response, but there is too much panic with not enough data.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  254. Bob Sakowski

    ¨But when you take a look at the numbers, it seems like the story might be overblown…¨

    Give me a break. If the story goes under reported and the pandemic does occur, then the morons would then be demanding to know why no one took it serious.

    What a question. NOT!

    Bob Sakowski
    Orlando, FL

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  255. William

    It would seem that the media coverage of this strain of flu virus is slightly overblown. I agree would say that it is necessary to take precautions for a virus that humans have not built up an immunity to, but this is not the kind of breaking news that should command second by second coverage from all of the major news networks. Are we really working to solve a problem, or are we creating a ploblem to solve a previously slow newsweek?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  256. Amy M., Houston TX.

    I absolutely think that the media is on the verge of causing a panic. Using common sense can and will prevent the spread of ANY unwanted germ(s). Wash hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. With the statistics as they are with the good ol' flu, I'm not worried. I'm still going to Jazzfest in New Orleans! The media should use this opportunity to control the panic. Not enforce it.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  257. Tim

    I've been saying this for the past 3 days. Finally the media is thinking the same thing I am.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  258. Tom Minet

    Good lord, yes! I haven't seen such panic over a virus, turbo-charged with ignorance, in many a year. Really, unless someone knows something that they are not telling us, this is not something the average American should be worryng about! While the confirmed, infected population in the US is still small, the average experience seems to be three days in bed and the a return to health. Thanks for at least asking the question!!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  259. Chris

    The numbers alone tell the story: 36,000 a year from the "regular" flu. 1 so far from swine flu (in the US). It's a minor story. Why doesn't the media hype the flu and the number of deaths it causes each year like it is hyping this?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  260. P from DC

    As the Swine Flu (SF) spreads across the world like lukewarm molasses, and as I have been reading and thinking about this "Pandemic", I can't help but be skeptical.

    SF has killed no Americans at all. Further, it has killed nobody in a country where there is somewhat reasonable health care and standards of hygiene. Things like Motrin, Aspirin, not to mention anti-virals, are not used in Mexico like they are here and in other countries. Why does the WHO not address this? Fresh water, ample soap, more nutritious food- all of these things are through the floor in Mexico.

    If the definition of a Pandemic is when a virus spreads throughout a community prevalently in two or more WHO regions of the world, then why wasn't HPV labeled a pandemic? Herpes? AIDS? Some studies suggest that up to 1/3 of sexually active human beings have HPV. If SF isn't killing at a rate or volume greater than the regular flu, which it is not, then why is it such a big deal?. You can look at the regular flu with its yearly variants as a pandemic too: a new virus spreads over the entire world, killing half a million people every year.

    The Mexican government's fairly obvious attempt to garner some power or at least relevance by inflating death figures might very well be similar to the WHO's and CDC's overt if not subconscious motives for hyping the SF. This could be their passe-partout for stealing a tranche of American spending, or maybe some Freudian type social relevance grab. Whatever amalgam of motives may exist, this "crisis" will no doubt have similar effects

    I don't even have to mention the media, do I, as asymptomatically frothing at the mouth over the death counts, the infection changes, the masks, the general fear that they simultaneously excrete and ingest? The headlines are admittedly grabbing, but unmistakeably meretricious.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  261. Jim McLaughlin

    Totally overblown! Billions of dollars are being wasted on this "media induced" panic. It's sickening (no pun intended)!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  262. Rob Kole

    Jack,

    Way overblown, but I guess better than talking about another 20,000 + jobs lost at Chrysler

    New York
    New York

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  263. Weary

    The news media is so omnipresent these days that everything it covers seems overblown. However, I don't think the swine flu outbreak is being overblown. First, it seems to be spreading quickly. Second, like the Spanish flu of 1918-19 it appears to impact young, healthy adults instead of the very young and the elderly. Lastly, there isn't a vaccine yet. Forewarned is forearmed.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  264. Adam

    Are you kidding Jack... I dont think they are doing enough to warn the public of the true dangers that lie ahead. I have plastic wrapped all my windows at home and pretty much set off lysol bombs in my house. At work I spray lysol every hour on the hour and make people use hand sanitizer before shaking my hand. Then run to the bathroom to wash my hands anyway. I dont care what they say, this is a pandemic and i am taking no chances what so ever. Good luck, the end is near.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  265. Ola Daniels

    Ola Daniels Aelington, TX.....

