retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post this morning reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) is saying that the world probably is on the verge of a swine flu pandemic, raising the alert level for the second time in three days. A number of developments have occurred in Texas, where the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Future Connect and MarkeTechnics conferences are scheduled to take place next week

The first swine flu death in the US has been reported – a 22 month old boy from Mexico City who died in a Houston hospital.

In addition, the Post reports, Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a “disaster declaration” and a statement saying that :”Texans need to know there is no cause for panic, and Texans can be assured that the state will take every necessary precaution to protect the lives of our citizens.” The Post reports that “officials suspended high school sports events statewide until May 11 and shut more schools, sending more than 53,000 students home for at least two weeks.”

The Fort Worth public schools have been closed for 10 days because of swine flu concerns.

Vice President Joseph Biden told the “Today Show” this morning that people should avoid getting into enclosed spaces such as airplanes and subways, suggesting that these are perfect places for the flu to be spread. (The general consensus seemed to be that Biden went off the reservation in making that comment, and that most public officials wouldn’t go that far.

The Post reports that “the number of known cases in the United States hit at least 91, with infections confirmed in at least six new states -- Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Arizona, Indiana and Nevada -- more than doubling the number of states with confirmed cases.”

KC's View:
The more I think about it, the more I wonder about the wisdom of supermarket chains sending people to congregate in places where swine flu conceivably could be passed along…especially when a lot of those people are going to come back to their companies and spend time in supermarkets, ort spend time with people who will be working in supermarkets.

After we posted MNB this morning, FMI issued the following statement:

“The leadership of FMI is communicating directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the Dallas County Health and Human Services to actively understand developments related to swine flu and the impact on public health.

“Given advice provided by these organizations, FMI remains committed to holding Future Connect and Marketechnics in Dallas next week.

“FMI and our conference facilities are taking all recommended precautions to provide a safe and clean environment for our attendees.”