In the past 24 hours, there's enough scary business going around town to make you think that the world might be coming to an end soon. Yesterday, a few streets over, a building collapsed, injuring 31 people, and attracting gawkers and emergency personnel at all times throughout the evening. There was so much noise that I tried to think of it as a wonderful Dvorak symphony of sirens, horns, helicopters, and shouting.
Then, today, Mexico City and the State of Mexico closed all schools in the wake of a severe respiratory outbreak in which most of the reported deaths are people from Mexico City. Dios mio! This we find out only after we decide to congregate with hundreds of other people who waited to file their taxes at the last minute. There we are like good foreigners doing the extremely odd behavior of paying our taxes in a country of people known for trying their damnedest to avoid it, and we become targets of an influenza epidemic.
With nothing else to do in a line about half a mile long, I watch people milling around and notice an unusual number of people wearing surgical mask-type coverings over their face. That seems strange, I think, because I've never seen that before. Then, I see the newspaper headlines: "All Schools Cancelled in Mexico City and the State of Mexico: Influenza". INFLUENZA?? Cancel school for the flu? I get the flu a lot working with kids, but then I find out it's a rare and deadly strain of swine flu. Repeat, I GET THE FLU A LOT WORKING WITH KIDS.
It appears I need to purchase a few blue masks (if I can find one in a city stricken with panic) and hole up at home. Avoid the musty and germy subway. Wash hands religiously. Eat at home. Avoid schools, aka work :). What other precautions should I taking?
The New York Times online just broke the news.