This is a Bicentennial Minute. Eleven Americans, ranging in age from 9 to 50, have come down with swine flu, the Associated Press reports: "All those people either recovered or are recovering; at least two were hospitalized."
In Mexico, however, the toll has been much worse. "About 70 deaths out of roughly 1,000 cases represents a fatality rate of about 7 percent," the AP notes. This is far higher than the 2.5% fatality rate from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19, although the latter was many orders of magnitude more widespread, killing 40 million people world-wide.
"The Mexican rate sounds terrifying," the AP writes. "But it's possible that far more than 1,000 people have been infected with the virus and that many had few if any symptoms." Which is somewhat, though not entirely, reassuring.
The AP dispatch is titled "Swine Flu Worse in Mexico Than US, but Why?" There's no definitive answer, but here's one of the possibilities:
Access to medical care has been an issue in Asia, where a rare bird flu--which does not spread easily from person-to-person--has killed more than 200 over the last several years. Maybe Mexican patients have also had trouble getting medical care or antiviral drugs, some have speculated--even though the government provides health care.
Wouldn't this paragraph make more sense if it ended ". . . because the government provides health care"?