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Hell yea,,,,how many deaths did we have in ths states from the regular flu in 2008?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  266. Allen

    Allen Gibson
    Elizabethtown, KY

    Of course this coverage is overblown. My goodness, look at the raw numbers. Worldwide, there less than 300 confirmed cases of this particular flu– out of a worldwide population of 6.5 BILLION people. In the US, just today more than 100 cases of the flu have been confirmed– most of them characterized as mild in nature– and this out of a population of what, 330 million people or so?

    Statistically speaking, my town– Elizabethtown– and the county it sits within– Hardin– likely had more instances of food poisoning yesterday than there are cases of this flu in the entire world.

    Of course while we're talking about the flu, we're not talking about the Taliban nearing the capital of Pakistan; the execution-style murders of 7 Mexican police officers in Tijuana; the breaking up of yet another sub-continental sized piece of ice, this time in Antarctica; or any of a dozen or so other really important stories worth covering.

    Less panic, less bright red and black graphics, and more straight-up, calmly presented information would help us all be better people. Probably wouldn't sell many commercials, though. . . .

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  267. Pak

    Swine Flu Pandemic or a case of the media going beserk to find something other then the economic conditions to report on? My bets are on trying to find something else to report on to increase viewer numbers. 250,000 – 500,000 people a year die from regular influenza and yet 8 deaths have been confirmed by the WHO from swine flu and we suddenly go bonkers. Cover your faces! Avoid confined spaces! Sounds to me like another case of idiot syndrome that plagues this country and planet. And I thought we were supposed to be advancing as a species.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  268. trish d

    Absolutely it has been overblown. It's whatever the media wants to turn into a circus!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  269. Dave from Walnut Creek, CA

    This is a great question Jack, and you're just about the only commentator to ask it in the week or so this story has been developing. But up to this point I haven't heard ONE story about why this flu is so serious. If you look at the numbers it sounds like it's being ridiculously overblown! Looking back to the horror and terror surrounding the Avian Flu pandemic and the attack of Killer Bees, I think I'm a little numb to this sensational news coverage.

    That could be a problem if this actually is something we need to take seriously.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  270. Brian Deacon

    I do think its getting alot more coverage than it should.. yes its killing people, but as its stated alot more people die from the flu each year.

    But i will say this the drug companies are loving this, the more coverage thats done on this the more mass panic about the flu means bigger hauls of money for them...

    Brian
    Ontario Canada

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  271. Christina

    Stevens Point Wisconsin

    As of right now, I think it is being overblown. There is 1 unconfirmed case about 20 miles from my city in Central WI.
    So many people die every year from regular influenza but everyone seems to be overlooking that fact. Things may change and this could become as terrible as previous pandemics but nothing is indicating that happening so far and for WHO to raise it to a level 5 is just making more and more people panic over nothing. The media is also making a mountain out of a mole hill right now.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  272. Kristen

    As serious as the H1N1 influenza A is, I feel like it has definitely been overblown. It is scaring people around the world. The regular flu kills 250,000- 500,000 people a year and the swine flu has only been reported to kill about 8 people. (Hopefully this number stays low.) I feel like a vaccine will be created soon.

    Plus all those poor pigs are being murdered in Egypt as a way to stop the "swine flu."

    It is important to cover this disease in the media, but it is quite annoying when I refresh CNN or MSNBC and EVERY top story is a "big" story or a sidebar of information on the "swine flu."

