CDC flu map as of Jan. 13, 2018

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  Odds are good that either you or someone you know has the flu right now.  According to the latest CDC report, about 9,000 “laboratory-confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations” have been reported during this season’s flu outbreak and at least thirty children have died as a result of the virus this season.

The flu is highly active in nearly every state right now, according to the CDC.

Not only that, but those with flu are at high risk for pneumonia which can be even more deadly.  My brother is in the hospital with pneumonia right now and has been in the ER for over 24-hours because there are not enough beds in the hospital itself to put him into a room.

Over the counter drugs like Theraflu are flying off the shelves.

Is it coincidence that exactly one-hundred years ago the nation, and the world, suffered the infamous 1918 flu pandemic?:

The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed more people than combat did in the First World War. Maybe a lot more: fatality estimates range from 20-40 million to twice that around the globe. In the United States, a quarter of the population came down with the flu; some 675,000 died. Only the American Civil War has been more lethal.

This CBS News report on the 1918 pandemic describes just how devastating it was. We hope that this flu season is not a repeat of that but we are not yet near the end of this season yet.

The experts are giving all the usual advice to protect yourself: wash your hands, get a flu shot, stay away from loved ones who are ill, get lots of rest.  Parents are advised not to send their children to school if they are sick and business are encouraging employees to stay home if they are sick. Many doctors offices are telling patients not to come in if they have the flu: to simply call and get a prescription for Tamiflu.  Emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are overflowing with flu patients as well.

Because I teach school, I am absolutely paranoid about catching the flu; I’m around kids all day long.  I’ve loaded up on hand sanitizer (even though there are claims that it does not work) and sanitizing wipes which I use on my desks and door knobs daily.  I’m keeping a healthy distance between me and anyone who is coughing.

I have a friend who has worked in public health for over 60 years as a physician.  He firmly believes the key to preventing germs spreading is Dr. Tichenor’s antiseptic mouthwash.  He carries a small spray bottle with him during cold and flu season filled with undiluted Dr. Tichenor’s.  He puts a dab in each nostril throughout the day and sprays his throat. Between that and the flu shot, he has managed to avoid the flu every year.

I have another friend who says that her secret to staying well is to eat local honey.

I’m taking every possible precaution, but it turns out that as widespread and virulent as this year’s virus seems to be, we all may be afflicted at some point.

I hope that you all stay healthy and avoid getting sick this year.  If you have a great home remedy or advice, please share!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Yesterday Tom Brady once again came from behind in the 4th Quarter to once again lead the Patriots to the Superbowl, their 8th in the 16 years that he has been the starter (I don’t count the year he got injured in game 1) which is only surpassed by a fellow named Russell who used to play basketball in Boston back in the day.

Despite this success, even with Gronk hurt there have been a lot of various debates on if Brady has 2 year or 3 year or 5 years left in him and how many of those years does he have left at the Tom Brady level vs a human QB level and what do the Patriots do when it’s time for the transition. Everyone has an opinion, Tom says he wants to play to his mid 40’s but nobody has to my knowledge asked about a possibility that has been running through my mind for weeks.

The George Blanda Option.

For those too young to remember George Blanda came up as a Quarterback and kicker with the Chicago Bears in 1949 and played with the Bears till 1958 (with a one game stint in Baltimore as a Linebacker) as QB, Kicker punter and for one season a linebacker

After a one year retirement he came back with the new AFL (now the AFC) with the Houston Oilers leading them to the first two AFL titles in the pre-superbowl era as a QB while still kicking up a storm. In 1968 he signed with the Oakland Raiders as a kicker while still coming in occasionally to sub at QB. After the 1975 season he hung up his cleats still kicking at 61% which was considered respectable in that era of the game, playing his last game in January of 1976 at the ripe old age of 48.

What if Brady decided to do the same?

What if he spent part of the off season training as a Punter? Does anyone doubt for one moment that if Brady put his mind to it that he could not pick up the punting game and play for another decade as a kicker, a holder for field goals and emergency 2nd or 3rd QB once he decides he can’t start every day at the left he is used to?

Can you imagine the nightmare that would be for a special Teams coach coordinator or the defensive coordinator of a team playing a Patriots team with Tom Brady as a punter and holder for Field goals? All of a sudden every single punt and field goal becomes a potential pass play from the greatest quarterback of all time.

And even worse what happens in a playoff game when your defense has stymied the pats offense and suddenly the greatest QB of all time comes off the bench fresh without having taken any of the punishment of a full season?

Of course all of this is apparently years away, if Brady wins another Superbowl this year (and I see no reason why he won’t) it might not be until 2020 before the Blanda option comes into play and by then he might be out of fingers for rings.

I really wonder if Brady has considered this at all?