The Biggest SNAFU In History

My father introduced me to many old expressions from his days. One of them was an old Army expression from the Second World War. It was SNAFU; which was short for “situation normal, all fouled up”. That expression from a bygone era clearly describes how our federal government has fouled up everything related to this pandemic.

In 2003, then President George W Bush read a book about how a pandemic could easily spread around the world in the 21st century with international air travel and a global economy. He became concerned when the SARS epidemic broke out in Asia and organized a Pandemic Task Force through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prepare the United States should a new virus arrive in our country.

That “pandemic play book” was handed down to the Obama administration when George W Bush left office. Following the Ebola outbreak, President Obama placed the Pandemic Response Unit on the National Security Council. That was handed down to the Trump administration when he became President in 2017. In 2018, President Trump disbanded the Pandemic Response Unit.

Then, in December 2019; the World Health Organization gave a warning of a highly infectious virus that was sickening people in China and could easily spread around the world. That warning was made to the heads of all the member countries to prepare for a possible pandemic. But Donald Trump chose to ignore that warning. After all, that was on the other side of the world.

We all know what happened since then. Now, the deaths from COVID 10 are rapidly approaching 500,000 in the United States and there are vaccines available to end this pandemic. By Easter, deaths from COVID 19 could be close to the estimated deaths from the civil war.

It was a great accomplishment to get those vaccines available in such record time. That is a credit to the pharmaceutical companies and the incentive to end this pandemic. But despite getting the vaccines ready in record time; the big failure has been to get those vaccines out to the people. It is inexcusable that such an incompetent administration did not, as soon as “operation warp speed” was announced, do anything to come up with a system to have those vaccines manufactured in mass quantities; then to have the logistics to distribute those vaccines to where they were needed.

Instead, like everything else in this pandemic; the federal government under the Trump administration chose to have everything handled by each state’s governor and local communities. There has been absolutely no leadership from the President or his administration. This was gross incompetence. 

As a result, we have vaccines, but not enough. Getting an appointment to get the COVID vaccine has become an exercise in frustration as it seems that there are no appointments available. I became eligible for a COVID shot on February 1. I have been told that I must “play the game” of constantly logging on to web sites at all hours searching for appointments. But the only game I like to play involves a little white ball. I became eligible for a COVID shot on February 1. Some people I know who have close family members working at pharmacies or in health care have had no trouble scheduling appointments. But for the rest of us, we must "play the game". 

I wonder about those people who are not internet savvy or don’t have internet access. How are they going to get their COVID vaccination?

I am old enough to remember when the polio vaccines came out in 1955 and again in 1962. It seemed to be well organized and coordinated with leadership from the top. There was no internet in those days. But somehow, we managed to get just about everyone vaccinated against polio and eventually polio has been eradicated in most countries.

It seems that the new President Biden is doing what should have been done almost a year ago. He is taking leadership and putting in place a system to get more Americans vaccinated. Had something like this been done months ago, I am sure that most of us would already be vaccinated. We knew what to do; but this entire pandemic was a massive SNAFU from the beginning. Like it or not, that will be Trump’s enduring legacy as President.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:42 AM, 03.01.2021