I live in Brooklyn, NY. It's the most densely populous borough with over 1.3 million residents. Most of the time, my biggest fear is losing my parking space or someone at the fruit stand taking the last of the good bananas — it's an absurdly safe place to live. However, this flu season is terrible, and you can't escape people in this town. We live in stacked boxes and cram into the subway like matchsticks at rush hour. Even still, we're pretty blasé and unconcerned, but is that wrong? Are you in danger of the flu in New York City, or are we just too pugnacious a bunch to be taken out?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu is almost everywhere, including the far reaches of Alaska. Guam, Hawaii, and Washington D.C., are the only spots on the map which are only experiencing local activity, and Delaware, Maine, and Montana are still holding up pretty well with minimal activity. It's so bad in New York that Governor Cuomo recently signed a law allowing pharmacists to give flu shots to children 2 and up, when previously, pharmacists could only administer the shot to adults, noted CBS New York. The New York State Health Department had 7,800 lab-confirmed cases of flu this season in NYC.
Strangely enough, I'm actually feeling pretty good about that number. Consider this for a moment, we have around 8.5 million residents all living super close — you expect a reasonably high number of cases. We have 7,800 cases, yeah, that is nothing to sneeze at, and bummer for everyone who gets sick, but that's only .0009 percent of the population. Nowhere near a pandemic flu. Even our friends in Pennsylvania are having a worse season than we are, and they have more room to spread out. They've had about 18,000 cases of flu per 12.5 million people, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. That's .0014 percent.
Everyone assumes the zombie apocalypse will attack New York City first because we're all in close quarters. What they don't understand is that we all have hand sanitizer in our pockets, and if a zombie got near the subway, he'd be too slow to get anywhere. He'd be trampled or causing problems by falling onto the tracks. (Another delay? Freaking zombie.) We don't need Rick Grimes. We've got dozens, if not hundreds of subway creatures ready to whip out their nail files, or possibly a clarinet — whatever is handy — and defend the other New Yorkers against the horde.
We're a proactive bunch. That's why if you live in NYC, and you haven't yet received the flu shot and are able to do so, you absolutely should. It's not just about you. It's about all the kids on the subway, or the immunocompromised neighbor who can't get a vaccine, or a new baby at the grocery store. You're protecting them by protecting yourself.
The simple truth is that while we may not be having the worst flu season ever, it's still not great. Are you in danger of the flu in NYC? Yes, and you'll have to continue to be on your guard and watch your kids so that they don't touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after touching anyone or anything. It's really tempting to want to hold up in your apartment for the next 10 or so weeks of the flu season, but eventually, you're going to get desperate for a Spanish coffee or a full Russian banquet, and you're going to have to leave your house to get it. Everyone is doing what they can. Even the Diocese of Brooklyn announced that they won't be offering communal wine at mass until this flu passes. Sure, my neighbor thinks this is the worst thing ever, but even the Pope thinks you have to meet halfway.
Wash your hands. Get the flu shot. Maybe upgrade the size of your sanitizer bottle, and hopefully you can get out of this season flu free.
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