Friday, November 13, 2009

Pigs fly, swine flu

By Alex McArthy

Well it’s here; the dreaded and deadly H1N1 (swine flu). Like many campuses across the country, people are taking extra precautions and preventative measures. But when does it go too far?

H1N1 is, in actuality, less deadly than other strains of flu, with about a .06% mortality rate according to the World Health Organization -- a much lower death rate than other strains of the flu that reach .64%. So what is the big deal? There really is not one. This strain of flu goes straight to the lungs, making it harder to fight off, but the recovery rate is better than that of regular flu strands. It is possibly media hype, or the buzz created by the Obama administration. Either way, our school is battening down the hatches.

Changes could be seen as early as two months ago when the school installed numerous hand sanitizers throughout the school. This seems like a smart move, as germs are always an issue. The only question is whether it’s cost-effective to install and maintain dozens of these dispensers throughout the campus in tough economic times.

Recently, vaccines have been available free to all students, faculty and staff in the Butler Reception Room. It is highly recommended for some campus workers to get the vaccine. Though I have not gotten the shot, many students have and some can possibly breathe easier knowing they are protected from that strain of the virus.

Another move by the school to react to this pandemic is Residence Life’s policy change. Students with H1N1 who live in the area are to be sent home immediately and not allowed to come back into the dorms until cleared by a doctor.

Things are not as easy for those that live out of state, as they cannot legally use mass transportation like trains, planes, or buses. Residence Life is placing these people in temporary isolation until they are cured. Some students have been placed in vacant apartments, while others are finding refuge in the Alumni Inn, a sectioned-off portion of Regina Hall. These students are directly taken care of by Residence Life staff to ensure their safety.

The largest change so far comes from Dining Services. They have taken extreme measures in order to ensure that the flu is not passed along. The pantry that had all the bagels, donuts, and muffins, are now all individually wrapped with layers of plastic wrap. Also, the buffet and even the soup containers have now moved from ‘do it yourself’ to served by Chartwells Employees behind the counter. Another change is utensils in places like Figaro’s are now individually wrapped.

Overall, these changes are fairly necessary from the school’s standpoint. A lawsuit or even a campus epidemic is the last thing they need. Hopefully, this strand goes away and we can resume our normal, daily lives.

Alex McArthy is a sophomore political science major from St. Louis, Missouri. He is an RHA National Communications Coordinator, president of the Cougar Crazies, a Public Safety supervisor and an SXU Student Ambassador. Consideration for the student bloggers is provided by Saint Xavier University.

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