I'm sure you are reading the news of belated Federal actions in preparing for bird flu. Sunday's news reported the first probable European outbreak in birds, in Romania. As I am headed there in late November, my antennae are quivering. Beyond physiological concerns, this is the first, direct, tip-of-the-iceberg personal warning of the economic consequences of an approaching pandemic. While short of panicking (I have not cancelled my Romanian trip, for instance), I am dramatically accelerating my and my family and friends' preparations—e.g., working on self-sufficiency on our Farm, laying by a 6-month supply of normal prescription medications, procuring appropriate masks, dealing with possible short-term financial issues, etc. Surely Katrina has taught us all that "You're on your own," at least for a while, is "good management practice" for friends and family.
(And, obviously, businesses. For instance I talked on Friday to members of the tanning salon industry. Most are "mom & pop" entrepreneurs, hardly sporting very deep pockets. Their industry would doubtless be hit hard and fast at the slightest hint of H5N1 in or near America. Hence 100% of their revenue stream could evaporate on a week's notice; there are, literally, millions of small entrepreneurial businesses in much the same boat. I'm not by disposition an alarmist, but I am unable to conjure a scenario under which pandemic would not lead to a sudden, wholesale economic crash. Not to mention the likes of the riots the Feds modestly project at places of vaccine storage and delivery.)