Last week, the Park County Coroner posted the deeply disturbing notice on the county website of a six-year-old child’s death from influenza. Our community lost a cherished little human to a medical tragedy that was possibly avoidable, even though this child had cystic fibrosis.
In recent decades, new treatments have doubled the life expectancy for those with CF. A child with CF born in 2013 is expected to reach middle age, with a median lifespan of 44 years or more, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Three times in the last few weeks, we’ve encountered coughing cashiers at local stores who admitted to being sick while their pathogens spread in a 25-foot cloud around them, and they handled everyone’s purchases.
Cashiers in Park and Jefferson counties were observed coughing without covering their mouths. People near these workers included old folks wearing supplemental oxygen and children with potentially any variety of respiratory challenges. For example, asthma is now ubiquitous among our kids, and can be life-threatening when complicated by influenza.
We understand that people need to work and businesses must operate, but this recent calamity for a local family reminds us that the flu issue transcends self-interest and profit margins. The flu vaccine ranges from only 10-60 percent effective, according to the Center for Disease Control.
One young doctor mused that she would be devastated if she somehow learned that a grandparent or child was hospitalized or died because she wanted to carry on public life while ill.
Citizens and employers, please heed this insight. Please stay home and recover. Bosses, please provide sick pay, and send those coughing cashiers home, or at least keep them away from public contact. Thank you for reading this, and for choosing responsible conduct in the future.
Jim and Annie Halpin