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Flu Epidemic and Living on the Edge

We are very close to being in serious trouble in Washington state.

People don't realize how close we are today, Jan. 28 — the day I'm writing this blog post — to being overwhelmed with flu cases in Washington state. We are in the middle (hopefully middle) of a significant flu outbreak and our medical system, especially hospitals, are at or near the breaking point in being able to cope with the number of sick people needing hospitalization.

We walk this dance all the time with our critical infrastructure. It is a just-in-time delivery system that works until there is a need for a surge capacity and none exists. The breaking point is not understood to be much sooner than anyone expects.

I spoke to a friend this past Friday. His mother had passed away at age 96. Certainly a long and productive life. Cause of death — the flu.


Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.