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article imageOp-Ed: What’s behind mishandling of anthrax and smallpox

By Robert Weller     Jul 11, 2014 in Politics
Atlanta - The closing of labs at the nation’s premiere medical science labs is a big story but is anyone asking why government seems to be failing so often?
Start with cost-cutting. Since it became popular to cut government spending, more and more problems are reported from coast-to-coast from agencies people used to trust.
The Tea Party and others have made it an article of faith that government is bad, has no reason to exist or job to do, and therefore should be made as small as possible.
At the same time, the federal government has had to pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while cutting taxes.
The simultaneous collapse of the economy under President George Bush has meant governments all the way down to the village level have less money to spend.
For a lesson from history, watch the film version of Randy Shilts’ “And the Band Played On.” It shows in detail how even when the US and French governments realized that AIDS could become a health monster the doctors and researchers trying to deal with it, even identify it, had to fight to get money.
Blood banks fought early efforts to prevent AIDS from getting into their supplies.
So no one should be surprised by what has happened now.
“After potentially serious back-to-back laboratory accidents, federal health officials announced on Friday that they had temporarily closed the flu and anthrax laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and halted shipments of all infectious agents from the agency’s highest-security labs,” the New York Times reported.
This is the real definition of “trickle down.” Labs and doctors throughout the nation will find it harder to get the services and tests they need from federal labs.
Luckily, no one became ill, so far, from the fiascos at the CDC that exposed workers to deadly diseases. Who knows what lies ahead?
But the CDC labs are a national, even an international treasure and reference for the world said, CDC Director Thomas Frieden.
“These events should never have happened,” Frieden said Friday in a conference call with reporters. The American people “may be wondering whether we’re doing what we need to do to keep them safe and to keep our workers safe,” he said. “I’m disappointed, and frankly I’m angry about it,” the Washington Post reported.
How could live samples of smallpox have been left unattended in a room at the National Institutes for Health? Follow the money.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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