Student News: September 2, 2009

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Virus vaccinations, a wildfire forecast, and a turnaround on a texting ban. Hi I'm Carl Azuz. We've got the details on all of these stories in today's edition of CNN Student News. Welcome.

First Up: Isolated by the Flu

AZUZ: First up, President Obama asks Americans to take "common-sense" steps to prepare for the return of the H1N1, or swine flu. "I don't want anybody to be alarmed, but I do want people to be prepared." Those were the president's words yesterday when he addressed the issue. He said the government is doing everything it can to prepare for a new outbreak, including making H1N1 vaccines. Mr. Obama says those vaccinations won't be mandatory, although he does recommend them. He also says that if people do get sick, they should stay home from work or school. But what if your school is your home? As Elizabeth Cohen explains, this is a situation facing college students who have contracted the virus.


ELIZABETH COHEN, SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Swine flu seems to like college campuses, and especially the University of Kansas, where there are nearly 350 suspected cases. Freshman Arielle Spiridigliozzi is one of them. When she first got swine flu...


COHEN: Arielle of course didn't die, but she was pretty sick. Her temperature climbed to 101 degrees.

SPIRIDIGLIOZZI: Everything hurts, you're just laying in bed and your body's just aching and you're coughing and your chest just is burning.

COHEN: Cold comfort, but Arielle wasn't alone. Her roommate Kaitlyn Perry contracted the virus, too. So, they were ordered into isolation together in their dorm room. We decided to go in and talk to them to see how they're feeling. But before we go into their room, we decided we better make a call to the CDC.

COHEN: Hi, Dr. Jernigan. How are you?


COHEN: The doctor at the CDC tells me two things: One, I don't have to wear a mask, but the sick students do. Two, I should stay at least six feet away from them at all times. I join the dorm staff who are delivering food to the sick young ladies.

COHEN: What's it like being cooped up in here?

SPIRIDIGLIOZZI: It's so boring.

KAITLYN PERRY, FRESHMAN, UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS: We've watched like seven movies.

SPIRIDIGLIOZZI: We've watched so many movies.

COHEN: Is it scary, for the first time in your life on your own and you get sick?

SPIRIDIGLIOZZI: Yeah, because you're like, mom and dad aren't gonna come in and wake you up every three hours to take your medicine and make sure you're taking that Advil so your fever doesn't raise. Like, it's on your own, and what happens if you don't wake up, or you sleep through your alarm clock? But I mean, I know I've been checking on Kaitlyn and she's been checking on me.

PERRY: I think we're doing all right.

COHEN: College campus, students living with each other 24/7, often in close quarters are breeding grounds for swine flu. So far, 19 campuses across the country have reported cases. The university is following the CDC's guidelines that say if infected students are without a fever for 24 hours, they can leave isolation. So with fingers crossed, Kaitlyn and Arielle take their temperatures.

PERRY: 98.7! l don't have a fever!

SPIRIDIGLIOZZI: 98.2! Holler! Yeah, no fever!

COHEN: Hours later, Kaitlyn and Arielle are free from their confinement, able to leave their dorm room and finally begin life at college.



ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What U.S. state has the highest population? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Alaska, B) California, C) New York or D) Texas? You've got three seconds -- GO! With more than 36 million people, California is the most populated state in the U.S. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

California Wildfires

AZUZ: Some of that population has been ordered to evacuate because of a deadly wildfire. As of Tuesday morning, the Station Fire had burned more than 120,000 acres. That is larger than the entire city of Philadelphia. But officials are feeling more optimistic about efforts to fight the flames. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says part of the reason why is the people doing the fighting.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, (R) CALIFORNIA: We are very fortunate that we have the best and the most aggressive, best-trained, the most courageous firefighters in the world. And that's why we are able to push back very heavily. But while all those fires are burning, we are already thinking about working to help victims rebuild their lives.

AZUZ: Mike Sarkissian, who rents a home in the area threatened by the fire, shot some incredible video of the blaze. Take a look at this.

MIKE SARKISSIAN, RESIDENT: So, here we are in the Tujunga Canyon watching this fire go through, trying to protect the buildings. And here's a picture of it coming up probably through one of the closest spots of the property that could catch a building. So, I'm going to tape it just so you guys can see how fast this thing progresses.

Hurricane Jimena

AZUZ: Moving south of the border, residents of the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas are bracing for Hurricane Jimena, as the storm moves up the Baja Peninsula. You can see some of its effects in this video. Jimena began yesterday as a Category 4 storm, but slowed to a Category 3 by the afternoon. However, weather officials say the hurricane could still be strong when it hits land. That's expected to happen Thursday morning. Experts warn though that any change in direction could affect when and where the storm will hit.

Is this Legit

TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this Legit? There is a nationwide ban on texting while driving. Not Legit! Some states do ban text messaging for all drivers, but much of the U.S. doesn't have a ban.

Texting Ban?

AZUZ: One highway safety group, however, thinks every state should. It's calling for a nationwide ban, something this group was opposed to in the past. What's behind the u-turn? A new study, which says that texting significantly increases your chances of getting in a wreck. Also, a public service announcement that's been going around the Internet, which shows the potential danger of texting from behind the wheel. Jason Carroll explores how the group's new position could impact the push for a ban. Teachers, this report does include some graphic images from that PSA. We encourage you to preview it before showing it to your class.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some drivers call it fallout from life on the road in the digital age: texting while driving. A graphic public service announcement produced in the UK, widely seen on the Web in the United States, illustrates a violent end. This spot is part of the reason a group once opposed to new laws banning texting while driving has reversed its position.

VERNON BETKEY JR, GHSA: We're certainly in favor of the ban, and we're willing to support a texting ban.

CARROLL: Vernon Betkey Jr. is chairman of the Governor's Highway Safety Association, a national group representing state highway safety officials. In July, the group came out against laws banning texting while driving, Betkey saying, "...New laws would be impossible to enforce." But Betkey did an about-face following a meeting with the group's members, who'd seen that PSA and some alarming studies.

BETKEY: I think that as a result of those discussions, a decision was made to re-adjust our policy.

CARROLL: Senators, including Charles Schumer, who have proposed a federal law requiring states to ban texting while driving, say the highway association's new stance could go a long way.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: They saw that this was so important to do because it's so dangerous, that they took the leap and it's going to give our legislation a major boost.

CARROLL: Another boost: recent studies like the one from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which found a truck driver's risk of crashing 23 times higher while text messaging. Another study done by Professor David Strayer at the University of Utah found another disturbing result.

DAVID STRAYER, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH : Text messaging is a level of impairment that exceeds what we see with someone who is driving while they're drunk.

CARROLL: Exceeds it?


CARROLL: Strayer's researchers found a driver with an alcohol level 0.08, legally drunk in most states, is four times more likely to crash. Texting, that driver is eight times more likely. Currently, just 18 states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving.

CARROLL: So, what is your prediction at this point?

SCHUMER: I think we can get a bill done within the next several months.



AZUZ: Many of you already have your driver's license, and if you don't, you're probably looking forward to when you do. What do you think? Should texting from behind the wheel be banned across the U.S.? And how about that PSA? Some of you might have seen it already. Do you think it's effective in getting across its message, or does it go too far? You can sound off with all your thoughts on our blog at Please remember, first names only.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, that desk you're sitting at? It's dumb. At least compared to this one! You've heard of a smart board? Check out the smart desk, the latest technological teaching tool. It lets students get hands on with science, art, geography, and it can fit up to five sets of fingers at a time. These desks are designed for elementary students and they're being used in classrooms in Greece.


AZUZ: It might not sound very sentimental, but we still think it's a touching story. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.


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