Use common sense during flu season | Letters | Oct. 16

We don't know yet if the H1N1 scare is media hype or real; whether it will be as bad or worse than past pandemics; or how serious it will be in our community. We do know that every flu season poses a risk to certain groups of people and there is some data on H1N1 indicating that children may be at greater risk this time, thus my sense of urgency in this message.

I think most reasonable people are taking precautions to contribute to community health interests as well as their own self-interest. I’ve seen more hand-washing, more Purel-squirting, and unfortunately more people refraining from social gatherings due to increased risk.

So I was quite surprised today to enter an island sandwich shop and see the sandwich-maker having to stop every few seconds to cough an awful-sounding cough, just over the sandwich-to-be. I asked, “Are you sick?” He said, “Yes, but I think I’m getting better.” We exited quickly and hoped that the two minutes waiting in line, in the cloud of his coughs, will not sicken us.

Beyond the poor judgment of this individual, the sandwich shop – part of a national franchise chain that one would think would have communicated with employees about this (my company has told me not to come to work if I get sick this year) – showed extreme irresponsibility in allowing this person to be at work.

Whether or not one believes that an infected individual coughing on a sandwich can transmit a virus, that individual standing two feet away from customers and coughing is absolutely doing so. Public health aside, it was just disgusting and I will not return to that establishment – and hope others will consider this experience before patronizing that shop in absence of their direct public response to this situation.

I urge restaurant owners and managers on our island, and everywhere, to take responsibility for keeping sick employees out of the food production and serving process.

Corporations worldwide have communicated with employees proactively on this, even for office workers. Apparently the local sandwich franchisee does not share that sense of responsibility.

I also urge citizens to observe, report and avoid any establishment that shows such reckless disregard for community health.

If there is to be a pandemic, carelessness like this will be central to the spread.

Fred Whittlesey

Rolling Bay

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