Since Katrina, we have seen charges and countercharges about how unprepared everyone was. We have learned that in spite of a 2001 FEMA report that pinpointed a major hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three most catastrophic and most likely major disasters facing the United States, and a recommendation by the chief engineer for the Corps of Engineers New Orleans district, Al Naomi, to strengthen the levees, nothing was done other than to cut the budget for even the maintenance and minor upgrades that were scheduled. I have blogged on how this was anticipated and ignored before.
However, that is in the past. In the past few days, however, we have read alarming reports of a new global avian flu epidemic just starting to affect humans in Indonesia and parts of Asia, and how sooner or later, it is considered highly likely that we will be facing a serious worldwide pandemic. It may be as soon as this winter, or we may get a year or two of respite. And there is still the chance that it will subside without spreading beyond its Asian cradle, but that chance seems to be growing smaller with each report
The time is now to take action to be as prepared as possible for when it gets here. I hope that we see the President provide the leadership necessary to make sure that we have enough antiviral medication on hand, and that we press ahead as quickly as possible with finding a vaccine and that when one is found, it is distributed as quickly as possible.
If the epidemic comes and we are prepared, then I will be the first one to congratulate the President for getting us that way. But if we are not, then there will be no excuse, because we can certainly see it coming.
It now appears that the President is prepared to take agressive action to prevent a pandemic. And if he does, I will fully support such action.