The Government Accountability Office has warned that the U.S. government across the board is not prepared for a national outbreak of swine flu this fall.
The GAO set forth a laundry list of deficiencies including: the lack of planning for government staffing,lack of coordination among government agencies, lack of public awareness, insufficient beds and services, the lack of a vaccine, and the list goes on.
Many medical experts agree that there is a strong probability that the H1N1 Flu strain will make a strong return this fall. What then is the government doing to prepare the public and private sectors? Not much is the answer.
The wild card in the aftermath of a national healthcare challenge is the effect it will have on our already weakened economy. Will government agencies and private sector businesses need to be shut down? Will schools need to be closed? Will mandatory quarantines be ordered? For how long will these and other measures be in effect?
The World Bank has stated that a severe flu outbreak could have severe negative results to the global economy. Fear and uncertainty can be more damaging to our economy than the event itself.
A poor performance by the Obama administration to manage a national swine flu outbreak will turn out to be its Katrina. Like Katrina, the threat was real. The government knew or should have known there was a high probability that a Category 4 or 5 hurricane was going to strike the U.S.
Today, there exists an equally high probability of severe damage to our people and our economy. A hurricane is barreling down on our nation in the form of sickness.
The government must have plans in place from Main Street to Wall Street to ensure interruptions to business are kept to a minimum and that commerce continues to flow.
There is no excuse for us not to be prepared. Our government must be up to the task to act not only to prevent and treat illness but also to take measures to protect our economy from further and deeper decline due to a national medical epidemic.
Brad Blakeman is a Republican strategist and former Bush White House aide.
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