Not that the upcoming event would have commanded greater urgency and import had it been announced sometime other than in the lazy summer season in official Washington, at the moment politically barren with Congress on recess and operatives out of town to mix it up at the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
But the Federal Communication Commission’s plan to host a summit on pandemic preparedness on Sept. 18 deserves as much attention and appreciation – perhaps even more – as other high-profile roundtables that implicate non-commercial roles of wireless carriers and other telecom service providers.
Threats from terrorists, dastardly weather – hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes – nuclear and biological warfare, industrial accidents and cyber sabotage are legitimate issues. The risk of a pandemic – and the response challenge – does not prompt the same kind of alarm as manmade and natural disasters. This is probably so in large part because of the insidious, subtly deceptive nature of an emergence of new viral strain that stealthily sics itself on unwitting and unprotected human masses.
The prospect of pandemic – whether fueled by the kind of influenza that killed more than 50 million people worldwide in 1918 or by one of our feathered friends – is breathtaking in terms of potential consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects some 2 million Americans could die from a severe pandemic. As such, to treat the risk as blas