The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been severely impacted by the government shutdown. What does this mean to you and me?
One of the core functions of government is protecting our safety. The CDC describes its mission this way:
CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.
CDC increases the health security of our nation. As the nation’s health protection agency, CDC saves lives and protects people from health threats. To accomplish our mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.
Except now they aren’t doing those things. Two-thirds of its employees have been furloughed. (Three-fourths of its Atlanta HQ staff.) (If the shutdown continues that will increase. Current furlough levels expect the shutdown is temporary and not serious.) If there is a disease outbreak they won’t be able to do anything about it — and might not even know there is an outbreak until it is widespread.
If there is an outbreak of a food-borne illness they won’t even have the means to know about it and take steps to recall whatever is causing it! They can’t even check their government email addresses. CBS Atlanta:
“It’s serious. Many of our programs are just going to be shut down completely,” she said. “I’m very concerned for the experts we have here, world-renowned scientists, who’ve been told they have to go home, and they can’t respond to emails, they can’t log onto their computers.”
If a terrible strain of flu hits, they won’t be able to detect it early and won’t be able to take steps to fight it.
As much as Republicans might complain about government and democracy the fact is that if a poor, homeless person gets sick it puts rich people at risk, too. To protect all of us We the People collect taxes (theft, Republicans say) and use some of the money to do things like build sidewalks that we all walk on (also known as redistribution of wealth) and fund the agency that tries to protect us from disease outbreaks.