    Terre Haute, Indiana

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  273. Lance H. Mathis (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

    Yes the swine flu has been extremely overblown. Current day media does us all a disservice by over-sensationalizing the news. Give it to us straight and in the right perspective and context. I have actually stopped watching the news as a result of the media’s need to instill fear and panic. Not one source, that I have watched or read, has compared these deaths to the average number of annual flu related deaths; which is a slap in the face of real journalism.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  274. Harold Siefken

    Ya, think!
    Its the flu, people get the flu all the time.
    When ever there is a flu outbreak, the very young, very old and those with "compromised immune systems" are at the most risk, just like now.
    Just do what your mother always told you – wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough.
    Let's move on, there must be something important going on somewhere that we should know about.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  275. Dean Langevin

    I believe the H1N1/Swine Flu (whatever you call it) is WAY overblown. The only reason it is such a major story is to get everybody worried about something other than the economy. And those people with the masks, has anyone bothered to tell them that the H1N1 virus isn't even slowed by them. But WOW, what cool pictures they make as people run screaming for safety.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  276. Jennifer

    This is just like the SARS episode a few years back – a flashy new disease with an interesting name. And, like SARS, in a few weeks everything will be back to normal and we can stop seeing news stories featuring 10 year old children talking about the "ordeal" they've just been through.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  277. Daniel

    I see this situation from a couple of view points. It does seem like the situation has been blown way out of proportion, but maybe that's what it takes to keep things like this minor. Let's face it, it takes a major crisis to get Americans (and the rest of the world, for that matter) to take appropriate action. Maybe by raising the alert they will be able to prevent future pandemics from having such a devastating effect. Yes, it's irritating to hear the same message over and over, and yes, if i see someone at work with a mask on I'm gonna laugh, but that seems like a better scenario to me.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  278. Elariia

    Let's see. There are 6.7 billion people in the world and only 236 of them have been diagnosed with swine flu. My heart goes out to the people who are sick and the families who've lost loved ones, however, more people will die from car accidents, cancer, stroke and violence this year than from the swine flu. Perhaps the media could put this "scare" into perspective?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  279. Nick

    I ersonally think this is all way to overblow. Like it was said in this article, this swine flu appears to be less deadly than the regular flu. We like the drama of a percieved threat, and so minor little things like this outbreak become selling points for newspapers and the media. Heres my message to everyone- grow up.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  280. Brian

    Absolutely it's overblown. Just the media sensationalizing a minor story in order to instill the masses with fear and panic...

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  281. Diana

    Though I think this is a serious case and it's fairly new in the United States, I think the media is overblowing it a bit.

    Remember the avian flu pandemic we were supposed to experience? Also, I can't remember if it was the same pandemic or something else where we were adviced cover our windows and put duct tape all over our homes – nothing came of that.

    But, if the government didn't respond and something should come of this, there would be no end to the blame. It's a tough choice.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  282. sarah tschiggfrie

    Yes, this story has been hyped by the media. Caution is necessary in dealing with a new strain of flu, but not panic. The media sometimes fails to mention that the one death of the H1N1 strain in the U.S. was actually a child who contracted it in Mexico City and was then flown to the states for treatment.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  283. Todd Starner

    I agree completely. I am amazed at the amout of intelligent people freaking out about this. It goes to show how powerful the so called media really is. All I can do is shake my head and walk away!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  284. Joe Moss

    I think the Swine Flu is over blown..............unless I get it!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  285. John

    The swine flu sells newspapers, gets website hits, and creates conversations. That's about it. Jack hit it on the head by mentioning at least 250,000 people a year die worldwide from the regular old seasonal flu, but it doesn't haven't such a catchy name. Maybe if the WHO would give it a fancy, scary name people would start washing their hands more often.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  286. Vernon Parker

    Six billion people on earth and 257 cases confirmed worldwide. That's a little more that .00000004 of the worlds population. Call me if we reach 600,000 out of 6 billion. I may be a little concerned then.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  287. Mark Birdyshaw

    Jack,
    I think everyone needs to lighten up... I do think this flu is very dangerous and has the potential to spead quickly, so it should be dealt with and eradicated immediately. But, I too think the media is blowing this out of proportion, and their scaring the hell out of the public, including Vice President Biden... In closing, I am very proud of my country and I think the Government is doing what is right and what they can to keep us safe. I give them an A-.....

