CARMEL – The United States got lucky this time!  Everyone, and I do mean everyone, dropped the ball and was totally unprepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. We were very fortunate that the Covid-19 virus was a big sissy as far as pandemic viruses go and that we didn’t witness the extinction of mankind due to our lack of preparation, slowness of response, scientific confusion, political ineptitude and the rampant ignorance and pig-headedness of our population.  

It may seem ridiculous to refer to a virus that has led to the deaths of over 600,000 Americans as a big sissy, but in the pantheon of viruses, it could have been terrifyingly worse. It could have been worse not because our response could have been worse, but because the virulence of the virus could have been worse.  

Covid-19 largely bypassed our younger population, unlike the 1918 influenza pandemic, and tended to target those who were elderly or who had other health issues.  That is just plain dumb luck and not good public policy.

It should not be our government’s public policy to play Russian roulette with our nation’s health. The time to develop a coherent plan for dealing with a potential pandemic is not during the throes of a presidential campaign, but it should be done on an ongoing basis, in a transparent manner, with continuity and devoid of political interference.

In addition, any pandemic plan should be nationwide in nature and should not leave critical decisions up to 50 state pandemic gurus and their knuckleheaded legislatures. Our states are not isolated entities when it comes to public health. A decision made in Michigan just may kill people in Indiana and vice versa. I’m all for states’ rights but by the same token, if a state can’t sit out and avoid participation in times of war, it should not have the right to sit out a fight against a pandemic.

It appears to me, that from the beginning of Covid-19, until the present day, our leaders, including our public health officials, have been far more interested in scoring political points than in saving lives by reducing the spread of the virus. There is plenty of blame to go around on both political parties. This type of conduct may be cute when you’re dealing with farm policy or transgendered paratroopers, but it is the same kind of conduct that could easily kill you.

An argument could be made that ineptitude and lack of preparedness are the historical hallmarks of our government. We’ve been caught off guard by two world wars, terrorists, the housing crisis and a litany of other disasters. Congress has done a marvelous job of conducting special commissions or witch hunts to look for someone to blame. Congress would do itself and our country a big favor if these commissions would be conducted in a hall of mirrors. The blame would then be starring the members squarely in the face.

It is ironic that we have a pandemic that has led to the deaths of over 600,000 Americans and yet Speaker Nancy Pelosi is more intent on investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol disturbance than she is looking for the root cause of Covid-19 or how the pandemic might have been handled more efficiently. As Mr. Kammeyer, my eighth-grade history teacher, would say, “Those who ignore the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.”

Now is the time to create a National Pandemic Study Commission, to explore the roots of the Covid-19 Pandemic and its variants and to analyze both successful and unsuccessful public policies in dealing with it. The study commission should be bipartisan, but devoid of any current elected officials. It should consist of both public health and economic experts. The commission should be allowed to grill Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his policies of sending Covid patients into nursing homes. It should also be allowed to have Gov. Kristi Noem tell why her state’s benign indifference to the pandemic was the correct response.  

The ultimate goal of this commission would not be to point fingers and assess blame, although a certain amount of that will inevitably occur. The goal should be to forge a coherent strategy to implement in the future when some new virus pops its head up and threatens our society. While I understand that each new virus will be different, many of the key issues will remain constant. When and how should international travel restrictions be imposed? Do masks work or not? Should people go to work or not?  

When should each type of business be closed or put under restrictions? What should each hospital’s and nursing home’s policies and procedures be during a pandemic?  Should available vaccines be mandatory for the public? How should public education respond? What should government’s financial responsibility be to those affected by the pandemic?

Now is the time to act to avoid a future disaster that might ultimately pose a systemic threat to our nation, its people and our economy. Do not wait until your battleships lie at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Do not wait until the twin towers come crashing down. Do not wait until a housing crisis destroys our economy. Act and act now!  

My mom was not a highly educated person, but she had committed just about everything that she read in Readers Digest, The Saturday Evening Post and Poor Richard’s Almanac to memory. She was fond of telling the seven Dunn children that ole Ben Franklin used to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  

This was true in 1735 Philadelphia and it is still true today. 

Dunn is the former chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.