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Even though the swine flu has been mostly just a mild illness, twelve Bay Area schools are closed this week, including Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley, plus two pre-schools. According to the Chron, more than 8,000 Bay Area students will be staying home from school. Talk about overkill. This has to go down as maybe the most hysteria-filled near "pandemic" in history. It's worth repeating. About 36,000 people die of the flu every year in this country, and we don't close schools over that. But we have one death in Texas, and now we're closing schools everywhere? Absurd.

Much of the blame for the hysteria has to go to the mainstream media, particularly cable TV. In fact, the Chron had a piece over the weekend that pointed the finger at the fear-mongering talking heads on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. The story is worth reading, although it basically gives newspapers an undeserved free ride. They have helped feed this silly panic almost as much as anyone. Still, there's plenty of blame to go around. In fact, federal health officials also have to share some of the responsibility. After all, they're the ones recommending that school administrators close their doors if a student comes down with swine flu, even though the illness basically causes the same symptoms as any other mild flu.

And finally, there's the Mexican health authorities, who originally claimed that more than 150 people had died of swine flu, but then over the weekend, quietly cut that number to 25. Cleary, they overreacted with their original estimates, but the mainstream media didn't help the situation by reporting the original number as fact, even though it was clear that authorities had not completed all of their analyses.