As you may know, from watching CNN, Dr. Chan, the Director General of WHO (not President as I wrote before) raised the alert level to 5 at 4:15 PM EST 4-29-09, which means "Pandemic Imminent". There is a level 6 category.
My impression is that, as was said in the press conference from Geneva, Switzerland, this is a very serious situation. Media tend to milk information like that, raising hysterical responses. Data driven basis used for scientific purposes, is meant to indicate the need to get prepared resources to treat and contain (swine) flu.
A pandemic means:
"All of humanity under threat during pandemic"
The avian flu was a level 3, which is used as a reference to accent this greater threat, kind of like, "If you were scared a few years ago, you'd better be much more scared now". That's the hype part of it, that is best ignored.
The preparation and containment aspects need to have our attention now. We need to stay away from crowded areas (where I am now, that woud be Busch Gardens). If anyone becomes ill with flu-like symptoms, we need to stay home!
Obviously the priority is containing the disease, not going to work, yet I recall employees proudly exclaiming in the past, "I wasn't feeling well, myself, but it was an emergency, so I went to work!" Such self agrandizement should be vigorously discouraged. People with that stated attitude need to be sent home immediately, and possibly written up.
If you followed Indigo Girl's links to the use of respirators, you were probably, as I was, "gob smacked" by pictures of equipment I doubt many of us have actually seen (except when having painters at our homes who are sophisticated re: OSHA requirements), much less had fittings for them. N95 masks were called "respirators" where I've worked.......
Has anyone actually been fitted for one of those other ones?
Comment: The severe economic reverses seem to put into better perspective, in the light of life threatening, global illness.