Welcome to Hysteria Week in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.
We'll begin in Lycoming County. We've been bombarded by phone calls and e-mails after an alleged rash of assaults on women in the Muncy area. Some of the callers and letter writers are nice, people merely asking for a little help.
Other calls? Well, let's just say they're not so nice. We're accused of being bumblers who are missing a major story. We're being accused of a cover-up. Why we'd cover up a story like that is beyond me. We checked with police. Repeatedly. They've told us of only one investigation. One. That's all. One. Thanks to a computer on every desk and a cell phone in every hand, the rumors have spread out of control.
Assault cases are nothing to fool with, and it's nice to see people are taking their safety seriously, but do not let irrational fears and paranoia rule your lives.
Part two of Hysteria Week deals with the swine flu. I have to admit, I'm a victim of the hysteria. I was in one of the big box book stores Wednesday afternoon. A woman in the next aisle was coughing, sneezing, hacking, and gagging up a storm-- without covering her mouth and nose. Half of me wanted to yell something. The other half wanted to run for the door. Luckily, the store didn't have what I wanted, so I bolted for the exit.
I received my seasonal flu shot a month ago, so I hope I have some protection. Swine flu is another story. I just can't wait for that bullet to hit.
Pittston Area was among the first of the schools to get by swine flu hysteria. Some cases were reported. A third of the student body stayed home last week. On Tuesday, when classes resumed, a high school student told me she didn't want to go to her grave due to the swine flu. While there have been fatalities, they have been rare. Someone should have told her that-- either in or out of school.
Information is better than a vaccination. It's better than e-mail. It's our best weapon against Hysteria Week.