To the editor:
We are facing inevitable pandemics of routine human influenza as well as the real possibility of a pandemic of a very lethal form of the innocuous sounding "bird flu." Our government is hard at work planning to minimize illness and fatalities, just as they plan for other disasters such as hurricanes.
The administration's man in charge is Stewart Simonson, who was appointed assistant secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness at Health and Human Services in 2004. The HHS Web site tells us that Simonson earned a B.A. in 1986 and a law degree in 1994. He served as legal counsel to Gov. Tommy Thompson, of Wisconsin, from 1995 to 1999. He also was counsel for AMTRAK (they didn't mention that Thompson was chairman of the board). He then followed Thompson to Washington after he was named secretary of HHS. From 2001 to 2003, Simonson was deputy general counsel for HHS.
The man in charge of protecting us from pandemics and other public health disasters has no training in public health and no experience running a large organization. But he is a friend of a friend of the president. Does that make you feel a little sick? Get a flu shot and contact your representatives in Congress.