H1N1 threats stretched

Possible influenza epidemic is cause for preparation, not panic.

The government is acting like back-to-school season will somehow resemble âÄú28 Days Later.âÄù The PresidentâÄôs Council of Advisors on Science and Technology claims that a Swine Flu epidemic has the potential to cause up to 90,000 deaths and leave 1.8 million Americans hospitalized, a statistic that has erupted a bit of a panic. Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a counter-statement claiming that the death tolls would likely not be that high, many measures are being taken to prevent a possible disaster. The University of Florida, for one, had a bright idea when it realized imposing such stringent attendance criteria could encourage infected kids to come to class. This semester, students do not have to show up to exams if they are sick. This is a good idea despite the fact many will take advantage of it (duh). The state of Massachusetts, however, is taking the idea of encouraging people to stay home and hygienie a little too far. Currently making its way through the state legislature is the Pandemic Response Bill. If passed, the bill will allow the governor to declare a health emergency and allow law enforcement officials to forcibly enter the homes of citizens and quarantine or vaccinate them. Sure, you can scare people into washing their hands, but you donâÄôt need to scare them with the threat of involuntary detainment and needle injection. President Barack Obama needs to allay the fears of Americans who are counting the days until the rapture by assuring them the death tolls will not be as high as his team initially reported. He also needs to redirect state lawmakers who feel as if they need to pass bills infringing on the basic rights of Americans in response to an imaginary threat. Warning people to stay safe is one thing, but frightening them half to death is counterintuitive. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Independent Florida Alligator. Please send comments to [email protected]