Yesterday, I.S. 238 assistant principal Mitch Wiener passed away, becoming the first NYC fatality of the swine flu. Wiener's illness was disclosed last week, when his school in Queens closed along with others. Mayor Bloomberg said, "His death is a loss for our schools and our city," and called him a "well-liked and devoted educator."
The NY Post reports—according to a Flushing Hospital spokesperson—that "complications besides the virus likely played a part in" the 55-year-old educator's death. Another spokesperson said, "We were treating him very aggressively. He was in critical condition. His family was saying that he had not, in fact, deteriorated, which was true, but he was still extremely critical." Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden said, "We are now seeing a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City...Nothing we’ve seen so far suggests that it’s more dangerous to someone who gets it than the flu that comes every year. We should not forget that the flu that comes every year kills about 1,000 New Yorkers.”
Wiener's family had criticized the city for not closing the school sooner—it was closed on Thursday, but Wiener entered the hospital earlier last week. Yesterday, the city closed additional schools over concerns that students had swine flu-like symptoms, raising the number of closed schools to 11. The United Federation of Teachers' president Randi Weingarten reiterated the union's stance that city agencies need to be vigilant, "This tragedy tells us that we have to be mindful and closely monitor schools that have indications of flu outbreak."