Why Won't They Say Where?

May 02, 2009

[Update: As of late Saturday, the Missouri Dept of Health and Senior Services released that the two probable cases are from Howard County.]

I’ve been trying to help our online community by providing Swine Flu information for Missouri as it becomes available. However, it has been frustrating to say the least because the Missouri state agencies responsible for releasing the information won’t be specific. It took scouring several posts to find that the first probable case was near Kansas City.

Yesterday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced that two more probable cases were discovered in “Central Missouri” (a 50,000 square mile target) but no specific counties or cities have been named. The official reason for not releasing more information is found in the following quote:

No additional information about the family will be released until the patients are notified that their tests indicated the presence of swine flu.

Sure, I understand that it is necessary to protect from panic, but come on! Why is the the family’s notification more important than telling the rest of that specific area to be cautious? If they are going to report the “probable” then they need to be specific as to the location.

Rabbit trail: Four days ago I was in Columbia for business. Three people came in, shook my hand and welcomed me. As we were sitting down for our meeting I was told, “Sorry but John isn’t able to be here, we’ve had a flu-bug going around the office so we are short staffed anyway, and John called in sick this morning.” I instantly went to the bathroom and washed my hands, tried not to shake any more hands and I spoke to one of them confidentially that they should probably take a poll of any staff who might have gone to Mexico (or knew someone who had) recently. With a very surreal “That’s probably a good idea!” I walked away from the experience thinking…are these people nuts?

So, now, a case in “Central Missouri” has cropped up and I’m of course wondering…is it Columbia? What if they gave a probable status for our area, don’t you think a specific county or town should be demanded? I do, and I’ve posted my complaint about the vagueness of their PR releases. You can too:
Dept of Health & Senior Services.

I think our local and state agencies are trying their best to prevent the spread of this strain of the flu, but leaving the door open for speculation is something that needs to be addressed going forward. In this case I subscribe to Spock’s logical/utilitarianistic view in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

Spock: “… logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
Kirk: “Or the one.”

Brian: “Or the two.”

For updated information, please check out DHSS:
Swine Flu Info – 2009