It’s become a common inversion of Washington’s view of public health.
No less than three GOP lawmakers said in April that the US has done all it can to battle the Zika virus and that there’s no need to increase funding.
The same day, advisers to President Barack Obama said the federal government needs to declare a public health emergency.
Confronted by a typhoon in 2006, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg replied: “We can’t afford to have panic.”
Still, Bloomberg offered lessons in dealing with powerful pathogens.
“Until you’ve had one, it’s difficult to even imagine what an epidemic feels like,” he said.
Like Bloomberg, US nurses see it differently.
“The reality is that they (the Congress) don’t take our issue serious enough,” said Bill Banks, president of the United Nurses of America (an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union), who gave CNN a rare hospital tour of some of the 20 U.S. public hospitals that were tested for infection-controlling substances.
“I see this thing from the perspective of public health,” Banks said, drawing an analogy to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. “When we had the 9/11 hearings, I was making sure that Congress got the message because there was enormous fear in this country. Here we are after 10 years and I see people sitting there glancing at their phones because they’re afraid.”
The person Banks blames the most, he said, is House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“He’s been in D.C. for almost 10 years,” Banks said. “He knows what epidemics are.”