One of the negative effects of our current economy is that many workers are dragging themselves into work even when they feel sick. They fear being seen as replaceable or expendable by their employers.
These “bright bulbs” of the work force do not consider the impact they have on the workplace. They can infect an entire office, without any warning, by coughing or sneezing into the common air supply. They can spend the day leaving viruses on the surfaces of water coolers, copiers, desktops, phones, lunch tables etc. Any surface they touch will be infected.
The cost to businesses has a negative affect on the bottom line. Lost man-hours, insurance claims, etc. are an intangible cost of doing business that owners have to juggle. Other family members, friends and casual acquaintances will become sick and follow the same pattern of “going in” despite their infections.
That is the element of danger when a virus like the swine flu breaks out in our midst. No one stays home sick any more. Additionally, no one has developed good anti-contamination habits, such as covering your mouth and nose when coughing and washing your hands many times a day.
So far, we have been lucky with this current outbreak of Swine Flu at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens. The State Department of Health has reported 100 students missed classes because of flu-like illness last week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed swine flu in an additional 20 persons associated with the St. Francis Preparatory School. All of the patients so far have suffered only minor illness. None has required hospitalization, and nearly all are already improving. As we go to press, the total number of cases in New York City now stands at 28.
A similar virus has recently caused deaths in Mexico, but there are no severely ill people in New York City with suspected swine influenza. All of the U.S. patients have fully recovered or are recovering.
We may have dodged a very large bullet this time. In the future, we must follow the rules and regulations put out by the various political and health agencies.
Above all else, we all should stay home when we are sick, see our doctors and try not to infect our loved ones. They all go to work, attend schools or go shopping too.
Next time we may not get another chance to do the right thing.