A little over a week ago the swine flu hysteria really broke out. It seems to have died down quite a bit in a week. Part of that is the short attention span of the news cycle (and the problems caused by 24 hour news channels), and part of that is the realization that the early numbers were way out of proportion.
But another big piece of the puzzle is how well prepared we seem to be to deal with a pandemic. I learned a lot about preparing for these issues in my Advanced Health Law class. I was in the class shortly after outbreaks of bird flu and SARS, when governments really started to work on the issue of preparation. I really enjoyed the class and looking at all the difficulties in dealing with pandemics.
It isn't a super easy thing to prepare for a pandemic. A lot of proposals turn out to be things that would actually be completely ineffectual, such as closing down borders. A government that takes ineffectual steps will be causing more harm that good. See, for example, slaughtering all of a country's pigs or suggesting that people avoid planes and trains.
If you look at the steps the CDC took, at least initially here, it looks like they handled things pretty well. In another 6 months we might look back and see that that statement is completely absurd, but I doubt it. I think the plan that was put in place - and the execution so far - appears to be on the right track.
And you know who we largely have to thank for this? George W. Bush. These were plans that were really put into place under his watch, at the direction of his administration. It feels weird to throw some real praise his way. But it really looks like it's due. Of course, we can always balance that by pointing out that it was the Katrina fiasco that really kicked the administration into gear on this sort of planning.
Yeah... that feels more natural.
He waits in the wings
He's gotta play a part