Mankind has seen them come and go. The plague, the Spanish flu, AIDS, and now the coronavirus.
Starting almost from scratch, the Trump team has done a great job in fighting the scourge. But when this is over, as all pandemic outbreaks come to an end, we need to be better prepared to deal with the crisis. How? Perhaps like this.
- A Cabinet level office- A mid-level Cabinet office (akin to the place of the UN ambassador in the hierarchy) should be instituted to be in constant readiness for the kind of public health disaster that can stop cold the U.S. economy.
Or perhaps just elevate the USPHS to Cabinet level. A yearly report should be made to Congress by the president on ongoing efforts and research. Dr. Birx, Admiral Giroir, or Dr. Fauci would be a natural for this post.
- A medical reserve- All the uniformed services have a reserve component and in recent conflicts they have played a major role in the fighting. The military is also calling up retired medical service personnel for the duration of this crisis. This should be institutionalized into a USPHS/military medical reserve to be quickly mobilized in the event of a public health event.
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The key to killing these monsters seems to be early detection and decisive measures. A ready reserve could move on that much speedier than our current system. A sophisticated detection system could act as a modern day DEW line (Distant Early Warning, a Cold War electronic picket line against Soviet aggression by air) against viruses.
- A strategic stockpile- Though the Democrats killed the president’s attempt to improve our oil reserve, maybe they won’t be so nakedly political with a reserve of medical equipment. We have many shuttered military bases that could be activated for the HQ of such a command.
Respirators, masks, protective equipment, and all that is needed to fight a national virus could be stored there in bulk and kept current/replenished on a regular basis.
Nobody wants to repeat the initial stages of this pandemic. With some strategic forethought there is no reason that has to happen.