Friday, August 28, 2009

28 AUG 09: Line Up to Get Shot

You're not supposed to call it the "swine flu" officially anymore, you know. The proper name is H-1-N-1. Yet a meeting at the Russell County Health Department Thursday included a large cartoon pig on a big screen. So which barbecue restaurant provided lunch?

Russell County officials huddled on how to respond to the spreading H-1-N-1 flu outbreak. The county has three confirmed cases so far. But so far, there's no plan to quarantine them in any vacant Hurtsboro stores.

A priority list was announced for which Russell County residents should receive the H-1-N-1 vaccine this fall. Johnny Burrell with the Health Department says the first target group is "children six to 24 years of age...." Now hold on a minute - since when were 24-year-olds considered children? Does Burrell run a rental car office in his spare time?

Russell County School Superintendent Yvette Richardson told WTVM parents will have "to give permission" for children to receive the H-1-N-1 vaccine. This was stunning, considering someone at an online poker room tried to convince me Thursday the federal government will order everyone to take the vaccine -- and lock you up in camps if you don't. But then again, poker players are known for bluffing once in a while.

(I was pointed to a web site which seems filled with conspiracy theories. It indicates the H-1-N-1 vaccine is more dangerous than the flu bug itself. Of course, this could change if the promoters find evidence that the government is controlling all hand sanitizer companies.)

The Russell County Health Department also plans to give top priority for the H-1-N-1 vaccine to first responders. This is understandable -- since sheriff's deputies will need protection from the weirdos who claim they're spitting the flu at law enforcement during arrests.

But there's one place where the Russell County Health Department is being officially ignored. The Phenix City Council approved a budget Thursday night with NO money for the department. Mayor Sonny Coulter explained it's a county-funded agency under state law. Besides, city folks have that nice new hospital - assuming it can stay open.

H-1-N-1 already has caused headaches at some east Alabama schools. Lyman Ward Military Academy in Camp Hill called off tonight's scheduled football game, because at least 11 players have come down with the flu. As if the Army would call off a military operation overseas for that reason....

The latest federal "FluView" report indicates Georgia has a regional outbreak of flu. Alabama has a less widespread "local" outbreak. And if your children have flu-like symptoms, officials urge you to keep them home from school - perhaps to play a swine flu version of "this little piggie."

Flu specialists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a White House warning that 90,000 people could die of H-1-N-1 in coming months is a worst-case prediction. We'll have to wait and see if they're right. In the meantime, I'll go grocery shopping today to see if there's been a run on bar soap.

BLOG UPDATE: Old-fashioned bureaucracy may be slowing repairs to the library roof at Chattahoochee Valley Community College. WLTZ reported Thursday the work at Owen Hall hasn't even started yet, because it's still in the bidding process. Maybe a closed library is no big deal, in an age when students can call up "Google books" on their iPhones.

Now let's clean up other drips of news from a Thursday which had a rainy ending:

+ A source I tend to trust claims 84 construction workers at the Kia plant in West Point have pooled five dollars each, to buy Mega Millions lottery tickets. Trouble is, they all missed Tuesday night - proving "safety in numbers" only gets you so far.

+ Columbus Police Officer Keith Levallee was arrested on charges of writing bad checks, to buy items on a debit card.. In my former home of Oklahoma, this charge would be called "uttering a forged instrument" - which sounds more like trying to talk through a trombone.

+ GPB reported a federal feasibility study could begin early next year for Interstate 14 -- the highway proposed from Columbus to Augusta. I'm debating whether this highway is a good idea. For one thing, you'd probably see a lot more of Macon than metro Atlanta.

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue held a meeting with his staff, to mark 500 days until he leaves office. I'm still waiting for him to produce that "Sonny Do" list from the 2006 campaign - to show us all the things he's decided he can't afford to do anymore.

+ The TMZ web site posted a mug shot of singer John Mayer, from a 2001 arrest in Atlanta. Mayer was accused of driving with a suspended license, but the charge was thrown out of court one month later. How did that judge know Mayer would go on to be a pop star, instead of a rapper needing "cred?"

+ Opening night of high school football in Muscogee County found Monroe of Albany crushing Kendrick 40-0. Ouch - and then the school sales tax supporters say Carver is the school needing a new football field?!

+ Instant Message to the Eufaula Tribune: I don't get it. Quitman County deputies say a "small-scale riot" developed in Georgetown Thursday night. You offered a couple of pictures to WRBL. But the only evening update on your web site involved high school football?! Did this group burn down the bridge across the Chattahoochee River?

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