U.S. agencies delayed the rollout of tests that could have identified COVID-19 carriers before they could spread the virus

The name of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), America’s federal public-health agency, has always struck the ear of the ordinary English speaker a little oddly. Before Google and Wikipedia, it used to be difficult to have reporters get the plural right unless they were on the health beat full time. Indeed, the agency was the Communicable Disease Center before an acronym-saving name change in 1970.

Centralization is the CDC’s raison d’être; it is designed to send experts armed with quasi-military powers and materials to hot zones of infectious disease while accumulating and organizing important clinical data from all across the U.S. Infectious disease is the paradigmatic “local problem that can become universal in a hurry if you screw it up,” so there is obvious value in making the funds and manpower of an entire nation available to fight local outbreaks.

That’s the theory, and as far as it goes it has been vindicated a thousand times over. But the CDC is (are?) now facing unprecedented scrutiny because of its (their) mystifying central mismanagement of the coronavirus threat. Centralization, like any other virtue, turns out to be good only up to a point.

Read full article here.

Colby Nash – National Post – March 11, 2020.

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