We Failed to Act on Pandemic Preparedness Before. Let’s not Make that Mistake Again. (LinkedIn)

LinkedIn | As the COVID-19 pandemic surge peaks and we begin to think about reopening our economy, our policy makers should immediately address how to prepare for the next one, for it is inevitable that a next one will occur.

I share with you my exact words from an address I gave at the National Press Club on December 8, 2005. Not because they were prescient of what was to come 15 years later, but because we as nation failed to act. Let’s not make that mistake again.

My exact words as delivered:

“But our hands are not tied. In fact, the policy implications become crystal clear. By immediately outlining and implementing a specific policy prescription, we can minimize not only the direct economic effects of a pandemic, but perhaps more significant, greatly reduce the costly indirect effects of panic, fear and paralysis.

There are 6 steps we must take. 

1. Communication

Number #1 is communicating with the public.

To allay irrational fear, communication must be the bedrock of every public policy response. Communication—of accurate, reliable, consistent information—isn’t an option—it is the antidote—the vaccine for irrational fear. (Think Katrina.) 

Failing to effectively communicate with the public—both before and during the pandemic—would be analogous to having a fire escape plan for your home, but neglecting to share the plan with your family. You don’t want your family jumping out the window when there’s a ladder under the bed. To minimize losses, you not only create an emergency plan, you tell people about it – again and again and again.”

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