Friday, October 14, 2005

"After Hurricane Katrina, the answer to any question beginning with 'are we prepared' is an emphatic negative."

Dana Milbank, in WAPO:
"Halloween came early to the Capitol yesterday, as disease experts lined up to scare the dickens out of lawmakers in a 'congressional briefing' on the coming flu pandemic.

"The elected representatives missed their briefing, because they were home for their Columbus Day recess, trick-or-treating for campaign checks. But a roomful of staffers, pharmaceutical lobbyists and reporters toured a medical house of horrors in the Hart Senate Office Building.

"'We and the entire world remain unprepared for what could arguably be the most horrific disaster in modern history,' inveighed Gregory A. Poland of the Mayo Clinic and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Somebody in the audience sneezed, and Poland added: 'The clock is ticking. We've been warned.'

"It was hard to top that, but Constance Hanna, an occupational health specialist, tried. 'Let me paint you a little picture,' she began. 'Twenty to 30 percent of your employees don't show up to work . . . schools are closed . . . transportation systems are curtailed or shut down . . . Critical infrastructure will or may fail: food, water, power, gas, electricity.'
He calls it "the coming flu pandemic." There will be another flu pandemic, and it may or may not be bird flu. How to prepare for a worst-case scenario, which may or may not occur, and also avoid panic or hysteria? Excuse me, I must wash my hands now...


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