We have gone from near-panic over the emergence of swine flu, to dismissing it as hype.
On May 1, the World Health Organization reported only 331 cases of swine flu worldwide, but still declared the crisis to be at level 5 alert on a scale of 6, meaning that this strain of flu might be considered an all-out pandemic if the numbers keep rising.
On the same day, CNBC reported that flu masks were “flying off the shelves,” and soon after, China quarantined Mexican visitors.
Now, just a few days later, with the virulence of the virus apparently less than originally feared, the federal government has relaxed its attitude toward school closings and the media is asking whether it was all hype. The public has quickly become so blasé that, only a few days after Vice President Biden sounded an off-message travel alarm, “Cinco de Swino” parties were held in Washington and other U.S. cities.