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  288. Tom in Dallas

    In a word, yes. Between bias and sensationalism, it's next to impossible to get accurate news anymore. It's not news these days, it's info-tainment and accuracy and clarity take a back seat to ratings and sensationalism.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  289. Frank

    Yes Jack, I do think it's all been overblown. That said the only reason I can think of for why the WHO is so concerned about this virus is that they are worried that if they don't steps now to try and limit its impact, it might mutate and become a true killer. That potential is what they're not telling us.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  290. Steve Schultz

    What's really going on with this swine flu thing? Only 109 cases in the U.S., and that's AFTER everyone with a cough has gone to the hospital convinced they have swine flu. Is this a "Wag the Dog" scenario? Maybe an anti-Mexico thing? I have no idea. But I do know that it sure isn't a health emergency.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  291. Evan Maeda

    I greatly the swine flu has been overblown. Everyday people die of malaria in India or the common cold here in the Unites States. Caution and awareness are completely acceptable. But there is a fine line beteen being caution and uneducated paranoia.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  292. lennybruce from amsterdam

    Absolutely overblown but hey, hysteria sells. The real story here is the quick and coordinated action by nations around the world, especially Mexico's reaction. What we need to know is that if this isn't the real thing then it has been a valuable dry run test for the inevitable real one that will one day happen.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  293. Leah

    Given that the definition of pandemic is

    Pandemic: An epidemic (a sudden outbreak) that becomes very widespread and affects a whole region, a continent, or the world.

    I don't think this even qualifies as a pandemic. Even with the thousands of cases reported by Mexico I don't believe it's a pandemic. I don't blame the media for this...I blame WHO. They seem to be raising the alert level based on public fear rather than numbers.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  294. Seattle Ted

    NO the swine flu is not overblown. I am a researcher and teacher who deals with infectious diseases including the flu. The world has not had a pandemic flu outbreak in a long time. Maybe that is because of our current medical practices, or maybe we have been lucky. But sooner rather than later, we will get a pandemic flu and that will kill a lot of people and, as important, it will overwhelm our medical centers, and the medical care throughout the world. The question is if it is important to alert the public to the possibles, or wait until we know it is the real pandemic. Swine flu, bird flu, Hong Kong flu,etc. They all have the possibility of becoming the real pandemic. Swine flu looks like it has the possibility of becoming the real pandemic, more than avian at the moment. Do the public want to know in advance about these possibilities or do they want to wait until we know for sure that it is a pandemic. But if we wait until it is the sure thing, it may be unstoppable and kill the 100s of millions that the 1918 flu killed. I am not sure any of us want that. Better to be safe and forewarned than sorry. Better a few scares that don't materialize than to be unaware when the real one hits.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  295. Todd Dennis

    Yes it has been overblown. The big story here is how big agri-business and their massive farms create health risks to society. Where is the reporting on how this flu epidemic started at a factory farm in Mexico?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  296. john gibbons

    overblown? yes. this who level keeps being mentioned as the 'highest ever reached'. Uh, how long have they been around?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  297. Chris B.from MD

    Yes it has been overblown.

    I pray for the families of those who died and the ones currently seeking treatment. But come on people, there are other calamities happening in the world right now. AIDS is still a major killer from the cities and villages across Africa to the streets of Washington DC. Children are still starving continents away and right here at home in the US . Millions do not have health insurance in the U.S., and the list could go on and on.....

    let's stop the madness and stop being so narrow-minded. We live in a complex world with compless issues. It is silly to overblow one partical issue and become hysteric. It doesn't help at all.

    The hype will fade just like it happened with the Bird flu, the mad cow diseases etc....

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  298. Ben Flattum

    Absolutely it has been overblown. Thousands die from the flu virus every year and now when 256 out of well over 6 billion people become infected with another strain, it's a global crisis. This just shows another example of the media capitalizing on how easily frightened people are. As if they didn't have enough to worry about with the economy, home foreclosures and other concerns, now they think they have to worry about getting fatally ill from a disease that has a microscopic number of people infected.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  299. Laura

    Yes it has. There is a cure for it, so I don't see the need for panic. If you develop a fever and flu like symptoms, do what you should do any flu season; see a doctor within 48 hours of symptoms in order to start taking Tamiflu.

    This is suspcious to me. Now suddenly a vaccine will be ready next week?? When a small handful of people have been infected, why don't we become this concered with seasonal flu, which is more deadly?

    If you gave me a vival of the swine flu virus itself and a vival of the vaccine and told me to choose; I'd take the swine flu injection in a heartbeat, even if you paid me $1 million to take the vaccine instead! Like I said, something doesn't seem right. And our global economy doesn't need this right now!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |