Churchill said “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.”
When it comes to Zika, it’s time to do the right thing.
Here’s the wrong things we’ve been pursuing
a) underfunding basic research
b) under appreciating the risk that known, but “foreign” diseases will reach our shores
c) failing to anticipate the advent of new diseases that could materialize
d) leaving the public in the dark about who is doing what to find a vaccine or new ways to eradicate the mosquito carrying Zika
e) failing to fund an emergency response to Zika.
The last point is the worst point. President Obama has repeatedly asked Congress to allocate $2 billion to fight this menace and the Republican House has repeatedly blocked his request to get its way on a host of on social issues for which there is no national support and which are primarily the province of the courts, not the legislature.
It’s passing strange that the same Republican House members who claim to be pro-life are now sitting on their hands when they can prevent the death or depilating disease of new borns. This is hypocrisy at its richest and sickest.
Here’s what I’d do as President.
First, I’d address the nation from the Oval Office and explain the full dimensions of the problem, what precisely the government is doing to stop it, what precisely the private sector is doing to stop it, what we can do individually to protect ourselves, and what we can do collectively to contain the spread of this plague.
Second, I would invite the members of Congress who have blocked the fight against Zika to join me in the Oval Office and either pledge support for a collective, bi-partisan initiative or explain why their social issues agenda should prevent Zika funding. If they didn’t show up, their empty chairs would bear their names. In other words, I would hold them up to public ridicule because, at this point, when people are being warned not to frequent parts of Miami, that’s precisely what they deserve.
Third, I would meet with our top virologists to figure out how best to put a full court press on this great danger to our nation. I’d announce the plan as part of the address and I’d have it implemented the same day.
Fourth, I would set up a the Agency for Emerging Contagion, which would be a part of the National Institute of Health. This agency would do everything possible not only to coordinate the fight against Zika, Ebola, Dengue Fever, and other heretofore relatively rare contagions. It would also anticipate and work to prevent new contagions, such as new strains of swine flu, avian flu, etc.