NPR logo Covering The Flu Outbreak (With Pandemic Potential)


Covering The Flu Outbreak (With Pandemic Potential)

A pedestrian reads a newspaper, which headline states that up to 103 deaths due to the swine flu, in Mexico City on April 27. OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Scrambling a bit this morning. We were committed to talking about the big moves in the auto industry when we started seeing how the swine flu story was percolating over the weekend. What made the decision of switching things around even easier for us is that our Planning Editor Luis Clemens just back from Mexico City, having moved his family here to Washington, D.C., just a couple of weeks ago.

This is where it's helpful to be part of a big news organization, or at least one with an interest in accuracy. I was trying to follow the story over the weekend, but none too successfully (in trying to do that and keep my twins from disappearing into separate wings of the museum, where I took them to escape the heat). So I was appreciative to walk into work this morning and find a memo of guidance about how to describe the swine flu "outbreak" (not epidemic, but with pandemic potential) to listeners. Thanks Joe Neel, et al....

We'll have more on this story as it unfolds. In the meantime, listen to today's conversation ... and remember to sneeze into your elbow.

Also, today we talked about the growing number of families who find themselves homeless. We brought you a conversation with the Greenes, a homeless family in Virginia. Barbara Anderson, the founding director of Haven House Services in Indiana, also joined us to explain just how serious this issue has become for many who are struggling to fight their way through financial troubles. After we finished taping, Anderson shared some additional thoughts about homeless children. Here's a note she sent to Tell Me More producer Jasmine Garsd:

No school age homeless child in this country has to worry about transferring out of their school. Under former Department of Education Secretary Stewart B. McKinney, it became law that homeless children must be transported to their school of origin and the school system must provide the transportation. It is not the burden of the parent. Barbara Duffield is an expert on this issue and in D.C., you can get her number from Michael Stoops at 202-462-4822. Policies on poverty have to be developed in this country that are effective for everyone and the root cause of homelessness is poverty, whether it be long term or episodic. The National Coalition for the Homeless advocates strongly through the Bring America Home Act and the comprehensive approach it will take to end homelessness. It is a bill that is probably as close to Roosevelt's policies than even the War on Poverty and with passage and implementation, would have a greater and more profound impact in this country. Some of the best minds in the country helped mold the act, please take a look at it on the NCH Web site. Homelessness is America's shame. To allow our own citizens to sleep under bridges, in chicken coops — with a wage half of what they should earn — and children frightened, cold, and hungry is a national disgrace. We need to organize. —Barb

(The above was published with Anderson's permission. However, the views contained do not necessarily represent the opinion of "Tell Me More", or its staff.)

Thanks, Barb.