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Wife of Swine flu victim criticizes city's handling of illness
The wife of a Queens assistant principal in critical condition with swine flu said Friday city health officials told him he was "setting off a panic" last week when he expressed concern that the illness had sickened students at his school.
Bonnie Wiener, whose husband, Mitchell, is assistant principal of Susan B. Anthony Intermediate School in Hollis, one of three schools closed by the latest swine flu outbreak, said the city health department denied the principal's request to close the school because of suspected swine flu cases there.
"If he [the principal] was allowed to shut the school down, my husband would not be in this condition," she said.
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New York Reports Its First Swine Flu Death
An assistant principal at a New York City public school died of complications from swine flu in an intensive care unit of a Queens hospital on Sunday night, the first death in New York State of the flu strain that has swept across much of the world since it was first identified in April.
Hours before the death of the assistant principal, Mitchell Wiener, city officials announced that five more Queens schools had closed.
On Friday, Dr. Daniel Jernigan, head of flu epidemiology for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there had been 173 hospitalizations and 5 deaths reported to the agency. But he emphasized that most cases in the United States — possibly “upwards of 100,000” — were mild.
In Japan, the number of swine flu cases soared over the weekend, and authorities closed more than 1,000 schools and kindergartens .
Mr. Wiener’s death, which came five days after he entered the hospital and three days after his school, Intermediate School 238 in Hollis, Queens, was shut down by health officials, raised the level of concern among the public, especially parents, but health officials played down the significance of the death to public policy.