LABJ FORUM: Breathing Easy?
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, has caused more than 60 deaths in 16 countries. Last week’s detention of an airliner at San Jose International Airport only heightened fears so far largely unfounded that the flu-like virus may intensify in the United States. So the Business Journal Asks:
Are you concerned about the spread of SARS and are you taking any preventative measures or altering your travel plans?
President and CEO
Diagnostic Products Corp.
Yes I’m concerned. We send people to Asia all the time. We would not now send an employee to Hong Kong or Southern China. It’s something that affects us in this office and in our other facilities. I have travel plans, but not to Asia, and I’m not changing them. Whenever I go to Japan, I see people all the time wearing masks. It’s normal, it’s part of the culture. It’s not over the top in Asia.
I am concerned. I think we’re long overdue for the kind of devastating epidemic like the Spanish flu of 1918. I have no reason to believe this is the same as that epidemic, there’s no evidence that it’s that dangerous, but the unknown is the scary part. There’s probably not anything I can do to protect myself, except limit my travel to Asia. I wasn’t planning on taking a trip, though.
I don’t have any trips planned to Asia in the immediate future, but if I did, I would cancel. The science community is definitely affected because a lot of people are canceling trips for conferences. It’s potentially a very serious public health threat here. My oldest daughter is studying Chinese and was in Beijing and Hong Kong last summer and she’s planning on going back next year some time. So we’re worried about it.
Zdonek & Wolowicz Accountancy Corp.
The nature of my work doesn’t require a great deal of travel. Anybody has concerns or anxiety over something they don’t understand. Whenever there are unusual or new viruses such as this, they seem to receive a lot of attention at the onset. I’m more concerned about international travel because of the Middle East than SARS.
Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales
Yes, I’m concerned. I got back yesterday from a trip to Japan and Korea, and tons of people were wearing those surgical masks. Unfortunately, I didn’t wear one. Airport officials in Japan handed us yellow cards saying that if you start getting flu-like symptoms, you should get to a doctor immediately. Business goes on, and some parts of the business you have to conduct face to face. But I would understand if any of our employees didn’t want to travel now.
Practice Development Grant Thornton LLP
I guess anytime there’s a new viral threat, if it affects us globally, it affects us all personally. It adds yet another layer to the stress and uncertainty and apprehension that all of us feel. It’s like the sky is falling; the economy, the war, the protesters. It’s a growing pile of problems that have a cumulative effect on how we eat, sleep and work. But I’m not concerned that I will actually contract the disease.