Boro prepares for fall’s Swine Flu cases

City officials are invigorating for a surge of swine flu cases and the funeral home directors got to be prepared to provide accommodation for possibly 50,000 to 85,000 deaths, the director of the Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association told a gathering of funeral parlor representatives in Forest Hills last week.

“As funeral directors, we actually got to know what we’re close to face,” Martin Kasdan said. “When swine influenza comes back, it could possibly be devastating.”

The meeting sponsored by the MetFDA at Schwartz Brothers in Forest Hills Aug 6, was attended by about 15 officials from the area funeral homes. The MetFDA is holding four meetings within the city and one in Westchester this month to raise prepare funeral homes for a possible increase in deaths also as an increase within the number of sick and absent employees.

MetFDA officials said they were also relaying information from the meetings to city agencies, including the town Health Department and therefore the medical examiner’s office, with which they need to be working in preparation for a possible second wave of swine influenza.

Swine flu, otherwise referred to as H1N1 first hit the town in May during a group of St. Francis Preparatory students in Fresh Meadows. The outbreak occurred after the scholars had arrived home from a visit to Mexico, where the planet Health Organization said the worldwide pandemic originated.

As of July, quite 900 New Yorkers had been hospitalized with H1N1 and 47 had died, including two Queens residents, consistent with city statistics.

Flushing resident Mitchell Wiener, an assistant principal at IS 238 in Hollis, the city’s first person of swine flu casualty May 17. A second unnamed woman from Queens died from swine influenza Commonwealth Day, consistent with the town.

City residents still come down with H1N1, but the numbers have continually decreased since the spike of cases in May, health officials said.

“The Health Department monitors influenza-like illnesses a day in NY City,” said city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “While every hospitalization is concerning and each death may be a tragedy, our surveillance data indicate that the amount of individuals newly infected is declining.”

The Centers for Disease Control has predicted a 2.1 percent to three .3 percent death rate among those that come down with swine influenza this fall, which translates into a further 52,000 to 86,000 deaths within the city over a three-month period, Kasdan said.

Kasdan stated that’s mind-boggling of the possible death rate. Is the CDC right? Who knows — hopefully not but would like to be prepared.

The potential upswing in fatalities poses a good array of questions for city officials and funeral directors, like where to store bodies, the way to hold funerals during a climate where swine influenza is passed easily from person to person and the way many extra supplies are going to be needed.

“You may need to await funerals because the family is sick or until the cemetery says they’re ready to do the burial,” Kasdan said. “You may need to store bodies longer”.

Kasdan said the town doctor is already looking into possibly using vacant city buildings to store bodies, and therefore the city has contracted for a unit to be inbuilt Germany which will handle many bodies.


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