There's PLENTY of SWINE FLU AROUND, not just at KU which has current media attention. Know this: the new HIIPA privacy regulations prevent hospitals and health care people other than the state officials in general terms, from reporting it.
Because of today's federal privacy laws, stories about individual swine flu outbreaks will be very hit and miss. Don't depend on the media to find out before you or your kids get infected! We're on our own. Why? Because most any revelations will be against privacy regulations, which is too bad.
I happened to call in and talk to a state Health Official on KCUR a week ago and he gave me the political DODGE... unfortunately, KCUR was more interested in protecting their guest and their time limitations, than getting the critical question answered. My question was simple enough, more or less: Will Hiipa regulations prevent the media from telling us how serious the Swine flu is?"
So after they hung up on me, and I got an ON AIR RESPONSE, but not a real answer out of the KS health official, they didn't follow it up. They left the question with a response but not a real answer to the most critical question on the program. Which is this:
Can hospitals and officials be honest with us, or will new federal privacy laws prevent them from being honest with us? I knew the answer was YES. I just wanted to see if he would be that honest. He wasn't. His job was to make us trust Kansas government to tell us what we need to know. Sorry. I don't have that much faith in government to protect us. I think like when any other big disaster happens, just like Katrina happened, we are really on our own. You won't find government people ever admitting that obvious answer. And sadly, that makes anything ELSE they say slightly suspect! AS GWB said to his FEMA director after New Orleans... "Youre doin a heck of a job, Brownie!" Radio station people should realize this when they invite government people on their programs!
Kraske apparently didn't realize that for he didn't treat his government guest with any manner of doubt. Basically, he treated the bureaucrat just like FOX News' Chris Wallace treats Dick Cheney. With softball questions.
This is a problem when local media protects officials from being candid. I was surprised...I think it was Kraske and he should have been more on his toes, though ya know how it is, when program time is almost over. Time's up right about the time the good stuff comes up!
The problem is, health officials will be CAUTIOUS as government usually is when talking to us, to prevent panic, to not disrupt society. Let's face it, business doesn't want workers and customers staying home... so in that respect, the appetite for profit will naturally pressure government to take risks. It's no different when we've had a couple inches of snow. No retail store sponsors want radio station traffic reporters to be telling listeners/customers to stay home! That is SOOOOOO bad for business!
Remember that lesson in the film JAWS? The local chamber of commerce of the fictional "Amity Island" didn't want to close the beaches because the town depended on tourists... even when a giant shark was eating swimmers and boaters. A fiction tale yes, a lesson in real life business motives...also yes!
Hopefully, our government won't give in to business pressure and be TOO cautious as to give Swine Flu too much of a head start without telling people to stay home, or close schools or relax their company absenteeism rules.
Meanwhile, if there's swine flu at your kids school or you have an unknown flu, kindly keep your kids at home and stay home from work. If they want to deduct from your salary, call the TV station and have them go ask your boss which is more important...a day's productivity or the health and safety of their entire workforce!
I'm fine if you want to think I'm being Chicken Little. I sure hope so. But if the shit hits the fan, you won't remember that I told you this was coming! Unless you paid attention and have a family plan!