On the day the swine flu officially a pandemic, the NYC Health Department raised the number of swine flu-related fatalities to 15. And one of the victims was Sarah Michel, an 11-year-old and sixth grader at IS609K in Borough Park. Her mother told the Daily News, "It's just terrible. I don't know what to say. We're all grieving right now. We're all mourning my little girl."
The News, which says the school was being "speed-cleaned" last night, reports, "Relatives said Sarah, who had a heart defect, caught the flu and then had a heart attack. She was first sent home from school June 2 to see a doctor." The NY Times spoke to two 13-year-olds who knew her, "They said that when they last saw her about a week ago she was coughing and complaining of stomach pain. She was overweight, the girls said — a factor that can make people vulnerable to the virus, health experts have said." The other two recently reported victims were under the age of two and between 30-39 years old.
At a City Council hearing, Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. said the Health Department should make the underlying conditions of fatal victims public, “Why is the information about the people who have succumbed to this flu being kept secret?" But Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, "We have to separate what’s important for people to know and plan versus privacy. Specific medical information about individual patients will not change how an individual or an organization responds."
As for the WHO's declaration that swine flu is a pandemic, former NYC Health Commissioner and current CDC head Dr. Thomas Frieden told the Times, "This is not a surprise. For all intents and purposes, the United States government has been in Phase 6 of the pandemic for some time now."