Bird Flu: Preemptive Ass Covering and Buck Shifting By the Feds
Earlier this afternoon, homeland security hottie Frances Townsend graced our television screens, to outline federal government preparations for a possible outbreak of pandemic flu. We were alerted to this development when our traffic spiked, due to Google searches for "frances townsend" and "frances townsend pics."
The Times offers this account of the federal plan:
Although the federal government will stockpile 75 million doses of antiviral drugs and 20 million doses of vaccine to combat any outbreak of pandemic flu, local governments and individual communities will have to shoulder most of the burden in battling the disease, the White House said today.
Translation: "Good luck, kids, you're on your own! This is not going to be another Hurricane Katrina, where the federal government gets blamed for everything. Fault your state and local governments instead."
After the jump, a few more comments on the federal plan (such as it may be).
The Times explains:
Under the government's plan for the worst-case possibility, a pandemic flu could cause up to two million deaths in the United States.
Ms. Townsend emphasized that the recent outbreak of flu among birds has infected people only rarely -- but with deadly results. Of 205 people infected around the world, 113 have died, she noted.... [A] flu pandemic will be nothing like the "seasonal influenza" that restricts the unlucky who catch it to bedroom and bathroom for a few days.
"Pandemic influenza is different from seasonal influenza because it occurs when a new strain of influenza emerges that can be transmitted easily from person to person and for which people have no immunity," the report notes. "Unlike seasonal influenza, which typically affects the frail and sick, pandemic influenza could present as much risk to the young and healthy."
Translation: "YOU'RE ALL FUCKED. And don't look to us for anything, 'cause there's not a damn thing we can do about it."
The Times continues:
A flu pandemic would severely disrupt the economy, and private businesses and government agencies should assume that up to 40 percent of employees would be absent for up to two weeks at the height of each wave of infections, the report says....
And people would have to change the way they live and do business, perhaps for months. They might be asked to limit their travel or, in the worst case, be ordered not to travel....
Companies would be encouraged, if not told, to curtail meetings. Social gatherings would be discouraged. People who show any symptoms would be advised to stay home altogether.
Solution: The United States should become a nation of bloggers. Bloggers can go for days on end without face-to-face human contact. We live lives that are blissfully free from annoying water cooler conversations, funny smells emanating from the office microwave, and, of course, fatal and highly communicable illnesses. It's a great way to live.