Swine Flu: Clogging the Web

Rainy mornings, Wednesdays and chasing the belt on the treadmill. Wonder if there is a song — or a poem — in all that? Probably not. But it sure is gloomy here in NE Ohio.

Two former Cleveland Indians Cy Young hurlers will have a go at it in the opener of the World Series. (Remember when baseball used to be played in the summer?) The Cavs got thumped last night in the season opener. (C’mon folks — come in off the ledge. It’s only one game.) And the most popular outdoor activity these days appears to be standing in line for the nonexistent swine flu vaccine. Woot.

The issue with swine flu is no laughing matter — although I’ll admit to poking some of the medical pooh-bahs about it in previous posts. Here’s reality: people have died, there appear to be plenty of people sick now with more to come, and people are confused about what to do, if anything at all.

And here’s another potential problem. The Government Accountability Office reports that as the swine flu spreads workers and students who stay home may overload and overwhelm Internet networks. Here’s from Cecilia Kang, writing in The Washington Post:

The Government Accountability Office reported earlier this week that if the flu reaches a pandemic, a surge in telecommuting and children accessing video files and games at home could bog down local networks.

And if that were to happen, it is not clear whether the federal government is prepared to deal with the problem, the GAO said.

The Department of Homeland Security is in charge of communications networks during times of national emergency. But it doesn’t have a strategy to deal with overloaded Internet networks — an essential resource to keep the economy humming, and residents informed and connected during a pandemic, the GAO said. Furthermore, the DHS hasn’t coordinated with agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission to create guidelines for how telecom, cable and satellite providers can minimize congestion.

Such confusion “would increase the risk that the federal government will not be able to respond rapidly or effectively if a pandemic quickly emerges,” the GAO reported.

If nothing else, the entire situation involving swine flu demonstrates how difficult it is to communicate — and to achieve some level of understanding on complex subjects. And to the extent people are confused, scared — or ill, certainly — and don’t leave home, then we may have a disruption in how many of us communicate with each other these days: online.

Stay tuned.

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2 responses to “Swine Flu: Clogging the Web

  1. I got my H1N1 vaccination on Tuesday morning. No line or fuss. I haven’t really heard about many clogs here in Europe, though it all depends on the community. Since I went to a private clinic, it was as easy to get as just calling and ordering the vaccination. The cost was about $15. I don’t have a really strong opinion about the vaccination, nor did I think I was in danger of dying or something, but I think it’s a social responsible thing to do, to protect other people who might not be able to get it or who are high risk of getting it.

    Vaccinations have been a bigger topic in America recently and I strongly believe it has to do with the influx of the non-science based opinions floating around (even Oprah had on an anti-vaxer recently who was encouraging parents not to get their kids vaccinated). Anyway I’m looking forward to you coming to Europe because you’re going to see how comparatively hysterical American media is about everything. Too bad communication is so bad about this issue. Though it might be here too, it’s just such a small country I can’t tell 🙂

  2. It’s interesting, to me at least, how much information there is about swine flu, vaccine and so on — but not much understanding. And the fact that many who want and need the vaccine can’t get it (apparently) only adds to the confusion and problem.

    The situation also reflects the overall climate of mistrust that touches almost everything these days. If one person/group says yes to something, another person/group has to immediately jump up shouting, “You lie.” It’s becoming a national pastime.

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