Posts Tagged H1N1 flu

Can you take off work 5 to 7 days right now?

That’s what you’ll need to do if you come down with the H1N1 flu. Unfortunately, workers here in Utah are not taking the needed time off and are returning to work while they are still contagious. As a result, one of the worst rates of infection in the country may be right here in Utah County.

In fact, we have one of the worst rates of death from this flu as well. Worldwide there have been around 170 deaths with 8 of those in Utah. So about 5 percent of deaths have occurred in little Utah. Far more than our population should warrant.

The problem for a lot of people is that they just don’t have the sick leave available to them, and in this economy, can’t afford leave without pay. It’s a risky proposition, not only for the sick workers but for all their co-workers.

The CDC site says people with underlying health problems such as asthsma, heart disease, diabetes are at greater risk if they contract the disease. And unlike ordinary flu, not only elderly and the very young are vulnerable: deaths are unexpectedly prevalent in teens through 40-somethings.

Only New York (and possibly California) have had more deaths than Utah. I don’t have the most up-to-date numbers yet. I checked the CDC web site which is supposed to be updated on Friday and it is still showing last week’s stats, so I’ll update numbers later if we get something more current.

I realize this still represents far fewer fatalities than many other causes, including other flu deaths. But flu season is not with us yet. Utahns need to exercise better judgment when they are sick and avoid exposing other people at work, school, church, shopping, and other public places. Keep in mind, even if you have a mild case, you could expose someone who is far more vulnerable who may not be so fortunate.

And perhaps Utah employers are going to have to be part of the solution by offering paid leave sufficient to cover a period of contagion.

UPDATE: There are now 87 deaths in the U.S. attributed to H1N1 virus.

  • New York: 24
  • Texas: 10
  • California, Illinois and Utah: 8 each
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