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Why the jam in Hagerstown?

October 13, 2006

Anyone caught in Wednesday's massive traffic jam in downtown Hagerstown was probably tempted to say "doggone it" or worse as they inched through the center city's streets.

The jam was caused when police and emergency officials responded to a report of a flu-like illness among African refugees living in an apartment building at 25 1/2 W. Franklin St., across from the main post office

Thirteen of the refugees and three of the other residents were evacuated and evaluated in two decontamination tents. Ultimately, it turned out to be nothing serious and possibly a misunderstanding based on the language barrier.

Was this an overreaction?

Absolutely not. We were recently told that it is only a matter of time before the U.S. experiences a pandemic flu outbreak. Some of the strains of that illness are much more virulent than the ordinary seasonal flu strains - and there is no vaccine yet.

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Yes, it was an inconvenience to sit in traffic, not knowing what was going on. We hope knowing that so many were working hard to protect citizens from an unknown illness more than makes up for that.

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