Boycott Watch  
April 30, 2009
"Emergency!!! DON'T PANIC!!!!!
Summary: The CDC is out of control
By Fred Taub
President, Boycott Watch

    Those are the words of the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not mine. They declared a health emergency over the swine flu. True, about two hundred people in the U.S. have become sick and one Mexican infant died, but statistically, those numbers are insignificant in the U.S. where more than three hundred million people.

    CDC emergency declarations have become frequent since 2005 because of one thing - the CDC does not want to be criticized the same way President Bush was for a slow federal response to the 2005 hurricane Katrina response in New Orleans. So, the CDC declares emergencies whenever possible so nobody calls for their staff to be fired for not doing their job. In the mean time, they are not serving the public interest by causing panic either.

    In 2007, the CDC issued warnings about the avian flu, a.k.a. the bird flu, causing much panic in the U.S. while people were scurrying for inoculations and Tamiflu. In 2008, Boycott Watch reported how the CDC tomato salmonella scare cost the U.S. economy millions of dollars by shutting down the tomato industry in the U.S., forcing farmers to let their tomato crop rot in the field without any substantive evidence of which tomatoes, if any, where the cause of the breakout. In the end, spinach was discovered to be the culprit, but not until the tomato industry suffered severe losses. Then there was the salmonella peanut butter scare which caused panic and major economic loss as people and businesses threw away all peanut butter products before the CDC even had a clue as to the source.

    Meanwhile, the CDC has issued an emergency swine flu declaration while telling people not to panic and advocating passing out surgical masks. The CDC said the emergency had to be declared to allow testing resources to be used nationwide. Oddly enough, the name Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alone indicates the government agency should be able to take action to control and prevent diseases without having to declare emergencies. That's their job. Hospitals work with the CDC all the time, so there is no reason to declare an emergency, for which the name alone evokes fear in the public. Screaming "Don't Panic" along with an emergency declaration is screaming fire in a crowded movie theater - people panic because there is nowhere to run.

    Here, the proper declaration, if any, would be to call for an alert. Yes, we should be aware, and yes, washing hands is always a good health practice, but that is what should be said - people should always wash their hands, especially after they leave the bathroom, which unfortunately many people do not do, and many others just do a quick rinsing of their hands. What these people do not realize or do not think about is that while they may not care, others may be affected by their laziness.

    To make matters worse, the Vice President of the United States went on a television news show and said he would not travel on an airplane right now. Yes, the Vice President of the United States has issued a panic statement that will undoubtedly hurt the airline and travel industry for months to come. Meanwhile, the U.S. pork industry is expecting major losses as well while people avoid pork and ham products produced in the U.S. under strict government agency supervision.

    With so few people are becoming sick, one must wonder why there is a pandemic declaration, which is defined as a disease which is prevalent throughout the country, when that is clearly not the case. The answer is the pandemic announcement is based on computer projection, not actual cases, yet the CDC is acting as if the pandemic is here and now.

    The CDC is making sure everybody knows who they are in order to justify their existence, and so nobody can blame them for not responding in time. If CDC officials are announcing emergencies because they are worried about their jobs, then it is best to just fire them now. In the mean time, the frequent emergency declarations will water down the CDC's credibility when and if an actual significant threat may come up. Yes, the CDC is the little boy who cried wolf.

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